Sensory Garden Ideas

Updated February 21, 2017

A sensory garden is one which stimulates and beckons to all five senses. Rather than delicately admiring a typical garden they way one might admire a painting and carefully sniffing flowers a sensory garden encourages exploration such as rubbing, climbing, swinging and inquiring hands. Such a garden can be very relaxing as it is invigorating.

Sight and Smell

The colours of the garden should be a rich and vivid, changing throughout the seasons. Make use of the colours of not only flowers and leaves, but also bark, berries, lichens and mosses. Flowers that possess warm colours such as red, yellow and orange are energising to the eyes. For example, marigolds, sunflowers, red-hot pokers provide vibrant pockets of colour. But make sure to contrast these colours with cooler colours such as shades of purple from flowers like pansies, violets and morning glories. While some of these flowers have a strong scent and they all have slightly distinctive smells.


In a sensory garden there should be a wealth of things to run your hands through such as soft beds of moss, smooth stained wood from benches and possibly a gazebo, beds of slippery polished stones. Ponds and fountains provide cool water to touch and gently splash the plants with. Plants like lambs ears, silver sage, hedge woundwort and globe thistle are suitable plants to touch for different sensory experiences. Install several swings so that visitors can feel a fresh breeze on their hands and faces as they swing.

Taste and Smell

You can have a taste section of your garden by creating a comprehensive vegetable patch, where visitors can pick off fresh cucumbers and tomatoes and pull carrots out of the ground. Alternatively, you can grow bushes of berries such as raspberries, blackberries and strawberries. While some people claim that berries have no scent, they each actually have a very subtle scent that you can sense from careful smelling. Picking such berries also heightens your sense of sight, as they all have such rich colours. For a more low maintenance option, grow herbs such as peppermint, spearmint, sage, thyme, rosemary, anise, fennel. These herbs also have a strong scent and you can pick off their leaves for a taste.


The flowers in your garden will attract the busy buzzing of bees. Hang a bird feeder to encourage birds to your garden. A fountain will fill the garden with the gently sound of falling water. Wind chimes will call attention to the wind with their gentle sounds. Certain tall grasses make a lot of movement in the wind, like rattlesnake grass and sweetcorn rustles in the wind.

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About the Author

Lane Cummings is originally from New York City. She attended the High School of Performing Arts in dance before receiving her Bachelor of Arts in literature and her Master of Arts in Russian literature at the University of Chicago. She has lived in St. Petersburg, Russia, where she lectured and studied Russian. She began writing professionally in 2004 for the "St. Petersburg Times."