Plants for a Sensory Garden

Written by robin odach
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Plants for a Sensory Garden
Thyme adds both taste and fragrance qualities to a sensory garden. (herb garden image by Steve Lovegrove from

Building a sensory garden is as easy as finding plants that appeal to the five senses. Gardens and plants have been shown to improve moods, reduce stress and improve the healing capabilities in people, according to researcher Roger S. Ulrich of Texas A&M University. Choosing the right plants is the crucial part of building a sensory environment. Big, showy flowers and small brightly coloured plants present a visual feast all summer with very little care.

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Lavender is an ideal choice for a sensory garden because it looks and smells great. Lavender attracts birds and butterflies to the garden. Even after drying, the petals retain their aromatic properties. Lavender is a perennial that lasts for several years. It is heat and drought resistant. As a general rule, the darker the flower the stronger the fragrance.


Roses provide texture and fragrance to a sensory garden. Prickly stems and velvety petals along with pleasant aromas contribute to a sensory experience. Worden and Moore recommend placing roses in the back of the garden to prevent accidental brushes with the thorns, which can be painful or snag clothing. There are several hybrid tea roses on the American Rose Society's top 10 list of fragrances, including Fragrant Cloud, Mr. Lincoln and Tiffany.


Thyme is a fragrant, culinary herb. Thyme, like mint, releases its fragrance when crushed. Planting thyme near pathways where it can be stepped on and crushed releases a pleasant aroma. This plant is drought resistant; a dry environment helps the concentration of oils, which affects taste and fragrance.

Perennial Quaking Grass

Perennial quaking grass is the most common of all the ornamental grasses. As the grass matures, it turns from green to brown. Quaking grass is eye-catching because it moves in the breeze, but it also makes a rustling noise as it moves caused by the seed heads. Select grasses carefully: some of them are invasive.

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