Sensory Garden Design – my approach

It’s that time of year when we are feeling the exciting urge to head to the local garden centre and purchase some new plants and masses of seeds. Or is it just me?! Spring flowers are making us smile, nature is looking increasingly vibrant and the sun is beginning to make fragrant blossoms really smell divine.

There are many ways that you can go about designing your garden, including factoring in lifestyle changes, pathways, seating requirements, play areas, time restraints, hours of sunshine and plants that you think look beautiful.

I think every plant in our gardens should have a purpose as well though, whether that’s for us, wildlife or both. Scented and textured plants can offer extra opportunities for us to smile, feel calm or excited. They can enable us to remember fond memories and feel grounded in the present moment. Incorporating as many of these potential moments into our outdoor space is really important to our wellbeing, as well as our general motivation to get outside.

This is why my favourite way to design a garden though is through my senses. Whilst we still need to factor in all of the other elements I’ve highlighted, for me, my wellbeing is at the forefront of my mind when I’m designing. The wellbeing of myself and my family when I plan my garden, and the wellbeing of others when I’m working on their spaces or Life at No.27 therapy sites.

Using our senses when we choose plants and design our outdoor space, will enable us to create a more holistic space, that offers us moments of guaranteed joy, calmness, release, energy and smiles when we really need them. All of which will help encourage us into the garden, take in the fresh air, harness the power of nature and feel an increased sense of wellbeing.

A few of my favourites are Chamomile as the scent helps reduce my anxiety and feel calmer. I can step outside, rub the leaves and flowers through my fingers, breathe in the scent and feel the instant benefits. Blackcurrant Mint is also a must have for me as it really invigorates my senses and helps me feel energised on those mornings when I’m a little slow and sleepy.

You will need:

  • Your senses, especially smell, feel and taste
  • A selection of herbs and scented flowers – could be in your garden or at a local plant nursery
  • Pencil and Paper (Optional)

What to do:

● Head into your garden or visit a local plant nursery and see what scented herbs and flowers you or they have.

● Take a few moments to smell and feel each plant individually. How does it make you feel? What thoughts come to the front of your mind? Perhaps write your answers down, before moving onto the next plant.

● Continue moving your way through the plants and connecting with them. Take time to look at ones that don’t perhaps automatically appeal to you visually.

● Have any offered you a moment of comfort, a sense of increased energy or calmness? Has one or a few made you really smile? If so, these are the plants for you and your garden!

● Give this approach a try, and see how your garden and mindset grow.

Those that don’t offer you a feeling or thought you would like to encourage, aren’t the plants for you. Yet, they might be for someone else as we are all different and experience the world uniquely.

You can use this design approach for your garden at home or within a work or school environment. Offer those who will use the space the opportunity to smell a selection of different herbs for potential planting, or to visit a nursery and do the exercise with you.

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