Gardening with Children

Family Zone

Create Your Own Sensory Garden

Date Posted: 12 April 2011

Following an enquiry from a day nursery in Weymouth, we have but together some advice for setting up a sensory garden. 

Please note that other than specifically edible fruit and vegetables, plants may be poisonous, this may include their leaves, berries, flowers and bark, so always handle with care, and check with the plant supplier before planting.  People with allergies need to be particularly careful. 

The key to success is designing and arranging your sensory garden in a way that is easy to maintain, with a variety of plants that stimulate the senses but are also easy to grow.

Grow some easy vegetable and salad seeds in a raised bed or a salubrious salad bed and then have picking and eating sessions to taste the results. Peas, salad leaves and herbs such as parsley are good to grow eat. Grow strawberries in a patio planter bag, and outdoor tomatoes can be washed for tasting straight from the vine. 
Plants with colourful flowers and leaves bring great interest to a garden.
Roses and honeysuckle are very attractive and popular with bees and other insects. So they bring not just colour but wildlife into the garden too.
Sunflowers are every child’s favourite flower. Grown up against a wall or fence, they can reach gigantic proportions, quickly outgrowing the little people who plant them. Start them off in paper pots, that the children can make themselves with the Paper Potter. Once they have become established transplant to a prepared border or container and watch them grow over the spring and summer months.
The Chameleon plant is beautiful with its colourful leaves of red, bronze, green and cream. Often grows well in damp conditions.
Grow your own Instant Meadow in just 8 weeks with this wonderful selection of annual flower seeds. Suitable for sowing in a border or raised bed, these mixes are easy to grow and produce a superb, colourful display which will also attract bees and butterflies to the garden.
With bird song, buzzing bees and whirring hoverflies wildlife in the garden brings with it, it’s own wonderful array of sounds.
Bamboo with its sturdy stems, will knock together in the wind to make a nice wooden sound. 
Love in the Mist (Nigella Damascena) has ferny foliage, fluffy flowers and intriguing seed pods which make a lovely rattling sound when shaken. Sow directly into the soil where it is to grow, and rake over with a covering of soil. The flowers are most often a vivid blue and it you sprinkle a few seeds every month or so, will flower from late spring through to the autumn. 
Honesty (Lunaria Annua) is easy to grow and produces pretty fragrant flowers followed by papery disc shaped seed heads which rustle when dry. Once in the garden, Honesty will reappear every year.
Flowers, bark, lichens, stones, leaves, twigs, walls…there are textures to touch all around the garden. Lambs Ears (stachys byzantina) are silky and smooth, Silver Sage (salvia argentea) has soft, fluffy, silver leaves, and Statice has wonderful, papery flowers. Woolly Thyme is soft and silver and with its tight knit growth makes a great filler for borders and between paving stones. 
Scented flowers such as Lavender and Sweet Peas will fill the garden with summer fragrance. 
The lovely smell of Lemon Scented Geraniums is activated by crushing the leaves. Rosemary, Mint and Chives are also great for smelling and tasting activities and this handy herb pot is great for a window sill or classroom table. Honeysuckle and Mock Orange will smell heavenly and attract insects to the garden too.

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