Sensory gardens are known for being calm and therapeutic spaces, particularly beneficial for people who access social care and find joy in different sensory experiences. As part of Community Integrated Care’s exclusive nature workshops in partnership with the RSPB, Jane Taylor, expert from the RSPB, and Victoria Martin, Senior PBS Strategy and Practice Development Manager from Community Integrated Care, shared their advice on creating an affordable and accessible sensory garden. Here’s five top tips from the session, on how to get started:
- Embrace the Senses
When designing your sensory garden, keep in mind that it’s all about the senses! Understand each person’s sensory profile to create an environment that isn’t overwhelming. Whilst aromatic plants may delight some, they could be too overpowering for others.
It’s important to consider all of the senses – as opposed to focusing on the obvious, such as the smell and sight of flowers. For example, you could incorporate diverse textures like bark, water, and grasses for those with a tactile preference.
Don’t forget, if the garden is shared, you’ll need to take into account everyone’s sensory profiles. This might mean creating different zones that cater to various needs.
- Individuality Matters
Gardens are an extension of our homes – therefore, it’s important to ensure that the garden you create reflects the individuals that it is designed for. Think about what the purpose of the garden is for them, and what having this space could bring to their lives. What would bring them joy and fulfillment?
Don’t be afraid to be creative. You could include sand pits, blackboards, or even add in vegetable patches to encourage healthy eating.
- Involve Everyone
Building a sensory garden can be a wonderful sensory activity itself. Don’t miss a great opportunity to get the people you support involved in planning and creating the space.
Get people’s opinions on the garden’s appearance, plant placement, and arrangement. Go shopping together for plants and accessories. You can even produce easy read labels together, so that people can better understand and care for their garden.
- Ensuring Impact All Year Round
Ensure your garden remains vibrant and interesting throughout the year. Research plants that bloom at different times and consider adding hardy or evergreen shrubs. Visit local garden centers for expert advice. As autumn approaches, plant bulbs in damp soil for a beautiful spring display.
- It’s About More Than Just Plants
Lastly, it’s important to remember that creating a sensory garden isn’t solely about plants. Research has shown that, whilst plants and flowers bring a lot of wellbeing benefits, having wildlife in the garden enhances this even further!
Encourage wildlife by creating simple habitats like log piles for bugs or a bird bath using a plant saucer. Supermarkets and discount shops also offer various accessories at affordable prices – for example, mirrors, wind chimes, soft mats, and canopies – that can enhance the sensory experience even further. And if you’re feeling crafty, you could even get creative and build your very own water feature using a pretty bowl and a solar-powered water pump.
Find out more about Community Integrated Care’s partnership with RSPB, WWF, the National Trust and Age Exchange, and download your free guide to creating a sensory garden at www.CommunityIntegratedCare.co.uk/Nature