Anatomy of a Sensory Garden

by Stuart Scobie

A Sensory Garden, as its name suggests, is a place designed for all of the senses. All too often, external spaces are designed with only the visual outcome considered which amounts to 20% of our capacity to appreciate the final result.

The ideal Sensory Garden is made up of stimuli that allow us to not only see something beautiful, but to feel something textural, smell something aromatic, taste something great and hear something melodic or soothing. The Sensory Garden becomes more than just a visual experience, it becomes an interactive and engaging experience that encourages our affiliation with nature in the built environment, a key feature of Biophilic Design.

Textural plant, Lamb’s Tongue; taste plants, mixed herbs; and an aromatic & beautiful plant, Gardenia.

I have designed a Sensory Garden for Eurobodalla Education and Therapy Services in their new Muddy Puddles facility, which is currently under construction in Batemans Bay. This garden will embody those multi-stimuli characteristics for Muddy Puddles to engage younger children and those with developmental disabilities.

The Sensory Garden will be fully accessible and will provide the opportunity for learning about aspects of the natural world, outdoors in an interactive and fun way. In resolving the design of this space, the needs of users were carefully considered, in conjunction with sustainable and safe materials. Native endemic plant species have been specified in the broader landscape treatment of the site and chemical free Cypress Pine sleepers are to be used as an alternative to treated pine. Just as you have to make sure that the sleepers you use when building veggie beds haven’t been treated with chemicals, stains or preservatives that can leach into the soil and contaminate the veggies, you have to make sure that the materials around kindergartens and playgrounds are non-toxic and won’t pose a threat to the children.

Edmiston Jones’ vision for Landscape Architecture, to improving the quality of people’s lives through the thoughtful design of sustainable, reflective landscape spaces, is achieved in this project while creating a great outcome for very special people in our community.

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