May 19,2020 / Jane Stewart

Springtime has arrived! The sweet smell of freshly mown grass is in the air. The splash of gentle rain on leaves and windowpanes gives us a sense of hope and tranquility.

Flowers will soon be in full bloom, and trees that stood cold and bare all winter have come alive with buds on their limbs and birds in their branches.

This is the perfect time to think about creating an inspiring and stunning sensory garden.

What is a Sensory Garden?

An outdoor sensory garden is a self-contained garden area that is not only beautiful but is also stimulating to all the senses. Sensory gardens for the elderly provide intimate, colorful environments designed to allow visitors to soak up the sounds, smells, sights, and even tastes contained within the garden. Gardening can be uplifting, therapeutic, and just plain fun!

With a little creativity, you can make a thoughtful sensory garden using carefully selected sensory garden plants for dementia patients. A sensory garden plant list for disabled or elderly visitors should include plants such as fragrant lilac bushes, potted strawberry plants, and maybe an herb garden. Planting herbs will stimulate the sense of smell and provide tasty additions to salads, soups, and other menu items.

How to Make a Sensory Garden

Designing a sensory garden can both therapeutic and imaginative. The goal is to come up with sensory garden ideas that will stimulate the senses. Sensory gardens can be enjoyable for elderly people, disabled adults, people with special needs, or anyone who enjoys sitting in an outdoor space that is beautiful, fragrant, and full of life. There are lots of options when it comes to creating your sensory garden.

Be sure to include colorful elements such as brightly painted pots and containers. Select a wide variety of colorful blooming flowers, comfortable outdoor seating, patio umbrellas, water features, and pleasant lighting for those warm summer evenings. If you need additional shade, a pergola with climbing vines works well in a sensory garden.

Outdoor Sensory Garden Equipment

Sensory gardens for the elderly are fun to create and maintain. The more there is to look at, feel, smell, and hear, the better! Your garden can be changed and enhanced as you come up with new ideas. You can change your plants with the seasons to provide a different look throughout the year. Here are some equipment and supply ideas for beginning your sensory garden.

  • Trellises can be installed for plants that like to climb. Clematis plants do well on a trellis and can be found in a wide variety of colors. Roses also love to climb on a trellis. You can even grow vegetables that love to climb on a trellis, so it is a great addition to a sensory garden. Trellises come in different heights and shapes and can be painted or stained to match the theme of your garden.
  • An assortment of wind chimes will make your sensory garden come alive with melodies created by the wind. Wind chimes are calming as they gently make their music with every change of wind direction.
  • Colorful pots, outdoor rugs, and patio furniture give your space a happy feeling and are pleasant to look at. Comfortable patio furniture with cozy cushions can offer guests a place to sit and soak up the sights, sounds, and delights of the garden. If there is an artist or someone who enjoys painting in your group, painting flowerpots can be a great activity to offer them as you construct your garden.
  • Make sure your garden is fragrant. There’s nothing like the smell of aromatic flowers in a spring or summer garden. We’ll talk more about the best fragrant flowers as we continue to build our sensory garden. Flowers usually have a sweet, perfume-like fragrance. In contrast, you can plant herbs for a spicy, minty, or citrus smell to enhance the sensory experience in your garden.
  • Provide hands-on tools for visitors. Watering cans, small garden tools, garden gloves, and handheld clippers or gardening shears should be available for guests who wish to use them.
  • Think about our feathered friends. A bird feeder makes a wonderful addition to a sensory garden for adults. Sitting quietly while watching these delightfully happy creatures is relaxing and enjoyable. A birdbath is another component that will provide hours of bird-watching fun for sensory garden visitors.
  • Don’t forget the lighting. Sensory garden lights are an important component in the sensory garden. Warm summer evenings spent in a discreetly lighted sensory garden can be an exotic and relaxing experience.
  • Place your lighting strategically. Uplights and colored lights work well around the perimeter of the garden. Hanging patio lights (the kind they use on restaurant patios) not only look attractive, but they provide just the right amount of lighting to assure safety. Be sure all walkways are well lighted and free from obstacles that might make them unsafe.

Sensory Garden Plants

Here are some popular sensory garden plants that you can consider for your garden.

  • Sensory garden perennials come back every year. They are popular in sensory gardens. Some examples are daylilies, canna lilies, irises, daffodils, and tulips.
  • Popular herbs are lemon balm, cilantro, peppermint, sage, lavender, basil, and oregano.
  • Flowering bushes to consider are roses, peonies, butterfly bushes, hydrangeas, and azaleas.
  • Annuals, such as zinnias, marigolds, petunias, snapdragons, begonias, and an assortment of wildflowers add color and interest to the garden and provide that wonderful sensory garden smell.

Sensory Gardens for Disabled Adults

Gardening is an activity that can be enjoyed by people with all abilities. You can make raised flower beds that would be accessible to people in wheelchairs. Wide paths to accommodate wheelchairs or walkers can be built into your garden. Equipment and tools can be modified for easier handling.

In summary, gardening is an activity that can bring joy and satisfaction into the lives of people from all walks of life, even if they have never gardened before.

People with Alzheimer’s and dementia can feel a sense of purpose and accomplishment if they are given the opportunity to work in a sensory garden. Familiar scents or picking a colorful bouquet often spur memories of things they enjoyed in the past.

Sensory Gardening is a pleasant and rewarding experience for anyone who enjoys the beauty of nature and working or lounging in an environment that is stimulating, relaxing, and rewarding.  

Happy Gardening!