The Gardening Nana – Come to Your Senses Garden
Writer / Nancy Craig
“Come to Your Senses Garden” is a chapter in The Gardening Book by Jane Bull. This book has great garden ideas and projects that show children how to use all five senses to enjoy a flower garden. One of the projects is to make a plant pot wind chime so the kids can “listen” to the wind. Another is to make painted plant labels out of ping pong balls and sticks to mark which plants you will want to see (eye), touch (hand), smell (nose), hear (ear) or taste (mouth).
Several years ago at New Hope Church, we planted a butterfly garden; now we are modifying it to make it a sensory garden. This will make it easier for the Children of Hope Preschool to use the garden when they learn about the five senses. The kids love to touch the plant Stachys byzantina, and know it by its common name, Lamb’s Ear, with its soft fuzzy feel. We will make fun fact sheets for the teachers to tell the children more about the flowers like how the Lamb’s Ear was used for bandages or that the butterfly tastes with all six of it feet along with its proboscis or tongue. Butterflies love the Zinnias along the walkway and the butterfly bush in the garden.
Each season in the garden the plants and flowers have different smells, textures, shapes and colors. In the spring, some favorites are the fragrant peonies, hyacinths, bright yellow daffodils and blue irises. In the summer and fall are the coneflowers, Echinacea, which have prickly seed heads to touch, or the kids can rattle the seedpods of the false indigo flower, Baptisia australis.
Eventually we will include bubbling rock fountain to add the sound of running water to the garden, along with the sounds of the birds and bees. The cool feel of moss and the rustle of grasses plus the tastes and smells of different kinds of herbs will make the garden a delight for all the senses.
You can find Sensory Garden ideas at naturalearning.org/sensory-gardens. To download plant labels, visit cocoonnursery.com/downloads/children/HowToPaintPots.pdf.
The Gardening Nana,