Did you attend the ‘Virtual Chelsea’ this year that replaced the traditional annual event? An innovative idea in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, the show gave all the contributors the chance to continue to design, construct and show their gardens, but how different will it be to view and to take part in a world class gardening event online without physically being immersed in the textures, scents and sheer beauty of all the participating gardens?
Gardens provide us with an assault of colourful sights, various textures, scents, tastes and sounds from garden wildlife and the movement of flowers and leaves in the slightest of breezes.
And in our modern lifestyles where we are relying upon a more digital lifestyle; creating a ‘sensory garden’ provides our homes and communities with a therapeutic place of rest, recuperation and sense of peace, with the use of well planned out restful seating and choice of plants that are highly scented such as Lemon Balm, Lavender, Scented Geranium and Rosemary. In addition, by incorporating plants or trees that produce fruits, veg and edible flowers, depending on the garden space available, will give the garden user the chance to taste the edible offerings and, by planning the garden space to be an all inclusive area, will make it accessible for all.
Creating and designing a sensory garden does not require a huge space – the smallest of outside spaces can be turned into a sensory oasis. From balconies to rooftops, patios to terraces, contemporary or traditional, gardening is a sensory experience. And children particularly love to get outside and play in the garden, so it is a great idea to encourage them to take part in developing the garden and get into growing plants.
Designing with children, visually impaired, or wheelchair users in mind will require consideration of their different needs – using raised planters for example, having suitable pathways and benches. The installation of a water feature will need to have very careful consideration of the suitability within a design of a family sensory garden. Inclusion of plants that make a noise when the wind goes through them such as bamboo helps the sense of sound. Lambs Ears and cool Moss create a soft texture to touch. By using plants that creep or climb, bush or trail gives a visual interest in the garden and encourage the taste sensory with fruits, herbs and vegetables.
Creating a sensory garden is rewarding and visiting the ‘virtual’ garden maybe something that we may have to encounter more of and is definitely better than not visiting one at all, but maybe ‘digital gardening’ will not quite be the same as digging your own.