After seeing the annual Chelsea Flower show. We thought we’d take a closer look at the stunning gardens created by teams of hardworking and dedicated garden designers.

Amongst the prestigious gold medal winners were a team who created a beautiful sensory garden as a balm for the parents of children in hospital: the Morgan Stanley Garden for Great Ormond Street. Designed for the parents and families of sick children with peace, tranquillity and privacy in mind, this garden is being transported as we speak to be installed at the hospital.

The planting scheme is designed to evoke the diversity of a woodland environment. It has a mix of perennials, hedges, topiary, and mature trees to create a dappled and reflective tone. It also features a beautiful and calming water feature and a sheltered area in the style of a Japanese summerhouse. This garden is the perfect place for parents struggling with the challenges of poorly children.

We decided to take a little inspiration from the medal winning team and put together a piece about making the perfect sensory garden.

Sensory gardens are designed to appeal to all your senses. This means they look beautiful, smell divine, feel gorgeous, and taste delicious to boot. Sensory gardens can also be adapted to suit additional needs such as visual impairment, or designed with the very young and the very old in mind. This meaning that well-planned gardens are perfect for everyone.


Plants

You want lots of texture and variety in your planting scheme. Think scent, height, and year-round interest. Groundcover plants, grasses, edibles plants are all perfectly at home in a sensory garden. Great plants to get started with are: verbena, chives, alliums, sage, lambs ears, pampus grass, honeysuckle and lemon balm. All of these guys have special features that appeal to the senses. For example, the aptly named lamb’s ear that feels as soft as a new lamb, or the intense scent of lemon balm.



Design

Sensory gardens take into account every aspect of the space: paving, water features, planting, and other decorations like mirrors, glasswork, and wind chimes. This means that your planning stage needs time and good research. Work out your priorities and go from there. For example, are you planning a general sensory garden or do you have more specific needs in mind?



Considerations

If you are installing your sensory garden with a particular additional need in mind, there are lots of interesting ways to meet those needs. For gardens with young children in mind, make sure everything is mouth friendly and that there is plenty of bright colour. As further inspiration, the RNIB won a gold medal at Chelsea a few years back for their sensory garden designed with the visually impaired in mind. You can find details of this garden and its planting scheme online.

If there are mobility issues that you need to consider, pay careful attention to the surface of any pathways – some surfaces can be treacherous for people using mobility aids such as crutches or walking sticks, and some can be unmanageable for wheelchair users.

Sounds perfect to us – how are you going to evoke the senses in your garden?