Plants for a sensory garden

When selecting plants for sensory gardens, choose plants for their different types of scent, texture, sound, taste and visual effect.

 I have included some of my favourite sensory garden plants, the ones I include a sensory area project. Most of the sensory plants, listed in this article, can be planted in a garden for people with dementia too.

 

I have listed plants in categories according to the different ways they release scent.

Scents that fill the air without touching the plant 

Sensory plants you need to get up close to.  

Plants you need to pinch or crush in your hand.  

Plants that give off scent when crushed under foot.


You can include almost any plant that grows in a normal garden in a sensory garden too, just think of the senses you would like to develop!!

  • Sensory plants for Touch – Make a list of the plants that are interesting to touch
  • Sensory plants for Sight – Sight is mainly colour, movement and shape
  • Sensory plants for Sound – mainly comes from wind and water
  • Sensory plants for Smell Using plants that have scented leaves is a good idea.
 
Some scented plants can also be planted to stimulate other senses like seeing, touch, sound and taste, so the list of sensory plants on this page may include plants in more than one category.
When you select your sensory garden plants for smell, also choose some for the different ways they release scent.
  • Scents that fill the air and can be smelt without touching the plant like Mock orange, Philadelphus, some roses,Honeysuckle, and the Curry plant.
  • Plants you need to get up close too to smell, Violet, primrose and some Narcissus.
  • Plants you will need to pinch or crush in your hand to smell, like Peppermint, Apple mint, Lemon thyme most culinary herbs, Camomile and scented Geranium.
 
List of Sensory Plants, Flowers, Shrubs and Trees.
 
Fragrant Trees and Shrubs for sensory gardens.
Buddleia the Butterfly Bush, Citrus, Daphne, Frangipani, Gardenia, Jasmine, Lilac, Mock Orange, Rose .

Fragrant Vines
Clematis,Climbing Rose, Honeysuckle,Jasmine,Passionflower, Sweet pea,Wisteria

Fragrant Flowering Plants

Basil,Beebalm,Chamomile,Heliotrope,Hyacinth,Lavender,Lemonbalm,Lily,Lily-of-the-Valley,Mint,Peony,Pinks,Sage,Scented Geranium,Stock,Thyme ,Violet 

Fragrant Ground Cover plants
Chamomile,Sweet Woodruff,Creeping Thyme,Woolly Thyme.

 

Plants for sensory effect
Sensory plants for Touch – Make a list of the plants that are interesting to touch, maybe choose plants such as Euonymus Alatus for its corky bark, Betula Jaquemontii for the main stem, Stachys silver carpet for its leavesCape Jasmine, Cockscomb, Feather grass, Gay-feather, Globe Amaranth, Hare's Tale Grass, Lamb's ears, Lily, Love-lies-bleeding, Mullein, Obedient Plant, Poppy, Pussy willow, Rose mallow, Squirrel-tail grass, Statice, Woolly thyme, Wormwood.

Sensory plants for Sight – Sight is mainly colour, movement and shape of foliage and flowers, try to include plants like Eucalytus Gunii or salix trees which provide both colour and movement.

Sensory plants for Sound – mainly comes from wind blowing through the stem and leaves, so plants like bamboos and most large leafed plants work well in a sensory garden. Also try Animated Oats, Balloon flower, Bamboo, Chinese lantern plant, Honesty or Money Plant, Pampas grass, Pearl Grass. 
Trees for sound include Birch, Pine and Poplar.

Sensory plants for smell and touch,  include plants with scented leaves such as Rosmarinus and herbs such as lemon balm or mint and lavender.
Sensory plants for there scent
  • Scents that fill the air and can be smelt without touching the plant  like Mock orange, Philadelphus, some roses, Honeysuckle, and the Curry plant.
  • Plants you need to get up close to,  Violet, primrose and some Narcissus.
  • Plants you will need to pinch or crush in your hand, like Peppermint, Apple mint, Lemon thyme most culinary herbs, Camomile and scented Geranium.
The ground These areas and plants are often forgotten, but make a big difference to the finished garden.
  • Fragrant Ground Cover plants Use these plants for covering corners, off path ground cover and any bit of ground that is difficult to plant in, Chamomile, Sweet Woodruff, Creeping Thyme, Woolly Thyme. Chamomile can be planted near to path edges and under benches where it will give off a lovely "apple" scent when trod on. 
  • Plants for pathways. These will be plants and shrubs that will tolerate medium to heavy foot traffic. and can be planted in crevices, cracks and gaps in paving and  alongside walkways.  I have listed a few here plants for pathways

 Don't forget a very important sensory organ, our tongue.

Plants for taste 
Safe fruits and vegetables include pumpkins, tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, carrots, strawberries. Herbs, like mint, dill, and parsley can be good for flavoring many types of food as well as providing colour and texture in a sensory garden design. Lists of easy to grow fruit and vegetables here 
growing your own.

Try this  Wildflower lawn  

And a few of my favourites I use building sensory gardens.

Scents without touching the plant  Mock orange, Philadelphus, some roses, Honeysuckle, and the Curry plant.

 

Sensory plants to get up close to smell the scent   Violet, primrose and some Narcissus.

 

Ones to pinch or crush in your hand    Peppermint, Apple mint, Lemon thyme most culinary herbs, Camomile and scented Geranium.

 

Pathways, Plant fragrant plants like rosemary, lavender, honeysuckle, sweet alyssum, lemon balm, mint, and sweet peas along paths and entrances where they can be fully appreciated. 

 

Plants to be planted in paths

Some plants like to be walked all over, some crushed just now and then,
some don't 
Some plants like life in the sun and sand, some prefer shade,
some won't
Some plants root in clay some grow up and feel at home in loam.

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