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Keep Akron Beautiful (KAB) is a nonprofit organization, that was established in 1981 to implement a comprehensive litter prevention, recycling promotion and beautification program for the City of Akron. Keep Akron Beautiful is a nonprofit 501©(3) organization mandated to serve the citizens of Akron, Ohio, KAB is funded by the private sector, and the City of Akron. KAB develops and implements public education and community improvement programs on litter prevention, recycling, graffiti eradication, waste management and beautification to encourage citizens to take pride in Akron by participating in these activities. The Board of Directors envisions a litter-free Akron, where all citizens and businesses take pride and responsibility for the cleanliness and beautification of their environment.

How to Design A Sensory Garden Part 5: Touch

by Leah Heiser, Flowerscape Director

fountain grasses

Fountain grass offers plumes that are soft to the touch.

This post is the last of a 5-part series to offer suggestions on designing a sensory garden. The flower suggestions here will appeal to the sensory garden design for touch.

Plants that look so interesting that your urge is to touch them. Or, leaves and petals that have to be touched, rubbed or crushed to create their smell are fun your garden experience.

Appeal to Touch

Lambs ear, Artimesia, ornamental grasses with big  plumes like the fountain grass, and pussy willows offer a soft texture.

Herbs, like mints*, rosemary and basil, and the leaves of scented geraniums give off stronger smells when touched rubbed or crushed. So it’s fun to add these to your garden so that you can use your hands, beyond garden maintenance, in order to really enhance your garden experience.

Creating Your Oasis With Other Features

Apart from including trees and shrubs of various textures, look for other ways to stimulate a tactile response. Water features add relaxing sound a beauty, Stones, moss, mulch and other accents have varied textures that can stimulate a sense of touch in various ways.

alexander park

Alexander Park’s water fountain is a Keep Akron Beautiful favorite.

pink hibiscus

Pink Hibiscus growing in the Alexander Park Flowerscape.

Don’t forget to include a sitting area so that you can immerse yourself fully in the garden while sipping your Hibiscus tea made from the plants petals or Echinacea tea made from the entire Purple Coneflower (petals, leaves and stem) harvested from your own organic sensory garden.

So now that I have talked about how to design for the five senses and offered plant selections for each sense, let me close by saying:

Engaging the senses has benefits for everyone, whether it helps you to relax, is a fun space for children to play or just encourages people to be out in the garden! The great thing about sensory gardens is that elements can be incorporated into any space, with all five senses able to be dispersed throughout the garden or concentrated in a dedicated sensory area.

I hope you have all enjoyed reading and feel inspired to create a healing space in your garden by appealing to your five senses.

*Be aware that mint plants can spread and overtake your garden, so plant in the ground inside a plastic pot with drainage in order to control the spread of its roots.

Re-read past sensory garden blogs:

How to Design a Sensory Garden Part 1: Sight
How to Design a Sensory Garden Part 2: Smell
How to Design a Sensory Garden Part 3: Sound
How to Design a Sensory Garden Part 4: Taste

How to Design A Sensory Garden Part 4: Taste

Leah Heiser, Flowerscape Director

This post is the fourth of a 5-part series to offer suggestions on designing a sensory garden. The plant and flower suggestions here will appeal to the sensory garden design for taste.

Food is linked to powerful memories and feeling thanks to a connection between the mouth and nose and the part of the brain dealing with emotions.

Discover the pleasure of growing food with your own hands, having only to walk out your back door to access it, and then sharing your homegrown delights with your friends loved ones. It’s an interactive experience.

Choose Plants That Appeal to Taste

Include fruit-bearing trees and shrubs into your landscape. Blueberries offer wonderful spring blooms and fall color for wet sunny sites.

Strawberries can create a low maintenance ground cover.

ohio maple syrup

Sugar Maples will produce sap that can be turned into maple syrup.

If you have Sugar Maple trees in your yard, tap them each February for maple syrup. Black Walnut trees can also be tapped; however they have a 60:1 ratio compared to the 30:1 ratio of sugar maples.

Vegetables can be intertwined with perennials to make the most of small spaces. Rubarb and asparagus are great perennial vegetables that produce year after year and add nice texture to gardens. Produce can be harvested from early spring to late fall, depending on the crops planted.

Plant herbs in pots near your kitchen door. You will use them more if they are easily accessible. Plants like Allium schoenoprasum (chives) are great, cause they produce fun purple flowers that are  edible, along with the stalks, and add to the visual of your garden as well.

Echinacea (Purple Coneflowers), Hibiscus, Rose and Calendula are useful plants, too,  as they can be harvested for tea.

Past posts:
How to Design A Sensory Garden Part 1: Sight
How to Design A Sensory Garden Part 2: Smell
How to Design A Sensory Garden Part 3: Sound

Next and final post in this sensory garden series:
How to Design A Sensory Garden Part 5: Touch

How to Design a Sensory Garden Part 3: Sound

by Leah Heiser, Flowerscape Director

This post is the third of a 5-part series to offer suggestions on designing a sensory garden. The flower suggestions here will appeal to the sensory garden design for sound.

Coneflowers attract pollinators.

Sounds found in the garden are from the wildlife that come to pollinate, as they’re attracted to its environment for food and/or shelter.

By choosing indigenous plants, you can be sure that pollinating insects, birds and other critters will seek refuge within your garden. The Ohio Prairie Nursery sells native seeds for a great price.

For additional interest, Douglas W. Tallamy has written a wonderful book called Bringing Nature Home. This book does a wonderful job of explaining which Ohio native trees provide a habitat for local insects and birds. Til then, below are some of my top-of-mind suggestions.

Garden Suggestions to Ensure the Lively Sounds of Wildlife

Bee Balm, Coneflower, Salvia, and Yarrow attract hummingbirds.

milkweed

Tall Milkweed growing naturally in a Keep Akron Beautiful Adopt-A-Site

Milkweed, typically thought of as a weed, is the host plant to monarch butterflies. Support monarch by leaving Milkweed in your beds and by purchasing different cultivars that are found at your local nursery such as Butterfly Weed, another native Milkweed variety not to be mistaken with the butterfly bush. The butterfly bush is a non-native and only supports pollinators at the end of the life cycle while Milkweed supports monarchs through all of their life stages.

If you want to attract the Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly, add a Spicebush plant to your sensory garden.

Host plants for the tiger swallowtail butterfly include: Tulips trees, Lilacs, Birch, Chokecherry and black cherry trees.

Song birds, like chicadees, robins and finches, will add character to your yard. The Audobon Society suggests including a water source and a song bird border of shrubs along your property’s edge: The Northern Bayberry, native Gray and Red-Oiser dogwood species, Nannyberry Arrowwood, which is a virburnum species, and Winterberry–one of my all-time favorites.

Provide food sources and make sure they are located a fair distance from the main action of the yard so as not to scare off birds.

If you have big picture window, plant a pollinator garden and watch birds and butterflies from the comfort of your home and not disturb the wildlife. Gold finches love Thistle. If you wish to attract them to your yard, I would recommend purchasing Thistle seed or even leaving one or two Thistle in your yard. (Just make sure the Thistle doesn’t get carried away.) Coneflower seed pods feed chicadees in the fall, so if you want to attract these birds, make sure not to cut down Coneflowers in the fall as a typical maintenance would require.

Past posts:
How to Design A Sensory Garden Part 1: Sight
How to Design A Sensory Garden Part 2: Smell

Next Post: How to Design A Sensory Garden Part 4: Taste

 

How to Design a Sensory Garden Part 2: Smell

Leah Heiser, Flowerscape Director

This post is the second of a 5-part series to offer suggestions on designing a sensory garden. The flower suggestions here will appeal to the sensory garden design for smell.

Scents are especially effective as reminders of past experience–more so than cues from other senses.

Smell, unlike sound, sight, or touch, get routed through your olfactory bulb, the smell-analyzing region in your brain that’s closely connected to brain regions that handle memory and emotion.

Aromatic Garden Variety Suggestions

The Metro Adopt-A-Site in Kenmore with Dianthus plantings. The popular pink and white “Super Parfait” Dianthus biennial, shown in front, may appeal to all senses, even though a hybrid. See more Dianthus facts below.

 

Dot your landscape with aromatic trees, shrubs and flowers to make stepping into your garden extra special.

Some of the more fragrant trees include: Crab Apples, Magnolia, Lilac and Vibrnum. Imagine a fragrant lilac planted near or under your bedroom window. What a wonderful way to wake up!

Fragrant shrubs include: Mock Orange (Philadelphus), Sweetshrub (Calycanthus), Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia). These choices are great for attracting pollinators.

Another frangrant shrubs is the Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), which is ideal for wet sites and tough soil.

Perennials such as the sun loving Lavender, Peonies and Dianthus and shade-loving  Lily of the Valley and Woodland Hyacinths offer fragrance as well. Perennials, unlike annuals, live more than two years.

Some Dianthus Facts

Dianthus come in many varieties, and although some are hybrids (cross-pollinated), they seem to keep their clove-like fragrance but may not bloom all season, even after deadheading, like non-hybrids. Therefore, they should be planted around other plants that bloom consistently. Still some of the popular variegated varieties will appeal to all of your senses, with interesting color, ruffly petals that are also edible, and some pollinator attraction.

A Caution on Buying Roses

Be careful when you purchase roses. Many have lost their fragrance over the last half-century as hybridizers pursued traits such as brighter colors, bigger flowers, compact growth or long stems for cutting. So before you purchase a rose for your sensory garden, make sure to take it away from other plants and smell it before you buy it.

Visit previous post: How to Design A Sensory Garden Part 1: Sight

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