How to Design A Sensory Garden Part 1: Sight

Leah Heiser, Flowerscape Director

We all know that gardens add visual appeal to a yard, but gardens also can appeal to our all of our senses: Sight, Smell, Sound, Taste and Touch.

What is a Sensory Garden?

KAB Alexander Park Flwsp

Keep Akron Beautiful’s Alexander Park Flowerscape is full of texture and color all growing season.

 

A sensory garden is one that is specifically designed to appeal to the five senses through the use of soft and hard landscaping. It can be a portion of a larger garden as well.

Sensory gardens are becoming increasingly popular in schools, hospitals and hospices to create a therapeutic environment. There are vast amounts of literature that acknowledge sensory gardens as having value for people with visual disabilities or dementia. They contribute to emotional well-being and can be used to improve mental, emotional and long term physical health. They can also just be beautiful places to relax, reflect and talk.

This post is one of a 5-part series to offer suggestions on designing a garden that appeals to the five senses, beginning with sight.

Consistent Blooming for All Year Visual Appeal

Beauty is one of the most sought-after benefits of gardening. However, many homeowners put so much effort into one particular season that they may not ensure the garden looks good all year round. Here are some plant suggestions for all-year interest:

daffoldils

Daffodils in early spring kick off season of blooming color in Keep Akron Beautiful Flowerscape.

Spring bulbs can bloom from late winter to late spring. Crocus and Snowdrops appear while snow is still on the ground. Daffodils, Tulips, and Hyacinths bloom anywhere from early to late spring depending on the variety.

Most tulips are at their best the first spring after planting. In subsequent springs, although the foliage may return, flowering is often sporadic. To ensure a lavish display of tulips every year, many gardeners treat tulips as annuals, by digging up and discarding the bulbs after the first bloom and replanting fresh bulbs in the fall.

Some tulips are willing, though not guaranteed, to put on a good display for more than one year. They include the Darwin Hybrids and the charming Wild Tulips, which are sometimes referred to as Species Tulips.

red bulbscape tulips

Red Tulips and Grape Hyacinths from KAB’s Bulbscape Fundraiser

In general, tulips will last longer when planted in part shade part sun, and Colorblends is a great company from which to order bulbs. Also, Keep Akron Beautiful periodically offers bulbs as part of their Bulbscape Fundraiser through Dutch Mill.

Spring ephemeral’s are various woodland wildflowers that appear above ground in early spring, flower, bear fruit, and die in a short two-month period. Trilliums, Bloodroot and Trout Lily are great early spring ephemerals. Virginias Blue Bells offer color mid to late spring and pair well with Hosta. Jack in the Pulpit and Mayapples stick around the longest.

Daffodils can also be planted in shaded spots. Daffodil Trail at Furnace Run Metro Park near Richfield is a great example of this.

Alliums offer late spring interest and look especially good when planted in-between Catmit, Ferns, and Hosta.

Daffodils, Hyacinths, and Alliums are deer resistant.

Make sure you leave the foliage on bulbs until it turns yellow, this helps the bulb rejuvenate for the following year.

The best time to plant bulbs is in the fall and early winter. There are a few exceptions to this, Gladiolas, Dahlias, and Lilies like to be planted in spring when the ground thaws.
Annuals offer constant summer blooms, while most perennials bloom for about 2-3 weeks.

In June Rozanne Geraniums, Catmint and Knockout Roses bloom. They can provide a second flush of blooms if cut back or deadheaded early. However the second flush is never a great as the first.

You can keep Daisies, Coneflowers, Salvia and Bee Balm blooming longer if you stay on top of deadheading.

Mixing in foliage plants like Coral Bells, Hosta, Solomon Seal and ornamental grasses will add visual interest all summer long while perennials are going in and out of bloom.

Aster, Autumn Joy Sedumn, Beauty Berry and Caryopteris will fill out in the autumn.

Winterberry, Japanese Kerria, Red Twig Dogwoods, Holly, and Mahonia look lovely all winter long because of their evergreen leaves or brightly colored stems.

Hellabores/ Lenten Rose also offer winter interest and are a great option for dry shaded sites. They bloom in early spring and offer a nice evergreen ground cover the rest of the year.

I would recommend leaving seed pods on your perennials and cutting back ornamental grasses in the spring. This provides winter interest and a habitat for birds.

Next post: How to Design A Sensory Garden Part 2: Smell

The Keep Akron Beautiful Adopt-A-Site Program

Leah Heiser, Flowerscape Director

The Keep Akron Beautiful (KAB) Flowerscape program, in 2018, consists of 33 agency maintained beds that are found throughout the City of Akron. Our Adopt-A-Site (AAS) program is a separate part of Flowerscape and allows neighborhood volunteers to plant and maintain beautification sites on public land, like devil strips and parks.

dusty millers

Karona Park Adopt-A-Site 2015 maintained by Parkway Estates

While many question the ability to put AASs on vacant lots, these areas are not considered public spaces due to ownership rights.

To become an KAB AAS, certain criteria must be met, but basically volunteer groups are able to choose their own public space location that is near a fire hydrant. The location needs to be determined by the volunteer group in the fall, rather than during the spring/summer, as KAB’s Flowerscape crew needs to ensure the topography is good for planting and also will help with the first year bed prep. The crew is unable to do this during their busy planting and growing season.

When it has been decided in the fall that an area is going to become a KAB volunteer-maintained AAS the following year, volunteer representatives (ideally the entire group) must attend the annual AAS Clinic in April of the following year to receive proper planting and maintenance techniques.

When the season begins, the KAB Flowerscape crew, as mentioned earlier, will assist the group in landscape planning and first-year site preparation. Subsequently, AAS signage will be ordered for the location. Each season, as an AAS, the group can purchase wholesale plant materials and have free hydrant connections for watering the site.

In addition, KAB provides bags for end-of-season bed cleanup as well as trash bag removal.

The AAS program currently has 64 sites throughout the City of Akron neighborhoods. If you are considering on becoming an Adopt-A-Site through Keep Akron Beautiful, it is recommended that you start getting your group of interested volunteers together now and choose your site. Then you will be ready to contact Leah Heiser with your site location and group by the fall.

 

Anti-Litter Digital Trends for a Litter-Free Movement You Don’t Wanna Miss

By Cindy Pantea

It’s a litter-free movement each spring! What about the rest of the year?

Locally, April is Keep Akron Beautiful’s Clean Up Akron Month (sign up starting March 1, 2018), which also coincides with Keep America Beautiful’s nationwide Great American Cleanup. While both formally involve people in this spring cleanup, what about daily? Have you really ever gone a day without seeing at least one piece of trash?trash

Imagine this: With the population of Akron being 199,110, if everyone picked up that one piece of litter they see each day, there would be 199,110 fewer pieces of debris cluttering our streets!

How about the country? The latest census says over 300 million people live in the U.S. That’s more than 300 million pieces of trash we could be clearing away every day, if we all continued to work on it together!boy group holding trash

Because it’s the social aspect of group cleanups that make it more fun, a couple of new digital trends could have you syncing up your Fitbit for fitness points, along with others, and/or searching for litter like the ‘Pokémon Go’ craze. Best part is that you and others around the world can share it on social media and encourage so many more to join in!

These trends are called ‘Plogging’ and ‘Litterati.’

Plogging

plogging

Already adopted in Europe, plogging, which combines the Swedish words ‘plocka upp’ (meaning ‘pick up’) with ‘jogging,’ is the act of picking up litter while running. So when you combine going for a jog, or a walk for that matter, with intermittent squats and lunges to retrieve debris, suddenly the task of ridding the earth of unnatural materials not only benefits health as it relates to the environment, it increases your overall health, including the fitness aspect.

In fact, that the app, LifeSum, which says can be synced with your Fitbit, will allow you to log and track your plogging efforts as part of your daily fitness routine. All of this has been supported and endorsed by the national organization, Keep America Beautiful in a recent blog, which is from where we learned and are sharing this info!

And the #plogging photo craze is beginning to gain traction on Twitter and Instagram. (Credit for Instagram photo above: @majatesch via the Keep America Beautiful blog post mentioned and linked above.) We can’t wait to see yours!

Litterati

Litterati, a new app in which geotags collect data to provide insight into litter problem areas, while keywords identify commonly littered brands and products was the idea that came to dad, Jeff Kirschner, after he and his two kids happened upon litter during a family hike. The app site, accessed from the www.litterati.org website, says that this information will then be used to work with companies and organizations to find more sustainable solutions.

For social media, the Litterati app uses Instagram, so your #litterati photos can be displayed easily for all to see, and people are getting creative with it.

litterati pics on instagram

Not an app person? You really don’t have to download an app to be social in this litter-free movement, and it shouldn’t keep you from being a part of the #plogging and #litterati society.

In fact, we want to be a part our local ploggers and litteratis! Tag Keep Akron Beautiful at @K_Akron_B on Twitter, @Keepakronbeautiful on Facebook or @keepakronbeautiful on Instagram anytime with your #plogging and/or #litterati photos and, of course, use #DoBeautifulThings, which Keep America Beautiful will be watching for, too.

You absolutely do ‘do beautiful things’ as a volunteer, anti-litter leader and steward of the environment, and we look forward to extending the social aspect of this litter-free movement throughout the year by connecting you with other like-minded individuals. Together we can influence even more people to stand with us and say: Let’s end litter!

Thank you for all you do!

Sign up for Clean Up Akron Month today!

 

 

Up-Cycling Spotlight: Kenmore-Garfield High School Disability Classrooms

Something cool is happening at Kenmore-Garfield High School. They have two classes of children with multiple disabilities that are making a difference in their school, and ultimately in their community. One of these classes is responsible for the majority of the entire school’s recycling, which helped them win our Recycle-Bowl competition in the high school category this past fall! Kenmore-Garfield High School recycled a praise-worthy 2.04 tons of paper during our month-long competition. They also keep up the recycling all school year – not just during our competition!

students at kenmore garfield high school that recycled during recycle bowl

Kenmore-Garfield High School students that helped recycle 2.04 tons of paper!

In the other classroom, students are using up-cycling to create jewelry and holiday crafts. They use things like aluminum cans, candy tins, and bingo cards to create new things like pins, earrings, and Valentine’s Day cards.

Valentine’s Day crafts made by the students

 

The students learn skills doing this that can help them later to be more employable and more independent. The profits from their jewelry and craft sales are also used to fund field trips and replenish their supplies.

These students are running a complete business, and helping the environment while they’re at it. The students also run their own coffee shop where they sell their up-cycled items. It’s called “Garbucks,” and they deliver to the staff in the school (their vanilla latte gives Starbucks a run for their money!).

These students are making a difference in their school, and are setting an example for recycling and up-cycling!