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12 Plants For A Sensory Garden (Detailed List)


It is not outrageous to say that all gardens are sensory. However, it should be appreciated that the simple fact of qualifying a sensory garden, underlines the importance that is given to the stimulation of the senses that is entrusted to it.


Plantations obviously play a very important role in the “sensory garden”, since it is the plants that will serve as a support. We can thus draw up a list of plants that could be particularly valuable for certain senses (or for all of them).


Plants for a sensory garden

1. Santoline

The santoline, or small cypress, is a plant of rock and massif, where it forms pretty silvery tufts, colored of yellow all summer long. It remains decorative in winter by its evergreen foliage.


2. Orange tree from Mexico

Originally from Central America, the orange tree from Mexico has acclimatized in our regions where it has become very hardy. In a large bed, in a free hedge or isolated on a lawn, this ornamental shrub will embellish the garden with its white flowers and immortal greenery.


3. Fragrant geraniums

Amazingly, fragrant geraniums diffuse their scent as soon as their foliage is crumpled with their fingertips. Ideal in flower beds, along driveways or in traffic areas, they are sure to charm you!


4. Lavender

Dried lavender flowers, which scent the cupboards and wardrobes and keep moths away, are used to produce a very fragrant essence. They also produce a delicious honey.


5. Eleagnus

Eleagnus, also called chalef, precious for its beautiful foliage and its deliciously fragrant bloom, is sometimes bearer of tasty fruits. It is useful in hedges, in clumps or isolated.


6. Honeysuckle

This climbing plant has a deciduous foliage. Its period of bloom extends from May to June. The color of the flowers is pink, but not scented.


7. Scented Daphnia

In winter, at a time when flowering is rare, the surprising Daphne comes to enchant the garden, exhaling its delicious fragrance. A shrub full of charm to be discovered without delay!


8. Mahonia

Mahonia flowers for long weeks, from December to April, depending on the variety. The flowering is followed by a very decorative fruiting, small blue-black berries that prolong the decorative aspect of the shrub. The evergreen foliage is extremely ornamental.


9. Winter Viorna

Erect shrub with leaves first bronze, then dark green, finally red-purple in autumn. Tubular flowers, with heliotrope scent, dark pink, becoming white speckled with pink, in corymb, all winter on the bare wood.


10. Mint

Mints are herbaceous perennials with generally very aromatic foliage. Widely cultivated, they are also found in the wild but their smell is less strong, more delicate. They form small clusters in ditches, along streams and ponds.


11. Chamomile

Chamomile is a plant with multiple benefits. It can be used as an infusion, ointment, lotion, inhalation or compress. Appreciated for its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and healing properties.


12. Verbena

Verbena flowers are used in herbal teas, which have diuretic properties and help fight against fever.

Plants according to the 5 senses

For the taste

Fruit plants, of course, and vegetables, but also a good part of aromatic plants, whose leaves can be tasted: thyme, savory, rosemary, lavender, sage, mint, oregano…


For the perfume

Aromatics still, but also some trees (linden, some mimosas and magnolias …), many shrubs with particularly fragrant flowering such as: lilacs, roses, clerodendrons, some daphnes, some viorns, osmanthes, some shrubby honeysuckle; and some climbing plants (clematis, wisteria, jasmine, honeysuckle, false jasmine …).


For the view

Impossible to propose a list! Let us only advise to take care of a good diversity of shapes, colors (of flowers, of course, but also of leaves and stems), heights, types of foliage… Which allows to avoid the monotony of greens.


To touch it

Great variety of trunks, branches, culms (smooth for bamboos, cracked for pines, etc.); great variety also with the leaves – some very smooth, others fluffy, others rough, sticky (bedstraw and madder) – and needles (firs, pines, cedars…), with the fruits, flowers… Beware of the particularly sharp leaves of some grasses.


The touch is also under your feet: you can feel the difference between a classic lawn, a lawn of moss, a bed of clover, a path of pine bark …


For hearing

If the plants welcome especially the animals whose songs will interest us (birds, cicadas…), some of them are particularly musical when the wind blows. Bamboos, poplars (aspens in particular), birches, etc…


How a sensory garden works

It would be difficult to classify plant species according to their sensoriality. Some are not very fragrant but offer a very lively flowering, others are neither fragrant nor floral, but have roots, leaves or fruits with a very marked taste. Others have a particular texture, either on their foliage, bark, or berries: sometimes very soft, sometimes very rough. And then there are essences that offer all this at the same time in a rhythmic way with the seasons. 


However, what we perceive with our senses intact is often different when perception is altered by age or illness. We have verified this by circulating in gardens known to be sensory equipped with aging simulators, and have clearly perceived that it was essential to adjust the choice of plant palette with this alteration of sight, smell, taste and touch.


Tip for creating a sensory garden

  • Mark the name of each plant on a tutor at its feet, and its translation in Braille on the other side of the labels.
  • Make sure that no plant is toxic. Some sensory explorations end up in the mouth!
  • Accessorize your space as much as possible with mobiles, clarillons or other bells, so that the music is part of the game.
  • Statues, buddhas or sculptures adorn the plant spaces with wonders, take those that make sense in relation to the place, and in relation to the public.



How to define a sensory garden? It is an enclosed plant space that welcomes both fauna and flora that awakens the 5 senses. Taste, touch, hearing, sight and smell are stimulated from all sides. More and more of them can be found in institutions for the disabled or the elderly.


And we understand why. For some residents, they function as a therapeutic aid: stimulation of the senses, motor exercises. We give you a list of plants to plant in your sensory garden to simulate every sense of your body!

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