Gardening for All Five Senses

We all garden for different reasons. Why not try this unique approach and incorporate a little something for each of your five senses? And then be sure to include a beautiful bench or a pea pebble path, and, make time to take a walk or sit and enjoy your garden with your eyes, ears, fingers, mouth and nose!


Gardens can be beautiful visual art and using some ideas from the art world can really enhance yours, especially if selecting color overwhelms you. One great tool is the color wheel. You can purchase an inexpensive one at any craft store. To create a bold, dramatic effect, try planting in complementary colors. These are any colors opposite each other on the wheel. Take the color wheel with you when you go to choose your plants. For example, when choosing annuals, select a flower color you like then locate the opposite color on the wheel and find other florae in that hue. Or try an analogous color scheme (a cluster of 3 adjacent colors on the wheel).


With the hustle and bustle of our lives, silence can be a beautiful sound. Simply sitting in the quiet of a garden can be music to our ears. If you want to add the twinkling tones of nature’s songbirds, attract birds by providing consistent food, water and cover. Research types of birds to determine what they eat and what types of nesting they require and provide those. A simple, shallow (no more than 3” deep) bird bath is a great way to furnish water.


As you plan for the sense of touch, think “petting zoo for plants” and ask yourself if the texture of the plant is interesting and durable. One of the most delightful plants to feel is Lambs’ Ear. Its large leaves are densely covered in silky, white hairs and feel like velvet. Snapdragons are another playful flower that is amazing to touch. They come in a variety of vivid, bright colors and their blooms open and close when pinched at the “jaw.” Kids love both of these plants.


It brings me joy to experience the freedom of plucking something off a plant and eating it in nature. Berries are a sweet favorite, of course, though they require a lot of sun and can take years to establish. In the meantime, there are so many types of mint that are fun to eat. Planting several different kinds and then taste-testing them is a treat. Many types of flowers are also edible, such as marigold, nasturtiums, pansies and peonies. Be careful, though, because not every flower is edible. Never use pesticides or chemicals on them, don’t eat them from the roadside, and be sure you correctly identify the flower before you eat it.


There’s nothing like the surprise of encountering a beautiful scent as you walk through a garden. It’s fun to try to identify where it’s coming from. Honeysuckle and lilac are two of nature’s most permeating scents. Honeysuckle has wonderful sweet smell, and it flourishes in sunny areas with a rock wall, trellis or fence to grow on. It also attracts hummingbirds, butterflies and bees so vital to all botanical life. Lilac is also a pleasant smell, and comes in many varieties. The Korean Dwarf Lilac is an easy-to-maintain tree-like bush in the shape of a popsicle. The skinny trunk is topped by a puff of greenery with clusters of powerfully-smelling lavender blooms in the spring. To maintain the circular shape and thickness, be sure to trim monthly.

No matter what type of garden you grow, consider your senses as you plan and plant! It just makes sense!

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