What is a sensory garden?

Spring blossoms greet BAYarts visitors to the Fuller House.

A sensory garden is a unique and therapeutic space designed to engage the senses, particularly touch, smell, sight, and sound. These gardens are carefully planned and structured to provide an immersive experience that promotes relaxation, mindfulness, and emotional well-being. They cater to individuals of all ages and abilities, making them a wonderful addition to the community, and public parks.

The idea behind a sensory garden is to create an environment that stimulates the senses, allowing visitors to connect with nature in a deeper and more meaningful way. This is often achieved through the use of a variety of plants, flowers, and other natural elements that appeal to the senses.

For example, plants with different textures, such as soft lamb's ear or rough bark, can be incorporated to encourage touch and exploration. Sweet-smelling flowers like lavender or fragrant herbs such as basil and rosemary can provide a delightful aromatic experience, while visually stunning plants and colorful blooms or unique foliage can captivate the eye.

In addition to plants, sensory gardens often include elements such as water features, wind chimes, and natural materials like rocks or wood, which can add to the overall sensory experience. These elements provide auditory and tactile stimulation, intended to create a calming and immersive atmosphere.

The benefits of sensory gardens are numerous and far-reaching. Research has shown that spending time in nature can have a positive impact on mental health, reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. Sensory gardens, in particular, can be especially beneficial for individuals with sensory processing disorders, autism, or other special needs, as they provide a safe and comfortable environment for exploration and relaxation.

Furthermore, sensory gardens can be educational, providing an opportunity for visitors to learn about different plants and ecosystems while engaging their senses. They can also be a place for social interaction, bringing together individuals from diverse backgrounds to connect and enjoy the beauty of nature.

BAYarts, located in the Huntington Reservation of the Cleveland Metroparks, is embarking on an exciting new project to create a sensory garden. The organization has partnered with Ground Works Land Design, based in Westlake, to help design and install this unique space. The garden will be located on the western end of the BAYarts campus, nestled among the picturesque surroundings that make this area a perfect setting for such a project.

To ensure that the sensory garden meets the needs and expectations of its diverse audience, BAYarts has assembled a focus group consisting of staff and board members, experienced gardeners, therapists, local school faculty, and individuals with disabilities. This group of experts and stakeholders is collaborating to provide input on the design, plant selection, and features that will make the garden a welcoming and inclusive space for everyone. 

BAYarts has also received generous support from the Ohio Arts Council, the Bay Village Foundation, the Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities, and individual donations from families and friends within the BAYarts community. 

Fundraising efforts are underway and the local community at large will play a crucial role in supporting the development of the garden. There are several ways individuals and organizations can contribute:

  • Donations: BAYarts welcomes financial contributions to fund the creation and maintenance of the sensory garden. Donations can be made online at bayarts.net or in person at the organization's office. Naming rights are also available.
  • Volunteerism: Volunteers are essential for the success of this project. Whether you have a green thumb or simply want to lend a hand, there are opportunities to help with planting and maintenance.
  • Spreading the Word: Help build awareness and excitement about the sensory garden by sharing information with your friends, family, and community.
  • Participation: Once the sensory garden is complete, community members are encouraged to visit and enjoy this special space and participate in BAYarts’ workshops, events, and activities held in the garden.

As the plans for the sensory garden take shape, BAYarts looks forward to sharing updates with the community and inviting everyone to experience this beautiful and transformative space once it is completed. The organization is confident that the sensory garden will become a cherished asset for the park, the city of Bay Village, and beyond.

Beth Milli

Beth Milli is the Director of Operations at BAYarts

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Volume 16, Issue 3, Posted 9:22 AM, 03.05.2024