Sensory Garden

On a windy day in spring, when the sweet-smelling crabapple trees are in bloom, you might see a flurry of pink-and-white “snow” blossoms in the air and hear a golden-crowned kinglet sing in the pine grove—just another day in the Sensory Garden, a place that comes alive through feel, smell, sight, and sound.

This is a garden that demands a slower pace, where you’ll find plants in raised beds, making them easy to smell and touch for people with limited mobility and others. Don’t be shy about rubbing the bristly, rust-colored center of the purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) or the soft, fuzzy foliage of the silver sage (Salvia argentea) or any other plant that strikes your fancy in this garden. Try dropping by at different times of year—on a rainy day, the leaves of sweetbriar rose (Rosa rubiginosa) smell like apples; in late summer or early fall, the dark-maroon colored chocolate cosmos (Cosmos atrosanguineus) smells like—yep, you guessed it—chocolate. Take a moment to note the color combinations—the yellow, red, and orange plants are intended to be warm and inviting—and then, for contrast, head down the lower woodland path, under the shade of the birch trees.