Learn More About Sensory Gardens

Welcome New York State Fair Visitor!

We are thrilled that you used the QR code you found in the NYSNLA Sensory Garden at the Courtyard of the Horticulture Building!

We hope you enjoyed experiencing and learning about our Sensory Garden. Below please find more useful information to help guide you in creating your own personal Sensory Garden! 

What is a Sensory Garden? A sensory garden is a garden that has a collection of plants and other elements that are appealing to move or more of the five senses: sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch. Sensory gardens should be accessible for all people to enjoyed--disabled and non-disabled.  

Why Make a Sensory Garden? We experience everything through our senses and this creates the multi-sensory memories we carry with us. The more senses we engage, the richer the experience and the more we remember. With imaginative sensory design and sensitive attention to detail, a garden becomes a sensory feast.

Lining-Up the Right Plants & Elements to Your Senses 
Here is a rundown of plant and element suggestions to help your Sensory Garden connect with the human senses.  

Click here for a handy list of Sensory Garden Plants!

Plants for sense of TOUCH: 

  • Lamb’s Ears (Stachys), Artemesia, Senecio, Hens and Chicks, Irish Moss, Celosia 

Fragrant plants for sense of SMELL: 

  • Lavender, Monarda, Lilac, Oriental Lily, herbs
  • Dianthus, Agastache (Hyssop), Creeping Thyme, Nepeta (Catmint), Peony 

Plants that generate SOUND: 

  • Grasses like Sporobulis, Pennisetum, Panicum
  • Chasmanthium, Baptisia 

Plants that enliven sense of SIGHT: 

  • Variegated plants, bright colorful annuals, textured plants
  • Sunflower, Zinnia, Swiss Chard (annual), Corylus (Corkscrew Hazel), Echinacea (Coneflower), Allium, Wave Petunias 

Vegetable Garden Plants: 

  • Beans on a Pole, Tomato, Potato, Cucumber, Pepper, Squash 

Herb Garden Plants: 

  • Rosemary, Basil, Parsley, Chives, Oregano, Chamomile, Dill, Fennel, Sage, Scented Geranium (Citronella) 

Berries & Fruit: 

  • Blueberry, Strawberry, Blackberry Plants 

Small Arbor with Edibles: 

  • Hops and Grape Plants 

Edible Flowers: 

  • Nasturtium, Anise Hyssop, Borage, Violets, Zucchini 

Decorative Elements: 

  • Garden Sculptures
  • Living Wall (Freestanding) or Hanging Picture Wall on Brick Spaces
  • Birdhouses, Birdfeeders, Birdbaths
  • Windchimes, preferably Bamboo
  • Landscape Lighting or Solar Lights for Accents
  • Irrigation or Water Systems (Pools, Waterfall, Fountain) 
  • Benches

Some Interesting & Helpful Articles/Resources on Sensory Gardens

Sensory Gardens Video from Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County 
Creating a Sensory Garden from PennState Extension
Sensory Garden Ideas: A British Perspective
The Sensory Trust's How to Plan a Sensory Garden
Designing A Sensory Garden from Kid's Gardening