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Creating a Sensory Garden

My friends! My Magnolia Workshop on building a sensory garden aired yesterday, and I thought it was time for me to flesh out some more details, in case you learn by reading (and re-reading, in my case). I stinking LOVE a sensory garden. I love them because they invite you to truly interact with nature, they encourage getting dirty (don't get me started on the good gut biome in dirt) AND get to be perfectly imperfect. So much of my job ends up being about creating the perfect landscape to complement a home...but a sensory garden is so based in learning and experience, you get to plant, replant, remove, add, etc., and it's all a part of the process.

If you're a lil bit stressed about things getting too messy, consider making your sensory garden in raised beds, just to keep the chaos contained. But the biggest thing to consider is light. You'll want to choose an area with direct sunlight, in order to grow the most plants possible. While you can get a shade sensory garden, you'll probably be lacking on taste, as most edible plants thrive in sunlight.

It's worth mentioning - choose the plants that appeal to YOU. There isn't a hard and fast guideline on what plants belong in a sensory garden. I love the smell of basil. I could keep a basil leaf in my pocket and randomly smell it throughout the day for the rest of my life. But you may hate basil. You may be saying, "Rach, if you walked around smelling a leaf in your pocket every day, you'd be a total weirdo." And you'd be right. But I'm my kind of weirdo, so I'm okay with it. Alllllllll this to say, don't plant basil if it's going to drive you away from your sensory garden.

As with everything I preach about planting - prep your soil first. Amend it, make sure it's healthy, then get ready to plant.

You can find the list of plants (along with everything else you need) from my workshop here. I would love to add Lunaria Annua to the list of sound plants. While it doesn't look like much in it's growth state, it develops translucent seed pod heads in late summer that have the greatest sound. Plus, I like to use the dried seed pod stems as centerpieces for my fall tablescape.

The list below is what I planted in Zone may have a completely different list in your neck of the woods.


sight shrimp plant (scientific name: Justicia brandegeeana)

coneflower (scientific name: Echinacea) brilliance autumn fern (scientific name: Dryopteris erythrosora)

smell ornamental onion (scientific name: Allium)

lavender (scientific name: Lavandula)

taste prostrate rosemary (scientific name: Salvia rosmarinus)

basil (scientific name: Ocimum basilicum)

touch cockscomb (scientific name: “Celosia argentea”)

corkscrew rush (scientific name: Juncus effusus “spiralis”)

lamb’s ear (scientific name: Stachys byzantina)

sound northern sea oats (scientific name: Chasmanthium latifolium)

baby moses cyperus (scientific name: Cyperus alternifolius)


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