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Ideas for sensory plants

(28 Posts)
HenriettaTurkey Thu 20-Mar-14 18:34:43

I'm not sure if this is the right area to post this, or if it should be under education, but I'll give it a go!

I am part of a group at a special needs school looking at developing outdoor spaces, particularly for the lower level students.

As a part if this I have been tasked with finding appropriate plants. We use colours/scents of the day within our lessons & I thought it would be great if this could be transferred to the outdoor spaces too. We planters etc, and a few pots/troughs but very little money so this could be a tough challenge.

What I am looking for are plants that are definitely NOT poisonous, or prickly but that either smell or look amazing...for peanuts.

They also need to be reasonably hardy.

Here are the scents/colours of the days:

Monday - mint/silver
Tuesday - lavender/blue
Wednesday - lemon/yellow
Thursday - coconut/green
Friday - cinnamon/red

As you can see, some are more straightforward than others.

Also, any ideas about other cheap & hardy but amazing sensory plants or other outdoor sensory ideas (cheap natural windchimes anyone?!) and I'd love you forever.

Thank you all so much!

EauRouge Thu 20-Mar-14 18:59:39

Monday you could have some mint, obviously. There are loads of different varieties.

Tuesday, lavender. Leaves and flowers both smell lovely. Borage has lovely blue flowers and is great for bees. The flowers are edible.

You could have lemon balm for the lemon/yellow pot, it has a lovely lemony smell and is tough as old boots. Lemongrass too (you can grow this from the stuff you buy at supermarkets so cheap to do)

Thursday, hmmm. How about some alchemillas for the green colour? They are cheap and look lovely with rain on the leaves, all sort of sparkly. I think gorse smells like coconut but it's a prickly bugger so no good.

For the red pot you could try red nasturtiums. They're not cinnamon scented but the leaves taste peppery/spicy and the flowers are also edible. They are really easy to grow from seed.

If you're in Cambs then I have spare of all of the above! If not, try a local gardening club, there are always plants going spare.

HenriettaTurkey Thu 20-Mar-14 19:44:38

Great ideas eau rouge! I particularly love trying to grow lemongrass. I had no idea this could be done. Borage is a fantastic thought, too.

Not in cambs, sadly. In Yorkshire, although maybe travelling down sometime soon...

incogKNEEto Thu 20-Mar-14 19:49:19

Thursday you could have some sort of palm or bamboo? They're green and the leaves rustle in the breeze (like coconut palms?) I like eau rouge's ideas too smile

nonicknameseemsavailable Thu 20-Mar-14 20:57:17

what about fennel? you can smell it, it has lovely yellow flowers BUT it is also really softly feathery so would be a wonderful one for touching and feeling against the skin. I bought a small pot of some a few years ago for about £5 if I remember right and now I have 4 or 5 of them, they grow really tall and then when they seem to die off you can cut them right down (the stems are almost bambooey like) and then it comes back the following year and seems (I am not a gardener) to spread out from the base.

HenriettaTurkey Thu 20-Mar-14 21:07:04

Ooh I like it!

nonicknameseemsavailable Thu 20-Mar-14 22:36:53

there is another plant that I forget the name of but it is commonly referred to as rabbits ear or something (I think gardeners or garden centres would know it by that), it is perfectly harmless and it has very velvety leaves so that might be a good one to think about too.

some ferns can also be very feathery and quite touchy feely.

nonicknameseemsavailable Thu 20-Mar-14 22:39:54

this is the one we have - my parents gardener dug it out of their garden for us as he said my children would like it.

nonicknameseemsavailable Thu 20-Mar-14 22:42:29

ok it is called stachys byzantina.

chamomile is a good one, I remember reading somewhere about planting it between paving stones or mixed in with grass and then when you walk across it you can smell it.

FunkyBoldRibena Thu 20-Mar-14 22:50:38

Although borage is lovely blue, it is also quite spiky. For a good blue plant try cerinthe which has blue leaves and blue purple flowers. And please grow agastache, the purple one. The most amazing scent ever.

FunkyBoldRibena Thu 20-Mar-14 22:51:11

And you can now get blue tomatoes.

nonicknameseemsavailable Thu 20-Mar-14 22:56:06

am now off to look up cerinthe and agastache...

MairzyDoats Thu 20-Mar-14 23:01:28

What about heliotrope? Purple flowers, easy to grow, and the most heavenly scent ever...I think it's also known as apple pie and custard.

Herbs definitely, there's nothing like breaking off and crushing a bit and smelling could also cook with them? Chives are lovely and easy and have amazing purple pompom flowers.

Grasses might be good and have a long life (also easy to grow from seed.) There's a variety called bunny tails that have little cotton-bud style flowers, very cute and tactile.

HenriettaTurkey Thu 20-Mar-14 23:09:12

Wow these ideas are great! Loving the tactile/sensory suggestions.

FunkyBoldRibena Thu 20-Mar-14 23:28:10

Garlic chives, wonderful leaves and beautiful white flowers.

Bergamot, amazing red flowers and again, lovely smelling leaves.

Acer Griseum paper bark maple. Once these are growing the bark can be pulled off. My extremely high functioning autism students are obsessed with a 113 year old one at college. I send them there to calm down. Not cheap but will give school decades of calm.

Spindle plant, the colour of the autumn foliage is amazing red.

Amelanchier, white flowers, red leaves, purple berries and red leaves in autumn. It's got it all for visuals.

Black scabious, mine is still flowering from last year. Quinces just for the ripe scent of them. Stipa gigantia for the swoosh in the wind. Contortia hazel for the shape and the catkins. Stella cherry for the sweet red cherries.

FunkyBoldRibena Thu 20-Mar-14 23:30:56

For lemony scent, lemon verbena is the one you want. Also, stevia for the sweet leaves. And mint, put in pots in the ground, particularly Indian mint or Swiss mint.

I could go on and on but it is bedtime in the funky house. Perhaps tomorrow...

FunkyBoldRibena Thu 20-Mar-14 23:32:34

For cinnamon which won't grow here, try cinnamon basil. Night.

HenriettaTurkey Fri 21-Mar-14 08:49:57

I've never heard of cinnamon basil.

I'm off to research the price and availability of these items. You are a complete mine of information!

EauRouge Fri 21-Mar-14 08:55:58

Many of the plants mentioned are easy to grow from seed which will keep your costs down considerably.

If you are travelling through Cambs at any point, drop me a PM! I live right next to the A1 so not far off the beaten track if you're travelling through. Will be happy to contribute some plants, I hate throwing plants away even if I have too much of something.

HenriettaTurkey Fri 21-Mar-14 09:28:53

That's so kind of you, eaurouge. There's a chance we may be nearby either the beginning or end of April so I will talk to DH & see what we can do. That would be amazing!

Will pm you if it's a possibility.

Have been googling cinnamon basil which looks lovely. I expect it'd need to come in over the winter but could work in the summer. How lovely.

EmmaSue Fri 21-Mar-14 09:37:07

Not sure how either would fit but...

Curry plant has a very distinctive smell.

Pussy willow for the lovely soft, erm pussies, sorry, don't know the word for them. Might be expensive to get a mature tree though and I don't know how quickly they grow.

Eucalyptus also has peely bark and a distinctive smell.

LyndaCartersBigPants Fri 21-Mar-14 09:56:34

I love those lambs ears! I remember stroking them in the garden when I was little. I also loved pinks (like little carnations) which smelled like cream soda.

wonkylegs Fri 21-Mar-14 11:26:45

For cinnamon smell you could also try California Allspice

wonkylegs Fri 21-Mar-14 11:27:38

sorry I mean Carolina Allspice

MistyB Fri 21-Mar-14 11:33:42

What a fun project!! Where in Yorkshire are you? Could you contact Harlow Carr to help or perhaps some of the large National Trust head gardeners? Are there any Yellow Book gardens (154 within 50 miles of Harrogate) near you? Perhaps some of the owners might be interested in helping.

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