Home and garden improvements | Sensory gardens


Tips on how to bring pleasant and relaxing scents into a sensory garden.

By Callum Campbell · Published: February 26, 2021


A garden full of wonderful scents can be very powerful, provoking memories, increasing a sense of place, and having relaxing qualities. Choosing flowers, herbs and other plants with strong, pleasant smells can lift a garden into a truly sensory experience.

Be aware that if your child has epilepsy, there is some evidence that certain scented plants can trigger epileptic seizures in rare cases. Lavender, thyme, and other herbs may not be suitable for your garden if your child has had seizures triggered by smells before.

Below are tips for getting some incredible smells into your outdoor space.

  • Scented flowers – You can grow enough to make bouquets for inside the house too. Examples of non-toxic fragrant flowers include: Choisya (Mexican orange blossom)ViburnumBuddleja davidiiPhiladelphus (Mock Orange). You can buy plants like this online or at your local garden centre.
  • Lavender – It smells fantastic in the summer, and is great to touch and smell on your hands. Lavender can also be easily dried and used for indoor crafts. The RHS has a good guide on how to grow Lavender on their website here >>
  • Herbs – rosemary and thyme are hardy, low maintenance and smell fantastic – they also taste great in a roast dinner! You can buy potted herbs at supermarkets, but the plants you’ll find at a garden centre will be more likely to survive outside. Herbs tend to do well in containers and the RHS has a great guide about when, where and how to plant herbs on their website here >>
  • Jasmine and honeysuckle have lovely smelling flowers and can easily be trained to grow up trellising to cover a wall or fence, putting the flowers at a more accessible height from a wheelchair. Jasmine can be planted during February or March in a flower bed or large pot. Make sure you plant your Jasmine or other climbing plant next to a trellis that gets a lot of sunshine. Gardeners World have a video about how to plant and grow fragrant climbing plants, available on their website here >>
  • Try to plant all of your most fragrant plants close to each other. This will intensify the fantastic smell and provide a more sensory experience.


Helping Hands top tip

Thyme or chamomile can be grown as a low maintenance alternative to a lawn in small gardens. This is a great option if you don’t have much time to regularly mow a lawn. However, a chamomile lawn is not suitable for areas of the garden that get walked on a lot– see RHS website for tips >>


by Lorna Pederson, Head of Helping Hands, and Callum Campbell, Family Information Officer


First published 26 February 2021

Review due September 2021