Sensory Garden at Eden Hall

Proposed by Occupational Therapy students, the sensory garden at Eden Hall Campus is one of the many ways ChathamU combines sustainability and health science. The space is designed to provide opportunities to stimulate all of the senses—sight, sound, touch, taste, smell, and movement.

What is a Sensory Garden?

Sensory gardens incorporate plants and trees you might expect in any garden, but with the specific intention of heightening a sensory experience. Plants are chosen for their tactile properties and aromas, the sounds they make in the wind, as well as their visual appeal. “Hardscape” elements like seating, pathways, water features, and signage are also incorporated to enhance sensory experiences and provide added comfort and interest.

Sight

Visual stimulation enhances cognitive and physical development across all ages. We have provided an array of colors throughout the garden by incorporating the following:

  • Plants and flowers—salvia, gaura, goldenrod, Helen’s flower, blue lobelia, tickseed sunflower, and hummingbird mint
  • Leaves—change colors in the fall
  • Lights—solar powered lights come on at dusk
  • Wind spinner—the structure and colors are unique

Sound

Background noise is hard to tune out and can be overwhelming, overstimulating, and overbearing in certain situations. The sensory garden allows one to take a step back and focus on naturally occurring sounds like:

  • Water trickling
  • Birds chirping
  • Wind and wind spinner
  • Insects flying around

Touch

Texture comes with everything we do, whether we are outside, in our home, at work, or even in a car. Our garden gives many opportunities to take some time and really appreciate our surroundings. Take some time to:

  • Feel the fuzziness of the lamb’s ear and sage
  • Notice the course rough texture of the mulch
  • Feel the smoothness of the chair, table, and swing
  • Become aware of the rough rigid feeling of the tickseed sunflower

Smell

Sense of smell is extremely stimulating and found to be closely linked to memory and emotions. In our garden, we have made an effort to provide a nice variety of smells:

  • Lavender—he smell of freshly washed clothes drying outside. This smell promotes a fresh and calm environment, even aiding in the reduction of stress and anxiety.
  • Hummingbird Mint—the smell of a fresh new car. This smell gives rise to the feeling of a clean rejuvenating outlook on life.
  • Thyme—the smell of spice. This smell evokes sharp alertness and a warming aroma.

Movement

Movement is essential in everyday life to increase blood and oxygen flow in our bodies. In the garden, the following are included to help target specific areas among all age groups to live a healthy life:

  • Swing
  • Open area to walk, run, dance, etc.

Sensory Garden at Eden Hall

6

The number of senses Eden Hall's Sensory Garden engages: sight, sound, touch, taste, smell, and movement.

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Studies have found that practicing mindfulness and gratitude can help to reduce stress and improve sleep, which helps the brain to function at its best.

2019

The year that faculty from Chatham's Occupational Therapy department received an internal University grant to support the creation of a therapeutic sensory garden on the Eden Hall Campus.

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Home to Chatham’s Falk School of Sustainability & Environment, Eden Hall is where undergraduate and graduate students work side-by-side with professors on research and practice initiatives.

Effective Tools for Self-Compassion & Self-Care

Incorporating mindfulness practices and loving-kindness meditations into your daily life can help you practice patience, acceptance, and non-judgement. Mindfulness asks us to focus on the present moment and accept what is happening around us without judgement.