July Walking Tour - Sensory Garden
By Angie Andrade Foster, Senior Horticulturist
When you enter any garden in July your senses are overwhelmed by the intricate plantings of bright colors and bold textures. Your mind is automatically flooded with sights, sounds and smells of garden memories. The same is true for the Sensory Garden, but when you enter this garden you are encouraged and reminded to immerse all of your senses in each plant.
As you begin your journey just north of the Bonfils-Stanton Visitor Center at the entrance of the Sensory Garden, notice the brightly flowered plantings. Gaura lindheimeri PAPILLON PINK and Echinacea purpurea PRAIRIE SPLENDOR™ grace the entrance with shades of pinks, magentas and reds. As you travel down the slope on your left make sure to experience the three weeping giant sequoias (Sequoiadendron giganteum 'Pendulum'). The branches on this giant are tightly pendlous and conform to the length of the trunk making it the perfect height to reach out and pet its soft compact needles.
When you reach the bench, take a break to notice and reflect on plants that evoke your memories. To the north of the bench, hollyhocks (Alcea rosea), Rosa ‘New Dawn’ and shasta daisies (Leucanthemum x superbum 'Silver Princess') are all planted as “old fashioned” plants to evoke your sense of memory.
Get your sense of smell ready because just down the path before it curves to the left, large masses of Salvia officinalis 'Berggarten' (large leaf culinary sage), Salvia officinalis Purpurascens Group (purple culinary sage), and Salvia officinalis 'Icterina' (yellow culinary variegated sage) are planted to delight your sense of sight and smell. The scent of all three of these sages will transport you to wonderful memories of Thanksgiving dinner. Now that your nose is warmed up make sure to take in the aroma of the chocolate flower (Berlandiera lyrata) located on the south edge of the path. Make your way over to the green wall pockets to experience Cuban oregano (Plectranthus amboinicus ‘Variegatus’). This plant elegantly drapes down the wall with large variegated succulent leaves that have a very interesting smell. I have found that you either love the smell of this plant or you absolutely can’t stand it. You decide.
Wrap up your tour with a visit to the raised planting area in the northwest corner. At the far end by the gate, Lotus 'Amazon Sunset' spills over the wall with dainty silver leaves and bright orange tropical-looking flowers. You won’t be able to keep your hands off the Carex caryophyllea 'Beatlemania' or mop head sedge that gets its name from The Beatles rock band and their unruly hairdos. And finally, Mimosa pudica (sensitive plant) sits just behind the wall. This plant is truly sensitive and when disturbed it closes up its leaves to protect itself.
There are so many wonderful plants to experience in the Sensory Garden and July is a great time to visit. Come back often to give your senses a treat throughout the season.