By Carly Hatfield
My childhood home always had a small vegetable plot during the growing season thanks to my parents. Our backyard had blackberry and honeysuckle bushes as well as a pear tree. My brothers and I would dodge the hovering bees to pluck a tiny honeysuckle bloom and suck the sweet nectar from it. We would show our friends our newly acquired talent, giving a glimpse into the wonders of the world in our own backyard. Picking apples, blueberries and strawberries showed us how to appreciate fresh fruit because once winter came, store bought blackberries didn’t hold a candle to the ones we just happened to have all summer long in our backyard.
A sensory garden will be planted at The Peacock Playhouse once the chance of frost has passed, most likely the latter half of May. This small garden will hold a mixture of plants that children (and adults too!) will find interesting because they ignite the senses. It is important to expose children to the wonders of our natural world as early as possible because of the joy that plants can bring to our lives.
Agastache foeniculum ‘Golden Jubilee’ is a wonderful herbaceous perennial that smells heavenly, like a mint and licorice blend. The foliage is a bright, glowing chartreuse complemented by vibrant purple blooms that attract many pollinators. It makes a great cut flower and happens to be deer resistant. It is an easily grown perennial that could complement any garden.
Eremurus stenophyllus ‘Foxtail Lily’ has spectacularly large yellow blooms that are nothing short of amazing. This flower is grown from a bulb and prefers dry areas in full sun. It is low maintenance and surely will not disappoint.
Citronella scented geraniums smell fresh and citrusy and ward off mosquitos.
Lavender is a comforting scent that stirs memories of tranquil baths and bedtime rituals. It has many antiseptic properties and is a wonderful scent to have lingering in the garden. The dainty purple flowers are loved by bees and butterflies.
Lemon Balms fragrant leaves are fresh and light. Adding the crushed leaves to water is a great way to stay refreshed during the hot summer. Steering clear of artificial flavors and sugars are sure to erase the fog and dehydration that many of us face when the warm months roll in. Adding cucumber to your water is another added boost of flavor. Cucumbers are fun and simple to grow in any vegetable garden.
Several Varieties of Mint will be planted to show the many differences that one plant can have. Apple Mint, Pineapple Mint and Variegated Peppermint are only a small representation of the diversity of the Mint plant. Each variety has a different scent, a different texture and a different appearance.
I have chosen different herbs and flowers that will attract pollinators, so that kids are able to see up close who exactly makes their food possible. Hummingbirds, butterflies and birds are quite approachable but what about the buzzing bee who is often met with a swat? I am hopeful that seeing the fuzzy friendly honeybee will cause kids to think about how helpful honeybees are, that they are friend and not foe.
Equipping the future with ideas of growth and conservation will award lifetimes of progress in preserving the plants and wildlife on our Earth. All it takes to inspire a child is the help from an adult who will attentively address their curiosities with education and patience. When teaching others, one is likely to learn something as well.
As always, remember everyone reacts differently to every plant. Some may love the smell of Sweet Annie, while others may find it downright offensive. Some people may love rhubarb pie and others may become very ill and uncomfortable when consuming it. Every person and every plant reacts differently, so remember to educate yourself before consuming or administering any plant. Be safe and be curious!