Sensory Garden

Sensory Garden

Our horticulturalists and garden volunteers have been busy planting over 2000 plants in our summer seasonal garden display for you to enjoy. Experience a treat for the senses with a seasonal sensory garden.  Sensory gardens use plants and materials that engage one’s senses of sight, smell, touch, taste, and sound. These types of gardens are popular with and beneficial to both children and adults, especially those who have sensory processing disorders, but can have benefits for everyone.

Taste, touch, smell, sound, and visual elements can all add to the experience of being in a garden and the exploration of the senses can help bring relaxation to any individual experiencing stress. These gardens are a way to encourage our visitors to explore the gardens in ways beyond sight. Fragrant sages, agastache, and herbs will create a distinct aroma. The sounds of bees and gently blowing grasses will distract you from the noise of the city while soft celosia and dusty miller will provide new textures to the gardens. A variety of herbs and culinary plants will also be on display to inspire.

Come and enjoy the gardens, and learn a little bit of something too with self guided tours at each display.


A soft array of pastel flowers will be in bloom in front of the Conkling Monument. Hawiian snowbush bears a kaleidoscope of colors on its leaves with splashes of pink, white and green. Who needs flowers when the leaves are this colorful? Dusty Miller’s soft and silvery leaves are both beautiful and fun to touch.

Verbena has the strong citrus smell of lemon but more grassy, like citronella. An attractive pollinator, verbana’s clustering, vibrant purple and white flowers can grow tall from green, hairy stalks. Salvia leucantha commonly called Mexican bush sage, has fragrant, velvety green leaves growing tall off square stems with long white flowers late in the summer.  Pelargonium’s scent resembles that of a rose-earthy and sweet and is frequently used in essential oils. Heliotrope is also known as the cherry pie flower, emits exactly that smell with hints of vanilla. Our variety is particularly attractive to butterflies. Capsicum ‘Black Pearl’ has beautiful purple foliage and small, hot, spicy red peppers later in the summer.

Sensory Garden


The planting around the reflecting pool depicts an ornamental herb and vegetable garden. Cuban oregano or Origanum majorana, is an edible succulent that has thick fuzzy leaves with a strong pleasing odor. Dill, or Anethum graveolens has delicate feathery green leaves that yield yellow flowers. You’ll recognize dill’s enticing smell, similar to caraway seeds. Finely chopped fresh oregano, dill, and thyme are commonly used to freshen up various culinary dishes.  Fennel’s copper feathery foliage can easily be mistaken for dill but it has a strong licorice taste that is commonly used for digestive issues. Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) can be an important food source for many butterfly species. Lemongrass gives a wonderful, invigorating citrus scent that can also be used as an insect repellent.  Stevia’s small green leaves will give you a touch of sweetness if chewed.

Ornamental Pepper (Capsicum sp.) will bare spicy fruits late into summer. Brussel sprouts will show off their alien forms with their cabbage like leaves and edible sprouts, growing in helical patterns along the stalks. Senna alata, also known as emperor’s candlesticks, have long yellow blooms that stand tall from it’s shrub. Its seeds are often used for food in parts of South America.While we don’t recommend you eat anything from the Park, this display will inspire you to consider where our food comes from and perhaps allow you to consider growing food at home.


Get your sunglasses out for this bright garden. Bright colored flowers of lantana and celosia are a treat for the eyes! Lantana’s fast growing leaves and small clustering flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds with their citrus scents. Celosia are as soft and have uniquely shaped petals that resemble flames or coral. Dahlia flowers stand tall while geraniums (Pelargonium sp) can brighten your day with various varieties in different shades and patterns. Many scented varieties of pelargonium exist and have various sweet smells like lemon, orange, apple, mint, rose, herb and chocolate scents.  Marigolds have a unique and slightly sweet, earthy smell that many believe fend off insects.

Portulaca may have a beautiful drought tolerant flower, but its small green leaves have a slightly sour and sweet taste adding a nice touch to salads. Sweet potato is a popular earthy root vegetables, sweeter than a regular potato and also has beautiful trailing foliage. Listen for pennisetum’s tall bristles rustling in the wind while the sounds of the fountain provide a relaxing ambience.


Seward monument also has a sea of interplanted pastels flower. Ageratum, or floss flower, has tassel like blue flowers resembling soft, fluffy pompoms. See if you can distinguish the sweet mint smell of agastache poking its flowers up in a fluffy cloud of Muhlenbergia dumosa. Pennisetum, is a hardy, flowing fountain grass that pours out like a firework, adding ambiance when it rustles in the breeze. You’ll hear the busy bees buzzing around the flowers working hard pollinating the floating Guara flowers blooming among it! Snap dragons or Antirrhinum will bloom in a sea of honey scented lobularia.

Sensory Garden

To view maps of each Sensory Garden click below. 

Conkling Garden Map |  Knot Garden Map | Reflecting Pool Garden Map
Seward Garden Map | Southern Fountain Garden Map