Sensory Trust designs


Our latest sensory garden design

A bright pink boat, a flower-curtained pond and summer house have appeared at Marina Court as part of their sparkly new sensory garden. More accurately it's a sensory journey, with a walkway that meanders through a series of mini sensory spaces. We're delighted to have been commissioned to develop the design and to see how much people are loving it already.

Community gathering to celebrate the opening of the new sensory garden

Marina Court is home to over 100 people who live in the apartments and bungalows, and a community hub for a large number of local people who enjoy the rich mix of activities on offer - from hairdressing to keep fit classes, and now a new sensory garden to add to the mix. The space picks up themes that connect people with the place and takes cues from features that had already been started, like the pond and summerhouse, an interest in birds and butterflies and fruit trees. The walkway, Blackberry Way, takes its name from the brambles that run in the strip between the garden and river. Butteryfly Beach is a mini garden that picks up the theme of the river and the butterflies that are so abundant here, while Bird Boulevard picks up on caring for the local birds, and Orchard Grove is a chance to explore a quieter corner and find some unusual fruits.

You know it's a Sensory Trust design when you spot a spangle tree - a tree covered in pompoms or whatever adornments people want to add - it's a nice way of giving people something they can personalise in the garden.

Spangle tree decorated with pompoms and people sitting nearby

And there are all sorts of features that are being added, including bird and insect feeders, and the signs have been painted by a talented member of staff at Marina Court.

Small insect house planted with flowers, part of a new sensory gardenOrchard Grove sign painted by a talented staff member at Marina Court

The Marina Court team have made this happen impressively quickly and within a relatively small budget. In our experience, projects like this happen when someone believes it can more than they fear that it can't - after all tight budgets and busy workloads do stack the odds. In this instance it was Lesley Gilmour, Activity Coordinator at Marina Court, who led a small and dynamic crew and got this to happen.

Lesley standing by Butterfly Beach, part of the new sesnsory garden at Marina Court

Garden design top tips

  • accessibility is an essential so think first about how people will move around the space, how you can break up the distance, and ideally create a loop rather than there and back
  • identify the themes that connect the people and place you are designing for, and how these can be used in the style and details of the garden
  • design for all the senses - not just the main five, but the whole range (some say there are 52!)
  • design for fun and curiosity- include things that intrigue people and that encourage people to spend time exploring
  • involve people - invite residents to say what they like, how they'd like to use the garden, and to help with looking after it

More Sensory Trust consultancy services

We offer consultancy advice on designing sensory gardens, trails or enhancing the overall sensory appeal of an existing space. Read more about our sensory design consultancy services >>

What the residents think of their new garden

"The garden is beautiful, this has become my favourite space in Marina Court"

"I've been helping water - well it's so beautiful we can't let it die"

"I love the view from my window, I wondered what the beautiful white flower was and came to have a closer look. It's a quince - it's the most beautiful fruit I've ever seen."


Sensory garden design factsheets - free guidance

Sensory engagement - links to case studies and information

Outdoor access design factsheets - free guidance

Can we help with other advice?

Sensory Trust runs consultancy in sensory design. Read more about our consultancy services >>