Take a Sensory Nature Break in an Australian Garden

December 13, 2019

Take a Sensory Nature Break in an Australian Garden

If you’re immersed in winter weather, or just needing a nature break, take a moment to enjoy the sights and smells of a sunny Australian garden. Santolina (shown above) is one of my favourites to rub and sniff for a pungent, heady experience. 

Urrbrae House Sensory Garden, South Australia

See the purple Jacaranda blooms peeping over the olive hedge? Welcome to the Sensory Garden at the Urrbrae House Historic Precinct of the University of Adelaide in South Australia. Let’s go in!

Placing Signs as Sensory Invitations

Rosemary plant & Rub and Sniff Garden Activity Sign

Lynette Zeitz, historian and education program developer at Urrbrae House, said visitors are often unaware that this is a sensory garden. But now they’ll know! Lynette placed my garden activity signs in strategic spots to encourage more sensory engagement with the plants, like this rosemary shrub.

Lynette wrote to me: “The signs look great in the garden and my colleagues have commented that they really like the designs.  As I was putting the signs in the Sensory Garden a five-year-old girl and her mother came into the garden and started using the signs to examine the plants more closely. So I would say they are a hit.

Enjoy Lynette’s descriptions and photos of these sensory delights:

Look closely at persimmon fruit - garden activity sign

“Visitors often don’t notice the fruits on trees (like the persimmons)”

Look up into maple tree - garden activity signs

“Or they forget to stop to look up into the canopy of the trees like the maple and jacaranda.”

Listen for lorikeets in the bottlebrush tree - garden activity signs

“The Callistemons in the garden are a favourite with the lorikeets who we often see and hear in the trees.”
You can see a Lorikeet yourself in this video, as it licks nectar from Callistemon (bottlebrush) flowers. Hint: start with the sound low.
What a colourful bird!

Touch the soft lambs ear leaves - garden activity signs

“You can feel different leaf textures such as lambs ears... 

Touch the sandpaper fig leaves - garden activity signs

and the Sandpaper fig tree.”


Lemon-scented geranium, Urrbrae House, rub and sniff plant tag
Rub and sniff the curry plant - garden activity signs

“In addition, visitors may gently touch plants like the lemon-scented pelargonium...

 and curry plant to experience the wonderful perfumes that leaves can hold.”






Jacaranda tree in Urrbrae Sensory Garden, South Australia






“The garden has a focus on purple, red and yellow as colour palettes in the plantings.  Currently the garden is awash with purple as the jacaranda tree is in bloom along with statice, lavender and salvia.” 

Lemon myrtle tree in Urrbrae Sensory Garden, U of Adelaide

“This last photo was taken in early autumn when the native Lemon Myrtle tree was in bloom.”

Choosing Garden Activity Signs

I appreciate the thoughtfulness that went into Lynette’s order of garden activity signs. I could imagine her thinking of the sensory opportunity that each plant offers and choosing which type of sign would best fit. Made me smile.

Are you thinking that signs like these would add interest to your garden? Click here to place your order.

Thanks to Lynette Zeitz for sharing photos of this warm, sunny, sensory garden! You can read more here about the garden and about Urrbrae House. 

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