We designed and built this colourful sensory garden for William Morris Primary School, creating an exciting virtual world for children to learn about their wider world and stimulate their senses. The garden is dedicated to the inspiring explorer and writer, Mary Kingsley.
The client brief specified the garden should be able to accommodate up to 60 Nursery and Reception children at any one time, and should be low-maintenance, with minimal planting.
Open space is a prime consideration for what would be a high-traffic area. Our design hence focused on creating a semi-open space and learning area, which encouraged children to explore and discover the world around them. Gentle features and the use of different tactile materials also enhanced children’s basic motor skills.
Brightly-coloured artificial grass stood for land and sea in a central island, exciting the senses with an explosion of colours and providing a safe play environment. The blue wall with boards of varying height represented a wave. The totem had a short summary of Mary Kingsley’s achievements.
The children are thrilled and engaged by a variety of sensory elements, including a water feature, wind chimes, picture units and touch walls. The touch walls have natural items embedded into them, such as sea-shells, creating a wondrous, tactile surface for exploring. The picture units provide a ‘window to the world’, featuring large pictorial images of continents or abstract depictions of animals, vegetable and minerals.
The island features a real palm-tree and highly-scented plants. Seating areas are constructed of semi-abstract ‘boats’, where learning groups can quietly gather. These also can be used as picnic areas. On hot days, parasols can be added on the ‘land’ for shading.