Please touch the plants: The CPD's Developmental Playground includes a sensory garden

Jul 05, 2011

A boy played in front of Lamb's Ear seedlings last fall. This year, the plants have grown up.

The CPD’s new developmental playground is designed to stimulate the senses.  That goal guided not only the choice of play equipment, but also the plants that grow in the play area. Meet the sensory flora of the Developmental Playground.

All the plants were chosen not only for their sensory properties, but also for their drought-tolerance.  They also grow quickly. The information provided below is from Justin Wilson, who took on the playground as a research assistantship as a graduate student. He chose the plants.

From left to right: Golden Raindrops, Lamb's Ear, Lime Glow Juniper and Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grass.

Golden Raindrops
The yellow flowers will continue blooming almost all summer.
Lamb’s Ear
Touch these leaves once and you’ll understand the reason for this plant’s name, and its value as a sense-stimulator. It may rival the child’s favorite blankie as a comfort-texture. In addition to the soft, fuzzy leaves, it produces fragrant little purple flowers. 
Lime Glow Juniper
The varied shades of green in this plant show off its texture, but don’t worry. It’s much softer than it looks—in fact, it’s downright pleasant to touch, and it smells good, too.

Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grass
This tall, pretty grass makes a nice sound when it’s rustled. Its seed heads are also soft and feathery.

From left to right: Mock Orange, Arborvitae, Blue Fescue

Mock Orange
These white flowers are fragrant, and there are lots of them. The children will be able to cut them and use them for decorations.  It looks great this year, and next year there should be even more blossoms.
This upright, vertical evergreen is surprisingly soft to the touch.  Squeeze the leaves and it rewards you with a pleasant scent.
Blue Fescue
The blue grass blades have an interesting, waxy texture that helps it survive dry times. This variety should turn a vibrant, brownish-red in the fall.

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