Bring your senses to life….

This January, young budding gardeners up and down the country have been given the chance to get creative outdoors by entering PlantforLife’s Sensory Challenge – a nationwide competition challenging children aged 7-11 to design their own sensory garden with the chance to see it come to life.

The HTA is keen to work with schools to get children interested in gardening. The HTA is encouraging garden retailers to support the competition and help their local schools to get involved to win the opportunity to have their design become a reality.

Research shows that plants which help to stimulate the five senses; sight, sound, smell, touch and taste, can benefit children in a number of ways by helping them:

  • Develop important creative thinking and communication skills.1, 2
  • Improve emotional well being and psychosocial health. 3, 4
  • Learn where food comes from. 5
  • Live an active lifestyle

Chris Collins, celebrity plantsman and Sensory Challenge judge says, “This competition is a fantastic opportunity to engage children in the wonder of gardening, which is a superb way to learn.  It brings their senses to life, and is a great opportunity for them to get creative. I’m keen to see gardening take hold in all schools and think this campaign will be a fantastic opportunity to make this happen. “

There are many things people can do to build a sensory garden and enjoy the benefits they can offer. Chris Collins recommends:

  • For taste – try growing your own fruit and vegetables, such as carrots, tomatoes and strawberries
  • For scent – try growing roses, their scent is said to have a calming effect
  • For touch – plants like lambs ears, silver sage and globe thistle will give you different sensory experiences
  • For sight – ornamental grasses are visually stimulating – even in winter
  • For sound – a pond with a small waterfall will bring sound into play

To get involved, schools across the country are being challenged to design their own sensory garden outlining which plants they have chosen and why. The five winning schools will then have their design planted for them, with the help of Chris Collins, as well as winning Sensory Challenge gardening starter packs.

The Sensory Challenge competition closes on the 21st February 2011 and schools can register now by emailing their details to: