A children’s sensory garden planted this past spring by local Master Gardeners and the Monticello High School horticulture class is reaching maturity. The annual plants are aimed at stimulating all five senses, according to MHS agriculture instructor Elizabeth Rost.
“We tried to use plants that would represent all of the senses. For taste there are a lot of vegetables. For smell there are herbs. There are ones that are cool to touch like Snapdragons. For sound there is popcorn because they make sound in the wind,” said Rost, who had 20 students spend five class periods planting the sensory garden on a 12-by-24 foot plot at the Monticello Area Community Garden.
That was just the ending point of their work, however. The annual plants, ranging from mint to stimulate smell to tomatoes for the element of taste, were raised from seeds by students in the school greenhouse.
“They developed a really, really cool garden design for a sensory garden, and also the planting guides, when things are going to be planted, and their bloom time. It’s really professional looking,” said Beth Allhands, a recently retired University of Illinois Extension Horticulture Program Coordinator who helped oversee the project.
“We’re kind of hoping that kids will be able to come out and play as a field trip,” added Allhands.
Master Gardeners who took part were Beth Miglin, Kathleen Piatt and Rosemary Schminisky.
High schoolers who took part are immortalized with stepping stones that have their handprints and names imprinted on them, “so they feel ownership here in the garden,” said Rost.
She added the project was “perfect” for a horticulture class that emphasizes hands-on activities.
For taste, vegetables and fruits were added. Herbs take care of smell, while popcorn and bamboo wind chimes can be heard rattling in the wind. Snapdragons stimulate the sense of touch, and especially colorful plants are featured in the sight area.
The plants are annuals, so if the sensory garden is repeated in 2020 it will need to be replanted.
The Monticello Area Community Garden is located on Medical Center Drive across the road from Kirby Medical Center.
Additional information on the Community Garden is available at https://www.kirbyhealth.org/about/community-services/monticello-area-community-garden/)