Sensory Garden, London, UK
The creation of a sensory garden in a pocket of land running parallel and connected to Crofton Park railway line
This is a wonderful project, designing and creating a new community sensory garden in an elongated stretch of land c. 79 metres in length and c. 621 square metres. The land is owned by Network Rail under lease to Govia Thameslink Rail. The community friends group currently use the area, but following a soil test report the area was found to be contaminated. The design therefore has to adhere to strict control measures to reduce the exposure to the contamination, especially as the community want to grow edibles as well as ornamentals. Through creative planting schemes and landscape design four diverse habitat spaces are created, overlaid with a sensory garden theme that is to be used to promote outdoor and nature-based learning. A large community space with sweeping raised beds and raised beds in railway bolt shapes in Corten steel provide space for perennials, vegetables and fruits. An awkward drop is turned into a lush fernery reached by gabion steps. Access to the garden is through double gates and via a ramp so that able-bodied and less able-bodied people can enjoy the garden. There is also a set of step / seats with a living grass centre. A path in self-binding gravel winds itself through lush, verdant planting, passing a woodland area, with log seats, designed for foraging, as well as bark mulched pathways and outdoor musical bamboo instruments. Passing under a rustic archway a grassland meadow turns into a circular quiet contemplative area surrounded by tall ornamental grasses, this then leads onto a wildflower meadow to promote pollination, with an orchard planted in re-purposed concrete circular drain sections. A seat at the far end looks back along the path. The path is wide so that two people, two wheelchair users or two people pushing buggies can traverse side-by-side.
Through creativity and plant and material knowledge a harmonious environment is created to promote ‘sensory-learning’, community gardening and simple enjoyment of the natural environment.