Garden of the Five Senses


of an Exhibition

by Wendy Pollock

Published on August 21, 2009, Modified on September 18, 2011

  • Description:

    Midcoast Maine is beautiful even in its uncultivated state, with its granite cliffs, rugosa roses, and fragrant balsam firs. The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens make the most of their location, not far from Boothbay – and the Garden of the Five Senses, which opened in June 2009, makes the experience available for everyone.

    “Generous” is the word that comes to mind. I visited with two friends, one of them 85 years old, recovering from heart surgery, his eyesight failing. Tom needed frequent rest, and throughout the gardens, pausing places, often of native stone, allowed us to sit down together as we savored our surroundings.

    The Garden of the Five Senses is close to the main entrance, and weeping evergreens were just starting to grow over the entry arch, promising a tickly greeting once they’ve grown in. Meanwhile, the intense fragrance of heliotrope beckoned, and a tactile map, stationed outside the entrance, helped us get an overview. Among the other generous touches:

    Raised beds that mean no bending down to touch and smell the basil, Corsican mint, and other fuzzy and fragrant plants.

    A “reflexology labyrinth” of different-sized stones for walking on barefoot, with a tactile diagram for orientation.

    A waterfall right next to the walkway so you can run your hands over the slimy edge and walk through barefoot.

    Stone chambers to put your head into, and hum – at three different heights (visitors seem to delight in passing on to those who follow them their discovery of the impressive effect).

    The garden is a reminder that starting from an inclusive perspective can make designed experiences better for everyone.

    A plan of the garden is available here:

Latest Comments (1)


by Tom Nielsen - August 24, 2009

Thanks, Wendy, for letting us share this lovely garden through your sensibilities. The designers should be well pleased to have their work described as “generous” — and what a fine goal to set for our own efforts! I do appreciate, by the way, the ‘generosity’ of your hi-res photos — click on them to zoom in and see wonderful details of fingers and toes wendying through map and maze of bronze and stone.

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