Sensory garden under construction

1 June 2017 – Work has begun on a new multi-sensory garden at the Palmerston Street location of Life Unlimited.

Artist impression of the finished sensory garden with hanging baskets and a water feature.

ARTIST IMPRESSIONS: The finished sensory garden will include hanging baskets and a water feature.

Wendy van den Berg from the Community Services team is coordinating the construction phase.

Wendy looks after Whare-O-Rongo, Life Unlimited’s multi-sensory room which hosts up to 40 users every week. She provides training to parents and carers so that the people they support get the most benefit from the range of sensory equipment in the room.

Wendy also provides training to other organisations and agencies who want to implement their own sensory environment.

The new garden will complement the existing multi-sensory room.

“It will give users a broader range of sensory experiences in a more natural and relaxed environment. They’ll be able to touch, smell – even taste – the plants in a safe and inviting space,” says Wendy.

The garden will be fully accessible with a built-in wheelchair ramp, handrails and planting at various heights.

The space will also include a water feature, interactive activity murals and a swinging hammock.

A textured, mosaic walkway will take pride of place. And there’ll be a range of fragrant herbs, edible fruits and tactile plants like succulents and lavender.

Wendy hopes work on the garden will wrap up in July, but that will depend on continued community involvement and volunteer help.

“We’re still looking for people who are a bit handy and have the right tools to get stuck in and lend a hand with things like digging holes, pouring concrete, making planter boxes and planting a range of plants and flowers.”

Contact Wendy by email at if you think you can help.

What is a multi-sensory environment?

A multi-sensory environment is an artificially created space designed to allow those using it to experience a range of sensory stimuli – including sound, light, smell, touch, temperature and movement – in a controlled way.

The concept was originally developed in the Netherlands in the late 1970s as a therapy for individuals with severe disabilities.

People who can benefit from multi-sensory environments include children and adults with learning differences such as autism, cerebral palsy, learning and multiple disabilities, people with brain injuries, dementia sufferers, and people who experience stress or anxiety.

Learn more about Whare-O-Rongo – the House of Senses – at Life Unlimited in Hamilton.