This National Gardening Week, we’re celebrating the sensory plants that make our hospice gardens sing! Exploring vibrant colours, stimulating scents and curious textures can help the children that we care for engage and develop. And spending time in nature is a wonderful way to boost your wellbeing too.

We asked our volunteer gardener Jen Yearsley to share her five favourite sensory plants from our Devizes hospice garden, and her top tips for keeping them looking blooming marvellous!


1. Rosemary

Rosemary (Jen’s favourite!) is an evergreen with a lovely aromatic scent and pretty blue flowers.

Jen’s top tip: Cut your rosemary back by one third after flowering to stop it getting too woody. It can be a short-lived plant, but it’s very easy to take cuttings from, which root easily in just water. I have a stock!


2. Fennel

Fennel is a nice, sculptural plant with feathery leaves and lovely yellow flowers. It has a distinctive, sweet liquorice-like scent and taste.

Jen’s top tip: Fennel is a hardy plant that can survive a mild winter frost, but it’s best to plant them in a sunny spot.


3. Lavender

Irresistible to bees and butterflies, you can’t beat the scent of the rich and fragrant flowers of the lavender plant. And the leaves smell just as good when rubbed between your fingers too.

Jen’s top tip: Cut your lavender back after flowering to stop it getting too ‘leggy’.


4. Bamboo

Bamboo has a wonderful rustling sound and it always looks grand in the garden – whether in pots or as a lush addition to border

Jen’s top tip: This one’s really easy to maintain! We just cut the tops off every so often.


5. Alliums

Alliums are full of fun and colour, with their lollipop heads that dance cheerily in the breeze. They’ve become fashionable thanks to their prominence at the Chelsea Flower show and it’s easy to see why these are one of the children’s favourites too! After they’ve flowered, you can pick the seed heads and dry them to decorate your house, or just leave them on the plant once they’ve ‘gone over’ to add some interest to your winter garden.

Jen’s top tip: Plant allium bulbs in the autumn because they need a cold period before flowering in May. What a lot of people don't know and worry about is that their leaves begin to die and so can look shabby before the flowers appear. That's because they are just posh flowering onions!

“I love the garden and the hospice and its work. I hope that what Giles and I do as volunteers in maintaining the garden saves a bit of money that can be spent on more care for local families.”

Jen Yearsley, volunteer gardener at Julia’s House in Devizes since Oct 2017

Volunteer gardeners Giles Collins and Jen Yearsley

Would you like to become a volunteer like Jen? Find out more here >>