Further to my last post, I got the following excellent suggestions from Laura Hilton, Visitor Services Manager, Clifton Suspension Bridge Trust:
This is something that I used to help out with in a previous role! You need to keep your historic context in mind, but there are several things you can try.
Think of the seven senses and how you might encourage people to explore them:
Sight: Flower colours and planting arrangements, Hidden items to find and explore (e.g.: fairies, gnomes and appropriate period tales or beliefs to accompany them), bird scarers appropriate to the period. Encourage people to play with sycamore seeds or similar.
Sound: Wind chimes, bird scarers appropriate to the period, water feature, encouragement to listen for insect sounds (bees, grasshoppers, etc), outdoor speakers playing period appropriate ‘garden party’ music
Smell: Scents of flowers and herbs – relate this to medicinal treatments or beliefs. Scents at other times of year – mulch and compost and how this was used to help the garden grow/what else was put on the garden – scent boxes from Dale Air in a waterproof hutch or scratch and sniff.
Taste: Edible treats. Easiest method is to pre-prepare and place out distinct tasting items such as orange segments. Can also encourage people to think about foods they have eaten which may have ingredients grown in garden.
Touch: A ‘barefoot walk’ as at Trenchard Gardens is something that is possible to achieve without removal of shoes. Think about different surface textures and the experience of walking on them. Leaf textures at different times of year – feel leaves on various plants (signed with touch symbol) or encourage stomping through dead leaves on ground.
Vestibular (movement): Taking different paths through garden with different challenges – steps, hopping from one log section to another, walking along a split trunk as a balance beam – some good examples of this at Puzzlewood.
Kinesthesia/Proprioception (body awareness): Exploring willow/hazel structures, tunnels, passages – anything that encloses in some way or creates changing light levels/darkness. Exploring balance – again with balance beams or movement exercises (moves used in any particular gentle sports or exercises practised at this time – fencing, gymnastics, tennis), anything which might rock or move in some way – such as a swing seat.