Garden of Five Senses: Urbanscapes Creates Therapeutic Oasis For Visually Impaired Girls In Pune

Garden of Five Senses: Urbanscapes Creates Therapeutic Oasis For Visually Impaired Girls In Pune

Garden of Five Senses: Urbanscapes Creates Therapeutic Oasis For Visually Impaired Girls In Pune

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29 May 2024

By Khushi Maheshwari

The Poona School and Home for Blind Girls, located in Kothrud, is also home to the Garden of Five Senses that was built by Urban Scapes. “As we have planned and designed many thematic gardens, this time we thought we should build a garden for the Girls of the blind school that would connect them to nature through their senses,” said Smita Pandya, a botanist and a landscape designer at Urbanscapes. 

The garden, as the name suggests, focuses on engaging all the senses of the body. From feeling the different textures of leaves, to smelling the different scent of herbs, it is meant to replenish each sense of our body. 

Essentially the garden is a themed therapeutic garden. It serves three ends: those of education, therapy and recreation. The wonders of nature are such that if it robs us of one sense, it strengthens the others. Therefore, the garden subsumes a beyond beautiful experience for the visually impaired students of the school. 

According to Smita, the Garden has been sectioned into 5 areas catering to each of the senses, of which taste comes first. “We have all kinds of herbs like lemon balm, basil, peppermint, rosemary, thyme and so on which they can pluck and eat… most of the herbs that we have kept are medicinal as well”, added Smita. 

Moving on, the olfactory section includes herbs from the basil family. Talking about how aromatic the herbs are, Smita explained that just touching these herbs will leave their scent on your fingers. 

Since texture helps the visually impaired individuals to imagine and perceive how an object would look like, the touch section of the garden consists of textured leaves of a variety of plants. “Some leaves have a rough texture, some are smooth, some are velvety and some are very large… So once these girls feel it they can visualise the plant.” 

For those students who haven’t lost their vision completely, there are colour plants that cater to the sense of sight. These plants too have medicinal properties. “The students can actually make use of these plants,” remarked Smita. 

The pathways of the garden are lined with tactile tiles that act as guides for the students to help them in knowing where they have to halt and engage their senses. In addition to these, there are foot reflexology pathways meant to clear all the lymphatic nerves through accupressure. “We have made these as pebbled pathways and the pebbles are river pebbles… the non-poky ones… usually people have their reservations walking on them but I found that the children walk on them with quite a lot of ease,” said Smita. 

For auditory engagement, big bamboo chimes and grasses have been installed along with seating arrangements for the children. The designer elucidated, “That particular corner gets a lot of breeze in the evening so the grasses make a very nice sound and the children can actually sit and hear the sounds.”

The project is supported by Cummins India Foundation and designed by Urban Scapes India.