Community gardens and green spaces are vital to the well-being of society, especially children. They encourage communication, relaxation and well being to those who use them whilst also teaching younger generations about ecology and wildlife. The Kids Creative organisation have asked me to design them a Sensory Story Garden which will be installed in Wythenshawe park Manchester which I'm thrilled about but we need your help!

The Sensory Story Garden is a project run by Selina Melon from Kids Creative to create a safe playground for visitors to Wythenshawe park. Using sensory factors and natural materials to create an oasis of fun where children and parents can create their own stories whilst in the space.

I absolutely love sensory gardens and am thrilled to bits I’ve been asked to back this project by supplying the design for free. Garden Ninja loves a community-based project and I’m giving my full support to make this space incredible for the people of Manchester. I’ll be pulling out all the design stops to make somewhere truly and unique for the local community.

Container planting north conway

Bright colours attract bees and Garden Ninja!

However, Selina really needs your help to back and support the project. It’s going to be the community and local businesses that take my design and make it a reality. So why not head over to the Space Hive site to get more information on the area. I’ll be adding the high-level ideas and sketches soon to this page so check back frequently!

The Current Lack Lustre Site

Sensory story garden wythenshawe before picture

The blank space before the transformation!

October 2016 – Site Survey

I’ve recently undertaken the site survey, this is where Garden Ninja carefully measures the site and any features. Armed with my laser level, tape measures and Selina’s patient hands to hold measures against irregular walls I finished the basic survey. It’s a huge site for a playground measuring some 40m x 40m.

The surveys really important because it must be accurate, if not all the design elements could suffer. If you don’t survey your site correctly all the quantities and sizes of any designs will be inaccurate. This leads to wasted time, money and can also make your designs unworkable. So always measure twice, cut once! I’ve actually been back to the site three times, due to an offset curved bed and some angles of the shed, to check and double check measurements. Below is the basic outline plan of the current site.


There were some restrictions set by the council that the design shouldn’t alter the current layout of the garden, in terms of hard landscaping outside of the 3 beds and surrounding lawn. Which may sound like a challenge, but it actually works in this designs favours, enabling a very symmetrical zoned design. No problem for Garden Ninja!

November 2016 – Concept Plans

The concept plans for the Sensory Story garden show the first draft designs which incorporate the requirements of the garden. I have worked with Selina to gather all the requirements and ideas for the garden. I have distilled these ideas into the concept plans. These plans given an idea to the position of features and the landscaping of the design. They give an indication of how the zones will work alongside ideas for colours, planting and the scale of the garden features.

I have split the design into zones. The main three beds have been designed under the following sensory zones:

  1. Texture / Calm zone
  2. Smell / Adventure zone
  3. Sound / Bright colours zone

There are also plenty of seating areas and a parents zone incorporated into the design. The parent’s zone over looks the entire garden, so children can play unaided but parents can still keep an eye on their children. The Gabions around the edges add definition and enable Selina and her volunteers to incorporate ‘story pebbles’ which children can design and use in the story telling of the garden. Lastly, there is a wildlife zone that still requires some thought. The following concept designs should give an idea of how the garden will look at this stage.

The first design is the plan view below showing the three zones and perimeter gabions with the adult zone.


The second two designs show a viewpoint from the first access point off of the road, and the second is from the access point next to the shed.



Mood Boards

Below are the three zone mood boards to give some context and background to the current plans.

sensory garden wild wood

Sensory dry river bed

high note mood board sensory garden

We would love to hear feedback from you as to the concept designs so far!

Chorlton Market Fund Raiser

On a freezing, Saturday in November, myself and Selina took to Chorlton Market to promote the Sensory Story Garden and get feedback on the concept plans. The feedback was great from the community who wholeheartedly approved of the idea and concept plans. Activities for children were provided by Kids Creative with face painting and donations to paint pebbles for the gabions that will surround the garden. We met some local counsellors which has helped boost our network. They thought it was a fantastic initiaive and happily gave us even more contacts to speak to, helping to spread the word of the Sensory Story Garden!


What do you like? What would you look to include? is there anything you don’t like?

Leave a comment at the bottom or share this on social media to start the discussion!

Check back soon for more updates on this fantastic project!