Sensory Gardens Add a Welcoming Touch to the Council Grounds

“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.”

–William Shakespeare

Shakespeare could have been writing about the sensory gardens at the Council’s building in Madison. Thanks to artful planning and planting by members of Rock Prairie Master Gardener Association, the gardens have delighted Council visitors and passersby all summer and early fall with an invitation to slow down, to touch, to smell and to see.

The original idea for the sensory gardens was hatched as a way to make our building more welcoming from the outside by creating gardens that are visually appealing and to draw visitors to their lovely aromas and textures. They are a tactile sensation. Pinch the leaves of basil and smell the fragrance it leaves on the fingers. Same with the outgrowths of sage and columbine. The spicy scented, waxy pink flowers of the Korean Spice Viburnum are also a wonderful sensory experience.

There are shade-tolerant plants along the Livingston Street side of the building and sun-tolerant ones on the Williamson Street side. Tall, bursting planters now reside on either side of the doors at both entrances.

The Council is grateful for grant funding from the Marquette Neighborhood Association and the Willy Street Co-op’s Community Reinvestment Fund that covered the cost of plants, flower pots, soil, and mulch. Also thanks to AARP Wisconsin for funding signage for the gardens.

A group of people standing around a garden bed
Master gardeners giving Council staff a tour of the gardens during the early phase of planting.


A light-skinned person tending a garden
A master gardener taking a soil sample.


A garden plot next to a parking lot
The plot on the Willy Street side of the building off the parking lot.


A narrow garden plot between sidewalk and building
The narrow plot on the Livingston Street side of the building

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