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The First Wellness Garden on Cape Cod

The McGraw Family Garden of the Senses invites visitors to navigate easy terrain while enjoying an experience designed to appeal to the senses of every visitor, regardless of age or ability. Its pathways were designed to eliminate barriers that, for some, present challenges to accessing all that Heritage has to offer.

McGraw Garden Map

Elements such as water features, stone walls, meadows, and a boardwalk combine with a variety of plantings offering an inspiring mix of color, texture, scent, and sound to create a rich sensory experience. The garden’s design connects people with nature and positive outdoor experiences, recognized as key contributors to health and well-being. Here visitors can enjoy engaging with nature on their own terms and at their own pace.

The garden was developed with generous input from health and wellness professionals from across our region. Organizations serving individuals in assisted living or adult day programs, in physical rehabilitation, who are blind or visually impaired, or living with Alzheimer’s Disease or dementias will be invited to visit and provide feedback, and to contribute to the future development of supportive opportunities that would best serve the needs of these audiences.

Stretching across two acres of property, the garden offers a rich, relaxing experience designed to appeal to the senses of every visitor, regardless of age or ability. Visitors can see, touch and smell the plants in a variety of garden spaces featuring over 25,000 new plants, enjoy the peaceful sounds created by new water features, or gaze at the forest vistas from the accessible boardwalk.

Heritage Garden of the Senses

The Windmill Garden

This garden is in the style of an English Herbaceous perennial border and is in bloom from late Spring through the end of Summer.  The Garden has multiple areas of different microclimates including:

  • The central beds are sunny and are themed as mixed-color borders. These beds are designed to be colorful for six months of the year and showcase how plants of various heights, colors and textures can be used together to create a beautiful garden.
  • The bed in front of the Windmill is a cool-color bed of mostly blues and silvers. Cool colors recede in the landscape and allow the Windmill to appear to be further away than it really is.
  • The central-rear bed is a white border. This part of the garden showcases plants of various shades of white and silver.  The bed was inspired by the famous White Garden of Sissinghurst in the Weald of Kent, England.
  • The shade borders are examples of various shade-loving plants including the ever popular Hosta combined with ferns, Ophiopogon, and many other shade-loving species. There is also a giant Gunnera manicata that is quite rare in New England.  This species loves cool-wet climates but requires protection to survive the winters on the Cape.  We protect it with bales of straw all winter.

Building the Garden of the Senses

The new garden was designed by the internationally recognized award winning firm Dirtworks Landscape Architecture PC.  The garden will provide universal access and programs for those with a range of physical and mental disabilities. The garden location was chosen to provide expansive new vistas that have rarely been seen by visitors before.  Visitors will wind their way through scenic landscapes on walkways designed to bypass challenging hilly terrain, providing easier access to the Flume Fountain.

David Kamp, a principal at Dirtworks, has dedicated his career to exploring how design with nature can improve health. David used the design in this garden to help people make a connection to nature. Using that personal connection as inspiration he has also looked at larger scales of health – how design with nature can improve community health and environmental health. Visitors will be able to engage in the garden which also offers a range of therapeutic attributes, including range of motion and cognitive skills. Sensitive to the discrete needs of each visitor, the garden will provide important health and wellness benefits to all visitors. Heritage Museums & Gardens will be working with several Cape organizations serving people with disabilities and other health challenges to welcome their groups or individual clients to explore the McGraw Family Garden of the Senses at their own pace and in their own time.

Heritage Garden of the Senses

Watch Videos of the Construction of the Garden

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