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Touch, see, smell: Park's sensory garden appeals to all senses

Little signs are found in the planters in the sensory garden in Jamestown, N.D. Different plants are used to enhance the taste, touch and sight senses. John M. Steiner / Forum News Service1 / 4
Leaves from the unique sensitive plant fold up temporarily when touched. These plants and more can be found in the sensory garden in Solien-DeNault Park in northeast Jamestown. John M. Steiner / Forum News Service2 / 4
Solien-DeNault Park in northeast Jamestown has new plantings to attract butterflies and hummingbirds. The park also offers a walking path, seating benches and a sensory garden. John M. Steiner / Forum News Service3 / 4
Various stations with planters at different heights are found in the sensory garden inside Solien-DeNault Park in northeast Jamestown. John M. Steiner / Forum News Service4 / 4

JAMESTOWN, N.D.—The Jamestown Sensory Garden offers stimulation to all the senses and accessibility to all people, according to Paulette Ritter of the Jamestown Area Chamber of Commerce City Beautification Committee.

The garden is in Solien-Denault Park north of Hillcrest Municipal Golf Course near Hillcrest School. The garden is a project of the Jamestown Parks and Recreation Department, Jamestown City Beautification Committee, The Freedom Resource Center of Jamestown and the Anne Carlsen Center.

The sensory garden has been under construction for about a year and is still a work in progress, although many of its structures are complete, Ritter said.

"The vocational school (James Valley Career & Technology Center) built the planters and the benches," she said.

The planters are built in clusters of three each at a different height. This allows easy access to the plants by people of any height or those with mobility concerns. People are encouraged to touch the plants to feel the texture as well as observe the sights of flowers and leaves.

Benches are surrounded by gardens that include plantings with varying themes. One area is planted to attract butterflies and hummingbirds while another includes aromatic plants that appeal to the sense of smell.

Many of the plants also bloom providing visual color for those enjoying the park.

Solien-Denault Park includes a 0.4-mile-long concrete walking path with a parking area along 35th Street Southeast in Jamestown.

The sensory garden area is a separate loop along a path that includes two footbridges over a low water drainage area. The garden is surrounded by trees with leaves that rustle in the wind, creating a white-noise backdrop, hiding the sounds of traffic on the nearby road and other incursions into the peaceful nature of the area. The trees also visually screen the road from the garden.

"It is one of the best-kept secrets but we're going to get the word out," Ritter said.

Crews were working this week on a sign along 35th Street Southeast that provides information about the garden and directions along the path.

Much of the labor for the project has been donated. Joan Morris, also a member of the city beautification committee, said about $70,000 had been invested so far.

"Donations, grants and naming rights have been a big part of the funding," Morris said. "We have a few planters left to sell (naming rights) but mostly it's sold out."

Future plans include adding a water feature, such as a fountain, to add the sounds of moving water into the mix and drilling a well in the area to make watering the plants easier. Additional plantings are taking place yet this fall.

"We'll keep working at it," Ritter said. "But we'll probably run out of good weather this fall before we're done."

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