New sensory garden at Pelham Public Library offers sights, smells AND sounds


Delia Lavallee

The new sensory garden at Pelham Public Library.

The Pelham Public Library has a new addition to the plant life surrounding it: a sensory garden in the back of the building. The garden, created by Matthew Michailoff, has a variety of plants that appeal to the different senses.

The garden contains various flora that produce different smells, sounds and textures, including false indigo, switchgrass, bergenia, lavender, Russian sage, erysimum and wooly thyme, among many others. A large portion of the plants were chosen based on availability. Library Director Patricia Perito helped coordinate the project and provided materials.

Volunteers worked on the sensory garden project led by Boy Scout Matthew Michailoff. (Matt Michailoff)

The garden was created by Michailoff as an Eagle Scout project, which is a key requirement in the process of earning Scouting’s highest rank. The scout doing the project must plan, coordinate and lead an effort that benefits the community in some way. Michailoff, a Pelham Memorial High School freshman, said he wanted a project that people could enjoy and was inspired by a sensory garden because it was interactive, rather than just something to look at.

The most challenging part of the project was “leading the volunteers and making sure everything ran smoothly,” said Michailoff. “I had to make sure that everyone had a job that they could mange.” He said he enjoyed being able to pair the different plants together. His favorite part of the garden is the sound section because the plants make sounds most wouldn’t expect. Switchgrass, for example, produces a rustling noise when the wind blows, and bergenia gives off a high-pitched sound when its leaves are rubbed. In fact, its common name is pig squeak.

There is much the garden has to offer and is worth a stop when getting library books.