Fun with Nature: Sensory Potpourri from the Garden

Plants are such versatile living things being different in shape, colour, texture and even fragrance. A great nature play garden activity we like to play in our home is to create ‘Sensory Potpourri’ from items collected from the garden. It doesn’t necessarily smell fantastic, but it is great fun and gets children thinking about plants from a different perspective.

This activity can be performed at home, in a park or even when you’re camping!


  • Basket or something to carry items in
  • Garden or park 
  • Bowl
  • Glass jar
  • Cloth or doily
  • Ribbon or string

How to Make Sensory Potpourri from the Garden

Give each child a basket and instruct them to collect leaves and flowers, really anything they think smells nice, has an interesting colour or texture.

Small children may require some assistance and guidance with this part, whereas I find older children (5 and over) are happy to run around and make their own sensory discoveries.

Let the children show you their finds and tell you why they picked them. Help small children along by asking questions such as;

Does this flower smell pretty?
Does that leaf feel funny to touch?
What colour is this rock?

Encourage older children by asking questions such as;

What items smell lovely when together?
Can you describe the texture of this leaf?
How many items do you have of each colour?


Show children that many items can increase in fragrance by simply crushing or tearing the leaves.

Now it’s time to create the fresh sensory potpourri. Using a bowl, mix the selected potpourri items together. Ours usually includes fragrant herbs, leaves, bright flowers and an interesting stick or two.


NOTE: this is not about creating the most beautiful smelling potpourri, but rather presenting nature differently. In truth, the fresh potpourri maybe pungent and look awful, but they will love it!

Once the Mixing is Complete

Spread the mix over a plate or flat surface, which can easily be stored in a dry location for a few weeks. Leave to dry out (normally requires 3-4 weeks).

Once the mix has completely dried out, fill a dry glass jar and cover with cloth or dole, decorate with ribbon or string.

Find a nice spot to display, my daughters favourite location is the living room!


As a parent, I’ve found this activity is fantastic in building awareness of the smells around us in nature. It’s truly rewarding on the walk home from school to hear ‘Mummy, can you smell that! I think it might be the flowers on that tree’.


Isn’t it so wonderful just to smell! Thank you nature.


Submitted by About The Garden Magazine

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