The radiant sun, a refreshing breeze, hundreds of flowers surrounding the area, and sensory-friendly objects to stimulate guests. This is a description of a sensory-friendly garden. This type of garden includes objects that support children on the autism spectrum in exploring their senses without becoming overwhelmed. These gardens have been shown through research to improve the physical, emotional, sensory, and social health among people on the autism spectrum. Marsha Lake, the co-owner of Lake’s Lawn and Landscapes, acknowledged this information. Lake decided to donate a sensory-friendly butterfly garden to Friendship Circle; a non-profit organization that provides recreational, educational, and vocational activities to people with developmental disabilities.
The garden was created near Friendship Circle Farber Center which contained butterfly bushes, purple coneflowers, and many other plants to interact with during a visit. Lake aspired to do something for the community as she told The Oakland Press, “I wanted to do something in the community…(Friendship Circle) helps thousands of families in Oakland County. They’re located right in the heart of where we work, and we have many clients who have benefitted from their services.” This project had a time-period to be completed by; Lake wanted the garden to be completed before the cold weather settled. She told The Oakland Press, “Everyone was very excited about it…Being in nature, smelling the flowers and watching the butterflies is not only calming for our nervous systems, but fun and brings joy.”
Lake was not always in the landscaping business. She began as an administrative recruiter for years before she got an idea to start a landscaping business while on her honeymoon. Lake told The Oakland Press, “I like to try to exceed people’s expectations when possible.” These gardens have multiple areas where the senses can be stimulated while being surround by a calm, natural environment.