GPL breaks ground on new sensory garden


By Sarrah Peters

News Editor

On Monday, July 16, the Gadsden Public Library held a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Open Spaces Sacred Places sensory garden.

The new garden will be located on the patio of the Gadsden Public Library, located at 234 College Street.

“It’s going to primarily by herbs and other aromatic plants,” said librarian Ashley Handy.

The library wants the space to be a calming and healing place for patrons to spend time. The garden will be “as organic as possible.”

“When we were picking the type [of garden], we picked a healing and restorative one,” said Handy. “We felt that the herbs and flowers being fragrant, there are so many uses for these materials in healing, so we want people to go out and relax.”

The library plans to offer books on difficult topics, like depression and divorce, and encourage patrons to spend time in the sensory garden to facilitate individual healing. Handy said that people don’t always realize how scent can impact feeling.

“I think that connecting to plants is something that’s very healing all by itself,” said Handy. “I just imagine people walking in there and just feeling hugged.”

The money for the new garden was provided by a grant from the Community Foundation of Northeast Alabama. Other community partners on the project include Beautiful Rainbow, which will help maintain the garden and use the herbs in the program’s café, which is located at the library.

“We get a lot of community support for these types of things,” said librarian Nicole Papa-Tudor, also mentioning the Chamber and City of Gadsden for supporting the project.

The new garden will be planted in stages, so that each type of plant can be planted at the best time for them to thrive. The work on the garden will begin with the installation of shrubs and trees in October. The herbs and flowers will be planted in spring.

The library is also working with some local artists to design a sculptural piece for the garden.

“I want it to be something that reflects the space,” said Handy.

To accomplish this, the library has looked for local artists that specialize in creating pieces that highlight nature. The library is also considering putting a contemplative quote on the sculpture that could facilitate “guided meditation.”

“It’s going to be very natural,” said Papa-Tudor of the proposed art piece.

Handy said that the library is a great place to work because it is supportive of its employees ideas.

“Working at the library is really special because it’s a really awesome pivot point if you want to make something happen,” said Handy. “When I first started working here I thought ‘I feel like I’m part of a special club.’”

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