Create a Sacred Garden
By Cheryl Patterson
In the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, we
don’t take enough time for ourselves to relax and just breathe. We’re caught up
in doing this and that, and we wonder why we are so stressed and tired. Some
people travel hundreds of miles and spend thousands of dollars each year to get
away from it all and to take a well-needed break. Other people simply wish they
could get away and can only imagine how great that would be. The truth is we
don’t have to spend tons of money to get away and to rejuvenate, nor does it
only have to be a lovely little figment of your imagination – although that
would be a good start.
If you could have a special little garden space
to call your own and retreat to for a rest, what would it look like? Would
there be an abundance of flowers, a little herb garden or the sound of
trickling water? Would there be little critters running around or are little
treasures that you’ve collected more your style? Imagine the kind of
environment that makes you feel peaceful and happy. Think about what is
sacred to you and the possibility of making that little fantasy a reality.
Make your reality one that is filled with less
stress and more peace. We evolved alongside Nature, so the soothing effects
and contentment we feel when outdoors should come as no surprise. Renowned
Harvard University biologist Edward O. Wilson coined the term “biophilia,” a
hypothesis that suggests that the deep affiliations humans have with Nature
are rooted in our biology and that we instinctively have a bond with other
living systems. He attributes our tendency to gravitate to natural
environments to this hypothesis, describing it as “the connections that
human beings subconsciously seek with the rest of life.”
Contact with Nature increases perceptions of
safety and induces positive emotional responses. Whether it’s being in the
midst of wilderness, experiencing window views, interior plants or even
commercial areas with trees, it instills a sense of well being.
The following are some suggestions to help you
on your way to your own little sacred garden – your own little space to
relax, unwind and rejuvenate.
- Picture the type of place that you would like
to escape to, that would give you a feeling of connectedness with the
surroundings and with yourself, and that would make you feel at peace. Think
about the details of what that would look like.
- Embellish your senses. Think about the colors
you love, the sounds that soothe you and the scents that you can’t seem to
get enough of. Imagine a little world that stimulates you in all these ways
– a special place that is purely for your pleasure.
- Make a list of things you love that you would
enjoy having in your favorite space. Examples of things to fill your space
with are plants or flowers, feeders, little water fountains, ornaments,
statues or other little interesting pieces of art that you enjoy. Think
about as many characteristics as you can to make this the ultimate spot for
you to retreat to.
- Pick a spot that will be nurturing for you. Do
you enjoy the sun or shade? Consider an organic and fertile little spot with
fresh air. Is it a quiet and relaxing area? Will it leave you feeling
rejuvenated? Is this a spot where you can retreat to daily, that is peaceful
and where you would feel happy being? Could you make this a special area
just for you, to relax and regroup – a mini-outdoor escape for a little “me”
- If you don’t have outdoor space to work with –
create a little balcony or indoor oasis. A mini-indoor landscaped area or a
corner with a few of your favorite things that you could retreat to for a
little quiet time could be nurturing as well.
The point is to create a
natural space that is special to you, surrounded by little things you love,
that is nurturing and that will give you a feeling of peace and solitude.
* * *
Planting For Relaxation
- A monochromatic color scheme is the best
one for a relaxing garden. Focus on soft blue, pale pink, silvery grey
and lavender, accented by a touch of white. Or try an all-white flower
garden; off-white might work even better, using cream, eggshell, or
- Varying the texture and size of plants
will provide visual interest in a single-color garden.
- Some suggestions for suitable plants are
hostas, ornamental grasses, sedum, sage, and hydrangeas, delphinium,
iris, mint, artemisia, phlox, nicotiana, blue salvia, lamb’s ears,
lavender, allium, and butterfly bush. Also consider white lilies and
- Weathered wood is a great backdrop for a
relaxing space, especially untreated cedar, which will weather to a
silver grey patina over time. Use it for benches, fences, and trellises.
Sacred Gardens by Michel Marcellot, Judy
Marcellot (Schiffer Publishing, 2007)
Small Spaces, Beautiful Gardens by Keith
Davitt (Quarry Books, 2003)
Urban Sanctuaries: Peaceful Havens for the City
Gardener by Stephen Anderton (Timber Press, 2001)
Garden Rooms by the editors of Fine
Gardening (Taunton, 1996)
Gardens for the Senses, Gardening as Therapy
by Hank Bruce, Tomi Jill Folk (Petals & Pages Press, 1999)
Cheryl Patterson is a Stress Management
Consultant who lives in Ontario, Canada.