Natural Life Magazine

Create a Sacred Garden Retreat

Create a Sacred Garden Retreat
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” time?
  • 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 bone-colored blossoms.
  • 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 low-growing roses.
  • 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.

Learn More

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.


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