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Old 06-04-2010, 04:55 PM   #1
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Default Healing Gardens

I never know where to post these threads but I just was musing on creating healing gardens. "Healing Garden" is a term perhaps made aware of by the landscape architectects or designers in the trade and garden magazines. But really in simple terms it is just designing to evoke pleasure, peace and oneness with nature that defines the garden itself and in turn satisfies the being sensing that environment. While musing myself on a healing garden I realized that native plants evoke perhaps more positive emotions than exotic plants on ones psyche. When I first thought of a comtemplative, restorative garden I thought of a Japanese garden, with gravel and stone and carefully placed islands with plants native to Japan. The stone and gravel and plants are so artfully executed. And then I thought to execute that level of harmony in my place in the world, I would have to use the same level of awareness of my environment, its rock, its plants, its water to create anything such as that. Sure. Lets just take thousands of years worth of knowledge and reduce it down to a couple of weeks of research, no prob. While a Japanese garden may be a recreation of the natural world, it creates great joy to those who view it. So may another garden create that joy, wherever it may be in the world. Because a garden is not natures creation but ours, our struggle to make a world so perfect that it evokes great joy. So there is the healing. In great joy.

There is joy in a drop of water in the axil of a jewelweed.

Healing gardens are beneficial to the old, the young, the mentally or physically impaired, to all of us. I've worked in nursing homes where people are devoid of any contact with nature. I wasn't even allowed to open a window in their rooms. I've worked with children who didn't know what a maple tree was until we walked 5 miles to find one. I opened that window and I found that tree because that is what I needed to do to connect with those people.

So I feel like we all here are creating these healing gardens, with our native plants, rocks, water. Not only for the wildlife, but for ourselves. My personal vision is to share that vision with others. I know I'm preaching to the choir but I wanted to share my vision with you. I love hearing all your stories of triumph. Thank you.
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Old 06-04-2010, 05:19 PM   #2
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wonderfully said, and thank you for sharing. I will consider joy when I work outside this weekend. Certainly it uplifts my own heart.
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Old 06-04-2010, 08:36 PM   #3
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I like your interpretation of a healing garden linrose.
I just always assumed for some reason that a healing garden was literally that, a garden that contained medicinal plants.
Healing the spirit with the smell, feel, sound and shape of plants is far more interesting.
Hearing your foot falls crunch on the gravel path as you brush against a plant that releases a wonderful fragrance is as close to perfect as anything I can imagine.
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Old 06-04-2010, 09:07 PM   #4
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Sitting in my old wicker chair on my little balcony looking at my flowers growing, brings me such peacefulness and joy. In the spring I walk into the woods and smell so many different fragrances of all the grasses it makes me so happy!

When I lived in Florida and owned a business, every weekend I had to get 20 minutes away to Fort Myers Beach early in the morning or by sunset Sunday evening, and just sit looking at the warm gulf waters gently kissing the shore to clear my mind of the previous week and get centered again.

Gardens heal
Woods heal
Waters heal
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Old 06-04-2010, 11:34 PM   #5
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There are many beds around my home and nothing gives me greater pleasure than to sit with a warm cup of coffee cupped in my hands, a slice of hot apple pie filling the room with its tantalizing aroma, wrapped within a fleece blanket and a pup by my feet. From this window and this window alone there is a view of a beautiful floral bed close enough to see from the inside out. Various plants have been multiplied for years and years and years. I finally feel it is.... finished.

I can see the sun rise, birds graze across the lawn, flutter from tree to tree, snatch bits of suet, float upon the waves, rabbits snitch florals, a fox trots in, hummingbirds gaze at the red reflections in search of nectar, pheasants strut through, coyotes canter by, deer nibble between fleeting glances, billowing clouds, blustery storms, shooting stars, it's all beautiful. Nature within the city is an amazing thing.....Florals rotate in succession as the seasons progress. If only one bed was to be had this would be it. If I was not able to get outside anymore, so be it. I've got myself a piece of heaven.
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Old 06-06-2010, 08:40 AM   #6
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My old Alabama landlord once remarked about an old woman who lived across the way-'She didn't plant a garden --she doesn't plan to make it to the end of the year.'

Of course in rural life a vegetable garden --not the corner store or supermarket -- is where you get life sustaining nutrition. Weeding it keeps you strong and healthy through physical exercise. And growing those plants from seeds keeps you connected to the basic process of the universe.
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Old 06-06-2010, 03:59 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by linrose View Post
I never know where to post these threads but I just was musing on creating healing gardens. "Healing Garden" is a term perhaps made aware of by the landscape architectects or designers in the trade and garden magazines. But really in simple terms it is just designing to evoke pleasure, peace and oneness with nature that defines the garden itself and in turn satisfies the being sensing that environment. While musing myself on a healing garden I realized that native plants evoke perhaps more positive emotions than exotic plants on ones psyche. When I first thought of a comtemplative, restorative garden I thought of a Japanese garden, with gravel and stone and carefully placed islands with plants native to Japan. The stone and gravel and plants are so artfully executed. And then I thought to execute that level of harmony in my place in the world, I would have to use the same level of awareness of my environment, its rock, its plants, its water to create anything such as that. Sure. Lets just take thousands of years worth of knowledge and reduce it down to a couple of weeks of research, no prob. While a Japanese garden may be a recreation of the natural world, it creates great joy to those who view it. So may another garden create that joy, wherever it may be in the world. Because a garden is not natures creation but ours, our struggle to make a world so perfect that it evokes great joy. So there is the healing. In great joy.

There is joy in a drop of water in the axil of a jewelweed.

Healing gardens are beneficial to the old, the young, the mentally or physically impaired, to all of us. I've worked in nursing homes where people are devoid of any contact with nature. I wasn't even allowed to open a window in their rooms. I've worked with children who didn't know what a maple tree was until we walked 5 miles to find one. I opened that window and I found that tree because that is what I needed to do to connect with those people.

So I feel like we all here are creating these healing gardens, with our native plants, rocks, water. Not only for the wildlife, but for ourselves. My personal vision is to share that vision with others. I know I'm preaching to the choir but I wanted to share my vision with you. I love hearing all your stories of triumph. Thank you.
I liked your portrayal of a healing garden. I'm always most in equilibrium within when I have been working in the yard, especially when planning and planting with a vision to be realized.

Some things are intangible and inexplicable. The native garden is certainly one of these. Yes, we feel in accord with our fellow creatures and we actually take the time to look closely and really notice those less evident creatures and connections that help make up the whole. Perhaps that is where the healing power of a garden, especially when taking part in its realization, comes from. We feel the connection we have with our environment, with nature.

For those unable to physically maintain the garden, appreciating one by listening and looking closely surely also has a connecting quality that helps one feel really whole. It seems this garden experience should be a central feature of all nursing homes as well as every home.

Thanks for bringing these thoughts to my mind, Linrose. Perhaps a garden's healing quality is not inexplicable at all...
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Old 06-07-2010, 04:46 AM   #8
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linrose,
Your post struck a familiar cord with me. So did everyone else who posted.
I know exactly what you are speaking of. How a garden can heal and bring a calming inner peace.

A year with a team of medical pros to assist me with some health set backs prompted me to create that special place in my gardens. A physical therapist told me that an important part of healing is to rest. I MUST learn to rest she says. I don't enjoy resting in front of a TV, so she asked me what I do enjoy. My gardens, watching nature, the outdoors. Her advice was so simple. "Then make a special place outdoors to rest." And so I did!

Inside the chainlinked area of my yard, where my dog has free run, and the bears steer clear of, DH and I turned my giant dog kennel (half the backyard) into something that looks like nature park.

An antigravity lounge chair to elevate my legs and feet.
Grapevines growing above my head.
Surrounded by plants, flowers, and fruting shrubs.
Twinkle light strings twined amongst last year's dried plants and flowers.
A beat up old wooden bench with oak tree logs for foot stools.
An old living room end table to hold my coffee and binoculars.
My dog, Max, snoozing nearby.

I can watch the birds at the feeders, the squirrels and chipmunks dashing too and fro on the wood pile. I watch bees, butterflies and hummingbirds flitting about enjoying my gardens. I can see the occasional bear pass through the meadow with my binnoculars.

I visit my special secret garden to take breaks and elevate my legs and feet several times throughout the day. It's a peaceful place. It's special. It heals.
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Old 06-07-2010, 12:07 PM   #9
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Thanks to all of you for sharing your own stories. I think we all have a sense of healing in some form when we are out in our gardens.

Will-o-wisp, a healing garden CAN include medicinal plants, why not? One of my first interests in gardening came from a curiousity of medicinal uses of plants. Many of those plants are very aromatic such as the sages and artemesias which soothe the senses. Before the word aromatherapy became a household term used for every commercial product from deodorant to air fresheners, herbalists knew of the healing powers of fragrant plants.

Healing can also mean evoking a pleasant memory. I like to include ferns in my shady gardens because they remind me of a special place I used to play as a child. The sound of water, a mossy log, a flat rock, the smell of leaf litter, the sparkle of white trilliums, all create great pleasure for me because of memories.

BBBBecky - i'm glad you are learning how to rest. It isn't easy for those of us who are constantly on the go. Your secret garden sounds like a wonderful place. And you have to love those antigravity chairs. I got one last year and now everyone fights to take a nap in it, including the cat.

havalotta - it's so important to be able to view your gardens from inside, most people don't think about the view from inside looking out but so much of the time it is difficult to be out in the garden because of weather or illness and just being able to watch the birds at the feeder or view a well-planned garden or a single specimen tree or shrub framed perfectly in your window from your favorite chair is priceless. I'm so looking forward to my pocket prairie developing because it is the first thing I see every morning when I look out my bedroom window.

jack396 - I agree every nursing home and hospital should have a healing garden and many do. For long-term care patients it helps as a break from the sterility of the hospital environment and can even help speed recovery. Many of the gardens are raised for wheelchair bound patients so the plants are at eye, and nose level for up close enjoyment.

Everyone's definition of a healing garden may be different but I think we all agree that they are special places we enjoy.
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Old 06-07-2010, 11:25 PM   #10
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Gardening embodies optimism. Gardeners are tied into growing. They are in the hope-for-the-future business. They look at a scraggly twig and see a blooming dogwood tree. A box full of twigs and roots ... is a prairie garden. Even winter, the dead season, is filled with planning for spring. If it doesn't do so well in this spot, then next year I'll try it over there. If it doesn't do well in my garden, I'll try something else. And next year it'll be even better.
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