Gardening is many things to many people: Food for the Soul, exercise; entertainment; social activity; and even an excuse to shop. I like to pull weeds because it relieves my frustrations of the day-to-day problems, it is good exercise, and it provides a feeling of a job well done (but as true gardeners will tell you, this job is never, never finished). I don’t enjoy seeing a huge pile of debris, but I relish seeing the weed free planting areas. My stress level drops dramatically after pulling out what I don’t want in the flowerbeds.
Garden plants are selected to excite and energize, soothe and relax, create a restful escape, create a designation spot, relive a memory, or to take advantage of a special feature. I have spent many, many happy hours picking out plants from catalogs, garden centers, or just making lists of what I would love to plant in my gardens. Picking out plants has always been a very social activity for family, my friends and me. Working for a perennial grower has expanded my horizons to include any and all callers giving advice and helping to answer their questions. Classes and seminars are another way to interact with other plant lovers and enjoy the company of like-minded people. Talking about plants and comparing plant interests with people who share the same interests is a way to educate and entertain friends and myself.
CREATE A FAVORITE SPOT FOR SITTING. A NICE WAY TO ENJOY GARDEN PEACE.
To create a favorite spot for sitting, attention to detail is important. White flowers and variegated foliage, when moonlit, are especially alluring. Fragrant flowers or foliage planted near a walkway or seating area will encourage lingering. Creating an illusion of enclosure can be especially comforting. Surround your bench or chair with interesting plants, which will invite close inspection. Comfortable cushioning on your bench provides a special place for reading, handwork or just daydreaming. Statuary, sundials, or an interesting stump can be a focal point for the end of a path or a turn in a walkway. Planting memorial gardens filled with favorite plants of loved ones who have passed on, is a nice way to remember them. I have plants that people have given me over the years, and I am reminded of their givers fondly each time I pass by or sit near the plants.
Sometimes, gardens are a sanctuary for the stress of everyday life. Relaxing colors and textures help us to regain our serenity. Create an entrance to your special garden with a gate, arbor, or arching plants. By creating an entrance, we acknowledge that this is a special area where we can leave the outside world behind. Sometimes a simple plaque with “Peace” can bring rest to the spirit. Water can be especially restful. Trickling water or just a birdbath that reflects the sky can be just what is needed to calm us after a stressful day. A bench for reflective thinking can be made from natural or man-made materials. Just by stepping out of the sunny areas into the shade of a woodland garden can be a refreshing experience. Your sanctuary area can be as simple as a corner of your garden or a specially constructed area.
Many gardeners cherish the appearance of wildlife in their garden, from the tiny insects, to frogs, toads, bunnies, and birds. By creating habitat for wildlife, we invite them into our gardens and can only be enriched by observing them. Birds bring a flash of color during the dreary month of winters, and feeding them can be very rewarding. Hummingbirds, during the summer months, are especially interesting to watch. Plant enticing plants and hang feeders and you will be assured of a visit. Butterflies will fill the air with color and movement. We particularly enjoy following the growth of our Praying Mantids. I take any egg sacs I find and place them around the yard. They eat a lot of bad bugs and are very interesting to watch.
Any naturally occurring feature you might have, such as a rock pile, tree stump, pond, or stream can become a focal point in your garden. Scramble vines around a tree stump, tuck sedums into a rock pile, or add water-loving plants alongside a water area and a vision of beauty results. Establish a private area for meditation underneath a tall tree. The most awe inspiring sight I’ve ever seen is a ray of sunlight breaking through a grove of trees. A tree stump can become a base for a statue. A pile of rocks can become a dry streambed that mimics the water stream that you love but can’t create in your own garden. Sticks and twigs can become a hiding place for small mammals and turtles. By planting a hedge of shrubs, a “garden room” can be created for entertaining or just relaxing. Using stately forms and upright plants, a formal feeling can be achieved. Soft and fluffy plants are informal in feel and can be more relaxing to most people. The addition of statuary can enhance the feelings that you are trying to achieve.
My favorite spot in my garden has a feeling of enclosure because it is under a grove of trees, comfortable with a bench for sitting, with lovely trees, shrubs, and flowers to look at. Of course, it doesn’t take long before I get the urge to tweak the garden, but that usually passes and peace abounds. If I sit long enough, butterflies, birds, and maybe a hummingbird will fly by and visit the flowers. And I have Peace In The Garden.
MEMORIAL GARDENS AS A PLACE OF PEACE
Many memorial gardens have been planned and planted for people to gather and remember their love ones. In a post 9/11 tribute at the Maryland Home and Garden Show, there were two tall spire-like stones surrounded by Bleeding Hearts. Private meditation while walking a labyrinth can be very soothing for many people. Labyrinths can be as simple as a spiraling circle of stones or as elegant as the ones in medieval cathedrals. You can design your own or look up sources for classic designs that have weathered the ages.