Elements of a Spiritual Garden
Peace, serenity, and even a certain degree of mental healing can be derived from your garden and landscape, once you transform it into a sanctuary free from the stresses of the outer world. Gardens can be places where you renew the senses and reconnect the spirit to the natural world.
Planting and designing a spiritual garden means creating a place that will be sacred to you. Consequently, you may wish to include religious elements that are personal reflections of your life, but you may also wish to add other features that are particularly soothing to you. No matter what your garden's style--formal, rustic, Oriental, large or small--there are many ways to give it the tranquil appeal you hunger for. Some of the earliest gardens on earth were centered near tombs and temples, cementing the link between the busy world and the world of the spirit, soul, or self--depending on your beliefs. Without focusing on particular belief systems or philosophies, these suggestions range from many cultures. Choose those that make the most sense for you and your garden space.
TIP: Our expert gardening advisor, Susan patterson suggests, "Incorporate existing natural features into your garden such as large trees, boulders privacy hedges etc."
Peace and Quiet
The first element you may want to consider is that of silence. A spiritual garden is often designed as a place for meditation and reflection. Attaining a certain level of quiet may require plantings that act as screens. They may not remove the outer noise, but will diminish it. Arbors adorned with climbing vines like English ivy or fences covered with your favorite vines can provide privacy and go far to create a private corner in your landscape. Wind chimes and water features add a touch of serenity as well as aesthetic beauty.
TIP: Susan adds, "Attract birds by hanging bird feeders, bird houses and installing bird baths."
In fact, water is a wonderful feature to include in any garden, but especially a spiritual garden. Water epitomizes the act of cleansing that gives a sense of renewal. A basin makes a simple feature that has the tremendous ability to calm. Pools and garden ponds are likewise excellent features to include. These require some maintenance, depending on size and scope. Water flora is beautiful and provides a burst of color. Other water elements might be a well, a stream, or small waterfall. There are many types of fountains available that are easy to maintain as well. Consider filling them with healing nuggets of quartz or smooth river stones.
Stone is also an important feature for a spiritual garden. The very nature of stone suggests silence and strength. While your water feature may employ stone, consider other stone features like stone planters carved with your favorite spiritual symbols, a stone statue such as a serene Buddha or a marble angel set among Damask roses. A birdbath can serve as a focal point for even the smallest gardens. Also, consider a stone sundial, stone lantern, rock formations, a path of small stones, and stone benches set throughout your tranquil landscape.
Wood Features and Trees
As an element, wood provides a sense of warmth. From wooden features like decking that surrounds your water feature to fences that provide privacy, there are many ways to add wood to your garden. The most important wood is natural--trees not only give shelter and canopy your space, their presence adds a magical touch as wind sighs through the branches and leaves bud and later fall. Choose trees that best appeal to you. Consider the knotty trunked Windsor oak, the Japanese Oriental Cherry, the Scarlet Maple, the Weeping Willow or the beautiful Magnolia.
Spiritual Garden Plants
Besides trees, plants can inspire many features in your garden. From floral sundials to a labyrinth of blooming hedges, you can use plants to create individual garden features. For example, a path lined with bamboo trees may create a natural canopy. A design that brings pleasant smelling blooms can be enchanting for any garden. A simple herb garden might even do more than heal your spirit. The aroma of some herbs such as lavender or mint is enough to melt away stress. There are many simple herbal remedies that have ancient properties to treat a number of common ailments.
Green plants are also good choices for a spiritual garden--hostas and ferns give a lush sense of earthiness. In fact, the inner realm of Japanese tea gardens always favored green plants as opposed to brightly colored blooms because green gives greater calm to the setting. Choose plants that are both simple and complex. Wild violets may surround a trellis of white roses. Or, a single beautiful flower can act as a mandala for contemplation--a tiger or calla lily, perhaps. Groves of lilac near a pond filled with lotus blooms might inspire great reflection and peacefulness. Even though your garden may be western in design, there may be Eastern elements to include. The gardens of the Far East are still grown as places of spiritual renewal such as the Japanese Zen gardens.
TIP: Susan advises, "Use native plants for best results."
Also, certain colors may have different effects on you. While green can be soothing, the beauty of red can be personally invigorating, even inspiring. Pinks can be subtle and calming. Blues seem mesmerizing, almost hypnotic when one considers blue poppies or weepy blue rye grass. Silver glistens and yellow brightens. Design your garden to have sections with various color plantings. You may find yourself visiting different areas of your garden depending on how you feel.
The role of the gardener is central to a spiritual garden. Visit it often not only for maintenance but for relaxation. Choose furniture that allows you to sink into this world you have created. Add ornaments you can delight in--garden swings or arbor seats. Your garden may even include an area for a fire on cool autumn evenings. Keep in mind that your spiritual garden is your place or perhaps your family's place to commune with the self and nature. It can be a place for both prayer and meditation. It can be a place of relaxation, for personal growth. Finally, it should give you a sense of peace that the outer world does not frequently provide.
TIP: Susan suggests, "Hang pretty outdoor lanterns or install solar path lights so that you can enjoy your space after dark."