Creating a Sanctuary Garden


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Therapeutic gardening is not a new concept, but it is becoming more widely accepted, and there is a new understanding that where you garden can be as important as what you do there.

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Creating a Sanctuary Garden

  1. 1. Therapeutic gardening is not a new concept, but it is becoming more widely accepted, For more nature habitat information Visit these helpful websites: and there is a new understanding that where you garden can be as important as what you do there. A Plants Home A Birds Home A Homesteaders Home Creating a Sanctuary Garden Sanctuary garden, retreat, Gardening, whether for soul garden, refuge: whatever physical or spiritual you choose to call them, these sustenance, is a pastime as old private areas provide a chance as history itself. Many religious to meditate, relax, and traditions used a garden decompress, away from the setting to represent both the sights and sounds of the beginning and end of life. everyday world. According to Chuck and Not only are they becoming Barbara Crandall, authors of more popular; some today would Creating Privacy in the Garden, even call them necessary. “Our passion for private garden retreats is as old as civilization Human beings have itself, stretching back across traditionally maintained a close the millennia to the earliest relationship with the soil. The vestiges of Pharaonic Egypt." creation myths of most societies and religions Depending on your source, the encompass a belief that English word “paradise" comes humankind came originally from from the Persian word for the earth. “beautiful fenced-in garden" or from the Greek word According to the ancient paradeisos, meaning “enclosed Greeks, Prometheus shaped park." man from mud. In Hebrew, “Adam" means “born of the Murals from ancient Egypt earth." Many native Americans depict walled gardens, and portrayed man as coming from medieval religious groups are deep inside Mother Earth. known to have grown their food© WindStar Wildlife Institute Page 1 A Plants Home
  2. 2. behind walls to isolate the As Donald Norfolk writes in monks from the distractions of The Soul Garden“People need , Some gardeners seem the outside world. gardens today more than ever unable to fully enjoy their before. In an increasingly gardens, so caught up With the rise of cities, even in frenetic age they offer a vital are they in the latest ancient times, this closeness to source of comfort and an skirmish with mildew or the soil began to fade. opportunity for mental, beetle... physical, and spiritual renewal." My philosophy is: Forget In modern days, rather than winning, cultivate delight. seeing ourselves as “stewards" He goes on to say, “As a race – Diane Ackerman or caretakers of the earth, we have inhabited planet earth Cultivating Delight nature became something which for at least two million years. needed to be controlled and For 99 percent of this time we managed to our own advantage, led a nomadic existence. It is have less open space for and we were more likely to view only in the last ten thousand shelter or raising a family, we it from a distance, both years that we have mastered build taller buildings. For all our physically and mentally. the art of farming and learned needs, we have options not to live in towns. This is a mere available to other species. Today, the pendulum is blink in the annals of recorded gradually swinging back. The time. Deep down we still feel intensity of modern life and the displaced, and yearn to regain pace of technology, particularly contact with our pastoral in America, is forcing us to re- roots." evaluate our lives. Not only are we displaced, but so is wildlife, and wildlife doesn’t have the same resources that we do to help them adapt. Food is rarely limited or even seasonal for us, since we can buy products from around the world in our local supermarket. Drinking water is so plentiful that it comes in flavors! If we© WindStar Wildlife Institute Page 2 A Plants Home
  3. 3. To re-establish true harmony Sometimes a narrow side yard with the earth, a sanctuary can be developed into a retreat. garden should also be a welcoming place for wildlife. Some people choose to build Sometimes this calls for a bit walls or fences within a larger of compromise, but the trade- area, and these can both create offs are worth it. By not using privacy and provide support to any herbicides or pesticides, taller plants or climbing vines. If you agree to accept a few structures are made of munched leaves in exchange for materials like stone or wood, butterflies and other beneficial they will fit the natural feel of insects. the garden. When you choose native Other gardeners prefer to use plants over alien species, you plants, such as hedgerows or agree to surround yourself with evergreens, to create the a different, although equally nature, instead of trying to borders of their sanctuary and beautiful, palette of texture and control it, is that there are no form a backdrop to shorter color in exchange for birds which losers. elements. Whatever you choose, eat the seeds and berries. The the result should give you a true beauty of working with There can be no specific feeling of safety and separation directions on how to build a from outside pressures. sanctuary garden, because the design, and even the process of You might also be creating creation, will be different for this garden with other every gardener, as well as for inspirations in mind. If you need every site. more lightness and humor in your life, add touches of whimsy Thus, every sanctuary garden is unique, although it will generally incorporate certain basic elements. It will naturally be suited to the space available, but it should also be very personal, reflecting individual preferences and needs. Creating Your Sanctuary Deciding where to locate your sanctuary is the first step in creating your garden. It need not be large, but the area should lend itself to being somewhat confined, whether visually or physically.© WindStar Wildlife Institute Page 3 A Plants Home
  4. 4. such as brightly-colored chairs Once inside, there should be a or silly sculptures hidden among path to lead you to a bench or the leaves. To honor the memory other comfortable seat where of a loved one, plant their you can relax and gradually favorite flowers, or a special merge with your surroundings. tree. Your sense of taste can be Think about any others who satisfied with edible berries and will be using the retreat. Those herbs. Nothing is sweeter than who are visually impaired will just-picked fruit warmed by the appreciate a concentration of sun. scented plants. If someone uses a wheelchair, make the Herbs can also entice your There are manufactured units path smooth and easy to sense of smell as you brush which produce ponds and navigate, and consider using against them. Footsteps fountains of any size, or you raised planting beds. release the fragrance of can create your own with just a creeping thyme planted along plastic liner or a combination of Many designers of garden garden pathways. containers and a recirculating retreats firmly believe that pump. your sanctuary should have a Every gardener knows the distinct entryway. If you pleasure of smelling damp Even a bucket with a small always stop to pause at this earth, especially after a spring hole in the bottom, dripping into same spot, picturing yourself rainfall. All of your senses, a saucer below, will attract leaving your stress outside as stimulated and working wildlife and bring the music of you go through, the ritual will together, will help you to become water to your retreat. become automatic and a aware of the many facets of sense of peace will begin to your sanctuary garden, and If your space is large enough, heal your spirit as soon as you make you feel a part of the consider scattering water step into the garden itself. nature surrounding you. elements throughout the garden. All creatures need available water throughout the Water is Critical year, and the more varied the While the various elements of your retreat will depend on your preferences and the space that you have available, you should definitely include at least one water feature. This might be a bird bath, a small fountain, or just a shallow bowl of water near a bench which reflects the clouds and colors of light. Moving water is especially effective. It is important for wildlife, and adds a comforting sound to the garden.© WindStar Wildlife Institute Page 4 A Plants Home
  5. 5. By choosing native plants, "The more time we spend you’ll also be helping to restore in natural surroundings, an ecological balance which is the more we acquire the threatened by development and attributes of nature. Our alien species. lives take on the qualities of our environment, Wildlife depends on native becoming more ordered, plants for food and cover, and stable, and harmonious." may not be able to adapt to – Donald Norfolk non-native substitutes. The Soul Garden Mitchell also points out that “If every homeowner in the presentation, the more diverse country gave only 1/10 of an will be the wildlife that you acre to a meadow, bog, marsh, attract. prairie, field, or woodland, the net gain would be an astonishing 3.8 million acres of Select Native Plants sanctuary." Plants will probably make up "Plants are part of the the largest part of your garden. Each sanctuary garden that food chain for the insects Whenever possible, choose we create is an opportunity to and animals that live in our native plants when making your increase habitat for native gardens....In deliberately selections. plants and animals, and they in providing sanctuary for the turn will enhance our experience creatures around us, we The native species will attract of the garden. must also provide the plants the most wildlife, and will require that wildlife know." the least care, because they When choosing plants, mimic – Sherry Mitchell are genetically adapted to live nature by selecting a variety of Creating Sanctuary in your environment. species, sizes, and types. Your choices can enhance the garden, at the same time that they encourage wildlife to visit. "Water is a key to sanctuary. Its sacred influence over human history is unmatched among all other natural forces.... Lose this vital force, and Earth becomes just another barren rock circling the sun." – Christopher and Tricia McDowell The Sanctuary Garden© WindStar Wildlife Institute Page 5 A Plants Home
  6. 6. Although economics may comfortable seat, situated so Time in the garden – require that you buy some that you can easily view a focal experiencing the moment, plants when they’re relatively point. the pause between the small, keep their mature height breath; fully being in the in mind when placing them in the Particularly in our western moment; letting go of garden. culture, we equate work with fear, stress, and any profit and even with morality. In feeling of incompleteness Don’t neglect to plant larger a sanctuary garden, if you – links us with eternity. species, even if it will be many constantly feel that you must years before they mature. They be working, you’ve simply We can then appreciate will be your legacy to future brought the pressures of the and celebrate all that we generations. outside world in with you, and have by being truly you will be unable to lose present. With all of this concentration yourself in those sights and on designing and maintaining sounds of nature that you’ve – Elizabeth Murray a sanctuary, it is important incorporated into your refuge. Cultivating Sacred Space not to lose sight of your main objective: to lessen stress. Let Your Senses Absorb Nature Evergreens provide visual We humans have altered our winter interest and cover for normal cycles with electricity wildlife, while deciduous species that lets us work in the dark, bring color to the garden in caffeine which wakes us up when autumn and movement as the our bodies crave sleep, and a leaves fall, leaving bare tendency to even work hard at branches as living sculptures. planning and “enjoying" our vacation time. Seedheads left in place after flowers bloom will artfully Our time in the garden should catch the snow while offering have periods when we lose natural birdseed. Vines can If you enter your garden ourselves in the tasks of provide both cover and food, retreat thinking only of the work weeding and watering, but even and their twisting stems add that needs to be done, then you more important are those sculptural details to a wall or will have lost track of the main periods when we sit quietly and arbor. reason for creating it. let all of our senses absorb the nature surrounding us. While the garden work itself – Build a Plant Community the digging and weeding and A sanctuary garden can help Your goal should be layers of watering – can be part of the us return to the normal plant material, rising up from relaxation process, there also patterns of nature. perennials and grasses, into needs to be time for idleness. shrubs and small trees, and Frequently it’s people who finally to taller trees. This is frequently a hard already have a yard who start concept for gardeners to envisioning a sanctuary garden, You are striving to create a embrace, and it is one of the but those with less space – for plant community, not a series main reasons that you should instance, apartment or condo of specimen plants. include a bench or other dwellers – are often the ones© WindStar Wildlife Institute Page 6 A Plants Home
  7. 7. with the greatest need for a so that your eyes travel along at each side to hold vines quiet retreat. curved lines, stopping at small which will cover the structure, sculptures or other focal adding interest and shade. If your space is limited, you points, delighting in the variety can still create a sanctuary on of colors, shapes, and textures. a smaller scale. Lattice panels Candles and Lights or bamboo blinds form walls on Be sure to include some herbs In the evening, if you don’t a deck or patio, a small or other scented plants, have a view of the night sky, tabletop fountain provides perhaps just beside the door candles or small strings of water, and gentle wind chimes where you will brush against lights can add a comforting mask surrounding sounds. them, creating an entrance glow. The size of a sanctuary distinguished by scent instead garden is less important Buy plants that provide of a gate. than the attitude that you diversity: variegated leaves, bring to it, and your You might be able to add a willingness to let nature work small arching arbor, with pots its magic on you. spiky foliage, different heights, lots of color. Flowers will attract butterflies and hummingbirds, and large pots can hold miniature trees or shrubs which bear fruit for birds. If you add a bird-house appropriate for local species, you might have the thrill of watching new life born into your sanctuary. While a smaller- scale garden might not have room for a walking path, you can arrange your chair and plantings© WindStar Wildlife Institute Page 7 A Plants Home
  8. 8. The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely, or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature, and God... As long as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles. This article was written by Maryland Master Wildlife – Anne Frank Habitat Naturalist Cathy Gilleland. It is natural at this time to be focused on the horrendous events For more information or for the of September 11, 2001, but a wider perspective acknowledges that name of a Master Wildlife Habitat Naturalist in your area, countless tragedies, both larger and smaller, have occurred please contact: throughout human history. WindStar Wildlife Institute In response, people everywhere, in every generation, have looked for solace in natural surroundings, particularly in gardens. E-mail: The cycles of nature we see there remind us that life itself will continue, regardless of what we may have lost in the past, or what WindStar Wildlife Institute is a faces us in the future. national, non-profit conservation organization whose mission is to help As you create and enjoy your own retreat, may you find healing individuals and families and comfort and a deep acceptance of your own connection to the establish or improve the wildlife habitat on their properties. world of nature.© WindStar Wildlife Institute Page 8 A Plants Home