Photo by Melody

Cultivating Stillness - Preparing Your Sacred Space

By Benjamin Hill (BennysPlaceApril 10, 2009
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Why do we garden? This is a rhetorical question of course but when we stop to think about it, one of the most compelling reasons is to have a place to find solace from the outside world.

Gardening picture

It is 5:30 in the early evening and the sun is hanging low. All the plants have been watered, the patio has been swept and there is nothing too pressing I really need to do at the moment. It is peaceful and quiet apart from the finches creating their song for all to enjoy. My son is preoccupied by his blocks and my wife is cooking dinner. I shall take this moment gratefully to take solace from my garden.

As my garden transforms, I intentionally create areas where I can just sit and be. Whether it is the French style table and chairs near the door where I can sit and read, the multi-colored bench looking out toward the entire garden or the loungers that catch morning sun and afternoon shade, my relaxing destinations have been placed strategically. The plants around these destinations have also been placed strategically. At the table and chairs where I like to read, I have two large pots with a purple salvia in one and a pink salvia in the other. These plants attract the hummers which add to the delight of this part of my sanctuary. There is a third pot of the same size that contains a lush carpet of Viola banksii. If I had to pick an absolute favorite flower, the Australian violets would most likely be my choice. I will be writing a series of articles devoted to them so stay tuned for those. I do have a giant Elephant Ear bulb in the same pot as the V. banksii given to me by a good friend. I look forward to it emerging from its shell.

ImageNear the loungers I have placed various potted plants that provide fragrance and color all year. At the moment, vintage stock with their honey sweet aroma is flanked by some fading lupines. Soon the stock will also fade and I will prepare the pot with something new and exciting for the summer. I will of course remember to set aside some seeds from both plants for some late autumn planting to continue the transitions from one container garden to another. This is the best part of container gardening I think - as the plants fade, you can remove them and start anew. I cannot think of a better respite for restless hands that ache to be buried in the soil continually.

I have opted to grow large potato bushes in each corner of the garden and I have been very pleased with the results. These are low maintenance shrubs and when the bottom branches are cleared, they provide the vital shade needed for desert gardens.  I planted another specifically to shade a potted blue plumbago and my treasured Priscilla Hollyhock and I am pleased I seem to have found the perfect location for these plants to thrive. They receive filtered sun nearly all day and are responding accordingly.

Behind the multi-colored bench is another large "transition" pot that currently has a small sunflower type plant, alyssum and a lily bulb of some sort along with two other pots that contain sweet scented iris and ivy geraniums.

With this clever placement of plants and relaxing destinations, I have created additional purpose to my garden. I have chosen plants that offer feelings of sentimentality, tantalizing, gorgeous fragrances and exceptional beauty. Here, I can meditate and indulge the mind with a bit of a spiritual retreat. I ensure I take several moments every week to sit, close my eyes, and breathe in the air allowing the fragrances and sounds to transform my whole being until I am fully relaxed.

As you read this article, are you thinking of your own favorite areas of your garden sanctuary? I am sure everyone has their favorite destinations within their little bit of earth where complete relaxation and meditation can take place. I would love it if you tell us about it and perhaps add a photograph.

The friend who gave me the elephant ear bulb was kind of enough to share her favorite part of her garden sanctuary with me. Her screen name is Fish_knees but we just call her Fishy in the SW Gardening forum. She provides an inspiration to us all by creating one of the most beautiful gardens around. Here is what she has to say about a special area in her garden:

I have a large Mesquite tree that covers over half my yard. It shades my Koi pond in the summer and allows for a tropical micro climate of plants that normally would not thrive in the desert. It is a sanctuary for fish, birds, lizards, field mice and occasional hawks that come to drink from the pond and cool off. This area of the garden has changed and evolved over the years to accommodate shade loving plants such as ferns, colocasias and alocasias. My garden is a designated back yard wild life habitat by the National Wild Life Federation.

With today's uncertain economy I can always count on the garden to be a stress free place to unwind, watching Koi glide through the water, hummingbirds dashing from feeder to feeder and lizards basking on a rock in the sun and in the evenings Leopard frogs sing.

My favorite garden saying is "I live in the garden, I only sleep in the house"

Here is an image of Fishy's favorite bit of garden sanctuary:

Image

I wrote an article in February speaking of the benefits of aquarium water for garden plants. One of our Dave's Garden members posted an image of her pond that had a mill. It looked so glorious; I asked if I could share it with you all in this article. I am so pleased she agreed. An image of the mill is below. Couldn't you imagine spending many hours communing with nature sitting beside such a magnificent garden structure? I am still overwhelmed when I look at this image for it is so tranquil and peaceful. Davida hopes to move the mill to a higher area so she can have a waterfall. That sounds like a perfect plan.

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This is the first of a few articles devoted to creating sanctuary within your garden space. I am devoted to gardening for mind, body and spirit and I hope I have inspired you to seek out your own special place within your bit of earth to find solace and relaxation. Thank you for reading.


Thumbnail and V. banksii images were taken by the author. Thank you to Fishy and Devota for allowing me to use images of their beautiful gardens.


  About Benjamin Hill  
I am an old fashioned gardener. To me nothing is finer than the romantic cottage gardens. The colours and forms create a symphony to delight all the senses. I love to tell a good story and my garden provides my inspiration. I am blessed to have such a beautiful son and I enjoy teaching him to love and appreciate the goodness, peace and fulfillment tending a garden can bring. Finally, I shall be forever grateful to Alan Titchmarsh for inspiring me to get out there and make something out of a little bit of earth.

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Discussion about this article:
SubjectTopic StarterRepliesViewsLast Post
Beautifully written, Ben. Bookerc1 4 23 Apr 14, 2009 1:48 AM
Putting into words... Chantell 3 27 Apr 13, 2009 9:31 PM
Great article Ben! Fish_knees 2 24 Apr 13, 2009 9:30 PM
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