Any garden becomes your personal sanctuary, but when there is a special need, a healing garden can comfort and refresh you. A healing garden is a place of spiritual solace designed as a tranquil retreat.
“I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses
put in tune once more”
You may have seen an open garden space on hospital grounds where you can imagine patients being wheeled to take advantage of healing fresh air and sunbeams. Or you may have seen a mediation circle that a walker travels in a prayerful way. A solitary bench dedicated to a beloved family member is another common scene in a public place, but most residential healing gardens belong to one gardener or to one family in a very personal way.
Why is one garden called a healing garden and not another? And how can this translate to your own garden?
Healing Gardens, Meditation Gardens, and Nature Preserves
A forest, meadow or desert location can be called a ‘garden’ untouched by human hands leading one to envision powers greater than oneself. But when your intent and purpose is to plan out and plant, then spend time in a special garden; it can be a comfort and place of peace and remembrance. Each healing garden is unique as the gardener is.
A Restorative Garden
When the gardener is ill, plants of an herbal nature and peaceful and soothing color scheme and fragrances can inspire their healing journey. Visualization of good health can be easier is a spot like this. People feel good around plants; they make them feel calmer and more relaxed. This type of garden could have paths to wander and bird feeder and bird baths to watch, encouraging the gardener toward exercise and distraction.
A child’s healing garden can include small animal statuary and whimsical decorations to discover. Easy to reach raised beds can be stimulating to any age gardener for growing healthy healing food. A healing garden should have sensory elements, butterflies, birds and bees, sights and sounds of water and lush green plants.
In our stressful world a place of peace and contemplation, or the opposite, a place where all thoughts can leave your mind for a few blessed moments in time can be so relieving of our cares and worries. A garden such as this, under a large tree, maybe, could be called a ‘wellness’ garden, intended to help well people stay healthy. Peace and quiet should prevail with a water feature blocking out unwanted noises, if possible.
Another type of meditative garden is a nature preserve and sanctuary. Parks, forests, mountain and trails are places where exercise and restorative recreation can be found and enjoyed. You can create a wildlife habitat in your own backyard by providing food, shelter and water. Trimming and grooming wild areas of your garden can bring peace and order to your garden space.
“Come to the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”
Another type of meditation garden is more poignant,…a memory garden of a loved one passed on. If a child, a parent’s true tragedy, favorite toys and beloved flowers can be included to honor and remember them.
A place to sit awhile is needed as well as personal objects and plants that can bring a sense of comfort and consolation. As difficult it is to see when the pain is fresh, gardens symbolize the cycle of life and perennials and recurring bulbs can be reassuring in a small way. Symbolism, such as a rose for each year of life or a tree for each departed family member can mean so much to a grieving soul.
A memory garden can be labeled with an honoring plaque, marked with a statue or can simply be a secret in the gardener’s heart.
In all of these gardens, contact with the soil itself, barehanded, can be invigorating and restorative, psychologically, and as healing as the best medicine. Most gardeners can identify with this primal feeling and when you find that you have spent the day in a garden with few thoughts in mind, you’ll know this is true.
Healing Gardens, a comprehensive article listing elements needed for many types of meditation and restorative gardens by the Minnesota University.