Published on August 30th, 2015 | by Janet Kurasz0
The Inner Garden
The most successful landscape designs are those that reflect who you are; your feelings, your motivations. The overall feeling of the landscape is an expression of the inner self.
Each one of us has memories that are snapshots of moments in time. When the landscape captures some of these images stylistically or makes reference in an imaginative way, then the landscape truly feels like part of the inner self. I’ve written in the past about the healing properties of gardens and the growing movement to introduce horticultural therapy as part of a holistic healing approach. Incorporating one’s own experiences into the landscape creates a personal and satisfying environment. There are generic elements in the garden such as texture, fragrance and colour that will create beautiful outdoor spaces. When you introduce elements that reflect images from your past, they will recall memories bringing your garden to life through a connection to your inner self. These images are stimulated by your surroundings through sight, sound, smell and touch. The sound of busy bumble bees humming, reminds me of a flowering tree that formed a canopy at my front entrance at a former residence. A horticultural friend of mine says “spring smells like photosynthesis”. Consider the mental images this statement generates.
You can draw from childhood memories, places you have travelled to, books, art, family – these all inspire mental images to help you create a more sensual and pleasing garden. The images can be represented by garden elements. Benches, rustic pathways, the sound of running water are elements that will draw you into the space when they have personal meaning.
A walk through your own landscape, taking notes and reflecting on memories that bring you pleasure will identify places in the garden that already inspire those feelings. Other areas in the landscape may not meet your expectations. It could be because the emotional connection is lacking. These areas can be improved by introducing items that represent personal moments. Write down what senses you would like to enhance – is it fragrance, sound, visual calmness or colour? Do you remember walking through a rose covered arbour on your wedding day? This can be reproduced in the garden, inspiring all the emotions of that memorable day. I have plants throughout my garden, given to me by family and friends. Each plant reminds me of that person and what they mean to me. My mother, who passed away 10 years ago, loved yellow tulips. I have planted yellow tulips in her memory. When I sit on my park bench amongst the cedars, it takes me back to all the gardens I have visited where I sat on a bench taking in the views.
After what feels like a long, cold winter, thoughts of t-shirts and shorts are already beckoning us outside to catch a few warm rays. Dorian Hunt introduced the concept of the Inner Garden back in 1982 as an assignment for the master’s program in Holistic Education and Counseling. Many gardeners have uncovered the inner garden, by chance, and in some cases it is a journey that has taken many years. I’m still learning and adding meaningful elements to my garden.
In the stillness, I hear my own voice. In the calm, I see my own face. In the sanctuary of my inner garden, I feel my own heart.
In my inner garden, the air is filled with the sweet aroma of my victories and accomplishments. My eyes are dazzled by the delicate flowering of relationships and alliances that bring me strength and joy. I walk upon the fertile soil — dark and rich and moist — ready to bring forth new life.
~ Excerpt from a Reflection by Debra Bloom
Janet Kurasz, Horticulturist