Why not make a garden of healing, hope

I sat in my cottage garden yesterday, but there was little healing evident. My mums are blossoming late this year. My impatiens plants are straggly, as are the few blooming phlox plants.
My herbs are lackadaisical. The geraniums have only one or two bright red blossoms. About the only thriving plants are my peony bush and a bed of hostas.
The state of my garden should be no surprise after our hot, dry summer. But still, yesterday, I needed a healing environment. I needed hope, love, laughter, and safety.
I needed a sanctuary from the sad events of the past weeks; and as usual, I turned to my garden.
Common people, philosophers, kings, and physicians have turned to their gardens for healing over the centuries. Aristotle and his contemporaries developed a system of plant medicines.
The monks of medieval times created gardens as a retreat and a place of protection from the dangerous world of their times. These gardens possessed an unparalleled feeling of peace and tranquility, and often bordered the patient rooms in their hospitals.
Thus, they became healing gardens.
As early as 1879, physicians at the Friends Hospital in Philadelphia noted that working in the fields and flowerbeds had a calming and curative effect on mentally-ill patients, so they instituted the first greenhouse therapy.
Today, many hospitals design healing gardens for their patients and as a retreat for their over-stressed staff members.
Everyone dreams of a healing garden. A little piece of paradise–a sanctuary. Horace, who lived in the first century BC, said, “This used to be among my prayers–a piece of land not so very large, which would contain a garden, and near the house a spring of ever-flowing water, and beyond these a bit of wood.”
“The Inward Garden: Creating a Place of Beauty and Meaning” by Julie Moir Messervy advises readers to think back to those places in nature that have given you the greatest relaxation, simplicity, safety, and joy.
And then use the memory of these places in creating a retreat or garden of your own.
“Your inward garden exists in your imagination; your outward garden . . . is a private landscape for wandering, for dancing, for daydreaming. Both gardens represent your personal paradise.”
They can be healing gardens.
Your garden can be as small as a window box or as large as your whole yard. It can be a tiny kitchen garden with sage for turkey dressing, basil for pasta, and oregano for pizza.
Or it can be a small forest with perennial shade plants in hues of blues, reds, and pinks with a flowing fountain in the centre.
Whatever you choose to have in your garden, it becomes your own sacred space. A space where you can find healing. A place of protection from the dangerous world around us.
Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, a poll by the Pew Research Center reported that seven in 10 Americans feel depressed, nearly half have trouble concentrating, and one-third cannot sleep at night.
As never before, you need the relaxation, simplicity, safety, and joy of a garden of your own.
Now is the time to dig in the soft earth and experience God’s beauty. To plant bulbs of hope. Soon, spring will come and the long cold winter will be erased by blazing red tulips, sunny crocuses, and daffodils swaying in the wind.
And your personal garden once again can stir your soul, and give you a feeling of peace, tranquility, and healing.
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist.

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