Extending our Living Space by Creating Outdoor Living Rooms and Secret Gardens
A garden should provide many “Living Rooms” and be a place for quiet contemplation and meditation, a place for play and entertainment as well as for growing things. Just being outdoors in green space is calming to the soul and very healing.
A meditation garden can be designed to have special secluded spaces for reflection, or it may feature a labyrinthine walking path for mobile musings. Plant selections and layout will vary by personal taste.
Here are a few examples:
Create a quiet space away from traffic, the children’s play area, and neighbours
Areas for meditation:
Minimalist landscape as in a Japanese meditation garden
Near a water feature in your yard with the sound of water creating “White Noise” to block out traffic sounds etc.
Mandela Garden – spiritual, flowing, organic shapes
A Quiet little area tucked away at the back of the yard surrounded by trees and foliage.
Build a greenhouse and place a comfy chair inside for your own amusement.
Plant a vertical garden and set down a lovely little table and two chairs to host your next afternoon (iced) tea.
Select a favourite spot in your yard and plant aromatic herbs such as lavender, rosemary, thyme that will fill your senses as you take in your beautiful garden.
Place an arbour in your yard and grow hops, grapes, arctic kiwi or climbing roses over it – what a beautiful spot to sit for a while as the sun starts to set in the evening.
Your private sanctuary can be created through the use of:
Pergolas and/or arbours
low stone or wooden walls
strategic placement of tall plants
Espalier – living fences
Find your Serenity:
Does a rock garden with a few hardy well-placed plants calm you or leave you desolate?
Do the small delicate flowers of native plants distract you with their intricacy or can you let them fade into the background with their subtlety?
Does a sea of blue and purple blooms calm you, are big colourful blooms the answer or perhaps too busy?
Choice of Materials:
· Wooden chairs and surfaces are preferable as they do not get to hot or cold when sitting to relax or read.
· Water, the sound of falling water is soothing and can block out other sounds such as traffic and screaming children. The white noise it creates can help to centre you in your mind and body. With good water flow (a waterfall or flow form is best) you also increase the amount of negative ions in the air which improves mood, reduces stress, and can help the body deal with airborne allergens. There are solar pumps available to move the water through your water feature and reduce the need for electrical input.
· Labyrinth, a labyrinth has only one path into the centre and out again, it is not a maze, so you can just let your feet fall and lose yourself in thought. This ancient tradition has been in practice for over 4000 years and is found in almost every major religion. Your thoughts while you walk to the centre of the labyrinth should be focused differently than when you walk out again. You may focus on a question or on releasing your thoughts and cares. On the return path you integrate what you have learned. The most basic instructions are simply to walk with openness and mindfulness. A labyrinth can be built using stones, sand or plants. If you don’t have the space for a walking labyrinth you can make a small one in stone or in the soil that you follow with your finger – Japanese gardens are designed with these smaller labyrinths to encourage the mind to let go and release all the tensions and worry.
· Keep in mind that these installations should have an organic flow as this is far more relaxation and appealing to the eye than hard edges and rectangles.
Create a quiet sanctuary and give yourself some time to reconnect. It doesn’t have to be big or elaborate, just a dedicated space – then, the trick is to actually put aside a few minutes each day to enjoy it.
You may want to add some sculptural interest into your garden. Here is a Bird Bath made from plates and dishes found at the Goodwill store. A bit of creativity and a glue gun and voila! A beautiful Bird Bath.