New Abstracts, 700mm x 500mm, acrylics and pastels on canvas.
Inspired by the spring garden.
When you are designing your healing garden, make sure you add your own personality into the design. A great way to do this is to add “found art” or “l’objet bizarre”. You may choose to purchase a stunning sculpture or artwork and position it as a focal point in your garden. Or you can tap into your creative side and “magic” up a quirky object to bring a smile to your visitors’ faces. A whimsical creation can speak volumes about your hidden talents, your sense of humor and irony, and yes, even about your outlook on life…
If your creative inspiration escapes you, just look online and search for “recycled art” or “DIY garden art” for ideas.
In my healing garden I have used a favourite method of re-purposing plant pots to great a simple water basin or birdbath (see below).
If you have a grapevine to prune yearly, see if you can weave your magic with the vine tendrils. You may save in pruning disposal costs and you might create something useful. I have used grape vine prunings to make an intriguing hanging vine sphere to hang from my pergola. I have recently fashioned vines together with bamboo prunings to make my first bean wigwam of the season.
If you are really crafty you could make a simple wire-work faux cage (see below) in which to put a small plant. If you are imaginative you might see the potential in a junkyard find. This rusty tin and wire obelisk (below) used to be a material covered floor lamp. Have fun with your creativity!
Since ancient times, water has been the source of deep, spiritual meanings in traditional gardens. Water was seen as a feminine symbol – life giving, fertile, changing and mysterious. References to Mother Rain, the Sacred Well, mermaids and nymphs allude to the feminine nature of water.
Christian symbols of water include “a spring of water welling up to eternal life” and “a living water fountain”. Medieval monastaries often included a fountain or a wellhead at the centre of the cloister garden.
Ancient Persian gardens were dependent on water for their very existence in the desert environment. The Persian garden represented Paradise on Earth, and featured four water channels leading to a central basin. Later Islamic gardens followed this design and included fountains, pools and channels. According to the Quran “every living thing is made of water” and refers to water as symbolic of life, purification and sustainability.
Zen Buddhist gardens use water to represent how the universe changes but always stays the same. Correct placement of streams are believed to carry away evil. Water may be included as a reflection pond in a large Zen garden, or as a stone basin in an enclosed courtyard garden. Water is often represented by raked sand or a rock cascade in a “dry garden”.
You can include water in your own healing garden in a number of ways:
Even in a small healing garden you can include a bowl of water to use as a reflecting pool. Below is an image of a glazed pot of clear water in my healing garden. The clouds are reflected among the leaves of the water plant.
Reflection pool in my healing garden
Tiny, secret pools of water can be found in all kinds of places in your healing garden if you take the time to look:
Including art in your healing garden is a great way to add an another layer of mystery and intrigue. Placing a sculpture or other focal point in carefully chosen spots adds interest for the visitor who wanders around the garden. Locate an artwork just around a bend in the pathway so it is revealed as the visitor approaches. Place a special pot in a recess or niche in a border bed so that it is partially hidden until the viewer is near it. This element of surprise in your healing garden is priceless and always raises a smile.
Your chosen artworks could be as simple as a balanced stack of stones. To some people these precarious little towers of flat river stones are full of symbolism and mystery, and often inspire exclamations of delight from children and adults alike.
Chose your artwork to evoke a certain theme in an area of your garden. For instance you could put a terracotta birdbath or sundial in your herb plot, or a stone basin in your Japanese inspired front garden, or place a Balinese style carving in your bromeliad bed. A well chosen artwork doesn’t need to be expensive or huge, but if it reflects the mood of your healing garden “room” then it can only add to the delight of the senses.
During winter, when you prune your grape vine, keep some of the long, thin branches and create vine art. I made a rustic looking vine ball and it looks great hanging from the pergola over my courtyard table. I made this ball by bending one long branch into a circular shape approximately 30 cm across. I tied the overlapping ends together with thin wire. Then I bent more branches around this vine circle, weaving them through, attaching them to each other at intervals where they touched, with wire, until a sphere started to form. Just make sure you space the branches sort of evenly around to prevent big spaces. Use plenty of branches so you get a sturdy ball. The small curly tendrils springing up over the ball make it look amazing. If you have used thin steel wire then you won’t notice the wire against the colour of the vines.
My next vine project will be an obelisk that can be used as decoration or as a climbing frame for tomato plants. I will probably use bamboo stakes (which I have growing along a boundary) as the uprights and then wind vine branches around. I noticed these examples in a local garden centre and I’ll use these for inspiration.
When designing a healing garden consider including art works such as sculptures to act as a focal point. Place the sculpture in a position so it is easily seen from a comfortable chair. The viewer can gaze upon the art work and meditate. An attractive sculpture will encourage your eyes to rest rather than search for a restful point. This sculpture (below) is made from faux rock (easy to move) and is placed in a green oasis of a semi-tropical bromeliad garden.