Creating a Sanctuary Garden

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					                                                       Therapeutic gardening is not a new concept,
                                                         but it is becoming more widely accepted,
       For more nature habitat information
          Visit these helpful websites:                     and there is a new understanding
                                                       that where you garden can be as important
                                                                    as what you do there.
         A Plant's Home
         A Bird's Home
         A Homesteader's Home

                                                        Creating a
                                                     Sanctuary Garden
                                               Sanctuary garden, retreat,          Gardening, whether for
                                             soul garden, refuge: whatever      physical or spiritual
                                             you choose to call them, these     sustenance, is a pastime as old
                                             private areas provide a chance     as history itself. Many religious
                                             to meditate, relax, and            traditions used a garden
                                             decompress, away from the          setting to represent both the
                                             sights and sounds of the           beginning and end of life.
                                             everyday world.
                                                                                 According to Chuck and
                                               Not only are they becoming       Barbara Crandall, authors of
                                             more popular; some today would     Creating Privacy in the Garden,
                                             even call them necessary.          “Our passion for private garden
                                                                                retreats is as old as civilization
                                                Human beings have               itself, stretching back across
                                             traditionally maintained a close   the millennia to the earliest
                                             relationship with the soil. The    vestiges of Pharaonic Egypt."
                                             creation myths of most
                                             societies and religions              Depending on your source, the
                                             encompass a belief that            English word “paradise" comes
                                             humankind came originally from     from the Persian word for
                                             the earth.                         “beautiful fenced-in garden" or
                                                                                from the Greek word
                                               According to the ancient         paradeisos, meaning “enclosed
                                             Greeks, Prometheus shaped          park."
                                             man from mud. In Hebrew,
                                             “Adam" means “born of the            Murals from ancient Egypt
                                             earth." Many native Americans      depict walled gardens, and
                                             portrayed man as coming from       medieval religious groups are
                                             deep inside Mother Earth.          known to have grown their food

© WindStar Wildlife Institute                              Page 1                                          A Plant's Home
    behind walls to isolate the            As Donald Norfolk writes in
    monks from the distractions of       The Soul Garden“People need
                                                       ,                             Some gardeners seem
    the outside world.                   gardens today more than ever              unable to fully enjoy their
                                         before. In an increasingly                  gardens, so caught up
      With the rise of cities, even in   frenetic age they offer a vital              are they in the latest
    ancient times, this closeness to     source of comfort and an                   skirmish with mildew or
    the soil began to fade.              opportunity for mental,                             beetle...
                                         physical, and spiritual renewal."         My philosophy is: Forget
       In modern days, rather than                                                 winning, cultivate delight.
    seeing ourselves as “stewards"         He goes on to say, “As a race
                                                                                                     – Diane Ackerman
    or caretakers of the earth,          we have inhabited planet earth                              Cultivating Delight
    nature became something which        for at least two million years.
    needed to be controlled and          For 99 percent of this time we
    managed to our own advantage,        led a nomadic existence. It is          have less open space for
    and we were more likely to view      only in the last ten thousand           shelter or raising a family, we
    it from a distance, both             years that we have mastered             build taller buildings. For all our
    physically and mentally.             the art of farming and learned          needs, we have options not
                                         to live in towns. This is a mere        available to other species.
      Today, the pendulum is             blink in the annals of recorded
    gradually swinging back. The         time. Deep down we still feel
    intensity of modern life and the     displaced, and yearn to regain
    pace of technology, particularly     contact with our pastoral
    in America, is forcing us to re-     roots."
    evaluate our lives.                                          Not only are
                                                              we displaced,
                                                              but so is
                                                              wildlife, and
                                                              wildlife doesn’t
                                                              have the same
                                                              resources that
                                                              we do to help
                                                              them adapt.
                                                              Food is rarely
                                                              limited or even
                                                               seasonal for
                                                               us, since we
                                                               can buy
                                                               products from
                                                               around the
                                                               world in our

                                                             water is so
                                                             plentiful that
                                                             it comes in
                                                             flavors! If we

© WindStar Wildlife Institute                           Page 2                                               A Plant's Home
      To re-establish true harmony                                          Sometimes a narrow side yard
    with the earth, a sanctuary                                             can be developed into a retreat.
    garden should also be a
    welcoming place for wildlife.                                              Some people choose to build
    Sometimes this calls for a bit                                          walls or fences within a larger
    of compromise, but the trade-                                           area, and these can both create
    offs are worth it. By not using                                         privacy and provide support to
    any herbicides or pesticides,                                           taller plants or climbing vines. If
    you agree to accept a few                                               structures are made of
    munched leaves in exchange for                                          materials like stone or wood,
    butterflies and other beneficial                                        they will fit the natural feel of
    insects.                                                                the garden.

      When you choose native                                                  Other gardeners prefer to use
    plants over alien species, you                                          plants, such as hedgerows or
    agree to surround yourself with                                         evergreens, to create the
    a different, although equally       nature, instead of trying to        borders of their sanctuary and
    beautiful, palette of texture and   control it, is that there are no    form a backdrop to shorter
    color in exchange for birds which   losers.                             elements. Whatever you choose,
    eat the seeds and berries. The                                          the result should give you a
    true beauty of working with           There can be no specific          feeling of safety and separation
                                        directions on how to build a        from outside pressures.
                                        sanctuary garden, because the
                                        design, and even the process of       You might also be creating
                                        creation, will be different for     this garden with other
                                        every gardener, as well as for      inspirations in mind. If you need
                                        every site.                         more lightness and humor in
                                                                            your life, add touches of whimsy
                                           Thus, every sanctuary garden
                                        is unique, although it will
                                        generally incorporate certain
                                        basic elements. It will naturally
                                        be suited to the space available,
                                        but it should also be very
                                        personal, reflecting individual
                                        preferences and needs.

                                        Creating Your Sanctuary
                                          Deciding where to locate your
                                        sanctuary is the first step in
                                        creating your garden.

                                          It need not be large, but the
                                        area should lend itself to being
                                        somewhat confined, whether
                                        visually or physically.

© WindStar Wildlife Institute                          Page 3                                           A Plant's Home
    such as brightly-colored chairs      Once inside, there should be a
    or silly sculptures hidden among   path to lead you to a bench or
    the leaves. To honor the memory    other comfortable seat where
    of a loved one, plant their        you can relax and gradually
    favorite flowers, or a special     merge with your surroundings.
                                         Your sense of taste can be
      Think about any others who       satisfied with edible berries and
    will be using the retreat. Those   herbs. Nothing is sweeter than
    who are visually impaired will     just-picked fruit warmed by the
    appreciate a concentration of      sun.
    scented plants. If someone
    uses a wheelchair, make the          Herbs can also entice your          There are manufactured units
    path smooth and easy to            sense of smell as you brush         which produce ponds and
    navigate, and consider using       against them. Footsteps             fountains of any size, or you
    raised planting beds.              release the fragrance of            can create your own with just a
                                       creeping thyme planted along        plastic liner or a combination of
      Many designers of garden         garden pathways.                    containers and a recirculating
    retreats firmly believe that                                           pump.
    your sanctuary should have a          Every gardener knows the
    distinct entryway. If you          pleasure of smelling damp             Even a bucket with a small
    always stop to pause at this       earth, especially after a spring    hole in the bottom, dripping into
    same spot, picturing yourself      rainfall. All of your senses,       a saucer below, will attract
    leaving your stress outside as     stimulated and working              wildlife and bring the music of
    you go through, the ritual will    together, will help you to become   water to your retreat.
    become automatic and a             aware of the many facets of
    sense of peace will begin to       your sanctuary garden, and            If your space is large enough,
    heal your spirit as soon as you    make you feel a part of the         consider scattering water
    step into the garden itself.       nature surrounding you.             elements throughout the
                                                                           garden. All creatures need
                                                                           available water throughout the
                                       Water is Critical                   year, and the more varied the
                                         While the various elements of
                                       your retreat will depend on your
                                       preferences and the space that
                                       you have available, you should
                                       definitely include at least one
                                       water feature. This might be a
                                       bird bath, a small fountain, or
                                       just a shallow bowl of water
                                       near a bench which reflects the
                                       clouds and colors of light.

                                         Moving water is especially
                                       effective. It is important for
                                       wildlife, and adds a comforting
                                       sound to the garden.

© WindStar Wildlife Institute                        Page 4                                           A Plant's Home
                                                By choosing native plants,
       "The more time we spend                you’ll also be helping to restore
       in natural surroundings,               an ecological balance which is
        the more we acquire the               threatened by development and
      attributes of nature. Our               alien species.
      lives take on the qualities
          of our environment,                   Wildlife depends on native
        becoming more ordered,                plants for food and cover, and
       stable, and harmonious."               may not be able to adapt to
                          – Donald Norfolk    non-native substitutes.
                            The Soul Garden
                                                Mitchell also points out that
                                              “If every homeowner in the
    presentation, the more diverse            country gave only 1/10 of an
    will be the wildlife that you             acre to a meadow, bog, marsh,
    attract.                                  prairie, field, or woodland, the
                                              net gain would be an
                                              astonishing 3.8 million acres of
    Select Native Plants                      sanctuary."
      Plants will probably make up                                                       "Plants are part of the
    the largest part of your garden.            Each sanctuary garden that             food chain for the insects
    Whenever possible, choose                 we create is an opportunity to           and animals that live in our
    native plants when making your            increase habitat for native               gardens....In deliberately
    selections.                               plants and animals, and they in         providing sanctuary for the
                                              turn will enhance our experience          creatures around us, we
      The native species will attract         of the garden.                          must also provide the plants
    the most wildlife, and will require                                                    that wildlife know."
    the least care, because they                When choosing plants, mimic
                                                                                                     – Sherry Mitchell
    are genetically adapted to live           nature by selecting a variety of                       Creating Sanctuary
    in your environment.                      species, sizes, and types. Your
                                              choices can enhance the
                                              garden, at the same time that
                                              they encourage wildlife to visit.

                                                   "Water is a key to
                                                 sanctuary. Its sacred
                                                 influence over human
                                                 history is unmatched
                                                among all other natural
                                                Lose this vital force, and
                                                  Earth becomes just
                                                  another barren rock
                                                   circling the sun."
                                                  – Christopher and Tricia McDowell
                                                             The Sanctuary Garden

© WindStar Wildlife Institute                               Page 5                                          A Plant's Home
                                                Although economics may            comfortable seat, situated so
         Time in the garden –                 require that you buy some           that you can easily view a focal
      experiencing the moment,                plants when they’re relatively      point.
        the pause between the                 small, keep their mature height
       breath; fully being in the             in mind when placing them in the      Particularly in our western
         moment; letting go of                garden.                             culture, we equate work with
         fear, stress, and any                                                    profit and even with morality. In
      feeling of incompleteness                 Don’t neglect to plant larger     a sanctuary garden, if you
       – links us with eternity.              species, even if it will be many    constantly feel that you must
                                              years before they mature. They      be working, you’ve simply
        We can then appreciate                will be your legacy to future       brought the pressures of the
       and celebrate all that we              generations.                        outside world in with you, and
         have by being truly                                                      you will be unable to lose
               present.                         With all of this concentration    yourself in those sights and
                                              on designing and maintaining        sounds of nature that you’ve
                         – Elizabeth Murray   a sanctuary, it is important        incorporated into your refuge.
                   Cultivating Sacred Space
                                              not to lose sight of your main
                                              objective: to lessen stress.
                                                                                  Let Your Senses Absorb Nature
      Evergreens provide visual                                                     We humans have altered our
    winter interest and cover for                                                 normal cycles with electricity
    wildlife, while deciduous species                                             that lets us work in the dark,
    bring color to the garden in                                                  caffeine which wakes us up when
    autumn and movement as the                                                    our bodies crave sleep, and a
    leaves fall, leaving bare                                                     tendency to even work hard at
    branches as living sculptures.                                                planning and “enjoying" our
                                                                                  vacation time.
       Seedheads left in place after
    flowers bloom will artfully                                                     Our time in the garden should
    catch the snow while offering                                                 have periods when we lose
    natural birdseed. Vines can                 If you enter your garden          ourselves in the tasks of
    provide both cover and food,              retreat thinking only of the work   weeding and watering, but even
    and their twisting stems add              that needs to be done, then you     more important are those
    sculptural details to a wall or           will have lost track of the main    periods when we sit quietly and
    arbor.                                    reason for creating it.             let all of our senses absorb the
                                                                                  nature surrounding us.
                                                While the garden work itself –
    Build a Plant Community                   the digging and weeding and           A sanctuary garden can help
      Your goal should be layers of           watering – can be part of the       us return to the normal
    plant material, rising up from            relaxation process, there also      patterns of nature.
    perennials and grasses, into              needs to be time for idleness.
    shrubs and small trees, and                                                     Frequently it’s people who
    finally to taller trees.                    This is frequently a hard         already have a yard who start
                                              concept for gardeners to            envisioning a sanctuary garden,
      You are striving to create a            embrace, and it is one of the       but those with less space – for
    plant community, not a series             main reasons that you should        instance, apartment or condo
    of specimen plants.                       include a bench or other            dwellers – are often the ones

© WindStar Wildlife Institute                               Page 6                                          A Plant's Home
    with the greatest need for a        so that your eyes travel along      at each side to hold vines
    quiet retreat.                      curved lines, stopping at small     which will cover the structure,
                                        sculptures or other focal           adding interest and shade.
      If your space is limited, you     points, delighting in the variety
    can still create a sanctuary on     of colors, shapes, and textures.
    a smaller scale. Lattice panels                                         Candles and Lights
    or bamboo blinds form walls on        Be sure to include some herbs        In the evening, if you don’t
    a deck or patio, a small            or other scented plants,            have a view of the night sky,
    tabletop fountain provides          perhaps just beside the door        candles or small strings of
    water, and gentle wind chimes       where you will brush against        lights can add a comforting
    mask surrounding sounds.            them, creating an entrance          glow. The size of a sanctuary
                                        distinguished by scent instead      garden is less important
      Buy plants that provide           of a gate.                          than the attitude that you
    diversity: variegated leaves,                                           bring to it, and your
                                          You might be able to add a        willingness to let nature work
                                        small arching arbor, with pots      its magic on you.

    spiky foliage, different heights,
    lots of color. Flowers will
    attract butterflies and
    hummingbirds, and large pots
    can hold miniature trees or
    shrubs which bear fruit for

      If you add a bird-house
    appropriate for local species,
    you might have the thrill of
    watching new life born into your

      While a smaller-
    scale garden might
    not have room for a
    walking path, you
    can arrange your
    chair and plantings

© WindStar Wildlife Institute                         Page 7                                          A Plant's Home
           The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely, or
          unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can
           be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature, and God...

           As long as this exists, and it certainly always will,
         I know that then there will always be comfort for every
           sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I
         firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.                   This article was written by
                                                                                     Maryland Master Wildlife
                                                                    – Anne Frank        Habitat Naturalist
                                                                                          Cathy Gilleland.

      It is natural at this time to be focused on the horrendous events            For more information or for the
    of September 11, 2001, but a wider perspective acknowledges that                 name of a Master Wildlife
                                                                                   Habitat Naturalist in your area,
    countless tragedies, both larger and smaller, have occurred                            please contact:
    throughout human history.
                                                                                      WindStar Wildlife Institute
      In response, people everywhere, in every generation, have looked for
    solace in natural surroundings, particularly in gardens.                         E-mail:

      The cycles of nature we see there remind us that life itself will
    continue, regardless of what we may have lost in the past, or what             WindStar Wildlife Institute is a
    faces us in the future.                                                              national, non-profit
                                                                                      conservation organization
                                                                                       whose mission is to help
      As you create and enjoy your own retreat, may you find healing                   individuals and families
    and comfort and a deep acceptance of your own connection to the                establish or improve the wildlife
                                                                                     habitat on their properties.
    world of nature.

© WindStar Wildlife Institute                              Page 8                                          A Plant's Home

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Description: Therapeutic gardening is not a new concept, but it is becoming more widely accepted, and there is a new understanding that where you garden can be as important as what you do there.