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Planning a Serenity Garden

"Kiss of the sun for pardon.
Song of the birds for mirth.
You're closer to God's heart in a garden
than any place else on earth."
-- Dorothy Frances Gurney

It’s an oft-quoted (and misquoted! I had to look it up for the exact words) poem. Dorothy Frances Gurney expressed the way that most people feel about their gardens.  It is in the garden that we feel the touch of the Divine more than anywhere else. It is the reason that throughout the world, men and women have put aside careers to become gardeners, planters and farmers.

There is more to it than the kiss of the sun and the song of the birds, though. When you garden, you find yourself becoming attuned to the natural rhythms of the earth – the pull of the moon, the promise of the rain, the life-giving warmth of the sun. You find yourself rising early to pluck a few berries with the dew still on them. After dinner, you retire to the garden – not because it needs you, but because you need it.

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A true gardener’s garden is never finished. It is a work in progress throughout its life. However beautiful or simple it may be, it never has a sterile ‘landscaped’ feel to it. One can sense the changing of the season from day to day – even from hour to hour. In that light, there is no ‘plan’ for a serenity garden. It is one that simply grows as you do, changing to reflect your favorite colors, the landscapes that make you feel comfortable, the philosophy that brings you peace and comfort this month or this year.

With that said, then, take the rest of this with a grain of salt, and adjust it to your own tastes and pleasures. These are ingredients that go into making the perfect garden for me – your mileage may vary.

Rocks – whether they edge a path, line a walkway, or form the basis for a rock garden, stones and rocks are an integral part of the earth. I know that most gardeners consider them anathema, and will root out every last pebble in the interests of providing ‘good soil’. To me, a garden can not be a garden without rocks. I use them to build raised beds, plant shade-loving ground covers beneath the overhang of large boulders, and embed them in the earth to form pathways between rows of shrubs and flowers.

Water – The sound of running water is like balm to a worried mind. If you’re lucky enough to be able to build a backyard pond, you have my everlasting envy. For the rest of us, there are garden hoses and sprinklers to bring water into the garden. Watering time is easily my favorite time of the day.

A Nearby Bench – Enjoying your garden is the reward for your labor. Whether your ‘bench’ is a large boulder or your back porch, be sure there is somewhere to sit close by so you can bask in the scent of earth and growing things.