The Garden As Sanctuary
In The Garden – By Stephen and Kristin Pategas
How do you view a garden? Is it a necessity or an indulgence? Is it drudgery or a respite from the day’s stresses? That may depend upon a combination of your upbringing, ancestral connections, and state of mind.
After the tragic events of September 11, 2001, we experienced a shift in people’s perception of their gardens. There was an expressed need for a secure sanctuary to cocoon and relax close to home. Many turned to their gardens for relief.
Creating a garden sanctuary is not new. Adam and Eve are often considered the first gardeners of Eden, the biblical paradise we try to recreate today. The Egyptian gardens were for pleasure as well as production of fruits, vegetables, and wine. The Greeks originated the concept of the sacred grove while the Roman garden, or hortus, featured flowing water, topiaries, and statuary. Islamic gardens were rectangular, enclosed by walls, and softened with plants and a fountain or pool in the center.
The hortus conclusus, or enclosed garden of Middle Age monasteries, preserved the gardening traditions for medicinal herbs, kitchen gardens, and fruit and nut orchards. European gardens of the 17th Century favored showing man’s conquest over nature, while the English garden of the late 1800s featured a romantic style of natural woodland plantings and controlled views. The 1900s saw the creation of magnificent English gardens that created outdoor rooms full of color and texture.
Meanwhile, gardens of the Far East used carefully sited stone, plantings water, and water to create gardens that stimulate the senses and appear timeless.
The sanctuary garden concept is not new to the history of gardening, but it may be new to you. This garden can be grand or small, ornate or simple, formal or natural – depending on your tastes and commitment. However, the design principles used to create a garden sanctuary remain the same.
Create a sense of space by defining the overhead, vertical, and ground planes. Tree canopies, structures, hedges, and courtyards contribute to the privacy, security, and intimacy of the space. Well-placed focal points catch the eye and lead the feet throughout the garden. These accents include garden ornaments, plant specimens, a place to sit, or furnishings to create a lounge. We need to feel comfortable in our surroundings and creating the proper scale in the garden grounds our relationship to nature. Include smaller trees to link tree canopies or rooflines to the ground.
Unique to a sanctuary garden is the emotional response they create within us. Control those emotions with the clever use of color in the design. Pastel colors of pink, blue and lavender are known to slow the step, cause the eyes to linger, and make you smile. One design principle that can transform a simple garden into a sanctuary is stimulus. Awaken the five senses with cool running water, rustling grasses, crunching gravel, and fragrant blossoms. Include herbs or fruits to please the palate and create seasonal change for a visual treat.
Next time you visit a garden that inspires you, make note of how each design principle is employed and its effect on your feelings. These memories, along with your style and experiences, will help you create a sanctuary garden that is uniquely yours.
Hortus Oasis (FL26000315) in Winter Park is a boutique garden design company specializing in residential, commercial and specialty gardens. Stephen is a registered landscape architect and Kristin is a certified landscape designer. Contact them at Hortus Oasis (FL26000315) in Winter Park is a boutique garden design company specializing in residential, commercial and specialty gardens. Stephen is a registered landscape architect and Kristin is a certified landscape designer. Contact them at 407-622-4886/ firstname.lastname@example.org.