How to Design Your Own Healing Garden

For an individual recovering from a serious illness, gardens can provide hope and inspiration.
For individuals recovering from serious illnesses, gardens can provide hope and inspiration.
(Photo: Liz West/Flickr)

Health care might not typically be associated with gardens, but in more and more brick-and-mortar health institutions, gardens are assuming a key role in treating illness.

In fact, you’ll find healing gardens in many substance abuse treatment centers, outpatient clinics, long-term care facilities, hospices, and retirement homes.

Why Start a Healing Garden?

The physical efforts of gardening are great forms of exercise. Gardens and gardening activity can also improve mental outlook. Just sitting in a garden reduces stress, anxiety, and depression.

For individuals recovering from serious illnesses, gardens can provide hope and inspiration. They can give patients a tranquil place to escape from the antiseptic world of doctors, hospitals, and sickness.

Below are a few basic pointers in designing your own healing garden.

Healing gardens provide a tranquil place to escape from the antiseptic world of doctors, hospitals, and sickness.
Healing gardens provide a tranquil place to escape from the antiseptic world of doctors, hospitals, and sickness. (Photo: DMichael Burns)

Grow Plants You Like

Do you find bright colors invigorating? Then your garden should include annuals such as zinnias, petunias, sunflowers, or cosmos.

If you enjoy cooking, you might want medicinal herbs, vegetables, and edible flowers in your garden. You can also use plants such as sage or lavender for aromatherapy!

Do you find bright colors invigorating?
Do you find bright colors invigorating? (Photo: MrGajowy3/Pixabay)

Add a Focal Point for Meditation

You will need a focal point for meditation and reflection. This can be a piece of sculpture, a special plant, interesting rocks, a water fountain, or wind chimes.

People coping with chronic pain or other medical conditions can use meditation to feel better in body and spirit. Some report dramatic results from healing meditation. Others simply appreciate the reduction in stress that comes from sitting quietly in a garden and focusing the mind.

You will need a focal point for meditation and reflection.
You will need a focal point for meditation and reflection.

Include a Place to Sit and Build Walking Paths

Establish a place to sit and observe the beauty of nature in your garden or build a path for walking. If you want, you can enclose it with shrubs or fencing to create a secluded retreat.

Gardens are for enjoyment, but most gardeners spend the bulk of their time up close and personal with the plants. Still, seating and walkways are an important aspect of any healing garden and you should include them in yours.

Establish a place to sit and observe the beauty of nature in your garden or build a path for walking.
Establish a place to sit and observe the beauty of nature in your garden or build a path for walking. (Photo: Liz West/Flickr)

Encourage Insects and Wildlife

Encourage birds, butterflies, insects, and other wildlife in your garden. Birdfeeders and birdhouses quickly and easily begin attracting these pleasant garden visitors.

These creatures simply make people happy. Who doesn’t love breathing clean, fresh air and hearing the serene sounds of nature?

Birdfeeders and birdhouses quickly and easily attract pleasant garden visitors.
Birdfeeders and birdhouses quickly and easily attract pleasant garden visitors.
(Photo: John Brighenti/Flickr)

Harnessing Nature’s Healing Powers

The role of plants and gardens in healing is ancient. The ancient Chinese planted medicinal herbs. The Greeks built a temple for Aesclepius among healing gardens.

Just like the journey of healing, your healing garden will require time and patience. But it is that journey that heals your body and refreshes and clears your mind.

If you already have your own healing garden, then please do share your experiences. We’d love to hear from you!   

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