It’s August and we are approaching harvest time…Calendars, blackberrys and society’s techno-rhythms urge us to keep pace! But as we marvel and conform to the “cyber” era, we risk losing our connection to Nature’s cycles and rhythms. A garden program can help you restore this vital connection. The following is a simple checklist of “to dos” to help you on your way.

First, consider where your “garden” will grow. Will it be a typical outdoor garden in a landscaped setting, a balcony with a trellis, a porch as “mini-conservatory” or even windowsill to name a few diverse choices. For the purpose of this essay, fully indoor gardens are not considered.

The idea is to create a connection with the outdoors and to create a garden focal point.

Once you have decided on the location of your garden space, you must now consider the climatic and environmental conditions. Next, you will do some research by visiting garden centres, for example, to determine which plants will function best in your chosen setting. Key Issues to consider are sun/shade, moisture and temperature.

Now you will want to consider your garden’s voice and what mood and atmosphere  it should support for you and your visitors.

Colour plays an important role here. Generally, people respond best to strong contrasting color or adjacent harmonies. Cooler colours are calming and bright red hues are socially energizing. Another consideration is the time of day you will spend in the garden. Blue looks best at high noon and stimulating colours are not as effective at sunrise or sunset. It is said that French Impressionist artist, Claude Monet, created the ultimate representation of light in a healing garden with his Water lilies painting. But best of all, whichever flowers or plants you choose for their visual contribution, your palette will be completely natural!

The next design element to factor in is Scent. Lavender for relaxation, mint or geranium to refresh, jasmine for romance, sweet autumn clematis to calm the nerves, to name just a very few. Choose a scent not only for its healing outcome, but also for the good memories you can associate it with.

Your healing garden can combine culinary, aromatic and medicinal herbs with decorative garden plants.

The element of Touch. It can be plainly stated that garden work is good for both body & soul. This tactile involvement will further support your re-connection with Nature. Working with your hands has a very healing effect e especially in an age in which we do not physically write letters anymore.

Sound. Learn about Japanese gardens, which feature water running over stones. As water is the source of life, this element must be incorporated into your garden scheme.

Your garden offers a place for birds to nest and sing. Whatever natural sounds are experienced, essentially this sacred space is a retreat from the sounds of the city and its artificial lights.

Furniture & furnishings. Once the garden is complete, you will want to choose natural woods and other materials to complement this space. Select natural woods, bamboo, wicker for furniture; coir, jute or hemp for outdoor rugs; natural linens for the table and cottons or voile for curtains. Bring some herbs to the summer table and include a large bowl of iced water with mint and cucumbers for a refreshing drink.

A new book to read. Start slowly to build your reference shelf for gardening tips. One recent publication I came across and well worth looking at for its pictures of gardens, containers and original garden furniture design is “The Elements of Organic Gardening” by Prince Charles and Stephanie Donaldson. You don’t have to live on a large estate to apply some of the recommendations found here.

Finally, designing your garden will provide you with an opportunity to express creativity and to create beauty. There are gardening opportunities throughout the year.
If you are inspired by your outdoor creation, make a note of which elements: colours, scents, sounds, etc you would like to incorporate indoors as we eventually transition to late Autumn.

Bette E Stock
- Holistic Interior Design & Colour Consultant
Member of Holistic Design Institute and Walls Windows & Furnishings Assn.

Tel: 416-766-7346
Fax :  416-766-9353

Bette is owner/director of Harmony Natural Design, a multi-faceted service offering healing, intuitive and eco-design solutions for your home and small office. To the WIN & NIM members and site visitors, she is currently offering a 25% discount on colour consultations. This offer expires September 21, 2008.

Don’t hesitate to send an email to Bette with your questions on this month’s topic or other information related to Holistic Interior Design……..

We would be pleased to receive your “before” and “after” stories with your ideas on how you will keep your space responsive to change and supportive of your lifestyle.

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