Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Information and Resources

Font Size

The Spiritual Garden

WebMD Feature from "Country Living" Magazine

By Maggie Howe

Country Living MagazineTending to flowers and greenery can enrich the soul as well as the soil.

There is peace within a garden, a peace so deep and calm
That when the heart is troubled it’s like a soothing balm
There’s life within a garden, a life that still goes on
Filling empty places when older plants have gone
There’s glory in the garden at every time of year
Spring, summer, autumn, winter, to fill the heart with cheer
So ever tend your garden, its beauty to increase
For in it you’ll find solace, and in it you’ll find peace.

—Rosamond, Lady Langham

Several years ago, the son of my dear friend Brenda was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder. Brenda, an avid gardener with a passion for orchids (friends refer to her as the “Orchid Lady”—there is even an orchid named after her), turned to her garden for spiritual healing and emotional support. And during the past four years, both Brenda and her son have tended to the garden. “It became a sacred place,” she says. “A place of growth not only for plants and trees, but for our inner selves.”

For centuries, Christian and Buddhist monks have retreated to the quiet of monastery gardens to seek inner peace and contemplate the miracles of nature. Brenda, too—like generations of gardeners before her—has come to see gardening as a metaphor for life’s regenerative cycles. “From the appearance of a shoot to the fading of a flower, from gathering seeds to planting them, my garden represents the process of life,” she explains. As she looks out to the garden she and her son have tended together, Brenda is reminded how a little bit of nurturing can manifest itself beautifully in the future.

For Candis Cantin Packard, founder of EverGreen Herb Garden School of Integrative Herbology, near Placerville, Calif., taking time to watch the daily and seasonal changes of the garden and the phases of the moon is even more important than sowing seeds and pulling weeds. “Too many people are isolated from nature,” she says. But students who come to her depressed and full of anxiety and worry, she says, invariably, by the time they leave the garden, feel less alone or separate. “When we take the time to reconnect with nature in some fashion, we’re better able to feel ourselves as an integral part of the whole universe,” Packard assents.

“There is something so wonderful about putting your hands in the dirt,”says Chenue Colton Gill, creator of Deer Run Herb Sanctuary, in Napa, Calif. She recommends inviting friends over to help you dedicate your new garden—a wonderful way to acknowledge that you are now a protector, rather than a manipulator, of nature, as well as recognize the intricate relationships that exist between plants, animals, and all people. “We can all have our own little bit of Eden somewhere,” says Gill.

Hot Topics

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

hands on abdomen
Can you catch one?
Woman sitting in front of UV lights
Is yours working?
woman using breath spray
What's causing yours?
womans hand on abdomen
Are you ready for baby?
MS Overview
Recognizing symptoms.
bowl of yogurt with heart shape
Eat for a healthy heart.
woman doing pushups
To help you get fit.
Colored x-ray of tooth decay
Know what to look for.
Woman sitting with child
Do you know the symptoms?
Stings, bites, burns, and more.
Allentown, PA
Are you living in one?
Thyroid exam
See how much you know.

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.