Contemplative Places


Some places are special.  They allow us to slow down.  They distract from busy mental activity and cause us to first notice and then be drawn into contact with what goes on in the world beyond our human concerns.  These places may be wild or they may be gardens.

Over half of us live in busy cities now and it’s easy to forget that we ourselves have emerged from the web of life on this planet, that the earth supplies us with all that we need to live and that we depend entirely on the resources of the earth and all the other life forms that we share our home with. We’ve lost a feeling of belonging.

Many of us have no access to wild places but even in a city there are gardens and parks and spending time there can refresh and re-vitalise us.  I’m convinced that garden designers can create places that effectively help us to become re-integrated with the natural world and remember that we ourselves are part of it.

My clients tell me that their gardens are restorative and peaceful.  Clearly I’ve been doing something right!  But what happens to a human being in a peaceful garden?  How does it work?  How can a designer set out to help the process along?

I’ve been researching these and other questions.  I discovered the Quiet Garden Movement and spent time finding out How Quiet Gardens Work.

I visited Japan and looked at Zen Gardens, especially the tea gardens which are designed to bring a visitor into a meditative state before attending the tea ceremony (see blog to be written).  I also saw how Japanese gardens evoke the natural world and contrasted them with our western ideas of naturalistic gardens (see blog to be written).

I thought about perfection, what does that mean in a garden context and how can it be achieved? (Blog to be written.

I learned about meditation and mindfulness.  How can gardens bring you into the present moment?

Using some of the discoveries I made in Japan and elsewhere I was part of the team that designed A Quiet Garden at the RHS Malvern Show to publicise the work of the Quiet Garden Movement.(see the post below)

And so it goes on, I’m learning all the time!  Scroll through my blogs to see where this interest has taken me.