by Liz Koch
Why is one garden more inspiring than another? It is not just how many flats of posies one purchases that touches our hearts, rather it is a felt sense that can inspire and literally transform the way we feel. It is this magical quality that defines a “healing” garden.
Healing gardens have existed throughout human history as intentional spaces where the magic of healing is evoked. Sometimes called restorative gardens, they are apart of an ancient healing tradition found in almost every culture and time. Creating intentional healing gardens where one touches the earth, hearing the bees humming, birds singing and water flowing, while also feeling the sun’s warmth and the softness of air, is part of our western history and is integral to the infirmaries that were often located within monastic communities.
“Many hospitals have reintroduced healing gardens” explains local master gardener and energy healer Patty Dunks, “because these gardens have the incredible potential for supporting and speeding up the healing process.”
Speaking for the Way of Life health lecture series that was held on Tuesday April 20th, Dunks attributes the ability for a garden to provide a “field of healing” to a variety of qualities. Qualities such as the flow of energy, or what is commonly known as Feng Shui, the balancing of the 5 essential elements of earth, air, fire, water and sky, which is literally the composition of the garden’s ecosystem; and the personal resonance with individual plants. “ Each person resonates with different plants” explains Dunks, “so it is important when creating a personal healing garden to include the plants that you feel a particular kinship with.”
To gain a sensitivity to plants, author Stephen Harrod Buhner in his book The Secret Teachings Of Plants: The Intelligence Of The Heart In The Direct Perception Of Nature, eloquently leads the reader through a series of mental, emotional, and sensory explorations meant to help recognize how limited and cut-off we are in the modern world to varied modes of perception. These subtle modes of perception, although not easily tangible, are called Biognosis, which means direct “knowledge from life.”
The relationship with plants, Buhner suggests, goes far beyond our dependency on using them for food and medicine; there is a vibrational relationship to the plant kingdom inherent in our physical bodies. Buhner urges us to come to our senses and develop our heart-felt perception as a means of communing directly with the plant world. Learning directly from plants is an ancient indigenous way of learning he expounds, which did not rely on either the analytical capacity of the brain or used the techniques of trial and error, but happened because our ancestors received information directly through the heart of the world. In other words, we can receive directly from and be informed by the plants themselves. “The plants can speak to human beings” clarifies Buhner, “only if human beings will listen and respond to them in the proper state of mind. “ This “state of mind” is currently recognized in cutting edge research as electrical (i.e. vibrational) or neurological coherency. Research shows that simply viewing nature provides benefits to our health. Dunks concurs, being in a healing garden lowers our blood pressure, our pulse rate, our respiratory rate, and slows our body’s output of the stress hormone cortisol.
Just being in a garden is a step towards health. Embarking upon growing a healing garden can not only create beauty and a delightful space for family and friends to gather, but it can also provide the perfect conditions for fostering vitality and good health.
With years of plant wisdom and extensive energetic healing skills, Patty will help you to create your own powerful healing garden. All plants are healers and you can enhance your garden space with conscious attunement to their vibration using the 5 Elements, Feng Shui principles, and being sensitive to energetic flows.
Patty Dunks, creator of Healing Environments, is an energy healer and Feng Shui consultant. Patty was a landscape contractor and designer for over 30 years, the past President of the California Horticulture Therapy Association, and has taught at both UC Santa Cruz and Cabrillo College in the Horticulture and Horticulture Therapy Departments