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Create your own Holistic Garden

April Kennedy April Kennedy
Garden by Barbara Negretti - Garden design -
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A holistic garden engages all the senses, from the gentle tinkle of wind chimes, the fragrance of flowers and the cool, lush scent of grass and the earthy, feeling of digging your hands into moist earth and growing something from scratch.

But a holistic garden is much more than just a garden that awakens the senses. Creating such a garden is about learning to work with the natural ecosystem of a garden and seeking to help it find its own balance without the use of artificial chemicals and fertilisers. It is the most earth friendly and healthy way to garden.

Weather small or large, the process of creating and maintaining your own holistic garden can provide hours of stress-relieving fun. Keep reading to learn more.

What exactly is a holistic garden?

A holistic garden is different from an ordinary garden because of the intent to create a place that doesn't just look, but taste, smell and sound beautiful. Holistic gardening is about creating a total, sensory experience. As shown in this picture, this may involve the use of water features, a beautiful arrangement of scented flowers, a comfortable area to sit or a lovely path to walk. This kind of garden heals the mind, body and spirit.

But at the same time, real holistic gardening means properly healing and nourishing the garden in return, and this means respecting the delicate balance of nature and working with it. So avoid chemical fertilisers, learn about organic fertilisers or even better make your own mulch with grass clippings or household waste.

A sight to lead the eye

We all know the calming feeling induced by seeing a beautifully designed garden, but we don't always tune into what it is that appeals to the visual sense. So next time you see a beautiful garden, think about what draws your eye, where does it linger and how can you create or combine this effect with other features in your own garden.

Factors you may consider are groupings of flowers and colours, artfully placed rocks or the curved or sharp edges of bushes and ornamentation. Traditionally, holistic gardens like this one by Barbara Negretti tend to reflect the idea of natural cycles and philosophy by mimicking the natural curves and circles in nature.

Smells in the Garden

They say that our sense of smell reaches to the deepest reaches of memory in the human brain. It's undoubtedly one of the most overlooked and powerful senses working away in the background to influence our experience of a place. In a garden, there is huge potential to create a paradise for this sense. This doesn't particularly mean that you need to choose plants with the strongest scents, some even find the scent of freshly turned soil to be calming. But floral scents are a must, consider gardenias, nicotiana, hyacinth and of course the ever popular and powerfully fragrant oriental lily.

Sounds of nature

asian  by Lush Garden Design, Asian
Lush Garden Design

Tetsu bachi granite bowl water feature

Lush Garden Design

There's something about the flowing, wordless sound of moving water that has a primal hold on many people. In traditional Japanese gardens, the sight and sound of flowing water symbolise the passage of time. It's a lovely metaphor that may explain the calming effects of water. Water features in your garden don't necessarily need to be large or expensive to have such an effect. A simple bamboo pipe feature like this one by Lush Garden Design can work beautifully, as can a small stone feature or miniature pond. Other elements you may want to consider are the light sound of wind chimes.

Taste in the Garden

Featherbrook House Modern garden by PKA Architects Ltd Modern
PKA Architects Ltd

Featherbrook House

PKA Architects Ltd

Nothing quite beats cooking with fresh ingredients, and it can't get any fresher than plucking food from your own edible garden. The humble and ever ready bamboo and its shoots are an easy edible plant to grow and harvest in Asia. Persimmons and lotus flowers are great for those who are ready to put a little more work into the garden. But even the simplest herb garden can easily become an absorbing project. Super hot chillies can add spice, not just to your dishes but also your colour scheme. There's no rule that says edible plants can't be ornamental. Indeed, some sustainable gardeners recommend mixing them up with ornamental plants as much as possible.

Invite some wildlife

Even the smallest urban garden need not be bereft of wildlife. If you love butterflies or birds, talk to a gardening expert and you'll discover that beautiful flying characters will come to your garden if you use the right kinds of shrubs, palms, climbers and even grasses. Other possibilities include stocking a pond with some low-maintenance fish.

From choosing flowers, finding natural fertilisers and attracting and feeding wildlife, the holistic garden might just sound like a whole lot of extra work! But rest assured, caring and growing for a holistic garden will offer great rewards. From the slow, physical sensation of digging into soil, to meditative aspect of focussing on the health of a plant or animal, tending to nature coerces the gardener into a calmer and more absorbing state of mind. Quite simply, tending to nature brings us into connection with life!

If you enjoyed this, you would love this Ideabook A restful time outdoors!

What do you think of therapeutic qualities of gardening? We'd love to hear in the comments below!
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