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Faith: How a garden can soothe the soul

My maternal grandmother loved being in her garden. She would bookend each day in the backyard, picking, pruning and planting her lovely tomatoes and my favourite, the golden flowers of camomile.

A garden can be more than a thing of beauty, it's also a place where one can retreat to, from the stress and clamour of the day. Where the eyes can take in colour, where fragrances linger in the air and where birds can be heard in song, from the warble of a magpie to the laugh of a kookaburra.

Recently I was at a presentation given by a landscape architect named Kelly, who was passionate about the importance of bringing nature, with all its soothingness, into people's lives.

I was struck by the integrity she brought into her work. She spoke of a recent project where she was able to build a garden in an aged care facility, keeping in mind the needs of those who live there and bringing into their world a space that would provide harmony and balance.

Kelly spoke about the circular patterns which she incorporated into the design for the wellbeing of the residents and this reminded me of the beautiful sand mandalas so often created by buddhist monks, which are believed to effect​ healing.

However, it was her story about a garden that she created for a young autistic boy that struck me most. She detailed how this lad was able to express his freedom as he ran through this green space, allowing the physical sensations to register in his mind.

I took a moment to imagine what his face must have looked like as he felt the tickle and sensation of the grass under his feet, perhaps the prickle and touch of a plant between his fingers.

As the English poet, Alfred Austin wrote:

"The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul."

So on a sunny Melbourne day, I took myself to Curtain Square. I sat under a mighty gum tree, took off my shoes feeling the grass under my own feet, raised my face to the sun and cast my mind back to my youth.

I allowed myself to travel back in time, into my grandmother's garden where I first learned about the power of mother nature and her gifts

This is where she found her joy and where she was most at peace.

Sand Mandala.jpg

The beauty of sand mandala art: MAX MASON-HUBERS

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