What is a collection of flowers if not a place of healing? Gardens have grown along with us for centuries. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon are legendary and the Canglang Pavilion in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, China has been lovingly tended for over 1,000 years. Gardens can, of course, also be quite practical. A garden full of potatoes, beets, eggplants, and beans is a source of nourishment, although it may be quite striking, as well.
But some gardens, like those of Babylon and Suzhou, are nourishing in another way. They feed the spirit. They create bonds between us and history and tradition and remind us that our collections of plants and flowers aren’t just random. They are healing gardens where we can refresh or contemplate or remember.
Writer Eldie Wood recognizes and explores the idea of healing gardens in “My Mother’s Seed.” She traces her family’s love of gardening through four generations, starting with her mother’s petunias and ending with a beautiful scene in which she so artfully immerses us in the sensory experience of appreciating a newly blooming yellow iris with her granddaughter.
“Budgie” also explores the way gardens can cross generations and bring us closer together. The story begins with writer Mary Ann Lieser driving through an unfamiliar neighborhood and quickly transports us back 50 years as she walks underneath a wild cherry tree and through an orchard of apple and pear trees to her grandmother’s garden, where we learn how the circle of life and death can nourish both the soil and the soul.
Some healing gardens, though, aren’t for the generations. They are meant for a moment in time. Such is the case in Bobbie Cyphers’ story, “Troubled Wayfarer.” I can’t say much without giving away the goods, but I will say that this is such a beautiful piece of writing, complete with the sounds of an “old truck echoing off the valley walls,” and a “great Pyrenees, stretched on the hill, preparing to gather her goats and herd them home for their evening feed.”
I hope you enjoy this collection of stories that prove gardens are a place not just for flowers and vegetables, but also a place of rejuvenation, healing, and hope.
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