An artist shares her experiences on creatively developing, tending to and nurturing her garden as spiritual sanctuary for herself, her friends and family. Gail Allen contributes her thoughts on creating a sacred space as an oasis for soothing your soul in today's busy world, enticing your senses and and fostering your own personal growth

Sunday, May 13, 2012

 Happy Mother’s Day! From one Mother to Another…
Mother Earth that is!

The Rose Trellis Painting by Gail Allen

Through the years, my gardening philosophy has developed based on my knowledge of the Taoist garden principle of creating a reflection of heaven on earth; a quiet, intimate haven for nature lovers, of naturalness and simplicity. 

It is the development of a magical place, exhibiting life’s breath, that is ever changing along with the light and shade, and rhythms brought about by the contrasts in weather as the seasons evolve. 

The emphasis being that in a well-designed garden, it becomes difficult to differentiate the work of man and nature. One of the nicest compliments I was ever given was by a friend who frequently visited. One day, after years of visiting, as she walked up the stone pathway to the front door she said:
 “You know, this looks so natural, like the flowers just were all seeded here, but there is clearly a pattern, rhythm and layout, isn’t there?” 

Even upon seeing it many, many times, and noticing repetitions of elements as it aged, she was still not quite sure, there was that sense of mystery. That is what I strive for in my designs.

Spirit Rising Painting by Gail Allen
While painting my landscapes tends to characterize the vastness and grandeur of Mother Nature, our garden at home reveals her more intimate characteristics. The core of the design of our garden is based on on a Feng Shui Bagua, emanating out by removing the site of any definite boundary, thus depicting expansion and rhythm, a perception of unlimited time and space. This incorporates use of hills, levels, water and rocks to achieve the ultimate goal of the garden, never to be viewed all at once, (as is the case on a flat expanse)

The winding paths lure the visitors beyond the immediate scene where even the smallest of spaces may be converted to give the effect of mysterious distance through the use of groves, bushes and placement of rockeries.

 My use of these principles of gardening entices the imagination rather than appealing to the reasoning faculty of the beholder, through the creation of unexpected features and the use of irregularity of line, which suggests movement and life.

This Taoist garden design style was thought of as a symbolic Paradise, where all life was protected and sheltered, in a quiet intimate garden setting. Its creation was during the time of the SixDynasties and the T’ang. Like all of life, although to the untrained eye it looks simple, there is an incredible amount of knowledge behind the development of all the elements into a unified whole, right down to the positioning of the rocks.

As I gather with my family today, in our peaceful garden - built together over our lifetime together, I am filled with gratefulness, for a life well celebrated. Here, the life breath of each of us is an incorporated element. May you find a place for special retreat today, in your garden or elsewhere, where you feel connected, protected and sheltered along with your family, as you celebrate your 
Happy Mother’s Day!

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