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What is a Sacred Garden?

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  • Written By: Lumara Lee
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 24 August 2016
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A sacred garden is one that has been designed with a religious theme. There is a wide variety of sacred gardens, including zen gardens, goddess gardens, Celtic gardens, Biblical gardens, labyrinth gardens, and many more. Sacred trees are featured in some religiously-influenced gardens, while others may contain herbs, vegetables, and flowers. Pathways might lead walkers on a sacred journey through the Catholic stations of the cross or the Celtic wheel of the year. Rustic benches and religious statues are sometimes placed in a sacred garden to enhance the feeling of a spiritual haven designed for prayer and contemplation.

One popular form of sacred garden is the zen garden. The most notable feature of a zen garden is its simplicity. This type of garden works on the principle that less is more, and a small number of natural elements become symbols. For example, a channel of small stones flowing through the landscape will represent water, and a rock might represent a mountain. Some zen gardens consist merely of a layer of sand, with one or several rocks artfully placed on top of the sand, which is frequently raked to create lines that represent flowing water.

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Trees were sacred to the Celts, and they often worshipped in groves of oak, ash, rowan, willow, yew, and other trees deemed sacred. A sacred garden with a Celtic theme might feature a Celtic cross in the midst of a grove of trees. Brigit's Garden in Ireland is designed with a Celtic theme on 11 acres which includes meadows and woodland. Visitors to the garden go on a journey that takes them through the major Celtic festivals of Beltaine, Lughnasa, Samhain, and Imbolc, and features a nature trail, large Celtic sundial, stone circle, and a living willow play area.

Sacred gardens designed with a Biblical theme will often contain statues of saints, Mary, or Jesus surrounded by plants that are mentioned in the Bible. Some herbs that may be featured in a Biblical garden are coriander, mint, cinnamon, cumin, and dill. Other herbs that might be included are chamomile, mallow, and sage. A gardener who wants to grow vegetables described in the Bible has a long list to choose from that includes cucumbers, lentils, beans, garlic, and onions. Fruit trees suitable for a Biblical sacred garden are apple, fig, and pomegranate, and an orchard of nut trees such as almond, walnut, and chestnut may be featured.

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