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We all experience the hustle and bustle of daily life, and many have found meditation to be the perfect escape from their fast-paced lifestyle.  Meditation requires the proper “environment” to be successful, and a meditation garden can provide a private, personal space in which to escape.  Whether your garden is as small and intimate as a bench under a tree, or a large landscaped area, it should provide a place of solitude that will instill an attitude of serenity and contemplation.

As you plan and design your meditation garden, there are several elements you want to consider:  location, size, function and theme.  When choosing a location, keep in mind the obvious distractions that could affect the serenity of the space – specifically sights and sounds.  You will want your haven to be in a quiet area, free from commotion and interruption.  It may be worth considering some sort of barrier around the garden, whether it be a natural hedgerow, a permanent fence, or an already-existing building or structure.  This will help provide a sense of privacy and solitude.

The size of your garden is a matter of preference, but keep in mind the amount of upkeep that will be required to maintain the space.  If you spend a significant amount of time on maintenance, you may find the garden becomes a burden, and therefore, loses its sense of serenity and escape. Your garden should function as an escape from the outside world; it should be quiet, comfortable, calming and uncluttered.  You may want to create a spot in the garden where you can sit comfortably to relax and meditate.  A wooden or stone bench, a beautiful ceramic garden seat, or a simple cushion on the ground can fulfill this need.

When choosing plants, shrubs, trees and other structures to incorporate into your meditation garden, be sure to include a shaded area that will allow you to escape the heat of the day.  When selecting flora, choose colors and fragrances that you find pleasing.  This will provide an environment that will enhance your ability to relax and focus.

Designing your meditation garden around a theme may help focus your planning process, as well as provide continuity to the overall design.  For instance, an Asian or oriental garden can include sand or gravel patterns, a fish pond or water bowls with floating waterlilies, cast stone pagodas, small bridges, a Temple Shrine or simple geometric style fountain, a Kyoto or Kosei birdbath, and cast stone statuary such as dragons, foo dogs, Buddhas, or oriental maidens.  Flowering Cherry, Japanese Maple and other small ornamental trees can provide shade and beauty while maintaining your theme.

A less formal, more cozy alternative may be a cottage garden theme.  Rose-covered trellises, or an ivy-covered stone wall serve as a wonderful backdrop for a path of stepping stones winding through flowering shrubs, fragrant wildflowers, and seasonal annuals planted in cast stone planters or window boxes.  A low, bubbling fountain can provide the soothing sound of water, while also serving as a birdbath for curious sparrows in the area. 

If you prefer something a bit more whimsical, you can incorporate a few “fun” items in your garden that will lift your spirits and make you smile.  Perhaps a cast stone “Zen Frog” statue placed among the flowers, or a Zen Frog water feature meditating in the middle of a pond, or even a pair of Zen Frogs sitting on a fountain on opposite sides of a bubbling lotus flower.