The Rainbow Healing Garden is my (Cynthia Alves's) organic garden in Porlock, Exmoor. A place I love and look after as best I can, that teaches me and gives me more food than for the body. And where I grow many medicinal herbs. To learn more about organic gardening and Britain's foremost organic gardening association, please visit Garden Organic's* prize winning site (*previously Henry Doubleday Research Association). I hope you'll become a member too. Article 790 words
Around the turn of the millennium I moved to Porlock, Somerset, into a flat that had no garden. Being able to work my own garden is essential to my health and sanity. "Allotments? Um, can't imagine having an allotment garden, instead of a place outside the back door; and with other gardeners around. Hm. Let's take a look..."
A few minutes walk, into a big field, lots of plots. That winter there were 3 or 4 going spare. My feet took me to the plot in centre of the field, and I knew this was to be 'my' place. Then, it was badly overgrown with dock, couch, thistle, bindweed, buttercup and raspberry gone wild, but thank goodness no ground elder. As I stood at the bottom end of the plot, I began to feel an encouraging sense that no matter how big the work ahead seemed (and was), the garden would be wonderful (and is).
Sometimes when I'm there I realise I've been so engrossed in my thoughts that I've been missing the full now of it. Re-tuning my attention: the stream, tinkling and gurgling usually, whooshing after big rains; the scent of clean Exmoor air, oh big breath! Looking up, there's Bossington Hill and the Bristol Channel sea, and up behind, the 'arms' of tree covered hills making this place open yet protected. The birds, almost too noisy from spring to summer. Once I heard "Chit!! Chit!! Chit!!...". Though I don't speak bird, this was obviously some sort of alarm call, and I looked for its caller. There: a wren sounding off and flying from pole-top to pole-top up the path. At each move, nearby birds would take off. Then I saw 'it": a big orange tom cat striding up the path. I could imagine him, "Shut up! Just shut up will you!!", as he kept looking up at the wren. Amazing how much noise a tiny bird can make, and that it should be that one that took it upon itself to be catwarning warden.
A Telling Name On that very first day, as I stood there with imagination of possibilities flowing, the name "Rainbow Healing Garden" came to mind. Heavens! How twee! Yet over the next years the garden grew into its name, and I don't blush at it anymore. The Rainbow Healing Garden has fulfilled its name in many ways. Certainly no matter what 'iffy' sort of state I'm in when I go there, I always feel better for saying hello, even if I don't do any doing. Its harvests provide me with veg and herbs, fruit and flowers, and the precious gifts of Flower Essences. And being Porlock, yes, we see a lot of rainbows there too.
A design with a twist. Now you might imagine an 'allotment garden': the rectangles of veg beds, rows of bean poles, the squares-and-rows arrangements that are typical of allotments, and work well. That didn't feel right for me. I had begun studying Machaelle Small-Wright's Perelandra research and teaching a couple years before, and felt I needed another arrangement. I did my best to co-creatively design a garden where I felt all energies could flow well, and which expressed shapes and symbols that resonated well with me.
So, the main part of Rainbow Healing Garden is a huge figure-of-eight, with an extra tear-drop loop at the bottom. This means the beds are curved, yes, rainbow shaped. Where the curves meet is a large copper "genesa crystal"*, which helps energies to flow over a wide area. Some people have said they felt it when they walked into the field. I just like it a lot, and use it to help Essence making. (*For details, check out Perelandra's co-creative gardening books, some of which are also now available as e-books.) There is a picture of Essences 'making' in the genesa crystal on my About Teaching page..
As to the planting, I've always wanted to plant trees, and I love fruit. So over the years, I've bought trees with my birthday money, and now within the garden is a mini-orchard. They are the backbone of the garden. And there are always some flowers, year around, whatever else comes and goes. A lot of them plant themselves, and usually in convenient places. Sometimes the sweetness and beauty of this little patch of Earth simply makes me weep with fullness and gratitude. It makes me glad too to find out that many other people enjoy it.
For those who have gone there to learn Flower Essence Making, it has given surprises, fun, and been deeply touching. I hope my little story here will help you feel at least a little connection to a wonderful Earth place, and encourage you to help the life of your garden whether a window box or vast acreage, to become more and more all it can be in organic harmony, for the benefit of all.
Growing right up to the TOP