In the Garden:
Southwestern Deserts
January, 2007
Regional Report

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A rock design embedded in a path encourages visitors to stop and enjoy their surroundings.

Create Your Garden Retreat for the New Year

The nicest thing about garden writing is the opportunity to visit gardens and meet the gardeners who created them. I've never seen a garden that doesn't have something of interest, something I've never seen before or wouldn't have thought of, whether it be clever design, an unknown plant, or humorous art. I can't single out specific gardens as favorites -- I like them all. Although every now and then I come across one to covet.

One such landscape in Sedona comes to mind. The owners and garden creators, Trea Christopher Grey and Kimall Christensen, are both artists, and their vision is apparent throughout the property. Although I'd been driving pedal to the metal two hours from Phoenix, as I entered their front portal (the word "gate" doesn't do justice), I was instantly transported a thousand miles from noise and traffic into a Zen-like environment. A gently curving walkway and footbridge over a water feature directs visitors to the front door. I had no choice but to lower my blood pressure and relax, surrounded by all those good water vibes!

A path snaking throughout the half-acre lot creates the illusion of a much larger property. It leads visitors to explore from one seating area to the next, charming cocoon-like nests designed for reading, chatting, meditating, or just absorbing views. In various spots along the path, the owners embedded small stones to create circular or spiral designs. The artists suggest to visitors that they stop at these circles and slowly turn 360 degrees, freeing their senses to absorb the details of sights, sounds, smells, and of course, Sedona's gorgeous red rock formations. Just like the sound of water at their front gate, these peaceful respites along the walk encouraged me to relax and appreciate the surrounding beauty.

It's interesting how a path can send busy humans rushing along to reach the end, whereas incorporating elements like the stone spirals completely shifts our focus. Indeed, the idea appeals to me so much, that it pops into my head from time to time. I've been collecting small flat rocks to create my own garden spiral, as a reminder of the many gifts and benefits that await in my garden.

What simple element might you add to your landscape this year to create a soothing retreat just steps from your door? Consider a small, burbling water fountain; a secluded seating area for watching birds or reading; or fragrant plants along your path that release aromatherapy each time you pass by.

Enjoy the New Year in your garden!


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