I really like this book, Creating Sanctuary: Sacred Garden Spaces, Plant Based Medicine, and Daily Practices to Achieve Happiness and Well-Being by Jessie Bloom. Not only do I think the format and its colorful cover is really nice, but the contents is fun to read as well. The book is broken down into many categories which makes it easy to read.
The book is by Jessie Bloom, who is an ecological landscape designer (like me!) in the Seattle Washington area. She is the owner of NW Bloom Ecological Services. She is an author of another book, Free Range Chicken Gardens, and is coauthor of Practical Permaculture.
If you’re into making your garden something special, herbs, spirituality, or well-being, you’ll probably enjoy this book too. The first third of the book focuses on how to create a garden sanctuary space. The last two thirds, is about how to use plants for your health and home.
I read the whole book in just a few nights, but there’s information that can be referenced back to, such as recipes and plant descriptions. There are a good amount of pretty pictures that enhance the understanding the book.
There are three sections: Creating Scared Space, Botanical Alchemy, and Nurturing Self.
The first section, my favorite part, is about turning your garden into a sanctuary. Isn’t this what a garden is for? There are some inspirational photos and guiding words to get you thinking about what you want most out of your garden. There are many landscaping ideas you can use to get started on your backyard landscaping.
First, she has you make some lists.
- What are the needs in your garden? What is 100% necessary
- What are your wants? Things that would be nice to have
- What are your desires? No plans to have these things, but if they happened one day, it’d be the bees knees.
For my garden, I have 3 needs. I want my garden space to feel safe- to not worry about the electric company cutting down my trees, the utility companies wanting to dig up my yard and install lines, barriers to prevent intruders, keeping out animal predators from the chickens or eating my vegetable garden. Lastly, making sure everything is as wind proof as possible since the wind seems to get more muscular every single year, and having the garden easy to move around in so I don’t get hurt. Some of this I can only do so much.
Like most people, I also want to feel privacy. I don’t want to be standing on my back patio in my bathrobe while a utility worker pops his head over my fence to A) See if he can see anyone in the house and B) Figure out a way to jump my fence (without any permission).
My last need is more shade. The electric company cut the back half of my tree off this past summer. They told me I can’t have anything over 13′ in my yard or they’ll cut it down. So I’m seriously lacking shade and my chickens had a hard time with the summer heat after that. I’ve pondered many options but haven’t come up too many solutions. Safety, privacy, and shade are my 3 needs and my focus for next season.
The rest of this section goes on to teach you about different things to add into your garden sanctuary like: gathering spaces, art, sources of light, and entrances, just to name a few. Lastly, there are tips on how to implement all your ideas into a physical garden reality.
So far at this point, the book helped me to organize my thoughts and feel more inspiration to take action.
The second section of the book, Botanical Alchemy, is a list and description of plants that are good for garden sanctuaries. Some of them woody plants, but many of them herbs, she gives descriptions about the plants and what they can be used for. As an herbalist myself, I even learned some new facts about plants I commonly grow. The section continues with information about how to use various plants for certain ailments and how to prepare them for use. There are recipes for different types of concoctions including teas, sprays, and oils.
The last section of the book, Nurturing Self, looks at how to use your garden and plants for ritual and healing. There are more herbal recipes. However Bloom also writes about various types of rituals you can do in the garden such as making an altar, being in tune with nature, exercise, journaling, or ceremonies for important life events. Maybe you can include a pet memorial or a fun space to dedicate to pollinators.
Throughout the book there are some pages dedicated to featuring gardens that have successfully created garden sanctuaries. Many of them are near Seattle Washington, where Bloom is located.
There is an accompanying workbook to Creating Sanctuary, which is ‘Everyday Sanctuary: A Workbook for Designing a Sacred Garden Space‘. If my local library gets the workbook at some point, I will write a review!
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Books By Jessie Bloom