I've just had a minor altercation with a FedEx van man on a mission in the narrowest part of beautiful Stream Lane in Hawkhurst, but after ten minutes at home in my own garden, with a gentle wander around the borders and some absent-minded dead-heading, all is forgiven and forgotten. Well, almost. Perhaps a chakra garden to come home to would complete the process.
Theo Gimbel, in his book Healing Colour suggests that whilst working in the garden, one absorbs 'the healing colour energies of nature, which vary with the changing seasons'. He suggests that an hour a day spent in a natural environment is the best tonic you could have. And if you are good at producing ideas but then find it difficult to follow through with them, try getting your hands dirty, do some gardening which in turn will help 'ground' you and connect both your physical and mental being.
There are seven main energy centres of the body which are all connected to the colours of the rainbow. These are all related to one another and are represented as spirals of energy. Should any of these chakras become depleted, the balance of our bodies becomes diminished. And a chakra garden can help to rebalance us with its energy, vitality and by reconnecting us to nature. In simplified form and starting from the bottom, the seven chakras are as follows:
Niall Morton, who is a practitioner of both Reiki and the healing art of Zimbate, has a chakra garden now in its second summer. He finds that the garden gives him a feeling of empowerment and he can stand at any section and feel a connection. He is not a total purist as far as his garden goes and there is no sudden delineation between the chakra colours in his border. He uses plants for their leaf colour as well as for their flowers. His red or Root Chakra includes sanguisorbas with their burr-like florets floating on wiry stems, clematis like C. 'Black Tea' and C. 'Black Prince', knautias, red lilies, and Lysimachia 'Firecracker' for dark foliage. His Sacral Chakra is represented by the oranges in heleniums, Achillea 'Terracotta' and orange lychnis, and so on. He uses pink poppies in his Heart Chakra. He says that the challenge is to get the appropriate colour throughout the growing season and each year he adds to his chakra border to achieve his aim of a continuation of colour.
There are so many ways to approach building a chakra garden. Carol Cunes, who has written so evocatively about her garden, Willka T'ika in the Sacred Valley in the Peruvian Andes talks of how she started her garden about fourteen years ago. An ancient lucuma tree drew her to the property and she was inspired whilst sitting under it to start her seven chakra gardens which have evolved over the years. She found that the garden naturally fitted perfectly in place and feels that nature guided her as she went along. She feels too that the ancient beliefs and sense of spirituality and connection to Mother Earth that the Peruvians have and which go back before the time of the Incas, set her on her course. The Peruvians are very much rooted to nature and believe in taking nourishment from the earth and then returning it to its source. In her introduction to her book, Chakra Gardens, Opening the Senses of the Soul, she talks of colours in Nature shaping the way we think and feel and says that the colour vibrations of flowers 'resonate with the energetic frequencies of the chakras'.
I think that the beginnings of such a garden do not need to follow strict rules of layout or design. In the same way that Carol Cunes found inspiration through the lucuma tree, any part of your own garden, whatever size or aspect, can be the beginning of a chakra garden. A particularly sunny spot may start you off with planting the yellows of the Solar Plexus Chakra. The choice of plants is enormous obviously but rather like Niall the heleniums would be one of my choices for the later season, as well as marigolds, the rudbeckias, bright yarrows and perhaps some of the yellow day lilies whose blooms, whilst fleeting, are so beautiful. The chakras are also connected to our five senses of smell, taste, sight, touch and hearing and the Solar Plexus Chakra is connected to sight in particular so lots of bright strong yellow flowers would bring this particular garden to life. Ann Pattihis, an energy practitioner based in Hawkhurst, would plant her chakra garden in pools of colour perhaps following a spiral. She has a garden which flows with energy with a song post leading to a fire pit and then on to water and sound which comes from a planting of Miscanthus zebrinus around a large water-filled urn which is in turn surrounded by a circle of dark slate. She feels that it is important to be able to step into a flow of energy as, when it is blocked, we feel unwell and unable to cope. Introduce sound and movement with grasses, introduce water, choose scented plants wherever possible, and sensory plants for touch. The wonderful garden designed for Thrive by Jo Thomson at the Chelsea Flower Show this year used multi-stemmed Prunus serrula with the most beautiful trunks for touch that you can imagine. Grow plants in your garden that give you a sense of peace and connection to Nature, follow the chakra colours and perhaps you won't worry about the rush and angst of everyday life. And use your chakra garden as a place to relax and get rid of all the junk blocking your energy fields. What a fascinating subject this is.
To contact Niall Morton call 01424 713155