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#HealingGardenHappyPlace

January, oh, January. Such a straddle of seasons. You, dear January, are so full of “new”. You give us the opportunity with all that “resolution” business and fresh start stuff to be mindful of our heart’s desires, our “original nature” – our ZEN of being more present right here, right now. 

So we’ve packed away our outdoor holiday dressings and decor and entered the New Year. Our outdoor living spaces have gone from looking like a living holiday greeting card to containers laid bare. The quieting scene outside reminds of the importance of dormancy and honoring the season we are in (yes, yes).

Yet, for those of us who take nourishment from our #serenegreenscene, we’re hungry for a little foliiferous planting design snack to hold us over. One that offers that important calming benefit, with a dash of delightful with a side of beautiful. You know, restorative.  

These little container gardens keep us aware. They are mini Healing Garden Happy Places that invite us to focus right here, right now. They are a respite during what some call the “bluest month” of the year. There’s a peace, grounding and ZEN practice in connecting with nature outside and our true nature inside.

So what to do this January for those bare containers? Pick plants, ZEN-fully!

10 Zen Plants for Your New Year Containers for that design resetting you crave.

You’ll notice a theme. Where there are blooms, expect the color to be white (with 1 exception). My design instincts assign white to the month of January.  Its appeal of brightness that uplifts and the symbology of the color (purity, starting new, fresh and clean), makes white a perfect choice.

There’s more to these 10 Zen plants than what meets the eye:

  1. All of these plant lovelies may function as a “2-fer” for you! What’s that?

    Red Bird container design process: invest once, benefit twice. I design plants for client containers that, when time, can be moved into the landscape. 

  2. These 10 Zen have been selected using a Restorative Garden Plant Selection value rating. How’s that?

    Design psychology evidence shows when plants have certain wellness characteristics, they are considered boosters to our healing and recovery process. That’s where your “Zen” comes in. These plants are not only beautiful, but they come with mind, body, soul benefits too!

For each plant listed, I’ve used Red Bird’s Restorative Garden Plant Selection value rating method for selecting plants to boost the restorativeness of your garden. I’ve also included a link directly to the plant for information (in most cases to Monrovia’s reliable website).

Cliff notes version: more icons = higher Restorative Garden Plant value of the plant and greater pleasure and benefit for you.

I love the playfulness of this fringy flower that dance across the branches of this shrub come spring. Meanwhile, in the winter container, she plays the role of a terrific diva. A little on deciduous action may occur. No matter as the shape is lovely to rest your eyes upon, given her silhouette. I find that no two plants have anywhere near the same shape, really, with this specimen which is very exciting.

Evergreen clematis vine comes staked ready to trail. Plant in a pot that sits against a blank wall. Up and over and along it’ll go, vigorous, once establish, and a take no prisoners beautification machine. With blooms of white in February/March (depending on weather) and fragrance that is heady, this plant could easily be an evergreen stand-in for Wisteria. Telling the time of year with its perfumed blossoms in early, early spring, this plant also relays the truth about its micro-micro growing conditions (read: “feet in shade, head in the sun”).

If there was ever a green machine sheen plant to swoon over, it just might be this one. I use this plant in my shady containers for the evergreen appeal as well as the arching form of the branches. Now, a bonus (for some) is the fragrance. Often I tell my clients that come late, late winter into early, early spring, you’ll step out onto your patio and smell a divine fragrance forcing you to look high and low for the source. It’s this plant, quietly doing its thing with tiny white flowers.  Upon its graduation from your container, it dancing nicely with a shady, dry garden.

Here’s your quintessential “specimen form” often mentioned in design publications.  Dwarf Pagoda Japanese Holly is upright, remarkable with the loveliest, small, dark leaves and absolutely irregular in branching structure. This ain’t your red berry holly. Stays evergreen and so little care required – my goodness, very statuesque and could be a solo element, should you dig the minimalism approach.

Dramatic, moody, rich. That’s Black Mondo Grass. And strappy both in appearance and in function. This grass is so helpful in filling out the base of a container and offering a rich contrast to more diva-like plants. There’s an exotic flair to this baby and best planted in groupings to really get the full visual benefit.

This is a low, evergreen, golden grass-like plant that brightens the day and the edges of containers. And because we get a lot of rain (and apparently snow too), this plant can hang with wet soils. When you’re ready move it from the pot to areas along wet woodlands or ponds.  In container design, the very nostalgic part of me pairs this plant with white pansies.

White blooming right now! Jacob hellebore is my fav. These blooms are so happy they sit upright as though to smile back at you. And this is THE white that I compare all other whites against. Pure, clean, fresh. Bonus: deer and rabbit resistant!

Hens and chicks will be your carpet or groundcover in your containers. There is so much versatility when it comes to Sempervivum. Look over your choices closely and consider if you want color change with new growth or with the weather’s chill. When I tire of these in containers, I pop ’em right into the ground as a sweet little accent here and there.  You’ll want to look for hens and chicks grown by Little Prince of Oregon.

Newer in my repertoire is this rhododendron. What draws me to this plant is the variegated leaf which provides pop in the gray days of winter. This gal blooms in spring and can get quite large, so keep an eye on her in your container and invite a friend over to assist with the transfer to the garden when time. I love this plant is like shoulder pads and is a container pop-stop!

Like the annual primrose, this perennial shares its pop of (white) color on ruffled leaves. Well, the blooms are little, white, happy, fragrant candelabras of flowers. A perfect plant for containers that don’t dry out quickly and to repurpose in an area where it can hang out in wet soil and naturalize. Think: shady dells of England…

Here’s what to do next:

Download my Secret Decoder Ring for Restorative Garden Plant Selection here.

Use the Secret Decoder Ring when selecting plants for your special space. (Yes! Carry it with you for those trips to the retail garden store. It’ll help with impulsive plant shopping and narrow down all the pretties to those that will really rally to renew you.)

Remember: choose for the beauty AND the benefit to boost the Restorative Power of your garden.

Oh! And share your favorite zen plants in the comment section below.

If you are not feeling the healing benefits of your outdoor haven, it’s because your space isn’t growing your happiness inside; it’s not growing your peace, health, inspiration like it can.

Feeling disappointed with the energy and vibe of your garden space? Your space may need to be soul-styled.

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To replenish your scene, reap the benefits and boost your mind, body, spirit, try my Cure #3 for what’s ailing your healing outdoor haven.

(This is Part 3 of a 3-part series – to clean, connect & find comfort in nature that awaits you, should you clear the channel. Cure 1 is here and Cure 2 is here. Cliff-notes version? Click here for Your 3 Cures Tip Sheet!)

Cure 3: Comfort opens a sacred channel

Spring_WaterBowl Floating Flowers

This is a Cure to Nurture Your Inspiration

When uncomfortable, we often close up. Just as when an outfit doesn’t fit right – too tight, not warm enough, can’t sit comfortably – when an environment doesn’t feel right to us, we can’t wait to get out of it.  Likewise, when an outfit speaks to our essence and helps us shine, we go back to it, again and again, as our favorite go-to ensemble. It’s an exterior expression of our interior essence.

You’ve got untapped potential right outside your door waiting to be your go-to sacred space where you can be comfortable to commune and receive. A sanctuary for the soul’s conveyance nourishes a sacred union that helps us to let go of the build-up of the day’s stresses and the wounds of grief. It helps us focus and hear what our sweet souls are trying to say. When we soulfully style our outdoor spaces, they become more personal and play a meaningful role in our lives. This cure is apt to draw you outside and help you go inward, opening a sacred channel to nurture inspiration.

[bctt tweet=”An outdoor space where your soul is comforted, opens doors to aligning w/ your interior world. “]

Action-taking Tips:

  • Reserve your soul a special spot. Instead of tackling an entire landscape, pick a small nook (aka “pocket garden”) where you can escape and make it your own.
  • Take small style bites. You’ve done some cleaning and clearing. You’ve spa’d up your scene to soothe your sensesNow get comfortable by selecting personal self-love-reminding elements to enliven and furnish your space. I call these #feelgoodfurnishings. For instance, a recycled this (chair?) or a recovered that (bench?). How about that chair if it had a couple of pillows? Perhaps drape a washable blanket over the back for chilly days? Strike up candles to set the mood. Create an exterior shrine with found treasures
  • Pad for privacy. Plant up containers with taller plants and move them into place to mark your space and offer a surround-sound buffer. Go for a cocooned or “womb” shape to your special space.

By soul-styling your space, you’ll find this cure has a ripple effect. It helps your body feel more comfortable; your mind more available to clarity and your soul open and more easily inspired to recharge. This cure for comfort opens a sacred channel of your soul and the What-Is beyond.

Our garden and outdoor spaces bloom with positivity, pollinate hope & nurture a beautiful world inside.

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Hey Annie, how do I know when the cures are working?

When your garden living space:

  • soothes your senses and you get that ahhh feeling upon stepping into your #serenegreenscene
  • delights your soul and supports the rekindling your spirit
  • elevates your state of mind
  • is a place of relocation for daily living rituals (napping, yogaing, reading, phoning, working, meditating, eating, cooking, conversing…) because in here (hello precious spirit) finds safety, satisfaction and yearns for more out there.

Then, my Red Bird friend, you are on the garden path to having your very own Restorative Garden – your Sanctuary.

Start by making these cures to create positive change in the everyday nature that surrounds you.

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Drop me a comment and tell me how you got a boost of sanity, perhaps some salve for your senses or some much-needed comfort for your soul. I’m listening… 


You hoo… I have something special for you… 

Get your 1-page Tip Sheet of my 3 Cures to Fix What’s Ailing Your Healing Outdoor Haven.

Click for 3 Cures Tip Sheet!

Need help in transforming your yard space from ugh to AHH! My Sanctuary Garden Design Consultation may just be the help you need!


Are you a style-keen, nature-loving, holistically-inclined “soilsoulsister” (or brother) who wants to tune out stress & dis-ease & tune into your mind.body.spirit connection, thanks to your own slice of everyday, personal paradise? Plant-tas-tic! Sign up for news, resources, good shares and we’ll get on with your thriving outside & healing inside.

If you are not feeling the healing benefits of your outdoor haven, it’s because your space isn’t growing your happiness inside; it’s not growing your peace, health, inspiration like it can.

Feeling frenzied by your garden space and need to put it in a time-out? Your space may need a spa-treatment.

3

To replenish your scene, reap the benefits and boost your mind, body, spirit, try my Cure #2 for what’s ailing your healing outdoor haven.

(This is Part 2 of a 3-part series – to clean, connect & find comfort naturally, like a spa treatment for you and your outdoor space. Cure 1 is over here. Cliff-notes version? Click here for Your 3 Cures Tip Sheet!) 

Cure 2: Commune to soothe senses

Hummingbird_Purple Salvia

This is a Cure to Grow Your Health through Sensory Connections

With our lives often barraged by a cacophony of circus-like sensory input – overwhelming, draining, stringing us out on our last nerve –  an easy getaway, your elegant escape hatch, aka delightful DND zone right outside our door goes a long way to refuel and reconnect with your easy-breezy-beautiful self again.

Your time outside can be like a spa experience for your senses: boosting energy, bringing clarity, blending gratitude with an all-body renewal practice.  Nature allows for what researchers have deemed “positive momentary distractions”. 

It goes like this: when experiencing a restorative nature space, our senses get a bath of soothing, enchanting, calming sensory input which helps our brains switch gears, focus on the present moment and just rest.  

By making your garden space into a Sanctuary Garden, you indulge yourself in a sensory spa treatment, anytime, right outside your door, engaging all 5 of those frazzled senses in renewal happy dance. This cure is apt to stimulate different parts of your brain, conjure up good memories and lend you the experience of your very own rejuvenation station.

[bctt tweet=” A Sanctuary Garden dials down sensory noise & tunes us into that which soothes & supports.”]

Action-taking Tips:

  • Take green-microbreaks. Let your eyes drink in a comforting, research-proven design recipe for your brain: 1 part calming colors of greens and blues, a dash of natural light and a generous helping of lush plants.
  • Smoky, got your ears on? Appoint your space with pleasing sounds. The tranquility trifecta: chimes, water, wildlife.
  • Stop and smell… scents help us unwind, destress and commune with the memories of good days (and people) past.

Engaging our two or more of our senses in a positive dose of nature allows us to disengage from the frenzy and healBy making your space a sensory spa experience, you’ll find this cure will energize your health. It will help you disconnect from the go-go-go routine.

This cure fulfills our innate pre-programmed need to connect with nature for an overdue shift back to perspective – and back to the better sense of ourselves.

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Cure #3 about making space comforting for your soul is waiting for you here.


Psst! I have something special for you… 

Get your 1-page Tip Sheet of my 3 Cures to Fix What’s Ailing Your Healing Outdoor Haven.

Click for 3 Cures Tip Sheet!

Need help in transforming your yard space from ugh to AHH! My Sanctuary Garden Design Consultation may just be the help you need


Are you a style-keen, nature-loving, holistically-inclined “soilsoulsister” (or brother) who wants to tune out stress & dis-ease & tune into your mind.body.spirit connection, thanks to your own slice of everyday, personal paradise? Plant-tas-tic! Sign up for news, resources, good shares and we’ll get on with your thriving outside & healing inside.