The Healing Garden

Healing Garden

There is a healing garden at my house, thanks to my partner in life. She is an artist who works in many media. She fills the space around us, inside and outside our home, with beautiful things. Her gardens crowd with daily works-in-progress as she adds one more spot of life to a year-round creation. It unfolds in time as the season and color for one group of living things peaks and then fades, in a cycle that never ends yet is never quite the same.

Her natural works of art speak for themselves. I’ve put a few images here, and you can find many more on Flickr. (There is also a Facebook page, The Garden on M Street.) Each is a glimpse of one moment and breaks up the flow of this complicated garden life. If you can see enough of them, though, you begin to get a sense of what she is making, day by day. It’s a big part of the healing in my life.

My wife keeps expanding and adding variety to the gardens at our house. For her, they’re a labor of love, rewarding and fulfilling for the work they require. But growing hundreds of different plants calls for constant attention.

The basics demand hard labor. There are the piles of plant remains to be turned and sifted. The compost they yield has to be mixed with top soil, sand and nutrients – to produce a good humus. There are beds to be weeded and mulched, manure to spread. That’s the sort of thing I help with – lots to lift and shovel, wheel barrow loads to fill, push and dump, holes for new fruit trees to dig out.

There are hundreds of plant varieties, each requiring just the right amounts of sun, shade, water, soil supplements and natural pest control. Weather is a constant concern. There is new planting during much of the year, designing gardens to flow with the seasons so there’s always something thriving.

Over the past few years she has created a home nursery, adding the intense work of finding and potting hundreds of flowering plants and trees to sell. At her Saturday sales, she meets lots of other plant people as well as newbies who love her detailed gardening advice.

And I get to thrive by getting a good workout and, more often, writing and reading for my blogs in one of the outdoor rooms she has created. Or I de-stress simply by being in the gardens.

All of this takes minimal money but maximum energy, creative drive, hard work and constant attention to a thousand details.

The gardens open fields of mindfulness for daily therapy of the finest sort.

Images by permission of Cathy Folk-Williams. All rights reserved by Wild Rubies at Flickr.

This post is an edited version of two posts from the early years of this blog. The gardens continue to thrive.

15 Responses to “The Healing Garden”

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  1. Dawna says:

    Fantastic Find!
    Been waiting for 15 Years to Develop the Perfect Business Plan
    With a commercial building Not Selling.
    I Finally Know Now What will work!
    Healing tea room! Roof Top Garden needs to be financed somehow right?!!
    Lavender Lemonade… this Round is on Me! Eternally Grateful.
    More Reading & Healing. Thx Very Much.

  2. Michael says:

    I find it helpful to think about mental health and to write about it. Your garden is another great example.

  3. Karen says:

    Her gardens are truly beautiful. I love to garden, but I can’t seem to find the energy to get started. Any advice?

  4. Scarlett says:

    from images it looks that the garden really can heal.

  5. Barbara says:

    I love your gardens. I just wish I had the time and the talent for gardening.

  6. Barbara says:

    I don’t have a healing garden. My thumb is definitely not a green one. I tried planting a flower once only to have it die within a few days. I do have a depression tip that has worked well for me regarding sleep deprivation. Someone suggested smudging with sage on a nightly basis. Doing this has given me at least a week of great sleep. I also routinely take whole food vitamin B, nascent Iodine, and vitamins C, D, and E as a part of my daily routine.

  7. Sabrina says:

    Hello John, your story is really very inspiring. thank you for sharing this with us. It really helps us to come out of depression and pictures of your garden are very beautiful.

  8. Rob says:

    My wife and I just live in a small patio home (semi-retired due to my disabilities) but we love the little place all the same. The plus is that we do have a patio and we have built a small but functional raised flower bed.
    The patio is right outside the window of the room I work in so I see our yard and the plants in their earthy homes some individuals, some in groups. It sustains me. The photos of your gardens are amazing and inspirational to say the least. I think we very much underestimate the value and impact that connection with the cycle of life in our gardens has on us. The renewed hope that in the dark seasons when the world turns monochromatic, the spring is even closer and life blossoms anew.

    Thanks for a great blog John.

  9. Hashi Mashi says:

    I just found your site and the first thing I see are the pictures of your gardens. Nature, plants, gardens hold a special place in my heart for helping me to start on the road of crossing the bridge from depression to a new life. I write about the first thoughts that I had that pushed me to start moving on from the pit I had been marinating in for close to a decade, those first thoughts happened at a vineyard. The beauty of nature can certainly influence us to find more beauty in our own life, no matter how dark it has become. Thanks, Richard

  10. Donna-1 says:

    Hi, John. Of course the garden is in all of us — constant attention to thousands of details, hard work to maintain, learning more about the craft, awareness of factors we can and cannot control. The garden of the mind, countenance, spirit, body, our connections. Composting what has had its day, in order to assist growth elsewhere some other day. Beauty fading here, blooming there, but all are participants of the cycle and parts of the whole.l

  11. You have a beautiful garden they can be a real pleasure to work and relax in once you done the hard work to establish them. Always worth the effort though.

  12. Jo says:

    I love this post, John. I am your partner and my husband is you. Thank you for sharing your inspiring story, which we could both relate to.

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Jo –

      Thanks for your kind words. It’s an inspiration living in this place with Cathy.

      All my best to you –


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