Page 54 - July2017

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JULY 2017
he expression “communing
with nature” is often cited by
gardeners as a particular aim
of exerting themselves in
garden beds and plots, the result
of which is a distinct and unique
experience of exhilaration and
near euphoria. One philosophy
embraces the theory that exposure
to nature can replenish our
cognitive reserves when they are
depleted by the constant barrage of
modern day stimuli—sirens, horns,
phones, computers, television, and the
general bustle of everyday life.
Alexander von Humboldt affirmed
that “mere communion with nature,
mere contact with the free air,
exercises a soothing yet comforting and
strengthening influence on the wearied
mind.” Gardeners understand and take
advantage of this viewpoint daily with
their gardening rituals and practices, and
they employ a number of strategies in
the quest to achieve peace and success
in the garden. The sound of running
water in falls or fountains brings a sense
of peace, as do the birds drawn to baths
placed randomly about the area, and
colorful blooms that entice butterflies
and hummingbirds.
Another contemplative source of assistance
and support for gardeners is the addition
of garden statuary, and specific forms
are often realized through the
study of folklore and traditions
of gardeners past. By bearing
in mind the customs behind
certain images of saints and
souls, the garden is believed to
be able to take advantage of the
form’s energetic and spiritual
contribution, as well as the
perception of tranquility imparted by
its presence.
The earliest examples of garden
ornaments can be traced to the Ancient
Egyptians, who typically fashioned sculptures
that depicted one of their many gods. Next, the Greeks placed ornamental
art in temple gardens, and the Romans, not to be outdone, followed with
handsome and striking figures like Venus de Medici, often said to be a copy
of a Greek sculpture from the first century BC. Stunning creations from
Pompeii and Herculaneum have also been discovered.
In the Tudor period, the favored garden ornaments were statues and
sundials copied from the Romans, who copied them from the Greeks. From
gnomes to oriental statues, the art and craft of copying the work of previous
civilizations continues today.
The quintessential garden saint is St. Francis of Assisi, an Italian Roman
Catholic friar, deacon, and preacher who founded the orders of Franciscans.
One of the most venerated religious figures in history, he became associated
with the patronage of animals and the natural environment.
It has become customary for churches to hold ceremonies on his feast day
By Jan Brick
the Garden
Home & Garden