Growing Cut Flowers
How to Get Into Bonsai

Creating a Peaceful Garden


Although gardens are naturally calm places, you can create even more relaxation ambiance with a few carefully added design features. To escape the pressures, stresses and pace of the outside world, all garden spaces, indoors or out can easily provide you and your family with a spa-like experience to enjoy year-round. Try any of these elements at your place to help you find your Zen.

Open Areas
Even if you find sitting in a jungle of green soothing, a small clear space within gives you a place to rest your gaze and is a design element that will enhance the garden by providing contrast between the full and the void. You may also enjoy sitting, lying, or collapsing on the grass after a particularly stressful day.
While it is lovely to wander and to stand around a garden, being able to sit is important. To rest yourself physically as well as mentally and to just ‘be’ within the space for as long as you need is far better achieved with a seat. While outdoor furniture is one answer, so are benches and stools created from old tree stumps and upcycled weather resistant materials. My favourite bench in my garden is just an old sleeper bolted to a couple of tree stumps or go all the way with a lounge or day bed.
Art Works

This can be the form of a created sculpture of any size or a nature feature that serves as a sculptural piece. An interesting log, an old piece of machinery or equipment. Sculpture in the garden rests our minds with something of beauty or makes us curious and in turn this takes our thoughts away from what may be disrupting our peace. Small whimsical garden ornaments and decorative panels are also artistic pieces that you could consider. Choose something that delights you and matches the style of your garden.
Water Features
Fountains, fishponds and water plant features are all such soothing and alluring places in gardens and if you have the space and the desire then you really should investigate. Should you already have a pool or spa, consider surrounding with some of the plants listed below to add to the Zen. Why water makes us feel calm is not really known but it has been shown to slow our brainwaves and there is some evidence that the sounds we could hear in the womb, a time we would have felt safe, are reminiscent of other water sounds.
Wind Chimes
While are talking about the sounds of water, let’s not forget wind chimes. These come in a vast array of sounds and from gentle tinkling to bass clanging loudness and your selection will depend on placement, size of garden space and personal taste. They can all be silenced when needed but a wind chime adds a beautiful interaction with the breezes moving through your space and the sound, if chosen well, will help promote calm.

Indoor Oasis
The houseplant craze is well and truly upon us and to be honest, I’m a fan. It’s created a lot of new garden-curious people and that’s not a bad thing at all. While you may not need an Instagram-worthy indoor curation of plants, having an area with an inviting chair surrounded by botanical goodness would qualify as a Zen indoor garden in my books. Adding plants to areas of high traffic and family activity can also help calm the vibe.
Calm Inducing Plants
So which plants suit a peaceful garden? All plants will but consider greening up areas with soft textured plants that suit your environment, and this could include ferns, shrubs, and grasses. The gentle movements in caught breezes of softer textured plants will calm the mind and the greenness soothe the soul.  The following plants can all be grown inside or out and have additional therapeutic qualities for calm living.

Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis miller) is known for its skin healing benefits but it also purifies the air of carcinogens and emits oxygen at night. Peppermint (Mentha × piperita) when grown near pathways and seating areas will enable you to brush past and release the aromatics that help bring clarity to your mind and feel less frustrated. Been found to lower frustration and boost alertness. Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) is almost famous for its sleep inducing and relaxation characteristics when used in teas. Cutting the flowers and drying to use in potpourris will bring the same benefits into your home. Basil (Ocimum basilicum) contains within it a compound known as ‘linalool’ which has been found to reduce the activity of certain genes that are triggered during stressful situations. The Snake Plant (Dracaena trifasciata) is one of the best plants for purification of the air, according to NASA and while they purify the air during the day, they emit oxygen at night. Lavender (Lavandula spp.) is a must in any garden as the flowers and the leaves contain the powerful aromatics. By inhaling the scent of lavender, it has been shown to especially decreased feelings of depression and confusion. Jasmine (Jasminum officinale) fragrance is a super soother and anxiety reliever for many. A study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry reported that the smell of Jasmine can be a soothing as Valium. Catmint (Nepeta cataria) is not just for cats! It not only sooths the nerves of our feline friends but of humans as well.

Bonsai Open hosted by Central Coast Bonsai - Saturday 4 March (9am-5pm) and Sunday 5 March (9am-4pm) 2023 in Mingara Events Centre. Along with sales and competition, there will be demonstrations across the weekend from some of the country’s finest bonsai artists including Andrew Edge, Evan Marsh, Hugh Grant, Joe Morgan- Payler, Tony Bebb and Marcela Ferreira. Coastfm Gardening Gang will be broadcasting live Saturday 8am – 10am Tickets at door: $7 adult, kids free.

Late Summer Temperate Areas
This week you could plant: culinary herbs, beans (dwarf), beetroot, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbages,  carrot, cauliflower, celery, chicory, cress, endive, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, mustard, onions (spring), parsnips, peas, potatoes (tubers), radishes, rhubarb (crowns), salsify, shallots, silverbeet, spinach, turnips, alyssum, calendula, candytuft, Canterbury bells, cineraria, coneflower, delphinium, dianthus, everlasting daisy, forget-me-not, foxglove, godetia, gypsophila, hollyhock, honesty, larkspur, linaria,  lobelia, lupin, nasturtium, nigella, pansy, poppy  (Iceland), primula, statice, stock, verbena, vinca, viola, wallflower

Cheralyn writes the 'DOWN IN THE GARDEN' page for the Coast News Newspaper each week and this originally appeared in The Coast News as below: 

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Cheralyn Darcey is a horticulture author and along with Pete Little, hosts ‘At Home with The Gardening Gang’ 8 - 10am live every Saturday on CoastFM96.3, on air locally or streaming by asking ‘play coastfm963’ Archived articles:  Send your gardening questions, events, and news to: [email protected]