Transforming Landscapes into Peaceful Garden Retreats
July 7, 2008

This article was published by Columbian newspaper ‘Inspirations’ (July 2008) and the Association of Northwest Landscape Designers  (September 2008)

Transforming Landscapes into Peaceful Garden Retreats

by Jeff Naramor, Certified Professional Horticulturist (CPH)

Imagine the healing powers of returning home from a busy day and relaxing in your own garden retreat. It’s easy to do, even if you live in an urban environment.

What makes the difference between a beautiful garden and a garden retreat, you might ask? A garden is an area of grounds laid out with flowers, trees, edible and ornamental shrubs, and is for recreation and viewing enjoyment. A garden retreat is a place of its own. It is space that offers peace, quiet, privacy, and security. It is a magic you can sense before you even reach your front door. As your hand touches the doorknob, you are gently surrounded by the fragrance of flowering plants that welcome you home. Lush foliage provides a visual delight and you hear the twitter of birds, mingled with the bubbling tones from the water feature that attracts them to your yard. Immediately, the stresses of the day begin to melt away as your garden retreat beckons you to enter.

Yet, the difference between a landscape and a garden retreat affects more than our senses. Modern day stress fills our lives with the conflicts of traffic, the contest of our careers, the consumption of our resources, and the carefulness of our relationships. A garden retreat provides a haven of peace and contentment where we can find room to gather our thoughts and achieve true physical, spiritual, and emotional relaxation.

On a physical level, caring for your private garden retreat can burn calories, build muscle, and strengthen endurance. The psychological benefits range from a total acceptance from your garden of who you are, to the intoxicating sweetness and fragrance of the plants that surround you. On a spiritual level, regardless of belief or practice, a garden retreat supports the harmonious relationship between spirit and mind, helping to refocus and sustain the search for inner peace. Garden retreats also offer a practical side to well being. They are a place to dine, a space for thoughtful conversation, a gift to share with family and friends, and an environment to conduct your daily exercise regimes.

Garden retreats do not need to be completed in a few days, weeks, or even months. An organic process that can emerge over time, a garden retreat begins with a vision, a plan, and an initial investment that earns deep rewards in the long run. Defined by the owner’s personal character, a garden retreat is a vision above and beyond an ordinary landscape. A plan that can be drafted to include conceptual ideas that express personal tastes and desires, a garden retreat can be implemented in stages that reflect personal needs and available budgets. An on-going feast for the senses, the plants in a garden retreat can take decades to mature. Yet at each stage of growth, they offer grace and beauty and quietly reveal their secrets as they embrace and welcome you home.

Jeff Naramor of America the Beautiful Landscape Design can be reached at: 360-828-8597or at: Or vist the website at:

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