Theme Gardens

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(Host) Visiting a public garden is a popular summertime activity and commentator Ron Krupp says that there are some unusual ones in our region.

(Krupp) Theme gardens are in these days. There are hummingbird, moon, butterfly, victorian, zen and even winter gardens.

I’ve just learned about a garden at Fletcher Allen’s Health Care’s facility at the Fanny Allen Campus in Colchester that has a most unusual theme. It’s a healing garden whose purpose is to help patients with emotional and spiritual recovery. In recent years the healing garden had fallen into disrepair. A rough path led to a grotto with statue of the Virgin Mary. People in wheelchairs and unsteady feet could not visit.

That’s now changed with the help of Jeanne Lemner of Ferrisburgh and others. According to Sister Irene Duchesneau of Fanny Allen, more than $20,000 was raised to restore the grotto with a firm path, new benches and plantings and a stone wall. So the site – and a wonderful view – is now wheelchair accessible. The garden was re-dedicated on Founders’ Day, May 24, marking the 110th anniversary of the Sister’s of the Religious Hospitallers from Montreal.

This time of year, I love to visit St. Ann’s Shrine in the village of Isle La Motte in the Champlain Islands. Despite the recent headlines, Isle La Motte is a most peaceful place where you can spend a warm summer afternoon walking the lovely grounds of the shrine – viewing the many statues of the saints in grotto’s such as Saint Teresa, Jude, Patrick and others. Our Lady of Lourdes stands out from all the rest. The large statue in gold leaf is lit up in the evening.

For a longer summer garden excursion, travel along the beautiful coast of Maine to Merryspring Park just south of Camden. The herb beds are shaped like two fish chasing each other’s tails in the archetypal symbol of Pisces. Among the theme gardens you’ll find there are Dyeing- as in fabric dyes, Culinary, Gray and Silver, Fragrant, Medicinal, Decorative, Bee, Flowering, Medieval, Children’s, and Shakespeare beds.

The medieval garden has many plants once used for religious and spiritual purposes. In those days, people lived closer to nature and felt a kinship to the spirit world. They believed that plants like alliums -including onions and narcissus were directly connected to the constellations. Plants were not only regarded as food and medicine. They were also believed to have spiritual powers.

According to the Bible, a garden was where it all began, but we fell from paradise when eating the apple in the Garden of Eden. Perhaps we’ve been trying to find our way back ever since.

This is Ron Krupp, the Northern Gardener.

Ron Krupp is a gardener and author who lives near Lake Champlain on Shelburne Bay.

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