As news broke that this year’s flower shows have been cancelled, I found myself gazing at a pile of dry, leafy debris, cleaned from my hens and chicks, wondering whether making a mandala would sooth my mind. It wasn’t the best of ingredients, being a uniformly dull beige.
My thoughts turned to last year’s RHS Chatsworth Flower Show. The Mandala Mindfulness Garden had been designed as a quiet space to allow an urban school to provide wellbeing sessions for small groups and in one to ones. A sense of rest (from the seating areas) and calm contemplation (the mandalas), was balanced by flow (the airy planting and the oval path).
In support of the more general aim, to introduce more children to gardening, the garden was relocated to a school after the show.
The garden takes its name from two permanent mandalas in the seating areas, one made from pebbles, the other sempervivums, both placed where people can sit and contemplate them.
Temporary mandalas included a pine cone mandala round the base of a tree and space was provided for kids to make mandalas from pebbles, stones, shells, etc.
I loved the shou sugi ban (carbonised timber) fence along two sides of the garden and spent some time inspecting it, front and back. Its spiky, gappy, meandering outline were a far cry from the boxed lines of a standard fence, each plank a painting of pattern and texture.
The garden was designed to be low maintenance, as far as flower gardens go, with slender borders, naturalistic planting and uncut grass for the feet, so no need to mow. Leafy shade will eventually be provided by three multi-stemmed silver birch trees.
Some of the materials used in the garden were reclaimed, such as the oak seating surround. Triangular cushions scattered around the mandala making area had been made from recycled sailcloth.
There were some signs of the plants flowering a little behind where the designers might have have hoped – the Verbascum, Achillea, Crocosmia, Veronicastrum and tall Allium, for example. It is so hard to work with the vagaries of our weather and get everything at the peak of flower for one specific week. Let’s hope this meant the garden was still looking lovely when relocated to its new home.
Highlights from the official plant list
Aqueligia vulgaris ‘Alba’
Campanula lactiflora ‘Alba’
Campanula lactiflora ‘Loddon Anna’
Ipomea ‘Star of Yalta’
Nepeta racemosa ‘Walter’s Low’
Oenothera odorata ‘Sulphurea’
Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’
Stachys byzantina ‘Silver Carpet’
Verbascum blattaria albiflorum
Veronicastrum virg. ‘Lavendelturm’
Betula utilis var. Jacquemontii (multi-stemmed silver birch)
Miscanthus ‘Morning Light’
Designed by: HeldQuin Design Partnership
Built by: Patios, Pots & Pergolas
Supported by: Mindfulness In Schools Project (MiSP) who champion mental health and wellbeing. They’re currently hosting daily Sit Together sessions online.
I follow several people on WordPress who sometimes share mandalas made from flowers, including Wild Daffodil.
I’m linking to HeyJude’s 2020 Photo Challenge as her assignment this week is:
Try to mix your texture with other colours and patterns.
Most gardens overspill with contrasts – this one has the mandalas, the fence, the flooring material and the plants. I enjoy taking part in community challenges and am particularly grateful to their hosts just now.