The Garden Awakening will change the way you garden

The Garden Awakening

Designs to Nurture our Land & Ourselves

By Mary Reynolds

“If nature is left to its own devices and without imbalances in the ecosystem such as the overpopulation of hungry deer or an infestation of rabbits it will reclaim its territory and become Woodlands once more.”

This might be one of the most inspirational gardening books I have ever read.

It’s certainly not your average how-to gardening book. If you are looking for a typical gardening book, The Garden Awakening might not be for you.

Beautiful illustrations by artist Ruth Evans both on the cover and throughout the book.

Beautiful illustrations by artist Ruth Evans both on the cover and throughout the book.

But if you are interested in the environment, restoring your garden to a healthy, productive space and/or creating a Woodland naturalized garden, then you owe it to yourself to spend some time with Mary Reynold’s book, The Garden Awakening, Designs to Nurture our Land & Ourselves and her vision for the future of gardening.

Since this writing, Ms Reynolds has published a second informative book titled We Are The Ark. This follow to The Garden Awakening, expounds on her successful approach that each garden can be a small Ark in a world for where wildlife desperately needs our help.

For more information on using native plants to restore your garden, take a moment to check out my article on the importance of using native plants in your garden. For full post go here.

An important book at a crucial time

The Garden Awakening is an extremely important book for the time. It’s a reminder that we are destroying the very land we depend on for survival. It’s a reminder that the world we live in cannot continue to absorb this abuse and not unleash its own fury back upon us.

And, as climate change continues to change the world we live in, it’s important that we as inviduals take action to stem the tide.

But Reynolds offers solutions to problems that we need so desperately in these trying times.

Her inspirational book actually provides a roadmap for anyone interested in doing their part to not only protect but revive the land they live on. Along the way, she provides a “treasure map for finding your way back to the truth of who you are.”

“We are the ark” movement

Be part of the movement

Her movement, “We are the Ark” is bringing together like-minded people around the world to join her in creating a healthy environment, one garden at a time. It provides an important stepping stone to a better environment, a healthier garden and a more optimistic future.

Gardens were like still-life paintings; controlled and manipulated spaces.... somehow, somewhere along the way gardens had become dead zones.
— Mary Reynolds

If Ireland’s feisty Mary Reynolds is not familiar to you, I suggest you watch a movie called Dare to Be Wild, which maps her journey from an outsider to a gold-medal winner at the prestigious Chelsea Flower show. The movie used to be available on Netflix, but I notice that it is no longer available. (The link provided above will take you to Amazon where it is available as a DVD.)

The movie led me to her book, her vision and her unique and thoughtful approach to gardening.

To purchase the Mary Reynold’s book, here is a link from the excellent book seller Alibris: Books, Music, & Movies for The Garden Awakening. Below is the Amazon link.

For those without access to the movie, take note; Mary Reynolds was the youngest garden designer to win the highly coveted gold at the 2002 Chelsey Garden Show. That alone should be enough to interest you in her book.

   Reynolds doesn’t waste much time getting to the point. She describes a vision of her embodying a crow flying over the landscape where she comes across a woman (let’s call her Mother Nature) in a forest clearing. She is then swept up high into the heavens and when she finally wakes up she comes to the instant recognition that she “shouldn’t make any more pretty gardens.”

She realizes that she must be guided by the natural world, rather than pure beauty, in her work as a garden designer.

Unlike nature, “gardens were like still-life paintings; controlled and manipulated spaces.... somehow, somewhere along the way gardens had become dead zones,” she writes.

Being in harmony with nature

The revelation that she was “failing to work in harmony with nature,” eventually leads her to unveil 5 garden design ideas in a system aimed at helping anyone, including gardeners, connect with nature.

Throughout the book, Reynolds returns to her Irish roots and uses folklore to help explain her spiritual views of nature and gardening.

Of particular interest to Woodland gardeners, Reynolds explains that all land strives to become a mature Woodland and the job of the gardener is to allow the land to become what it desires to be.

She also encourages people to design their own gardens and provides a road map in five chapters. Each chapter slowly opens up the world of garden design and includes suggestions for intimate garden areas; a nighttime place, a praying place, a gathering place…

In another chapter, she talks about designing with the patterns and shapes of nature. This all leads to a chapter encouraging readers to put their garden design concepts onto paper, including several illustrations and designs that help readers visualize their garden design ideas.

Throughout the book, Reynolds offers suggestions on plants, although these plants might not all be appropriate for all garden zones.

The book wraps up with a chapter on Forest Gardening, a style of gardening that seems to be once again gaining in popularity and importance.

Many would say that Forest gardening is a logical extension to Woodland gardening. It involves producing food by developing a multi-tiered Woodland where berries, nuts and root vegetables are encouraged to be grown.

Her forest garden includes seven layers beginning with the upper canopy including a shrub layer, a layer for herbaceous plants a ground cover layer, an underground layer and finally climbers or vines.

This is a book every Woodland gardener will enjoy and learn from. It’s a book that should be required reading for all gardeners at a time when our futures may well depend on it.

If you are interested in having Mary Reynolds help design your garden virtually, be sure to check out my post on Ms Reynolds’ virtual makeovers.

Vic MacBournie

Vic MacBournie is a former journalist and author/owner of Ferns & Feathers. He writes about his woodland wildlife garden that he has created over the past 25 years and shares his photography with readers.

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