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Entries in spiritual gardens (2)


The Spiritual Gardens at The Scots Hotel

Towards the end of the 19th century, when the Ottoman Turks ruled the Middle East, the Church of Scotland sent a mission to the Holy Land under the leadership of a young doctor.

Explicitly, the goal was to improve health and sanitary conditions in the Galilee area. Implicitly, its mission was to bring Christianity to the local population.

In 1894, when it became apparent that the goal was unattainable, the young doctor converted his mission into a maternity hospital, open to all creeds.

It remained in operation, with the gratitude of the population, until the early1950’s when the nascent Israeli government introduced socialized medicine.

Following the closure of the hospital in 1953, and in a desire to find an alternative use for its property, the Church of Scotland, converted its buildings into a guesthouse for international pilgrims and visitors.

Delonix regia CaesalpiniaceaeIn 1999, the buildings’ further renovation and refurbishment resulted in the creation of a first class hotel, where the architecture maintains the spirit of the original structures. Respectful of the goals that brought the Church of Scotland to the Galilee in the first place, superb landscape architecture and garden design help make The Scots Hotel an elegant, spiritual, destination.

Jacarandum mimosifolia BignoniaceaeOn my travels through the Middle East last summer, our group chose this location upon the advice of the travel agent, who promised that we would be impressed. Indeed we were. The landscaping moved us greatly.

In the heat of August, when most of Israel is the color of sand, green vegetation is seen very rarely, except in the north, and the Galilee. While few, if any, flowers are in bloom at this time of year, some floriferous trees on the hotel’s grounds, such as Delonix regia Caesalpiniaceae and Jacarandum mimosifolia Bignoniaceae, gave us the splash of color that was sorely missing on this trip.

Our tour guide had taken us through practically every square mile of Israel and the accessible West Bank. Nowhere else did we see such horticultural beauty as was offered to our tired eyes by The Scots Hotel. The grounds surrounding its property are so magnificent that the photos above should speak for themselves.


Chakra Gardens are Soothing, Healing, Spiritual: Book Review for

Chakra Gardens by Carol Cumes, with photography by Greg Asbury, Mitra Publishing

One of the best kept secrets of gardening is the spiritual transformation that one experiences each time one enters a garden to tend, to admire or to escape. For that reason, a chakra garden is not an altogether new concept to the passionate gardener. It may also help others understand the spirituality that some gardeners have reported experiencing.

A chakra garden is a botanical environment that provides a place of rest and healing. The author believes that nature provides healing energies that can benefit us when we choose to sit in a garden. This view is reinforced by healing gardens that have recently been built at some hospitals throughout the United States as part of a program for convalescence or palliative care. Visitors to chakra or healing gardens are positively influenced by the perfumes of plants, colors, textures and petal shapes, birds and their songs as well as insects and their sounds. One is immediately affected by the beauty and peace experienced there. The author suggests that when one heals the soul, the healing of the body will follow.

This book is a journey to the seven chakra gardens that the author has built in the Andes over the last twelve years. Each garden addresses a different aspect of human nature and is inspired by the ancient yoga philosophy which connects the seven energy centers to one’s soul. In each garden one can find physical symbols, flowers, herbs, and stones that are meaningful and that relate to specific chakras. It is the author’s hope that we will be inspired to create chakra gardens for ourselves. Those of us that become more serene simply by entering our own gardens will understand how easily attainable that goal can be.

The editors of this book have wisely decided to take Greg Asbury’s superb photographs and blow them up to larger than life. In doing so, they have accomplished two objectives. Firstly, the enlarged pictures create the illusion that the reader has been almost reduced to the size of an insect. Ever wonder how a flower hypnotizes a flying insect to drink its nectar and pollinate it in the process? Just look at the magnified photos and you will wonder no more. Seeing a flower from the perspective of an insect is a visual experience not to be missed. Secondly, the enlarged beauty of the flower is both magnificent and overwhelming. Focus for a moment on any one of these brilliant pictures and you might be transported to a place you never thought imaginable. Reading this book is in itself a chakra garden experience.

This book won the Independent Publisher Book Award for Best New Age/Mind Body Spirit Book for 2009.