As you enter you will see carved Chinese characters above the entrance that translates to 'EASE THE HEART'.
The Meditation Garden was formally opened on May 8th 1983. It was closed for two years due to an invasion of fire ants, which have been eradicated from this area. The mosses that were removed during the renovation are slowly coming back and, in time, more will be re-established.
Over the stone pillars of the entrance gate, is a vigorous rambler with huge sprays of single white scented blooms and shiny semi- evergreen foliage: the fragrant eastern Himalayan rose, or Rosa longicuspis.
Beside the pillars are several Heavenly Bamboo, or Nandina, that suffered winter-kill in 2008-2009. They were cut back and have since regrown. Flanking the stone pillars is a healthy specimen of Harland’s Boxwood, or Buxus harlandii, from China’s Shaanxi Province, as well as some Ilex sugerogi from the Holly family, native to both China and Japan.
Inside the Garden, the design is partly an homage to the ancientZen Temples of Japan. Along the simple, circular gravel path are stone benches carved from BC Jade.
In this garden are many trees and shrubs that might be found in a Japanese garden, such as Black Bamboo, Camellias, Magnolias, Japanese Cedar (Cryptomeria japonicaor SUGI, as it isknown in Japan), Honeysuckle (Lonicera quinquelocularis – a variety native from the Himalayas to Afghanistan) as well as many Japanese Maples (Acer palmatum).
Our Meditation Garden is an eclectic mix of ‘East’ meets (Pacific North) ’West’ because the centre is given over to towering Douglas Firs (Pseudotsuga menziesii), giving the ambience of a hidden woodland. (It is named for Archibald Menzies, one of the first scientists to visit the Pacific Northwest, after he had sailed with Captain George Vancouver as the ship’s doctor. To quote from the original entry in Erica's Notebook:
This corner of the garden provides us with a quiet oasis, sheltered from the hustle and bustle of the world; here one can commune with nature sitting on one of the jade benches and admiring the Windmill Palm.
Today the Windmill Palm is no longer in the Meditation Garden; it has been safely moved to the Fern Dell.
A favourite in this quiet oasis is the Rhododendron augustinii. This lovely Rhododendron was first collected by Augustine Henry, an Irishman and medical officer who was posted to the Imperial Chinese Customs service, in Hubei province on the Yangtse River during the 1860s. He remained for eight years and spent his weekends collecting specimens in the gorges above the river. Kew Gardens named this beautiful species Rhododendron in his honour.
Henry is also known for finding the Rhododendron Auriculatum. There is a big specimen at the junction to the Rhododendron walk. It is much admired for its late- blooming, large, white fragrant flowers. (A book has recently been published on Augustine Henry. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/gardening/plants/8811383/In-praise-of-plant-hunter-Augustine-Henry.html) Blooming in mid-March to May, in shades of blue through soft mauve, violet and purple, the augustinii seems the perfect Rhododendron for this garden. Fittingly, the colour blue is considered beneficial to mind & spirit while purple relates to imagination and spirituality.
Another smaller variety near the Jade bench is the Rhododendron kiusianum, or Kyushu Azalea,from Kyushu Island in Japan. It typically blooms in shades of purple although in this garden it is a soft coral pink. It is delicate in appearance and lends itself to bonsai.
Carrying the blue theme into midsummer is the Hibiscus syriacus or Roseof Sharon, native to China. The stunning variety ‘Oiseau Bleu’ or ‘Blue Bird’, with its large trumpet-shaped violet-blue flowers and burgundy centres, has been planted as a loose hedge on the periphery of the Meditation Garden. This particular variety has been grafted onto the hardier stock of the Hibiscus macrophyllus to provide resilience through the colder months.
Now, look up… into the amazing tree canopy. Here we can see the perfect blend of East meets West – our majestic Firs are soaring into a canopy of stunning, fine leaf Japanese Maples. The beauty of the rustling leaves against the sky feels both infinite and sheltering. Perfect for a moment of forest meditation.
Content contributed by Tara.
Erica's Original Notes This corner of the garden provides us with a quiet oasis, sheltered from the hustle and bustle of the world; here one can commune with the simplicity of Nature, sitting on one of the jade benches and admiring the Windmill palm(Trachycarpus fortunei). It was opened on May 8, 1983.
Updates 2013 (MG) The Chinese characters above the entrance to the Meditation Garden mean 'ease the heart'. The fragrant Himalayan Rosa longicuspis grows over the entrance. The plants are not labelled to enhance a feeling of seclusion. The Nandina, Heavenly Bamboo, by the entrance was winter-killed in 2008-9 but cut back and rapidly regrew from the base.