WHAT SUPPORTS THE DISCOVERY OF INNER PEACE?
GARDENS - BEAUTY CHANGES THE WORLD
- Peace Garden with Peace Pole in front yard of Peace Center
When we moved into an Atlanta challenged inner city neighborhood to
create a Peace Center, we planted a Peace Pole "May Peace Prevail On
Earth" first thing, creating a Peace Garden within the three old tall
trees that surrounded it.
- Labyrinth Community Gardens in front yard of Peace Center
With the help of many volunteers we shaped a labyrinth garden of trails
in the front yard, around the Peace Garden. Each section was developed
based on recycled and rescued plants from all over Atlanta. We started
with pieces of wood defining the trail, then used wood chips and finally
graduated to monkey grass around the edges. Most of the plants are
shade plants and drought resistant with 80% perennials and 20% annuals.
We gather seeds from many of the plants and share them with the many
neighborhood curb gardens we do.
- Curb Vegetable Gardens in front yard of Peace Center
With limited sun, Farmer Ryan rotatilled a long rectangle shaped strip
of soil right next to the curb and with a truckload of compost donated
by Bedminster, we planted a community garden that supplies our raw food
needs. We grow something of everything that likes our climate and
soil. Many of our baby starts come from Gaia Gardens (East Lake
Commons), a five acre intentional community garden at the end of our
- Friendship Garden in back yard of Peace Center
This garden is in the shape of a "figure 8" which is an infinity
symbol. It invites the walker to go around and around with no ending
for a relaxing, walking meditation experience. Within this "figure 8"
labyrinth garden are tiles that could not be included in the 1996 Peace
Wall because they had advertising on them. There is a mini deva garden
in the center of shells and outdoor original art. Lattice was donated
to line the fence which gives the garden a very intimate, private
feeling. There is a Peace Pole with the words "Goodwill",
"Mindfulness", "Harmlessness", "Right Speech" & "Self-Forgetfulness".
The Peace Mobile has a permanent home here, serving as an art car
example for our project days. Everything is a shade plant with wild
violets, day lillies, cannas, butterfly bush, nandina, hostas, monkey
grass, mums, wandering jew, vinca, carolina jasmine & boxwood shrubs.
There are compost areas which supply material for our expansion gardens
into the neighborhood. The Peace Shed houses all the gardening tools
for our projects.
History of the Friendship Garden:
Imagine in 1998 you are walking into the most neglected back yard you've ever seen.
There is water damage, erosion, weeds so high you barely can walk
without being scratched, fences covered with debris, discarded tires and
other junk that someone just dropped into the mess, trash bags filled
with garbage and more. It looks hopeless, but right behind you are
volunteers ready to do service in the community. Here is their first
challenge should they choose to accept it. And they do. The Navigators, a Christian Campus Group from
Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. began the long, arduous
rehabilitation of the Peace Center (inside and out). Without heat, in
the most damp, dark, smelly, mold & mildew environment you can imagine, they began the work.
Once the yard was cleared, months of gardening projects produced the
remaining necessary changes. It was a transformation representing the
input and labor of many people. Individuals and groups committed to
making a change in the world in just one small place that would bring
- Mailbox Garden turns into a Curb Garden
There are many stories that can be documented about the
revitaliztion of the inner city. The gardening stories are the best
because they illustrate the power of beauty, nature, self esteem, love,
education and our connectedness to a greater good.
As Partnerships In Peace (PIP) created gardens of example at the Peace
Center, the children across the street noticed the changes and asked how
they could do one. While visiting their gramma Johnnie Mae, they became
bored and wanted something to do. Initially with only tablespoons,
cousins Stafford, Chauncey, Courtney & Caitlyn (ages 6-9) began to dig
in the dirt which entertained them for hours. Later PIP supplied them
with gloves and shovels to make the job easier. Then came the time for
deciding what they would plant. Perennial hostas were initially
recycled from Ms. Maxey's garden in N.E. Atlanta. The kids found old
boards that edged the garden to keep the soil together. They learned
about composting the newly turned soil with leaves and organic matter.
They practiced cooperation as they decided "where" and "what" and "how"
in the proccess of creating a mailbox garden. They learned the
importance of weeding and watering. When their bikes squashed plants
from carelessness they saw an immediate cause/effect and began to have
more respect for a live plant that was not plastic as they thought.
The Mailbox Garden flourished the first year (1998) with many addition
as the plants and seeds were donated to the neighborhood. Then as
Spring approached Johnnie Mae decided she was ready for a larger Curb
Garden, so the expansion began. First Farmer Ryan rotatilled the soil,
then all the grandkids and Johnnie Mae and PIP got out there and worked
the soil. It took lots of time and hard work and when it was finished,
Stafford planted his first tomato plant which produced huge big tomatoes
he could share with his cousins which made him feel proud. Johnnie
Mae was happy when she won a gardening award from the neighborhood.
By 2002 Johnnie Mae planted her window box in the front of her house
that had been there for 30 years and she'd never had the confidence to
grow anything. Then we created a walking trail through her garden and
doubled the size of the curb garden. Because this garden receives full
sun most of the day, many things grow here that love the sun like
marigolds, four o'clocks and other flowers.
Beauty now reigns on this curb and it continues to bring joy to the
children as they tend their garden with their grandmother whenever they
- Joanna's Garden
At a very visual corner of our street, a curb garden was created and
dedicated to the owners sister who before having health problems had
performed much of the yards' improvements. With Joanna's loving touch
gone, the yard looked sad, so we thinned out the Peace Center gardens
and put hostas, monkey grass and marigolds together with rocks and
stones and an old tree limb to create a work of art for all to visually enjoy.
- More Curb Gardens
There are now 8 curb gardens with more to come as we continue to receive
donations from office parks that are throwing out perennials because
they treat them as annuals. In fact, recently we noticed construction
crews at Lindberg Train Station taking out a beautiful green space, so
being at the "right place, right time" we received 9 holly shrubs, sage bushes,
camilia shrubs and more and distributed them amongst our existing sites.
- East Lake Commons (ELC) Gardens
Because we are propegating so many healthy, happy plants, we have more
to share. Recently we helped a resident of ELC create a new green space
in her lower level living space. Because it was full sun, we moved a
whole slew of marigolds which had been planted in the spring and had
grown to such proportion that they needed to be thinned. Although
summer isn't a particularly good time to transplant, they have survived
well and look beautiful.
- "Secrets of the Maze" by Adrian Fisher
- "Earth Mazes" by Alex Champion, Earth Symbols, P.O. Box 145, Philo, CA 95466 #707-895-3375