Absence of War or Peace Gardens

Peace is not just the absence of war it can be a reflection of a personal inner tranquility. To many gardeners peace may be a state of harmony with nature. It is a theme of several ‘hard landscape’ projects and sculptural works as shown by the selection of Peace gardens below.

The World Peace Garden Network
You can join this consciousness–raising network of gardens simply by declaring that your own garden, patio, balcony, or subject to appropriate approvals your local public park or garden be made into a World Peace Garden  Bristol Communal Gardens Group & Clifton Gardens Society was designated a World Peace Garden in 2001.

20th Anniversary of Gardens for Peace
This organisation seeks to designate and develop the garden as a place for meditation and a symbol for peace throughout the world. Stron in the USA there is scope to nominate a UK garden via the link above.

The Sheffield Peace Gardens
Are part of Sheffield’s Heart of the City project, a project that has been connected with the City’s economic and cultural regeneration since it began in 1998. Originally a temporary garden within the church walls named St Paul’s Gardens. However the name changed to the Peace Gardens after WWII and a desire for a return to peacetime.The gardens occupy an area of 0.67 hectares with sculptures and fountains.
The Peace Gardens form the central part of a spectacular walk, the emerging Gold Route, taking visitors from Sheffield Railway Station through a series of exciting new developments each with their own distinctive lighting, public art and water features. More information about the Peace Gardens’ History.

St Thomas’ Peace Garden
This is an example of a small public park in Birmingham  designated as a monument to peace and a memorial to all those killed in armed conflict.

The International Peace Garden
Lies along the world’s longest unfortified border and encompasses a 2,339 acre Botanical Garden. Between the State of North Dakota and the Province of Manitoba this garden is a well frequented site maintained jointly by USA and Canada. It was dedicated in 1932 and devoted to World Peace.

Gardeners Tips Peace Gardens.

Find your own Peace in a garden or let us know about other ‘Peace Gardens’ you have visited.

Many hospitals believe in the healing power of nature and the serenity it can provide.

An old cemetery in the heart of Barnsley has develop it into a cleaner, safer environment for the local community.

A guide on how to create a Peace garden from the International Catholic Movement for Peace



Monastic and Medieval Christian Gardens

Romans were were enthusiastic gardeners (not just for the grapes) but when the empire fell gardening collapsed. Then in around the 9th century AD the gardening skills were revived and every town was encouraged to grow herbs, fruit and nut trees.
The formal gardens of the middle ages had an atmosphere of tranquillity rarely equaled and were thought of as  ‘Heaven on Earth’.

Features of a Christian Garden

  • With many features in common with Islamic gardens the Christian monks took inspiration from a revived interest in gardens.
  • Boundaries and square structures were the most common with stone walls used in castles and cloisters.  Hedges, wattle fences, palisades, trellis and ditches were also used as boundaries by the less well to do. The effort was made to make them safe as they were a place of retreat and protection from evil.
  • Simple paths were used to divide up a rectangular space.
  • A medieval garden could be a microcosm of paradise and seen as ‘a recreation of good things’.
  • Raised beds of simple geometric shapes accentuated the impression of symbolically clean lines and at the same time helped drainage for herbs.
  • Covered walkways and arbors created enclosed spaces within the already enclosed space of the garden.
  • Seating was important to facilitate contemplation and prayer.

Monastic gardens

Generally monastic gardens consisted of  several different types of gardens for different and specific purposes. A monastery would typically have a physic garden, plus a secluded garden for contemplation and meditation. There would also be community facilities for separate vegetable and fruit gardens, orchard or cemetery gardens, as well as fishponds and dovecotes.

As recorded on the behalf of St Hildegard Germany’s greatest mystic and God’s companion  ‘The medieval garden, as with any garden, is a work of love. Gardens are instruments of healing, a means to provide sustenance and health, and reminders of our connectivity with the natural world.



The Tea Garden and Tea House

Modern tea gardens may seem to be a contradiction but since the 15th century the wabi tea ceremony has influenced the tea gardens purpose and design. Originally when tea plants (Camellia sensi) were introduced into Japan from China in the 6th century they were the prerogative of the ruling classes and used expensive ingredients and equipment.

The  subsequent simplification was started by Zen monk Shuko Murata. It led to the tea-room’s interior being reduced in space to the bare minimum needed for the contemplation of the relationship between people and things.

Tea House Tatton Park

Key Features of a Zen Tea House

  • As a location for the tea ceremony the core attribute is providing a support for humility. ‘We can’t focus on what is important if our egos get in the way’. Thus the entrance to a tea house is generally so low that you must crawl to pass through it.
  • The tea house should provide the best views for meditation.
  • The objective is to create a hut that emphasises the rustic and humble.
  • The approach to the tea house is through the tea garden. To sharpen the mind and senses the path should consist of a series of detailed views.
  • Stepping stones help to slow your pace  to a speed suitable for meditation and contemplation.
  • Outside the door of the tea room is a stone basin to wash your hands and mouth before the tea ceremony begins.
  • There should be a light or lantern to guide you in the dark.


Other Quotes about the Tea Ceremony

  • “Tea began as a medicine and grew into a beverage.” –Katkuzo Okakura
  • “The Way of Tea cannot be taught in any book…It is a state of mind. Tea is a living
    tradition.” –Professor Kimiko Gunji,
  • “Holding a bowl of tea whisked to a fine froth…
    Such a simple thing: yet filled with a spirit that
    Reaches back more than a thousand years.”–The Urasenke Tradition of Tea
  • ‘Show them who wait
    Only for flowers
    There in the mountain villages:
    Grass peeks through the snow,
    And with it, spring.’ Fujiwara no letaka

Mythical Gardens and Antiquity


I will use Shangri-la as an all encompassing name for spiritually based gardens and areas of harmonious natural beauty stealing a name from James Hilton in his novel Lost Horizon.

To many Shangri-la conjures up a ‘place regarded as an earthly paradise, especially when involving a retreat from the pressures of modern civilization.oed’  a remote or an imaginary, beautiful place,  where everything is pleasant and life approaches perfection

The essence of a spiritual, peaceful gardens is represented in different ways across the world by Buddhists from Tibet, Daoists from China or in Zen gardens from Japan. Some of these forms of a Shangri-la are known to feature in ancient literature from 200 BC.

Book Cover

Gardens with Spiritual or Religious Background

Persian Gardens over the last 5 millennia have soothed and calmed societies with the use of water representing the great rivers of the Tigris and the Euphrates. Building on this spiritual tradition Islamic Mogul gardens stretch across Asia. There have been examples of Hindu influences in India and other developments in Kashmir, Pakistan and Bangladesh together with gardens in other parts of the Mogul empire. Islamic Charbagh gardens are based on the four gardens of Paradise mentioned in the Quran.

Monastic gardens in the UK and Europe are now renown for medicinal  herb and vegetable growing. In the middle ages these gardens also acted as pleasure gardens, orchards and even cemeteries, in fact most of the aspects required to enjoy a healthy and spiritual  life .

Other Mythical Gardens

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were reputed to have been built alongside a grand palace known as The Marvel of Mankind, by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II around 605 BC). This was  a gesture for his Median wife Queen Amytis, because she missed the green hills and valleys of her homeland.

 In the Oldest Gardens in the World CWS records claim that ‘The Epic of Gilgamesh, thought to have been written as early as 2100 BC contains the oldest mentions of gardens in surviving literature. Gilgamesh states that his city Uruk was ‘one third gardens’, and in the story visits the ‘Garden of the gods’, a garden with precious stones, pearls and jewel-laden trees.’

In the knights of the round table Avalon was  where King Arthur was nourished back to health after his battle with Mordred. Unlike Camelot Avalon was ‘a land of plenty, where wild apple trees and vineyards grow of their own accord no matter what the season.’

Tír na nÓg in Celtic mythology is the supernatural land only ever seen by a lucky few. Al0ong side the ‘Little Folk’ the slow pace of life has lush dwelling’s in peaceful trees with sumptuous flowers and landscapes that remain green all year round.



Your Own Garden of Eden

The Garden of Eden

When God became the first gardener after creating the earth and heavens he noted that ‘no shrub of the field had yet grown on the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, he had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to cultivate the ground.’

The Lord God planted an orchard in the east, in Eden and made all kinds of trees sprout from the soil, every tree that was desirable to look at and good for food. The tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil were in the middle of the orchard. So God commanded the man, ‘You may freely eat fruit from every tree of the orchard but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.’

‘In the beginning’ of your gardening career you can access a large body of knowledge via media or if you are fortunate from experienced gardeners. All the experience will acknowledge the effect of the ‘tree of life’ or more prosaically the eventual death of trees and plants – reading Genesis may explain why. We know even long lived plants such as Ginko, Bristle Pines and Wollomia have a finite life although they will outlast generations of gardeners yet to come.

What can we Learn from The Garden of Eden

  • Gardens are a long term proposition. It possible that in the hands of a well meaning gardener they can lead to the Elysian Fields noted in ancient Greece.
  • God noticed there was ‘no rain’ and no cultivation of the ground so there are the initial couple of key jobs for any gardener.
  • With the concept of the ‘tree of the knowledge of good and evil’ being in the middle of the orchard you may think the evil part included rot and pestilence. So a third task for gardeners is to maintain a clean healthy utopian garden.
  • Adam needed help in the garden or was Eve the primary gardener as it is in my Arcadia.
  • The garden of Eden should have ‘dominion over the fish of the sea (or garden pond?) and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth’. A manifesto for an environmentally friendly approach to gardening.
  • The original biblical garden was planted in the east of Eden but there are few limits to where a modern garden can be situated nor what you can try to grow.



Gardens with Spirit – G.Tips New Venture

Nature is both constant and changing in that it is always with us but seldom remains static. In times of stress, poor health and personal pressure aspects of nature are there to fall back on. Meditation and mindfulness have grown in popularity and profile in recent year but the benefits of a garden have been acknowledged for centuries. Gardeners Tips is opening a new category within our pages to look at different types  of garden, our  relationships with nature and a spiritual approach to show how each  constructively helps.

New Venture

  • Over the last 10 years G. Tips has provided 2100+ pages of pictures, tips and sometimes idiosyncratic comment. We are not about to change the formula too drastically but hope the themed approach to new posts will be constructive.
  • There is a cathartic result for the author when a post is completed, published and even better when it is read. For those who garden or consider nature in almost any form we hope they derive health benefits and peace of mind. So for the next decade we hope G.Tips lives on as do all the precious plants in your gardens.
  • Tomorrow the first of our new posts will go back to the beginning and the Garden of Eden.

Just to break the ice and get going here is a short list of publications on the subject of ‘spirit’ that are available via at amazon.

Book Cover

Gardens of the Spirit 2019 Calendar: Japanese Garden Photography

A good photograph can lighten up your day and I have enjoyed various calendars over the years. You do not need to opt for an expensive version you can get as much satisfaction out of a DIY calendar. Do you remember the calendars we used to make at school with a small pad of monthly dates to stick at the bottom of a photograph or picture cut from a magazine. Good pictures and images invoke memory and can boost your spirit.

Book Cover

Contemplation may be at the heart of a spiritually orientated garden. Certainly it will involve landscapes and the ability to look and see. As the blurb on ‘Landscape as Spirit’ sets out:-

‘principles of Oriental and Western garden design to make bold and original statements in his landscapes. Mosko explains how to deploy the materials of the garden so that their arrangement reflects the contemplative mind. The chief paradigm he uses is the mandala, a symbolic picture of the ideal world used in some form in many of the world’s cultures. Rocks, streams, plants, paths, and structures of the garden each take their place in the mandala as one of its five elements: Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Space. The means to produce a balance of these elements is the mind conditioned by meditation and a clear understanding of its own nature. Inner harmony is expressed as outer beauty.’

Book CoverSanctuary is one of the most basic human emotional need. We all need somewhere to retreat too when the need arises. Jessie Bloom’s book recognises this and adds:-

‘traditional plant wisdom to help readers find a deeper connection to the outdoor space they already have – no matter the size. Equal parts inspirational and practical, this engaging guide includes tips on designing a healing space, plant profiles for 50 sacred plants’ Continue Reading →


Best British Trees Reviewed

Our series of tree reviews covers exotics and UK trees with a few specials thrown in. Each separate post covers;

  • Latin names and other common names
  • Height, uses and normal distribution. –
  • Type of tree – Evergreen/ Deciduous – dictoyledons, monocotyledon, Conifer etc
  • Description of Leaves, Flowers, Fruit and bark –
  • Family links, varieties and near relatives –

Below are links to a dozen British natives with short descriptions.

English Oak
Top of most lists for great British Trees. Our list of tree reviews is no different, Oak is the tops!

Rowan – Mountain Ash
The trees can be quite singular in appearance when shaped by wind on high moors and mountains.

From the copper coloured leaf to solid green hedges the Beech deserves a place in most gardens.

Silver Birch
Seem to be growing everywhere you look with some very distinctive varieties like Jacquemontii.

Horse Chestnut
Brought to England by William the Conqueror (no not really the conkers were there first).

Norway Spruce
Despite containing a foreign country name this Spruce grows freely on Forestry Commission land in the UK.

Ideal for hedgerows and feeding birds. May blossom in May maybe.

Lime or Linden
a useful ornamental for parks and large gardens.

Grows well in my garden and trains easily into a shapely tree.

Related to the other Acers but I would let someone else grow Sycamore on their land. (not my favourite)

A fast growing deciduous conifer good in forests.

Longest lived and slowest growing British tree synonymous with church yards and pagan worship.

Along with the Oak and the bonny Rowan tree the Ash is justly popular.


  • This completes our bakers dozen of British trees. If you want to learn more click on each link.
  • If you want to look for a different tree, type in the common or Latin name in our Google search box.
  • Please feel free to leave a comment or make a request on tree or garden related matters.
  • For more information of tree leaf shape design and function read this section.

Tree Organisations and Links
Woodland Trust

The Arboricultural Association
International Society of Arboriculture UK


Top Ten UK Garden Trees

homestead Ivy

Trees small enough for your garden can still provide a range of interest. That may be leave shape, blossom, berries, bark or colour changes.
This selection grow 15-50 feet high with a maximum spread of 30 feet.

Top Ten Garden Trees

    1. Sorbus or Mountain Ash make fine specimen trees. Sorbus vilmorinii has creamy white flowers and a typical scent in spring. Clusters of red berries fade to white but the feathery leaf turns a dark red in autumn.
    2. Arbutus andrachne or unedo aka the Strawberry tree has  glossy evergreen leaves and white flowers. The trunk is also a feature on these 20′ trees.
    3. Ornamental cherry trees have stunning displays of spring flowers. Try Prunus x subhirtella Autumnalis


    1. Silver birches Betula jacquemontii Grayswood Ghost has yekllow catkins and good autumn colour.
    2. Ornamental Crab Apples have caught my attention recently and malus floribunda with pale pink flowers followed by golden fruit gives interest through until winter.
    3. Judas Tree, Cercis siliquastrum is covered in pink blossom before the leaves arrive in spring. This is followed by purple pods that can last through winter.
    4. Acers are ever popular and the palmatum varieties offer late season colour changes to the leaves. Osakazuki and sango-kaku are currently on offer.

Continue Reading →


Best Trees for Small Gardens UK

A common site in many town gardens are trees that have outgrown their space. Large native trees like Oaks, Copper Beach, Planes, Weeping Willow and horse chestnuts are wonderful, but to be really enjoyed they need suitable space, like in a park. If they are planted in the garden they will

  • Create too much shade
  • Create too much ‘water shade’ – their canopy can make a garden quite dry.
  • Planted too near the house, they can also undermine the foundations of a house as their roots spread deeply into the structure.

To remove these trees is a big job. But, it’s better to do now, rather than leaving until it is even higher. (Though you may have to be careful and check planning regulations before cutting old trees down – some may be protected)

However, though some trees are too big to enjoy, there are many excellent varieties which will be good for the small garden.

Best Trees For Small Gardens

Acers – There are a huge varieties of acers. They can be very attractive in the small garden. They are also ideally suited for the small garden.


Acer Palmatum – a great tree for small gardens. They are very slow growing so stay nice and small. I’ve found they can be a bit tender in a cold windy winter. More on Acers

Birch – Betula Pendula


Birches make excellent garden trees, there canopy is not too dense, providing a lovely dappled shade. There small delicate leaves and bark can also be quite attractive, especially the white barked silver birch.

Hawthorn Tree. Can be used in hedges or used as a specimen tree. Will not grow too tall and provides good blooms in May or June.



The Laburnum provides a wonderful display of yellow flowers in May / June. It shouldn’t grow too tall (though this tree from Italy has grown as tall as house. One important point is that its leaves and flowers and bark are all poisonous. If you have young children, it may not be suitable unless closely supervised.

The best variety is Laburnum wateri vossii’ which produces long blooms of flowers.

Continue Reading →


Crab Apple Trees for Fruit & Ornament

Malus Red Sentinel

The flowering crab apples, Malus Rosaceae, are excellent floral trees with the added bonus of small usually edible fruit. The Malus Red Sentinel above has a profusion of small hard red autumn fruit that can be admired in the garden, left to feed birds, converted into a jelly or added to other food dishes. Crab apples generally contain a deal of pectin and are seldom eaten uncooked.

Favourite Crab Apple Varieties

  1. Golden Hornet is a small tree with white flowers producing a large crop of small yellow fruit.
  2. John Downie perhaps the best fruiting large conical crab apples of bright orange to red.
  3. Jay Darling is ornamental with large, deep red flowers and crimson tinted foliage.
  4. Eleyi has purpleish shoots and very decorative purpleish fruit in Autumn. Slightly later flowering and a good pollinator.
  5. Profusion is a fragrant hybrid with large wine red clustered flowers. Ox-blood red fruit make this one of the best Crab Apples.

Continue Reading →


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