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April 2016, vol 12 no 1

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Robert Root

Labyrinth Garden

Labyrinth Garden Earth Sculpture. Something more than a garden, you think, with rows of herbs and flowers symmetrically separated by parallel paths; something more than a labyrinth, not rock-lined dirt or gravel rows leading to a stone bench at the center but a circuit over lush lawn, each arc and channel bordered by blooming annuals and perennials, fragrant and colorful. To view them all you have to walk the labyrinth; to walk the labyrinth you have to stroll through—sometimes brush past—an ever-changing cordon of plants. Here meditation has a heightened aesthetic, here gardening invites a contemplative calm.

orange butterfly
on an orange flower—
wait to walk on

Larkspur. Lupine. Calendula. Columbine. Celosia. Cleome. Dahlia. Yarrow. Ornamental Cabbage. Ornamental Millet. Prairie Smoke. You slow your contemplative circuit and bend to read the metal tags below the plants. Some names evoke far-flung lands: Asiatic Lily. Siberian Iris. Russian Sage. English Daisy. Mexican Shell Flower. Cape Town Blue. Lucky Pierre. Some names hint at gardeners’ tastes: Desperado Love. Gryffindor Colors. Marmalade Skies. Coal Seam Iris. Nosferatu. Intelligent Design. Panties in a Bunch. Names stay in your memory but not the flowers. You read the same names again on tags for new displays further down the path. Star Flower. Balloon Flower. Blanket Flower. Penstamen. Autumn Wood. Early Snow. Bleeding Heart. Forget-me-not.

“Celebration Stones”—flat rocks along the outer borders of the labyrinth garden; each bears a commemorative inscription. “Peace,” reads the stone at the entrance. “Believe,” reads a stone nearby. Stones name family members or friends beneath promises: “In Loving Memory.” “In Loving Memory.” “In Loving Memory.” “In Fond Memory.” “In Fond Memory.” “In Memory of . . .” “In Memory of . . .” “Forever in our hearts.” Some stones offer words of advice, of encouragement, of hope. You write the words down as you stroll the border. “Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow.” “Expect miracles.” “It takes a long time to grow old friends.” “The Earth Laughs in Flowers.”

butterfly sunning
on a stone inscription—
In Loving Memory