The Language of Flowers – Designing a Peace Garden

Most of would agree that there is too much upset, misunderstanding, violence, and war in the world. It seems like every time we tune into the news tragedy and confrontation abound. For every story that we read there are a hundred different responses. We can bury our heads in the sand, complain, get politically involved, volunteer for a charitable organization or try to spread good will and forgiveness. Most of all we want peace.

As a landscaper and plant lover I like to think about how this desire for peace could be expressed in a landscape design. I am not alone. I googled peace garden and found a website titled “156 Peace Gardens Around the World.” The one I’m most familiar with is the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, Japan. I lived and taught there for a year and cycled through the park every Wednesday on my way to classes. I learned to avoid the Children’s’ Peace Monument because it always made me weep.

Not all of us live near a peace park. So how can we bring the contemplation of peace into our own little backyard gardens? If we have the money, space and time, we can install peace poles, erect small statues of famous people associated with peace, and start raising doves. I like those ideas. However, as a plant nerd, I am even more pleased that there are plants both big and small that are associated with peace. We can put them in our planting plans!

Not all of us live near a peace park. So how can we bring the contemplation of peace into our own little backyard gardens? If we have the money, space and time we can install peace poles, erect small statues of famous people associated with peace, and start raising doves. I like those ideas. However, as a plant nerd, I am particularly pleased that there are plants both big and small that are associated with peace. We can put them in our planting plans. What fun! I love this stuff!

In a previous article I talked about the book “The Language of Flowers: A Novel” by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. In the back Vanessa lists numerous plants and their symbolic meanings. She lists one plant, the olive, as a symbol of peace. The others I discovered in the website www.flowermeaning.com.

Below is a peaceful plant list to consider for your garden.

The peaceful plant palette:

  1. Olive (Olea europaea). Drought tolerant tree. Grey green foliage. Evergreen. Fast growing. Full sun.
  2. Apple (Malus pumula). Loves water but can be pretty tough once established. Bright green foliage. Deciduous. Moderate grower. Full sun. Beautiful pink blossoms that fade to white.

    By Barbetorte, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

  3. Lavender (Lavendula sp.) There are many species, cultivars and sizes. Evergreen. Woody sub-shrub. Grey green to medium green foliage. Full sun. Flowers may be deep purple, lavender, pink or white. Aromatic! Water-wise.
  4. Violets (Viola odorata). Violets are shade to part-sun loving annuals that reseed vigorously. Purple-blue blossoms. Great scent. About 6” tall by 12” wide. Prefer moderate water.
  5. White Poppies (Eschscholzia californica “Alba” or “White Linen” OR Amapolas blanca. All are annuals that love the sun and reseed vigorously. Low to moderate water. Blossoms vary from creamy white to pure white.
    By Cliff Hutson, CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Ponder these amicable plants for your landscape. Next time, I’ll provide two sketches for the peaceful garden. One will suit a diminutive patio terrace. The second sketch will accommodate larger growing area.

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