Manifesting the Chakra Garden

People often ask us, what did Heartwood look like before the founders, Ginny and David bought the property? Not much, it was an overgrown former farm property albeit with lots of potential. The Chakra garden was the first project we, as a couple, undertook.  Here’s the story of how the chakra garden can into being.

 In the beginning, there was nothing at all, just an empty patch of grass that the former property owner used as a secure area to train dogs. But we saw that empty space as the perfect location for a garden, and we envisioned a chakra meditation garden designed for inspiring yogis.

David consulted with a work study student who was a garden designer, and together they formulated a basic plan. The work began starting with digging out a pond that would be the focal point of the garden, and part of the Heart chakra space. We established a couple of benches around the pond to map out different meditation areas.

David had to do most of the work himself and as a mechanical and electrical engineer by trade, he had the skill set, the muscle, the vision, and the will. It took all we had just to buy Heartwood, so we didn’t have a lot of resources to work with for property improvements. We had to be creative.

We discovered huge rocks buried in the ferns and decided these could be used to establish the pond. David dug them up one at a time, dragging them with the help of work study students into the garden to place them into different strategic places to hold in place a pond liner and create a base for a waterfall feature.

Ginny had to put her 2 cents in as well, of course, giving her opinion about the pottery’s angle and how much water would flow. David decided every pond needs a bridge, so he engineered and designed one and put it together to hide a filter while providing a lovely walkway through the heart of the garden.

Students stood by watching or lending a helping hand. David had to get into the water to connect the filter and electrical to run a beautiful flowing fountain.

Then it was time to put in plants. And because we didn’t have a lot of resources to work with, again, we had to go with smaller, less expensive plants, just what we could afford with hope that in time they would grow and fill in the areas that we were looking to fill.

We next established the pathways and had a ton of gravel delivered for walkways. Ginny was inspired to create art that would blend with nature, so she began a project of making Chakra stepping stones to celebrate each of the chakra meditation areas. They were only a little art contribution but helped define this garden as a chakra garden meant for yogis.

She began searching out other elements of garden decor to enhance the ambiance of each chakra center. The couple endlessly pulled overgrown grapevine swallowing the property and turned that into archways to hold air plants.  It was time for mulch. And more mulch and more mulch. You could never get enough mulch for that garden it seemed. David put in a sprinkler system to keep the plants thriving, and the pathways were established with gravel. 

Ginny had given David a swing as a gift, so he build a roofed arbor for it, creating a special little place in the Muladhara chakra, the center for stability and the things that anchor us in life . Now beautiful little areas for people to go and have privacy in their meditation were taking shape. The garden was new, barely established, but we knew time and nature would take its course.

Things begin to flourish, and each area of the garden started to bloom, take root and find its own ambiance, calling people to the different areas according to what their soul needed. And each chakra center of this garden was independent and unique and yet part of a greater whole. The chakra garden had become a focal point of Heartwood, a place students loved walking through or sitting in to reflect on life. We were so delighted when we spied students out there, meditating or journaling or just basking in nature.

Ginny kept reading gardening magazine for inspiration, and when she saw competition in Country Garden’s Magazine she sent in pictures for fun. How wonderful if they could share this unique garden with others who loved gardening. The Heartwood Garden actually won Best Garden with a Purpose and was featured in an eights page spread, and now, even people who might never visit Heartwood could see and enjoy the fruits of their labors.

It was wonderful knowing the garden had been formally recognized by people who have seen thousands of gardens made with far more resources than we ever had to work with. The Heartwood Garden has since been appreciated by so many of our students, but like all things in life, nonattachment is necessary because all things are impermanent. Building a garden is sort of a different type of yoga practice. Two hurricanes and a variety of storms (as well as time) took its toll on the garden destroying so much of what we painstakingly built. Plants that took years to establish would suddenly die or were torn from the root by wind, trees fell on our fences, lighting was uprooted, and arbors were toppled. 

With each storm, we mourned a little and then began the process of rebuilding. New versions of the garden took shape. They could never be the same, but each version of the Chakra garden would still be beautiful and a part of the ongoing living art that is a part of life. There is an opportunity in loss to reinvent life – that’s the yoga view of gardening, and how to face obstacles in life.

Thanks to nature’s unrelenting optimism, the garden did come back from every storm. Some things were lost and sorely missed, but new fresh elements were given a chance to take root. We learned that all the flowers of all the tomorrows are in the seeds of today. And the truth is, the garden was never designed for Ginny and David to enjoy, but for all the yogis that would find their way through the gates. The chakra garden doesn’t enhance enrollment or have any benefit other than holding space for visitors. It was always meant to be a space for the future generation of yogis to unplug from the busy world and plug into one’s connection to nature.

The Chakra Garden at Heartwood is a living example that even when starting from scratch and you have limited resources, you can manifest your dreams. You just need to get your hands dirty and do the work.

We hope everyone gets a chance to visit the chakra garden at Heartwood and will spend some time soaking in the ever-unfolding history of how it came to be. We are proud to share this labor of love a humble garden made by yogis for yogis.

Ginny Shaddock, (IAYT Yoga therapist, ERYT-500 owns) Heartwood Yoga Institute with her Husband David (ERYT-500, IAYT Yoga Therapist, LMT). They are both yogis, avid gardeners and nature lovers who believe art and creativity are part of a spiritual path. Learn more