Prayer garden ideas are as plentiful as the faiths they represent and occasions they commemorate. In some cases, these gardens are solely for the individual use of the faithful gardener who tends one or more plant as part of an active devotion to God. In other cases, they represent a sanctuary that is open to one or more faithful in need of a quiet and contemplative surrounding. Occasionally the prayer garden concept transcends the traditional garden plot and becomes a reflection-inviting memorial to a beloved member of a faith community.
Those with only a patio or balcony have the option of crafting a prayer container garden. A good example is the Mary Garden, which is devoted to the adoration and contemplation of the Virgin Mary. A figurine depicting Mary is the centerpiece of the container. Plants to include are Columbines (Our Lady's Shoes), Canna lilies (Rosary Beads) or Fuller's teasel (Our Lady's Basin).
One of more containers in a corner of the patio or balcony provides a spiritually focused garden spot that engenders contemplative prayer while tending or merely enjoying the blooming flowers. These container gardens also provide a counterpoint to a larger landscape filled with a variety of other plants, which may not necessarily feel like a prayer sanctuary.
Even though it is ideal for a divinely inspired learning environment, the community prayer garden within a building--or immediately adjacent to one--offers available space for prayer to anyone who would like to enter. Ornamental shrubs, trees and plants provide the backdrop of the garden while an area containing natural stones and one or more water features sets apart the area for prayer.
Optional ideas for this kind of prayer garden include discretely hidden loudspeakers that allow for muted playing of instrumental music or complementary nature sounds. Artificial lighting makes the prayer garden accessible during evening hours as well as during the day.
Movable Memorial Garden
Remembering a member of a congregation in prayer--and branching out from there into other aspects of contemplation--is the goal of the movable prayer garden. This form of prayer garden begins with an over-sized flower pot that can be moved as needed. Changing flowers underscore the changing seasons. A possible constant in this garden may be an evergreen tree or shrub, depending on its size.
If kept outdoors, the gardener in charge of keeping the congregation’s memorial garden relocates it as the seasons change to provide more or less water, sunlight or general exposure. In cases of hard frosts, the pot remains indoors so that prayerful congregants may focus their minds and souls on the flora as they offer up prayers to the deity. A key component of this prayer garden idea is the understanding that grief affects each congregant differently, as does the symbolism of various flowers.