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An Award Winning Garden!

An Award Winning Garden!

A year and a half after winning a gardening contest, (something I entered randomly just for fun with no real expectation that we’d be recognized), our chakra meditation garden is finally featured in Country Garden’s magazine (a Better Homes and GImageardens specialty publication.) And wow, it was worth the wait! We knew our garden would be in the publication, but we wondered if we’d just have a short mention or a page with a few pictures. Instead we opened the magazine to an  8 page spread, and one of the most beautifully written articles imaginable. My daughter read it with me and said, “Are you sure you didn’t write that yourself?”  Ha. I wouldn’t have the nerve to boast half as well as the kind author, Marty Ross, did – who visited and wrote about her garden impressions at Heartwood.We are humbled, delighted, and despite heat, bugs, mistakes, and sacrifices, all the work involved with designing and maintaining a garden feels absolutely worthwhile.



This fall issue of Country Gardens Magazine, 2016, features the 18th annual garden awards and will be on the newsstands for several months. I urge everyone to get a copy. Our garden is not the only beautiful place they have featured. I am amazed we were included among such talented landscape creations. The art and creativity is remarkable. I especially loved the work of a modern day sculptor named Patrick Dougherty from North Carolina, who makes gorgeous structures out of laurel, tree trunks and branches. Heck, my little grapevine arbors look like matchstick toys compared to his awe-inspiring work.  … I’m thinking I should try my hand at something  similar myself now.

The opening page of our article says “Cultivating Good Karma: Positive energy flows through a meditation garden designed to soothe the senses.” which really captures the ambiance we strive to create at Heartwood. Nice to know that what I imagined when I first wanted to create a meditation garden at Heartwood has actually manifested.   Many of us work hard at dreams, but it isn’t often we get to see the recognition for our attempts in such a defined way – kudos handed to you for the world to see right in hard copy print! We truly are honored, and tickled pink.

Since this publication is a garden magazine, a great deal is written about how we designed the garden and what plants are included. Three of my students, all very special individuals that have been important in my own yoga journey, are featured doing yoga in the garden, which makes the article even more special to me for my Heartwood adventure is about not just the place, but the people who share this journey with me. David and I have a picture there too, of course (But all I did when I saw it was complain that I’m getting old. Sigh.)

Since many people may not find the magazine or will see this post after it is no longer available, I thought I’d share the article. But really, you need to have the magazine in your hand to get the full scope of the beauty of this presentation, so pick up a copy and show it to everyone you know.

Thank you Marty Ross and photographer Bob Stefko and brilliant editors at the magazine for this honor!

Here is the shared article (so it is readable) The pictures are above – and my scanning doesn’t do them justice.

Cultivating Good Karma

“Turn off the country road into Heartwood Retreat Center and your focus shifts. The wind whispers in the canopy of majestic live oaks. Sunbeams sparkle on a lacy carpet of ferns. Take a deep breath. Exhale slowly. Relax.

Ginny and David Shaddock converted a 7 acre farm near Bradenton Florida into a yoga center and meditation garden. Strictly speaking, it’s 18 minutes from the bustling busy world of the city. In yoga time, distance isn’t relevant and minutes melt away. You’re in the moment, and the moment is what matters.

When Ginny and David found the place, it had plenty of spirit, and the trees were there, but there was no garden and no yoga studio. The couple had recently married, and this was their first project together, a collaboration both practical and creative. Together they made Heartwood into their home and into a place where Ginny’s yoga students can connect with nature. The chakra meditation garden, a quarter-acre space dedicated to the seven energy centers in the body, adds a powerful dimension to Ginny’s yoga teaching. But more than that, she says, because of the garden, “you feel a sense of peace on this property.” 

According to ancient Eastern philosophy, the energy in our bodies flows among seven chakras, which represent our ability to feel grounded and confident, to be loving and understanding, to focus and communicate, to accept others, and to experience joy and fulfillment. “People who embrace yoga have a predisposition to enjoy deeper understanding of the chakras,” Ginny says, and for them, the symbolism of a chakra meditation garden has great significance. For those not familiar with the chakras or meditation, the garden still resonates. Even novice yogis recognize “what a peaceful experience it is to sit in a beautiful garden,” Ginny says. 

Many hands contributed to the success of the meditation garden. Friends pitched in to work on the design and to strip the site of weeds – in exchange for yoga classes. David, an engineer and Master Gardener with a solid streak of inventiveness, designed the pond and built the bridge. Ginny interpreted the chakra themes in the garden, creating meditation areas and filling them with colors, fragrances, and other cues related o the body’s chakra energy centers.

There are several approaches to the garden, but the entrance from the yoga studio is perhaps the most important. It described a line, Ginny says, starting at the root chakra, symbolizing the earth and associated with the color red, and ending with the crown chakra associated with the top of the head and with the color violet. A garden gate opens into the area dedicated to the heart chakra, linked to love and compassion and represented by the pond in the center of the garden. A gently winding path maintains the flow through the garden. Although one area leads naturally to the next, yoga students do not have to pause at each spot or complete a circuit to be aware of the chakra energy.

After her yoga classes, Ginny encourages yogis to meditate on their own in the garden ad to let themselves feel drawn to the chakra meditation spots that are most meaningful to them at the moment. There is no sense of urgency in the garden, only lush, layered plantings. Buddha statues are tucked amid the flowers. Water flows gently from a large earthenware urn into the pond. Gravel crunches underfoot. The garden stimulates the senses and encourages visitors to listen to the wind and the wind chimes, to breathe deeply and smell the fragrant flowers, to observe the nature all around them and become aware of the richness of the world. 

making the garden has been a deeply satisfying learning process, Ginny says. Now she and David share the wok of taking care of the plants, refreshing the garden decoration, and refining their interpretations of the chakras. “It is a metaphor for our life and what we are here to do – to grow and bloom” she says. Watching other people discover the beauty of the place has been especially gratifying, Ginny says, because it represents both giving and receiving, on many levels. Positive energy flows serenely though their garden, while the busy world churns outside its gates. 

  • End – then there is info on Heartwood on the resources page too.

You can follow Country Gardens on facebook where amazing garden ideas abound!

Now, I have to close. No time for writing. I have weeding to do!!!!!!! Can’t let my reputation slip now!






About Ginny East Shaddock

Ginny is the owner of Heartwood Yoga Institute. She is an ERYT-500 Yoga teacher, C-IAYT Yoga therapist, RCYT & Ayurveda Counselor who loves nature, gardening, and creative arts. She has an MFA in creative writing from Lesley University, and a BA in Business Administration from Eckerd College. She teaches writing and is the creator of the memoir writing program, "Yoga on the Page" combining the teaching of yoga to writing personal stories with integrity, intention, and heart.

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