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“Going for a drive” is a simple and relatively inexpensive way to enjoy summer while also taking in the sights, sounds, and attractions that the Up North/Lakes Area has to offer.
And anyone who’s lived here for more than one season knows that gardening is a BIG DEAL in this community. Rightfully so since dirt therapy is a healthy, fun and nurturing way to pass the time.
But gardens can be more than food-producing and hobby-inducing.
Throughout history, gardens have been used to aid in the healing process, and that’s been the case for centuries. Some of the first healing gardens were the Japanese Zen Garden and the Monastic Cloister gardens.
So, what determines whether or not a garden is a “healing garden?”
Personally, we think joy and beauty can be found in unintentional garden masterpieces, but official healing gardens really do have features, designs, and benefits that impact visitors in a way that encourages healing.
Instead of launching into the “how-tos” of creating an official healing garden (you can Google that if you are interested…or there are some book suggestions below), we’d rather share ones that are created and ready for your enjoyment.
Lucky for us, residents of this area are blessed with several healing gardens; most within a 30-mile radius of the Brainerd/Baxter area.
So grab your GPS, sunglasses and a beverage or two and enjoy the Up North Parent Healing Gardens Tour!
The Up North Parent Healing Gardens Tour
Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Medical Center Peace Garden in Brainerd:
The Peace Garden at Essentia honors the one-hundred years that the Benedictine Sisters have served at St. Joseph’s Medical Center.
The Essentia Health Peace Garden is symbolic; the Benedictine Cross, The Dove, and the Olive Branch all have special meaning (see plaque above).
The grounds are serene, breathtaking and just across the street from the entrance of Essentia Health of Brainerd. This sanctuary is used by Essentia patients and staff alike and is a living testimony to the healing benefits of nature.
The Memory Garden is the last of the planned gardens before Arb visitors head down the 12 miles of beautiful trails.
Northland Arboretum is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to getting the community involved in and aware of nature.
The Memory Garden is the result of many hours of diligent work and passion from the Crow Wing County Master Gardeners. Get directions to the Arb HERE.
Sweetwater Resort is a family owned resort that has served the Lakes Area and beyond for many, many years. This delightful resort is bursting with vacation fun amenities, but it’s also home to The Sweetwater Gardens.
The Gardens are not only a respite for guests while they stay, but they also provide a day of fun for visitors who like to play in the dirt.
Included in their healing gardens is Tre’s Garden, Lakeview Rock Garden, The Heart Garden and several other serene spots dedicated to Friends and Loved Ones.
Get the scoop on Sweetwater HERE.
The whole property of Clearwater Forest Retreat Center on Crooked Lake Road in Deerwood invites peace and tranquility, but we are especially giddy about their labyrinth!
This 8-circuit medieval style labyrinth is made with rocks gathered locally from the forest and lake.
Open year-around, its best to check with staff before making a visit since the camp hosts many youth groups and adult retreats throughout the year. If you’re not sure why labyrinths are a big deal, check out this website for the scoop!
The Living Legacy Healing Gardens are located two miles north of Staples near the Central Lakes College campus.
The first garden was planted in 2000 and it’s been going strong ever since. The fortunate folks who visit this tranquil place throughout the year will be rewarded with a wide variety of horticultural experiences.
Things are already popping and blooming in June/July, but August is typically the best month to visit since lilies, phlox, coneflowers, and asters are exploding into oranges, yellows, purples, and pinks at that time.
The garden is open to visitors at all times and there are even lights for visiting in the evening hours or at dusk.
Other Amazing Healing Gardens in Minnesota:
Eloise Butler Garden and Bird Sanctuary
Mother Nature does a good job of creating beauty and wonder on her own too.
Keep your eyes peeled in May for woodland flowers and spring ephemeral, Late May to early June for Showy Lady slippers, June to July for bog flowers (cowslips!), July to September for prairie flowers (Indian Paintbrushes).
Learn more about what’s-blooming-and-where on the Minnesota Wildflowers website.