Herb of the Week for 16th March
A Message from the Garden of Tranquillity
By Lynn Kirkland
Today is the last day of Schizophrenia
Awareness Week and a good time to reflect
on the healing within a garden.
Last week was the first anniversary of
the opening of the Garden of Tranquillity
at the Palmerston North Hospital. It was
blessed and opened at the beginning of
Schizophrenia Awareness Week last year.
This garden has come about because of
a tragedy and one woman’s transformation
of immense sorrow and pain, into love
and inspiration and a vision of a garden
as a sanctuary for those in need.
Barbara Johnson’s son Greg was diagnosed
with Schizophrenia and it was while Greg
was undergoing treatment at the hospital
that Barbara wished there was a place
of peace and healing for the clients to
use instead of a patch of gravel with
weeds struggling through.
Greg struggled with his illness and his
life on this earth ended when he climbed
the three stories to the roof of the hospital
construction site and fell to the ground
During the grieving process Barbara spent
a lot of time in her own garden and three
months after Greg’s passing a clear thought
came to Barbara as she spent healing time
in her winter garden.
A vision of Garden of Tranquillity where
Mental Health service users could find
a place of refuge from the symptoms of
this illness and others could find some
peace and and healing.
Barbara’s vision took six years to come
Now there is a beautiful garden in the
courtyard of the area of the hospital
where those with mental illness are treated.
The Garden of Tranquillity was designed
as a healing garden for mind, body and
There are the elements of water, places
to sit and a beautiful mural and poem
which was written by Greg.
The plants were chosen for their colour,
fragrance, texture or meaning.
There is an olive for peace and thymes
for courage and of course roses for love.
Barbara was delighted to find an addition
to the garden a few weeks ago.
A lovely painted rock with a poem and
an inscription “To Mum” on the back.
Obviously a tribute to someone special
and a lovely sign that the garden is being
The poem reads like this-
I would rather have one little rose
from the garden of a friend,
than to have the choicest flowers, when
my stay on earth must end.
I would rather have one pleasant word
in kindness said to me,
Than flattery when my heart is still and
life has ceased to be.
I would rather have a loving smile from
friends I know are true, than tears shed
round my casket when this world I bid
Bring me all your flowers today whether
pink or white or red.
I’d rather have one blossom now than a
basketful when I am dead.”
Barbara spoke at the Horticultural Therapy
Conference in Australia last year and
has just been keynote speaker at an International
Women’s Conference again in Australia
sharing her story of the garden.
You can hear her story here in our town
as Barbara is guest speaker at the next
Manawatu National Speakers Association
Meeting on April 3rd. If you would like
to hear this inspiring and heartwarming
story first hand please book a seat by
ringing Brenda on