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  • Jennifer Jewell

Sanctuary: Red Bird Restorative Gardens with P. Annie Kirk Healing Gardens Series #1

Photos Courtesy of Frailty Myths, All rights reserved.

Sanctuary. Healing. These seem to be things the whole world needs.

And things we are looking for, in varying degrees of urgency and from varying kinds of wounds.

This week Cultivating Place kicks off a multi-week series on the transformative power of the garden, plants, and nature to offer us healing and health, in conversation with Annie Kirk of Red Bird Restorative Gardens.

As we look toward the heartfelt month February on the near side of which is the dormant and root growth-focused season of winter and on the far side of which is the temptation and electricity of spring in the not too distant future, Annie reminds us that it is in finding sanctuary in the garden that is us, in healing ourselves first, we can best help heal the many wounds of the world.

She writes "Your space can be your hallelujah backup choir to your restorative lifestyle where notes of peaceful and sacred nourish-ship are sung for you, your senses and the needs of your heart."

Annie joins us from her home and garden/farm in Oregon.

"In order for this landscape that I am interacting with to really be my comrade and my closest friend – it needs to be purposeful, meaningful, and intentional and in order for that to be the case I need to have some responsibility around that.”

P. Annie Kirk, Red Bird Restorative Gardens

In our conversation, Annie shares her purpose and path in helping others and herself empathically and scientifically by developing gardens and landscapes that are reflective of the sanctuary we are simultaneously cultivating within. She describes the personal childhood experiences that helped her to realize how gardens and nature can provide sanctuary for us inside and out, and how this translated into helping herself and others create such spaces for and with others.

A restorative garden designer, coach and bridge for people to their lands after several long-life lessons on where we find our sanctuary – which is as much about nurturing the gardens within as the gardens external to us. She tells us how she took on the name Red Bird restorative gardens, and the foundational lessons of her previous home garden to her work. Her empathic process helps other people listen to and relate to the spaces they are cultivating.

Follow Annie and Red Bird Restorative Gardens on line: and on Instagram at: annieredbird/

Join us again next week when we we continue our multi week series on healing and the garden – and we’re joined by Naomi Sachs, founder and director of the Therapeutic Landscapes network, a knowledge base and gathering space about healing gardens, restorative landscapes, and other green spaces that promote health and well-being. The primary focus of which is evidence-based design in healthcare settings.


- SPRING FEVER Feb 26th & 27th (12:30 pm each day) Northwest Flower & Garden Show Seattle, WA

Mark your calendars - I hope to meet you wherever you cultivate your place in the coming year



Thinking out Loud this week...


I certainly take sanctuary in my garden, and this is true of most gardeners I know. This conversation with Annie is bringing up so many interconnected and human threads for me – how my mother would walk through her garden in her mind while she was undergoing chemotherapy treatments, how I found solace most completely after her death by either being in the garden puttering slowly or laying on the couch and watching the trees move against the sky outside our living room windows; the research we heard reported from Florence Williams in the Nature Fix about how just having images of green outdoor spaces and plants reduced the anxiety and stress of urban high rise workers, of Dean Kuipers in his family memoir The Deer Camp drawing the correlations between inside and outside in terms of our human mental health being directly reflected in the chaos and disease in our natural planetary environment….and Robin Wall Kimmerers’ call to us all to return to a relationship of mutuality and reciprocity and responsibility with the lands in our lives – public or private.

It is the last week of January – the first new moon and the lunar new year are behind us. The novelty of 2020 has settled into more of a familiarity but the growing season – well that is still in front of us – shiny and inviting. Our mental and environmental health is there for all of us to nurture – inside and out.

So thinking out loud here -

I am now back in my own home garden from my first big public events of the year – the first for the Sacramento Perennial Plant Society and the second for the Hardy Plant Society of Oregon – a sold out event at which I had the great honor and joy of meeting 300 of you. What energizing community and common ground. The reception around the new book – the Earth in Her Hands – which I was able to share the first advance copies of! – has left me sort of speechless and humbled. But also clear – very clear – the Earth is in all of our hands – how we hold it, how we cultivate it – is on us.

How we lead the way forward from our best gardening selves can make all the difference in the world.

Thank you to everyone I met in these cities – your welcome was sanctuary of its own kind.

Next up – The Northwest Flower and Garden Show in Seattle and then back in home territory at Mrs. Dalloway’s Books in Berkeley on Feb 28th and at home in Chico for a local launch party with North State Public Radio March 1st before heading to the Northeast.

Together we grow.

Hoping to share and cultivate place with many of you!


- SPRING FEVER Feb 26th & 27th (12:30 pm each day) Northwest Flower & Garden Show Seattle, WA

Mark your calendars - I hope to meet you wherever you cultivate your place in the coming year




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