Creating harmony, simplicity and peace in the landscape......

"Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help.

Gardening is an instrument of grace. "

May Sarton
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Sunday, June 6, 2010

Circular Peace Gardens - Fostering Contemplation Outdoors


Our natural inclination, when in a group, is to gather in a circle. The ineluctable power and unity of this shape  gives each person equal standing, an equal voice and equal support. The result? A unified purpose or intention arising from talking and listening, in turn.


A circle is a pefect shape for expressing ourselves to others. Like theater in the round, no one has a better seat than anyone else. No wonder circular gathering spaces are becoming increasingly popular in group activities and in various spiritual traditions.


The Contemplative Mind is enhanced through circular gatherings

This is why I advocate Circular Peace Gardens wherever people may gather. A circle is a nurturing form that invites us in - there are no hard edges, corners or angles.


So what is the perfect size for a circular 'people space' outdoors?  It is all a matter of proportion, scale, context and intended use.  If you are in a dense urban neighborhood - the size of the circle may be decided for you by what is available....if you are in a wide open flat space, the size would depend on intended use.  Above all, I always counsel people to make it bigger than they think they need!


Always start with determining the personal space required for each person which is about a 4'0" radius around each person...then I add another 1 ft. for move around space. I then use this as the space - 5 ft. - as the rough distance between people. This is my approach and you may use your own.

So if you want 10 people in your circle then multiply 5'0" x 10 to get a circumference (perimeter) of about 50  ft. Once you know that you can go here (click on it) for help to determine that your circle's diameter should be about 16 ft.

The radius would therefore be about 8 feet.  If you wanted 20 people, then double this to get a diameter of 32 ft. or a radius of 16  ft. This is the minimum! You can always go bigger.

Always work from the center point out when laying out the circle...Here is a wonderful diagram from a mathematics in gardening blog:


You can fashion a cicular garden in a lawn, bordering it with rocks, bricks, tree stumps ( like my friend, Maureen, is doing ) or shrubs. You can even mark one out on a lawn with some powdered agricultural lime!


Of course you can get very technical about the whole circle thing....The epitome of circular shapes in a green space are those famous Crop Circles that spring up overnight in the middle of a field. Of course, some think these are made by people with plywood boards in the space of 5 minutes, but I beg to differ :


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