United States of America, Connecticut, Middlesex County, Middletown
Spiral of Life Gardens (Middletown, Connecticut)
The Spiral of Life Gardens is transformative in many senses. What was once an ordinary one-acre suburban lot with lawn, shrubs and a dogwood tree now has about 120 native plants in free-form garden beds and habitats, and learning stations for the classes that visit. The owner and designer of the garden drew on concerns about the environment and her own spiritual convictions when she began the transformation by creating a sacred universe garden in a spiral directly behind the house that has a honeysuckle bush and birdbath at its center and native purple flowers including coneflower, false indigo and bee balm along with inspirational messages posted beside the pathway. Irregularly-shaped beds throughout the property are connected by grass paths and each is named for a particular function or concept, such as invitation, Zen, butterfly, peace, rain, and memorial. The plot is bordered on one side by land trust woodlands that, along with the garden's planted habitat edges, provide food and cover for wildlife. According to Vivian Felton, a conservationist with the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service and local contact for its Ecological Landscaping Network, the garden reflects three themes: environmental awareness, diversity of plantings for wildlife conservation, and spiritual experience.
In 2006 the Spiral of Life garden was approved as an educational site for the New England Wildflower Society which holds programs each June on the property. Also starting in 2006 Connecticut wildlife biologist Peter Picone has been convening educational programs in the Spiral of Life garden. The Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District cited the owner with a special merit award on October 18, 2008. Water conservation is achieved by the use of rain barrels to collect roof runoff and the use of permeable surfaces for the driveway and walkways. The garden has been open for visitors and students interested in its spiritual and ecological qualities.
The Peace Garden features a large sphere painted to resemble the earth as it is seen from space, which was sculpted by Kim Kuzina. The sphere is surrounded by rock compositions based on the Inuit peoples' inukshuks, which are used as navigational aids to good fishing holes.
Persons associated with the garden include Hazel G. and William C. White (former owners of property, prior to 1958); John L. Skinner (former owner, circa 1958-1965); Kim Kuzina (sculptor of "Peace" sphere, 2003); Vivian Felten (USDA Natural Resource Conservationist, 2003); Greg Lowenberg (New England Wildflower Society Educator, 2006); Peter Picone (Connecticut wildlife biologist, 2006-2009).
The folder includes worksheets, photocopies of articles, and write-ups of the property's history.
This property is featured in Sacred Journey, Healing Ourselves and Our Planet by Eleanore Milardo, published by Running Water Press in 2008, and has been covered in various newspaper articles