Deb Babcock: An indoor tranquility garden

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Deb Babcock

Deb Babcock's gardening column appears Thursdays in Steamboat Today.

Find more gardening columns here.

The Roman emperor and philosopher Marcus Aurelius said, "When you are disturbed by events and lose your serenity, quickly return to yourself and don't stay upset longer than the experience lasts; for you'll have more mastery over your inner harmony by continually returning to it." His words, spoken close to 167 A.D., still hold true, don't you think? After a busy day at work, outdoor recreating or generally being part of a crowd, it's refreshing to step inside your home for peace, tranquility and calm.

An indoor garden can be one way to help you return to your inner harmony. Something as simple as a tabletop pool of water or as elaborate as a room filled with greenery can have a soothing effect on a racing or ruffled mind.

To build an indoor tranquility garden, consider the space you have available for potted plants or water features. Then note what kind of light, temperature and humidity is present there during the day and night. That will help you choose which plants will thrive there and which ones to avoid.

For a calming ambiance, choose plants in varying shades of muted green with soft, rounded leaves or lacy foliage. The containers should be of neutral, complementary colors also.

If you have a small space, consider a simple container filled with three to four types of plants or a dish of water with a floating rose, camellia or a small fountain with a lucky bamboo plant anchored by marbles or small stones.

For medium-sized spaces, a few small containers filled with grasses or mosses can create a serene oasis. You also could consider creating a mini-bog filled with such water-loving plants as duckweed, water hyacinth and water lilies. Placing a small orchid or African violet (Saintpaulia) will give some subtle color to your garden arrangement.

For larger spaces, group varying sizes of pots with plants of different heights and foliage shapes and textures in a pleasing arrangement.

A space with bright, indirect light can sustain such plants as Dieffenbachia, Maidenhair fern, Blue fescue and Scotch or Irish Moss. Please note that Dieffenbachia is a poisonous plant and should be kept away from children or pets who may attempt to eat the leaves. If your indoor garden space is poorly lit or a little drafty, consider plants such as Boston fern, Fiddle-leaf fig or the beautiful Maranta leuconeura prayer plant. For those lucky enough to have a warm and humid space for houseplants, a few beautiful additions to a tranquility garden would be the Bleeding-heart vine (Clerodendrum thomsoniae), Ananas comosus "Variegatus" pinapple plant or a pretty Cape primrose (Streptocarpus).

I think we all can benefit from frequent returns to our inner harmony, and if a little indoor greenery will help us do that, both we and the world will be a more pleasant place.

Deb Babcock is a Master Gardener through the Colorado State University Cooperative Extension office in Routt County. Questions? Call 879-0825 or: gardeners@co.routt.co.us

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