What a treat to walk in a beautiful flower garden. A well-maintained garden is a place to pause and study the varieties, rainbow of colors, shapes and heights of familiar and unusual flora.  

Did you ever see anyone over age 5 running or skipping along the paths? Children find joy and adults enjoy the quiet and peaceful atmosphere usually present.

Even those who have never dug into the earth can appreciate the array of flowers and greenery to please the eye and lift the spirit.

The fragrances add to the pleasant experience. Even a single rose or peony extends its fragrance to a person walking past. In Wisconsin and the northern part of the country, many gardens are at their peak of bloom in summer.

One of my first impressions of Milwaukee many years ago was the well-kept parks and colorful boulevards along Wisconsin Avenue. They were like a welcome smile inviting one to stay and spend time getting to know the city.

In this area, there are the Boerner Botanical Gardens in Hales Corners, the hillside gardens at the Villa Terrace Art Museum, the many public parks all over the county, and the year round treat of special season displays at the Mitchell Park Domes. These also provide great resources for gardeners.

Garden tours in the area abound. Some are fund-raisers for special groups and allow one to visit a spot not generally open to the public.

Gardens can make us more aware of our surroundings. Many people find peace and a greater closeness to God in the quiet of a garden.

Perhaps this is why Pope Francis chose the Vatican Gardens for his meeting last month with President Mahmoud Abbas of Palestine and Israeli President Shimon Peres. The peaceful setting, along with musical interludes, provided a contrast to the discord evident in that part of the world among Hebrews, Muslims and Christians.

Prayers for peace were said in Hebrew, Arabic, English and Italian. An olive tree was planted as a symbol of peace. We can only hope these meaningful gestures will lead to better understanding among leaders and peoples of all nations.
“Peace gardens” have been designated in many areas and states. Did you know North Dakota is designated as the Peace Garden State with an international peace garden on the Canadian border?

Minneapolis, San Diego and Salt Lake City also have dedicated “peace gardens,” as do Eau Claire and Madison. A listing of Wisconsin public gardens is available through the Wisconsin Tourist Information Center and some kiosks at welcome centers on state borders or rest stops may have public or private garden information.

Gardens are a special attraction for me as I travel. My favorite time is spring – in Monet’s Garden at his home in Giverney, France; BrookGreen Gardens in South Carolina; and many varieties of Arizona desert cactus at the Tucson and Phoenix nature parks (hopefully, someday I will see these latter at the height of their bloom). In almost any city, you can find a garden spot to enjoy.

From the beginning of life in the garden story of Adam and Eve in Genesis to the last chapter of Revelation with the angel’s promise of the tree of life, we are shown the true garden path to the life-giving water that nourishes all.

(King, a member of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Parish, North Lake, is married to Thomas. They have seven children, 17 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.)