Creating Sanctuary – Book Review

Over the years I have heard from many gardeners that their garden is their sanctuary – the place they go to get away from the slings and arrows of ill fortune. Their garden is the place they go to recuperate, relax, and refresh themselves. Now there are a pair of books to help newbie gardeners create a sanctuary garden space for themselves – Creating Sanctuary and Everyday Sanctuary Workbook, both by Jessi Bloom, published by Timber Press. 

Are These Books Necessary? 

I belong to a cadre of folks that have been exchanging gardening ideas and tips for most of our lives. At first I was surprised to even consider that anyone would need a book to know how to create a garden sanctuary. Then I thought again – and realized that there is a very real knowledge gap between the generations.


I grew up living far out in the country. And I was in love with nature and gardens as far back as my memories go. I avidly sought every scrap of gardening and nature knowledge from the elders around me. Grandma Soule, Grandpa Henry, neighbor Moses Cerasoli, Farmer Griggs down the road, Friend Wilmer Brant, and the list goes on. Now days most kids grow up and live in an urban environment – so yes, these books are needed. 


Creating Sanctuary

In Creating Sanctuary Author Jessi Bloom focuses on the triptych of using your garden as a sanctuary. The first section is about creating the sanctuary space itself and filling it with things meaningful to you that will bolster your sense of peace and joy. In the second section she discusses plant based healing – she calls it Botanical Alchemy. The third section delves into nurturing yourself, and forming daily practices to achieve happiness and well-being. 


Everyday Sanctuary Workbook

If you need someone to help you stay on task, then this workbook, Everyday Sanctuary, would be a helpful addition to your library, or garden bucket perhaps. The workbook offers ample space for you to enter your progress. I appreciate that the lines for your entries are spaced nicely wide for those of us that do write large. The whole idea is for this to be a relaxing exercise, not an effort in cramped penmanship.

The workbook guides you and gives you space to track your progress.

Creating Sanctuary Content

For my Southwestern readers, the first and third sections can be very useful. Jessi discusses how to go about looking at your yard with new eyes. She advocates removing items that cause you stress and replacing them with things that bring you peace. I would jump in here with the reminder that the Seven Principles of Xeriscape (Low-Water Gardening) say that if you want lawn – have some. Just make lawn of a size and in a place where it will be used. Same goes for water features. Water in the garden, especially in the Southwest, goes a long way toward creating a sanctuary.


The second section? Most of the fifty herbs in the second section will not grow in our climate so you can skip it. (Yes, you could purchase dried herbs in specialty shops online.) If you want fifty herbs to grow in our climate, I recommend Father Kino’s Herbs: Growing and Using Them Today.

Final Answer


Jessi Bloom writes well and offers many well thought out tips for creating your own sanctuary in the two books. I can only give the combo four stars because the middle section of the primary book is of limited usefulness to my readers in the Southwest.


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More about turning your landscape into your own garden sanctuary in the Southwest in this book: Month by Month Gardening for Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico (Cool Springs Press).  This link is to Amazon and if you buy the book there the Horticulture Therapy non-profit Tierra del Sol Institute will get a few pennies – at no extra cost to you.

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