In honor of the birth of the modern environmental movement which started 45 years ago this month, we created our version of a fresh flower mandala for Earth Day 2015. The word “mandala” is Sanskrit loosely translated as “circle” and the geometric design is intended to represent the universe. Our flower mandala was created using a mix of spring blooming shrubs and flowers taken from our gardens.
The colorful collection was arranged inside an upcycled vintage tire planter that was painted blue. It seemed befitting to use the tire, since recycling has become one of the most important concepts to have gained popularity as a result of this environmental movement which has positively affected our environment.
The center point for our mandala was created using a copper face of the “Green Man” which has a history of symbolism throughout many cultures. A human male face is usually depicted protruding from a leaf shape or with leaves surrounding it, which represents the unity of humans with nature. This vegetation deity is also interpreted as a symbol of rebirth and new growth. The Green Man was chosen as a center point for this project to recollect the original reason Earth Day was founded; to bring public awareness to the problem of air and water pollution and its detrimental effect on our environment. It led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of Clean Air, Water and Endangered Species Acts.
Though our example is not made to the exact mandala geometry, here’s how it was created:
1) The copper “Green Man” was centered on top of organic soil in the planter.
2) Short tip branches (8-10”) were clipped from blooming forsythia (Forsythia spp.) shrubs and arranged in a ray pattern with the stem end pushed under the copper face. The tips ends laid on the inside edges of the tire. The predominant color yellow (sunlight) signifies hope.
3) Star magnolia blossoms (Magnolia stellata) were placed in a circle close to the face. The magnolia flower is symbolic of love for nature.
4) The next concentric circle was made with hellebore flowers (Helleborus x ballardiae ‘HGC Pink Frost’). These five petaled flowers signify the five human senses that connect us with nature. The gift of sight, sound, touch, taste and smell allows us to fully engage in this worldly experience.
6) Short tip cuttings of blooming willow (Salix spp.) branches with fuzzy catkins that early pollinators adore were added in the next circle. Willow symbolizes learning from the past. It’s so appropriate for bringing awareness to the bee decline which is attributed to several reasons including the use of pesticides.
7) Finally the outermost circle was made by alternating hydrangea and magnolia blooms. The blue(-ish) colored hydrangea panicles represent clean water. Hydrangea comes from the Greek word “hydor,” meaning water, and “angos,” meaning jar or vessel.
The symbolism created by our fresh flower mandala expresses Crabtree Gardens’ belief and hope that environmental awareness and care for the natural resources provided by our beautiful planet will help us to achieve a symbiotic relationship with nature allowing a greener world for future generations.
HAPPY EARTH DAY 2015!
Now that you see how easy it is, you can create your own fresh flower mandala using what you have available in your own garden. What will you put in your mandala?