Education/Sensory Garden for North Georgia

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Griffith, Jackie
Master of Leadership Development
Cedar Hill Enrichment Center, a center for spirituality, ecology and Earth education, is located in Forsyth County, northern Georgia. The area is known as the Piedmont and the center is nestled at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Beginning as a spiritual refuge for women, the center was founded by two Dominican sisters of Adrian, Michigan. Cedar Hill has expanded its vision to “provide an environment of healing and growth for those seeking to nurture their relationships with the Sacred” (Awakenings, Vision Statement 2004). The 18 acres of land include woodlands with a guided nature trail; hermitages and meditative spaces; organic gardens; a labyrinth; two goats with their pasture; a renovated barn for programs, workshops and rituals; healthy vegetarian fare; a trailer for overnight guests; the main farmhouse for offices, guests quarters and library and the newest project, the education/sensory garden for demonstration purposes and reflection/meditation. The education/sensory garden began as an Earth education component in 2003. Staff sketched a basic plan. The garden was to be an alternative to a front lawn with drought tolerant native plants and shrubs as well as herbs for healing and sensory stimulation and fruits and vegetables for nourishment. Cedar Hill would also partner with the Commonweal Cancer Help Program of Commonweal, Inc. whose purpose is to “help people seeking physical, emotional and spiritual healing in the face of cancer” ( The education/sensory garden will be a work in progress. The plan calls for native plants, shrubs and trees, some of which have been and will be retrieved on plant rescues in the area, a native wildflower meadow for local pollinators, a dry creek bed, an herb section, a bog area and a section for fruits-blackberries, blueberries, cantaloupes and figs and vegetables-squash, tomatoes and beans. The project includes the study of some of Georgia’s native plants and its invasive species, the purpose of alternatives to traditional lawns and some of the challenges put forth by local ordinances and home owners associations as well as hands on developing of the garden area. According to the literature, gardens like these can take seven to eight years to get them where you want them.