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Ideas For Sanctuary Redesign  RSS feed

 
William James
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Location: Northern Italy
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Hello,
I have a monster in my friend's yard that I'm trying to tame.

It is supposed to be a pond and at one time it probably had a madonna statue (not the singer).

The first idea was Cucumbers. That went pretty well. I through a lot of gravel in the bottom, a lot more potting soil, stuck some plants in and they climbed up and above our expectations. The crop was a little limited by the lack of sun, but we got some cucumbers out of it.

The second idea as Cucumbers (take 2). That didn't go so well. The potting soil was old and all the nutrients probably washed out, even though I was putting biomass on it.

The third and current idea was a pond. I say "was", because I dug out all the gravel and potting soil, filled up the pond with water and it, the water, all went somewhere (where it hopefully didn't cause damage). So abandon pond project. Major cracks in the cement and the thing goes under and back to the wall.

Anyone have any ideas on what to do with this thing? I'd like something that doesn't take much futzing, a set it up and leave it sort of thing.

It faces north west, get some sun in the afternoon, but not much.

thanks,
William
grotta.jpg
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William James
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Posts: 1015
Location: Northern Italy
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Oh, just to let you know, I've already suggested knocking it down and using the stones as heat accumulators. That idea didn't go so well, but it is probably the best. hahah
It's a family heirloom i guess.

-W
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
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Location: North Central Michigan
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use it as a garden..is it in sun or shade?? I can see it with either ornamentals or food crops in it..but can't tell if it gets sun or not.

shade i would consider hostas or ferns in the bottom and maybe some ivies growing up and around the top..to plant the center top part you might want to put in some plants that don't require a lot of soil, like hens and chicks, but they generally need more sun..

strawberries would be very nice hanging over the edge, they have non running everbearing types that might be really nice..

is this near your front door? a solar lantern in the upper part might be a nice outside light that wouldn't need wiring or maintainence.

use your imagination..
 
Leila Rich
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Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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William, what's the irrigation situation? It looks like there'd be no water arriving on its own, if so that makes for a challenging situation!
My aesthetics don't roll that way and I'd be trying to smother under something
 
William James
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Location: Northern Italy
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Thanks all.

Actually, on the water side of things, there's a small porch roof that sends water into the basin.

It's hard to keep the thing from getting soggy. Rain sticks. Right now it has about 2 inches of stagnant water.
You can see my feeble attempt at plastic covering. And I had put rocks below the potting soil to try and keep it dry.

It doesn't get much sun, but like I said. Cucumbers did great the first year. I guess I just have to pay more attention to the quality of second year potting soil.

Would soil/biomass be a bad idea here? I don't really like the idea of digging out soil every year. And it takes about two or three big bags of soil to fill it.

William
 
Scott Jackson
Posts: 37
Location: Córdoba, Argentina
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It's hard to keep the thing from getting soggy. Rain sticks. Right now it has about 2 inches of stagnant water.
You can see my feeble attempt at plastic covering. And I had put rocks below the potting soil to try and keep it dry.


It sounds like bad - or at least ephemeral - design in the first place. If this thing is sitting there all the time absorbing rain, it's going to turn into a pile of dirt and rocks sooner or later.

Do people enjoy this object, spend time contemplating it in a thoughtful way? Or could it be an externalized tumor that has to do with some sort of family issue that no one is discussing?

You said it is a monster and may have had a statue of the Madonna. Is this object condensing fear or reverence for some overbearing maternal figure within this family?

Since this is in the dark, cold and shady side of the house, and has had no real application as garden it may be that there's something else going on.

Your idea of "knocking it down" is probably along the right path, but you used a destructive model of language and so of course the family rejected it. If this "family heirloom" needs dismantling - or taming - as you said, you could trying changing your language to be more therapeutic and reverential. For example you could say that the stones are ill at ease in what is obviously an unpractical and awkward arrangement. You could sat that the stone could better serve the life of the house and the people if they could be transformed into light receiving, practical designs. This is basically suggesting the same idea, but it using positive, healing language. If the object does in fact represent a person, the "knocking down" suggestion would be akin to negating the person and destroying them with brute force. If you change to the language toward the side of "positive transformation", than the person this object represents can be helped out of the cold darkness and into a glorious situation of sun, light and life. The family will feel much more comfortable with the latter.

As your "monster" comment suggests, you're been called upon to de something akin to exorcism. If that's the case, the family is looking to you to help them transform a tangle of memories, emotions and accumulated fears and repressions that this object may contain. Help them dismantle in a positive way it so that they (and you) can focus all this time and energy on the sunny side of the house. Otherwise, this thing looks doomed to dissolve into a pile of mush. If it is merely bad design, without any of this other gobbledy-gook, you're not doing yourself any favors as a designer by trying thousands of tricks to make a bad design work. Be willing to walk away from it if they're not willing to take your honest recommendation as a designer.

Sorry if this is a little much, but honestly, that was my reading of the situation. In case you're wondering, this style of analysis comes from study of Alejandro Jodorowsky's "Psychomagic".

All the best,

Scott
 
Scott Jackson
Posts: 37
Location: Córdoba, Argentina
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ANother way of looking at it is simply "It may have served a purpose in the past, possibly as a site of meditation or worship. But now it is sucking water directly into the foundation of the house, and now it is contributing toward the energy of decay and collapse. It needs to be reconfigured to serve life. No quantity of cucumbers is worth the structural damage that this shrine is probably doing to the house. The person who worshipped here may have passed on, and the shrine too, needs to transform with the force of life, and not decay."
 
William James
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Location: Northern Italy
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Scott Jackson wrote:No quantity of cucumbers is worth the structural damage that this shrine is probably doing to the house.


Hmmm...I never thought about it that way.

Do you really think it's that bad?
Thanks for all your reflective thought. You've hit the nail on the head in many ways, but I don't think I'll be able to change their minds about it. It's kinda like, well, if you can get some use out of it, go ahead, we'll even contribute to the cost. But don't get rid of it. I took that as a systemic constraint.

William
 
Scott Jackson
Posts: 37
Location: Córdoba, Argentina
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Hi William -

I don't know how "bad" or "good" it is. You said that it sucks in water in you don't know where it goes. Judging from the photo, there seems to be dark stains along the wall, and most definitely there would be stagnant humidity behind and below the shrine itself. If it was set up as a pond, and it doesn't have any proper isolation, like plastic barriers, than the water is most likely seeping in the cracks between the ground and the building and walls.

If they are intent on keeping it - which is a valid request - I would make sure that it's not doing damage, and let them know what it would take to retrofit it and weather proof it. Again, please don't be alarmed by my new age-y psychobabble from the first post. The shrine may have all sorts of vibes and overtones that they haven't told you about, including positive remembrances. Because the shape of the shrine is feminine, and the fact that it had a Madonna or other Goddess figure, it was most likely a woman or women's sacred place in the garden. You might simply want to ask nonchalantly about who built it to learn more.

Scott
 
Scott Jackson
Posts: 37
Location: Córdoba, Argentina
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Hi William -

I told my girlfriend - who's Argentine - about this sanctuary project, and she said "Oh yeah, almost every (Catholic) family used to have one of those. It wasn't just women that prayed to the Virgin either. Families prayed there and everybody on different days of the year - like birthdays - had different reasons for praying to the Virgin... It may be that the people who live there now aren't believers or practicing (Catholics) in the same way that their parents/grandparents were, but they could never tear it down because it reminds them of their abuelita (grandma)."

She also went on to say...

"It could be that whatever uncomfortableness that people (especially men) are feeling about it is simply that it's a shrine to the feminine and the feminine form. They might not worship the Virgin, but they could bring themselves into harmony with this form by simply making it a shrine to the Mother Earth or some other symbol of the feminine that appeals to them."

as far as gardening specifics, she suggested

"The water is stagnating because the site isn't receiving direct sun, and sunlight helps with oxygenation. They could try filling it up with sand and perlite and filling it with cacti that can do without much water."

She also suggested as part of the "Mother Earth" shrine, to cover the thing with wall-hugging vines that are also shade tolerant and can "survive on minerals". Not sure what's available in your part of the world, but here in Argentina that would be the "Enamorado del Muro".

Anyway, hope that helps.

Scott & Andrea Verónica
 
William James
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Location: Northern Italy
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Just writing back to give an update on the situation.

Thanks Scott and everyone for the helpful suggestions. In the end I took two spent bales of straw, turned them upside-down and plopped them in the shrine. Then I put some potting soil on top and threw in a bunch of seeds (clover, oats, azuki) then covered it with a light dressing of straw. I then bought some herbs to put inside. I also found some voluntary sunchokes and potatoes and Im slowly integrating those (sunchokes on the side as they tend to go bonkers).

Here's the new pic.
William

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