A garden for Isabelle

Updated: Jan 20, 2019

Working in the health and fitness business brings its own assortment of challenges, rewards and responsibilities. The term “personal trainer” is used to designated one-on-one sessions between a trainer and their client. But, “personal” does not stop there – long-term relationships are often forged, and those bonds can become special. 

In this particular situation, I became very close to my client, Isabelle Scott with whom I worked one on one as a Personal Trainer and Yoga Teacher. Isabelle was a private person and I respected this and that made it difficult to write this article – as trainers and teachers, we are taught not to reveal information about our clients. But, in this case, Isabelle’s story was told in the Washington Post: (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/01/AR2011010102500.html) and with it in the public ether, you can learn directly about her there. 

I believe our relationship was mutually beneficial for our personal growth. I helped her get grounded and stronger physically and she helped me grow spiritually. We both shared a deep love for our only sons and family. We enjoyed talking long walks in nature and talking about gardening. I taught her about the medicine wheel and she taught me about believing in myself. Isabelle always said your happiness is the most important thing in the world. Happy people make others happy. So, taking good care of oneself is not selfish but the best gift you can give others. Isabelle inspired me to live before I die.


I designed this garden for Isabelle. I dedicate the design to her as it holds all the joy, hope, grace, love, peace and happiness she shared with me. Use all of it or parts of it in your own garden – whether it be a small flower box in your window, or a larger ground space. May it inspire you to cultivate the spiritual in nature, whatever that is to you. 

The inspiration for this garden comes from the Native American Medicine Wheel or Mandala. The word Mandala is from the ancient language of India, Sanskirt, meaning “sacred circle.” The circle represents the horizon line and is divided into the four cardinal directions: NorthEastSouth and West. It is then sub-divided into four more directions: North/EastSouth/EastSouth/WestNorth/West. The center of the wheel represents the self and one’s connection to the sacred circle or cycle of life. 

Circles are found in nature, as in the rings in a still lake when you drop a pebble into it, rings in the trunk of a tree that tell its age, the movement of a hurricane or whirlpool, the shape of the Sun, moon and planets and cycles of time and seasons. 

Represented in the garden will be the four realms of life – Stone, Plant, Animal and Human.

  • The teaching of Stone is to become still like the mountain, hold your ground and be strong.

  • The teaching of Plant and Human are the need to breathe, eat, drink and grow in order to be healthy and to continually transform by going through the cycles of life – birth, death and rebirth.

  • The teaching of Animal is the ability to be authentic, patient, observant and to keep our distance when needed.

Each spoke in the garden is represented by round, flat stones, beginning at each cardinal direction on the perimeter of the garden to the center, seven stones representing the 7 chakras. These stones will be good for walking on. The other four directional spokes, also seven stones in all, are represented by large round river rocks.