Serenity Garden


As a child I was a nervous little worry-wart. My goal has always been to be calm, serene and peaceful. This has been a transformational experience that I have worked on all my life. That’s why I wrote From Here to Serenity, A Spiritual Guide to transform Your Life.        

When I first moved into our home in Carlsbad 10 years ago, there were trees, shrubs and hedges. It was neat and boring. My new husband Bill had been living in his home for years and wasn’t all that interested in gardening. In fact, he wasn’t interested in gardening period. However, he did love the trees and shrubs he had painstakingly planted. We had some negotiating to do.        

My goal was to make our home and garden comfortable, peaceful and serene. When I moved into our home I bought 4 rose bushes and 2 Australian Tree Ferns. I was still working full-time in Long Beach and so the progress was slow but it was sure.        

Beginning My Meditation Garden

I envisioned a meditation area in our backyard and the perfect site was obvious to me. There already was a beautiful tropical tree and some leather ferns on the shady side of the back garden. However, the ferns looked a little burned. I began to cut back the bad parts. I love camellias, so I bought several of those and one pale pink one went into the meditation area. It was beginning to take shape.        

I placed a Buddha on the path leading to what was to be a peaceful setting and put an arch over him with a flowering purple trumpet vine climbing it and added some other plants to further spotlight our Buddha. We (Bill and I) found the Buddha on our first of many trips to Baja together.        

Gail Manishor        

The Path 

My next move was to put down slate stones for a small patio and walkway to guide anyone who loved peace to my Meditation Garden. I found an interesting wrought iron love-seat at Anderson’s Nursery for that area. It’s an unusual shape and size and so far I haven’t found the perfect cushion for it and will have one made.        

On Seaside’s Center for Spiritual Living’s annual trip to Baja, Bill and I looked for and found a small fountain with a cherub which we placed under the tree. Later in an Encinitas shopping area called The Lumberyard, I found a few treasures: a beautiful piece of rose quartz, a clear crystal rock and a chunk of amethyst and placed them on the baby tears moss under the tree.        

For some reason which I couldn’t understand, I never did use the meditation garden for meditating. I had some work to do. Still, I thought it was beautiful and always took friends to see it when they came to visit.        

The Secret Garden

During one of my many visits to Anderson’s La Costa Nursery in Carlsbad. I was inspired to create a Secret Garden. Andersons has a fascinating Secret Garden. The perfect place for mine was on the opposite side of the house from the Meditation area.        

The sunny very warm spot challenged me to find plants that could take the heat and be beautiful too.  I planted a graceful princess plant and trained it into a tree. Princess plants have delicate deep purple flowers. I added a sun fuchsia to attract humming birds and butterflies.  To help make it look “secret” I found an archway with a gate at Home Depot and planted a pink jasmine vine to drape it. I love the fragrance that comes from pink jasmine. However, I’ve had quite a time keeping up with the weeds. The minute I turn my back, foot high weeds appear almost overnight.        

I decided this is definitely a “work in progress.”        

The Embankment

The most formidable project yet:  The dreaded embankment. This is so steep that no one can climb it without slipping and sliding down. My gardener Hong often refuses to climb it at all.          

I was becoming very frustrated.          

Then I injured my lower back and wasn’t able to take care of my garden the way I always had before. The embankment was my biggest challenge. I love gardening and being outside among the plants so I began to get discouraged. I love getting my hands in the dirt. I considered the idea of hiring someone to pull weeds and clean it up a bit. I can’t speak Spanish and was having trouble communicating with the occasional person who came to work in our yard. They didn’t want to work on the embankment either and who could blame them?          

I asked myself, “What am I going to do?”          

There is always an answer and as my mother used to say,          

“Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”  or:  


“There’s a Rainbow out there somewhere.”


Gail Manishor,
The Frustrated Gardener       

Gail’s Peace Garden

The Desert

The one way to peace is this:
No matter what the problem may be, “think about God first.”
Emmet Fox, The Golden Key       

In From Here to Serenity, A Spiritual Guide to Transform Your Life I wrote that I have searched for peace and calm since I was a child. I didn’t know or understand at that young age exactly what it was or how to get it. I just knew I needed something. I had a deep faith and there was something within me that told me that there was a Power that lived within me. I have always felt that Presence of God in my life. I’ve always loved being outside.       

I find a great peace and joy when I spend time outdoors in my garden. Life flows from the earth into my hands. That’s why I rarely wear gloves when I work in the garden. I am very connected to the earth. This may be due to the fact that I have some Native American roots on both sides of my family. I am not saying I am never frustrated or discouraged. It just means that when difficult situations arise I’ve learned how to deal with them.       

I had back surgery and finally I began to feel better and then I got a brilliant idea. Because of the draught situation in our area it was strongly suggested that everyone cut back on their watering. I decided to put in several interesting draught tolerant specimen plants and some California poppies. I could already see it. It would be a showplace.       

The perfect place was in the front of the house. There was a strip of lawn on one side of the driveway, 5 feet wide by 25 feet long. “This shouldn’t be too much of a problem,” I thought. “I’ll just have Hong (our gardener) and his men dig it up for me. I asked him to dig down a foot or so to get all the grass roots out. I thought to myself, “This is going to be fun!”       

Now Hong has a mind of his own and it’s not going to be changed by a woman! He said he would dig down 3 inches and that was all it would need. Now Hong is a very nice, very educated man. However, he would not budge on his decision. I did get him to dig a few holes for me to plant some draught tolerant plants which I had carefully chosen. Then I tried digging a few holes for smaller plants. I could not dig more than an inch deep in that dirt. It was completely filled with tight roots.       

I watched the woman across the street dig out the flowerbeds and carry ten huge bags of mulch and work that into the ground. It seems Carlsbad has the best weather in the world, but it also has the worst soil. If she can do that, why can’t I? Age is no excuse. But there was no way.       

Some of the large and expensive plants began to look a little sick. Soon they began to look a LOT sick. I lost them one by one.  But I wouldn’t give up. No-I went and bought more plants. I paid Hong to dig holes for these new plants and I planted them. Every day I went out to look at my desert. It was beginning to look pretty good.       

One morning I went out to look at my desert and two of my favorite plants-the ones with beautiful little purple flowers on them-were gone! I looked around frantically to see what could have happened. The realization finally hit me. The rabbits had eaten them. My beautiful plants were dead! Rabbits are so cute and I want no harm to come to them, but I was devastated by the death of my carefully chosen plants. They were like children to me.       

Completely Discouraged, I went in the house and closed the door.  But then it happened . . .       

Then it Happened!

“Every problem has a gift for you in its hands.”
Richard Bachman       

In From Here to Serenity, A Spiritual Guide to Transform Your Life, I wrote about the blessings that come into our lives in so many ways that we take them for granted, and so don’t acknowledge that they are blessings. It is important that we recognize and are grateful for any and all blessings. It is important because it raises our level of consciousness to a higher degree. It is imperative to our feeling of well- being. We are happier because of them. Blessings come in many forms. Sometimes they may come as people  just passing through in our lives. Or these people may be angels in disguise. Here is my story.       

My garden needed attention badly and I was beginning to fall way behind. There were weeds everywhere, and my Secret Garden looked as if it should be kept a secret. “What am I going to do?” I asked myself.       

And then it happened.  A couple of times a year we have a friend who comes to wash our windows. One day he brought a woman with him to help him out. I heard her chatting  as they worked. She had a Southern drawl and a happy attitude. But she talked a lot. I stepped out in the backyard to see how things were going. She said, “I do weeding too.”       

“You do?” I asked. “Can you come tomorrow?” She could and she did.       

This chance meeting has turned into a true blessing in my life. Not only has a wonderful friendship developed but a “Garden Angel” has come into my life. She began by cleaning up one area of the garden after another, making suggestions along the way. She is also an accomplished photographer and has made some wonderful slide shows of my garden in progress which I will include. My garden is becoming the “showplace” of the neighborhood. It is now our Peace Garden.       

I soon found my “Garden Angel” had a mind of her own. She began placing uniquely shaped stones in our garden. “Do you mind if I cut this branch off?” She’d ask. “See, it lets the light shine through if I hold it back like this. I’m just saying…”        

One day my “Garden Angel” brought me a beautiful crystal for my office. “This will cast a star across you while you write” She said.       

This is the way everyone’s life can work when we listen for “the still small voice (of God).” It is when we pay attention to the Divine spark within that we change and grow.  Because of the prayer, study and meditation that is my spiritual practice, my life has started working for me. Things often fall seamlessly into place in wonderful and apparently magical ways. Of course, there is no magic about it! This is the way everyone’s life is meant to work. When we go within and listen, we hear the music of the Divine symphony.       

Share your blessings in the “Comments” section below.       

To see the garden when my “Garden Angel” was just getting started and how she dealt with the steep embankment, click on the link below: (Please be patient, it’s worth the wait).
Gails Garden 8-22-09       

Gail Manishor, RScP
Author of
From Here to Serenity
A Spiritual Guide to Transform Your Life       


                   My Desert & the Angel

God exists in and through Its creation.
There is no place where God stops and does not exist. We are all connected, all One in God.
Gail Manishor, From Here to Serenity, A Spiritual Guide to Transform Your Life       


When I pointed out my desert to My Garden Angel she sprang into action. Her halo tilted a little to one side as she noticed the barren, weed covered yard of our next door neighbor. She quickly recovered, straightened it, and began to dig up the ground and pour bags and bags of cactus soil in, mixing it with our awful clay soil.                   

The next time she came over she had a box of what she called our “friendship garden.” Just like Mary Poppins (who she claimed to be) she began pulling things out of her box. She had tons of interesting succulents and began placing them in the area and moving them around until we were both satisfied. “I think we need a couple of large boulders, don’t you?” I asked.              


Our Desert



My Garden Angel, alias Mary Poppins, quickly agreed and the next time she came she began rolling very large and heavy rocks one at a time out of her tiny sports car. As we worked on our desert people began stopping and commenting on its beauty. Originally I had found many succulents with purple in them, but the color soon expanded. Being a Feng Shui Consultant in my spare time I wouldn’t allow any pointy cactus in my yard which frustrated Mary Poppins a little.                   



Rainbow Succulent      


 I bought a large yellow Kangaroo Paw and a small red one in that variety as a point of interest. However, the rabbits came back in force and ate them way down. “Oh No you don’t.” said Mary Poppins and we found a rabbit repellent that works. But you have to replace it every 2 weeks. We spent untold hours working and playing in our desert. One day a couple came walking by and the woman said, “This is really beautiful. We could do this easily.” Out of their eyesight, we looked at each other and giggled. “Easy? Huh!” Mary Poppins whispered.                  

 Gail Manishor, Author of
From Here to Serenity, A Spiritual Guide to Transform Your Life                  

 http:/      Buy the book link:   

Gain Strength & Determination

 Are strength and determination innate in each of us? In From Here to Serenity, A Spiritual Guide to Transform Your Life, I discuss strength and determination. In Chapter 3, Will My Child Live? I wrote, “I learned I had the strength to do what was necessary to take care of our daughter by taking one step at a time. I surprised myself with the inner-strength that I had.”       When Bill and I married and I moved into our home, I brought a very large staghorn fern with me. The staghorn fern’s foliage consists of several fronds which resemble stag antlers. In nature it grows on a tree, sending its roots into the bark. Bill and I decided to mount the fern on the tree outside our garden window where we could see it often.            

 However, a “morning dove” decided this would be a perfect place for her nest. I was concerned we wouldn’t be able to water the fern with the dove nesting there and tried to discourage her. But she was determined to protect her nest at all costs and refused to go somewhere else to build her nest. No matter what happened she continued to sit on her nest.            

 Most parents have a deep sense of determination and strength when it comes to seeing to the welfare of their children.            

 Just as the morning dove was determined to stay with her soon to be born babies, so I sat with my child through her illness no matter what happened. She was in the hospital for three long months going from one crises to the next. One disaster followed the last. She didn’t want me to leave her even for a moment so I stayed by her bedside for 12 hours a day.  It’s what a mother does.            

Dove Dove Nesting in Staghorn Fern


Air Plants & The Law of Cause & Effect

“We can walk in love, beauty and ease or we can walk
in sadness, bitterness, misery and struggle.
It’s our choice.”
Gail Manishor, From Here to Serenity, A Spiritual Guide to Transform Your Life          


I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “Be careful what you pray for.” I will add to that by saying, “Be careful what you think and say, and be careful of the actions you take.” Everything we say and do has an effect. It is called the Law of Cause and Effect. For every action there is a reaction.          

One Monday when my Garden Angel had come to work I took her across the street to my neighbor’s beautiful garden. I knew she would enjoy seeing my neighbor’s well-kept garden and the view of the ocean from her backyard.          

My neighbor has an area on her patio set aside for air plants. She has many different varieties of air plants – all artistically displayed. My Garden Angel got so excited that her halo was positively vibrating. Nothing would do except that we go and check out the air plants at various nurseries in the are. My neighbor had already given me a few of her air plants for my yard. The first air plant she gave me was Spanish Moss which did very well. I don’t know the names of most of these type of plants yet. Air plants  live in trees in Mexico and South America. Many have interesting and colorful flowers.  Contrary to what the name implies, air plants don’t live on air alone. They do need some water.          

We (my Angel and I) went from nursery to nursery checking out air plants and sometimes buying a few. We bought an interestingly shaped grape wood branch at Home Depot and made an artful arrangement of air plants on the branch. My Angel carefully placed each plant on a branch of the large tropical tree in the meditation area until we were both satisfied. If a plant doesn’t do well. where we first try it, we move it until it does. However, there is one that doesn’t seem to like wherever we put it. I don’t think it’s going to make it and that’s sad.          

OK! You may say, “What does all this have to do with The Law of Cause & Effect?”          

It has everything to do with it. You can go back to before I even met my Garden Angel, or you can go back to my decision to take her across the street to see my neighbor’s garden. Everything in life is related. Can you see that?          

I invite you to write what you’ve learned about the Law of Cause & Effect in the Comment Box below.          

 Our First Air Plants Sometime in Nov 200o


Beautiful and Hardy


Our Newest Prize 5-25-10


Gail Manishor, Author of
From Here to Serenity, A Spiritual Guide to Transform Your Life            

Buy my Book:            


Thoughts Are Things 

Humming Birds

“Ernest Holmes wrote, “Thoughts are things.” He told us to guard our thoughts
as we would a garden and pluck out the weeds of sadness, anger and guilt and replace them with good seeds. Our thoughts are powerful. ”
Gail Manishor, From Here to Serenity,
A Spiritual Guide to Transform Your Life

My Garden Angel and I have a lot in common. The love of nature and wildlife is one of  many. One of our favorite pastimes is checking out interesting and different plant nurseries.      

As I previously mentioned, my Garden Angel is a talented photographer. Here is a link to some photograph slides she took of the humming birds that visit her. If you like humming birds, you’ll love these slides. Click Little Friends link below.    

I invite you to share your humming bird experiences with us in the Comments Section.    

Little Friends 
Photo Credit DeLynn Hood   


Gail’s Garden Angel

Shadow Birds

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”
Anais Nin     

I said my Garden Angel was a good photographer. Take a look at these and click away.     

Shadow Bird 
Photo Credit DeLynn Hood   


Challenges on our Desert Path

          “Allow the challenge to be a pathway to greater understanding. Use your experiences in life as a gateway to God. Allow these challenges to awaken something inside of you, to find the blessing in it all.”
Gail Manishor, From Here to Serenity, A Spiritual Guide to Transform Your Life   
Just when we thought we had our desert absolutely perfect, something happened to upset our (my Garden Angel and my) plan. That’s the way life is. Life keeps happening. In life there are always challenges.              

The first thing we noticed is that the 2 hibiscus plants that separated our yard from the neighbors and was the background for our desert began to look dry and seemed to be dying.  My Angel and I became aware that our neighbor had stopped watering  his lawn which was soon full of weeds. My Angel was horrified and I wasn’t thrilled either. Neighbors began to comment about our neighbor’s yard.             

 A whole series of discussions between my Garden Angel and I began: “How can we mask the weed filled yard from ours and make a nice backdrop for our beautiful desert?”             

 We had some lovely shrubs, but these were not high enough to shield us from the unsightly view. For what we thought might be a “quick fix” we brought 2 very beautiful “Mandarin Orange honeysuckle vines and a trellis. These did not take off as we had hoped they would. They were trying, but not ready to fill the whole job. Next we planted that in the area between the houses. It did begin to grow and look very beautiful, but it could not completely hide the unsightly view.             

 My husband Bill and I began to make rounds of nurseries looking for the perfect and least expensive solution to our problem. Bill loves anything with deep red leaves. I found a shrub that might work and began to check out different nurseries.             

 Next My Garden Angel and I went out and bought 2 nice size healthy Purple Hopseed Bushes (Dodonaea viscose Purpurea). We’ve placed them and will prepare the soil before planting.             

Purple Hopseed Bushes


This was our challenge. I didn’t think about the neighbors and what their challenges might be. Later I found out that the bank was taking back their home.  They may have become depressed and lost all interest in the home they had first bought with such excitement.           Before we criticize and blame others we need to take a look at ourselves. We judge others too quickly and harshly.             

  Just for one day see how long you can go without making a judgment of someone or something. It’s not easy. Are we thinking they’re too fat, they’re too thin,  they’re doing this or they’re not doing that. Ernest Holmes wrote “Mind your own business.” I think that’s excellent advice. Terry Cole Whittaker wrote What You Think of Me is None of My Business. We have enough to do deciding what we are going to do without making judgments about what others are doing.       


  I know it’s a title from a famous book. It’s also a contradiction in terms. I also thought of that James Bond movie To Live & Let Die. I’ll tell you why.       It’s not all peace in Gail’s Peace Garden today. There are a multitude of rabbits eating, no devouring lawn and plants in our quiet neighborhood. When I first moved into our home there was a beautiful unspoiled canyon across the street. However, it was spoiled a few years ago when the money-grubbing city council decided to let the money-grubbing builders fill this once beautiful area with homes. Where once rabbits, coyotes, hawks and other animals lived there are now houses and apartments. What used to be beautiful green is now stucco. Sad but true. We should be taking care of Mother Earth. Instead we continue to overbuild. It’s all about GREED.             

Today I saw the white cottontail of a “cute little bunny” hopping across my flowerbed. A year or so ago we had chicken wire installed into the ground around the yard to keep these cute little herbivores out and my beautiful plants alive. However, the neighbors (not the ones with the weeds) on the other side of the house have had a major beautification done. This made a few places on that side of our yard easy access for rabbit entry.              

After seeing the cute little cuddly looking furry creature hopping away I decided it was WAR! I went out and started putting bricks wherever it looked as if they could gain entry. We awaited their next move.             

We didn’t have to wait long. I went to Seaside Center for Spiritual Living for the Going Deeper Wednesday Night Service. After the service I came home to a disturbing scene.  As I drove into the driveway, I saw a cute cuddly rabbit making a late night snack of my favorite succulents in my Desert Garden. Even though it was dark I ran in and grabbed the “harmless to  rabbits” repellant and poured it around perimeter of the desert to save my plants.             

I know there’s a spiritual lesson in here somewhere, but right now I’m not in the mood to write it. Maybe it’s patience, love or live-and-let-live. I’m sure it will come to me.     

Gail’s Desert Garden  

 Gail Manishor, Author of
From Here to Serenity, A Spiritual Guide to Transformation
Buy Gail’s Book:            


 WAR & PEACE (continued)


They’re back! The rabbits I mean. Really, they never left. I can’t figure out where they’re coming and going from. They appear and disappear with lightening speed. They are so cute I love to look at them, or I would if they weren’t eating everything in sight.   As soon as it stops drizzling I’ll put more rabbit repellant out and around.    

 As a famous minister once said to some angry people, “God loves you and I’m trying to.”    

St. Francis

 Photo Credit DeLynn Hood    

 Gail Manishor, Author of
From Here to Serenity, A Spiritual Guide to Transformation
Buy Gail’s Book:             

The Oriole’s Visit


In my study of Feng Shui I learned that it’s very important to have animal life in and around your home. Animal life adds warmth and life to our homes. I decided to encourage humming birds and butterflies as much as possible into our garden. 

Soon after I moved to Carlsbad I saw the most brilliant yellow and black bird I’d ever seen in a back yard. I called my husband, Bill and we tried to figure out what it was. 

The next day we went to the Wild Bird Store in Encinitas and learned it was a hooded oriole. We  immediately bought an oriole feeder and learned that they like sugar water. We brought the new feeder home and installed it near the patio so we could watch these beautiful birds. They are very watchful and more nervous than I’ve ever seen birds behave. They swoop down low, land on the feeder and look around constantly while they are feeding. The humming birds think this feeder is there for them and use it all year round. They come to the window, look in and let us know when it is empty. 

Before we were married  Bill had planted a banana tree on one end of the backyard. One day I was out in the garden weeding. I heard some baby birds chirping right above me. I looked up to see where the noise was coming from. What looked like the toe end of a sock was cunningly woven and enclosed in a banana tree leaf. That’s where the chirping was coming from. Mama Oriole was having a fit as only a mother can do. I backed into the house and watched from the back door as mama came to check her babies out. 

This began our relationship with the family of orioles that come back every spring and stay until October. 

We also feed goldfinches who are very entertaining. We call them little acrobats because they hang upside down while they’re eating. 

Gail Manishor, Author of
From Here to Serenity, A Spiritual Guide to Transformation 


Gardening is about enjoying the smell of things growing in the soil, getting dirty without feeling guilty, and generally taking the time to soak up a little peace and serenity.  ~Lindley Karstens,        

The Embankment


The embankment above shows our Mexican Marigold in full bloom, Bill’s favorite Cannalily in its pot and my roses below.        

There’s something about being out in the garden that soothes my soul.  Our kitchen, family room and eating area all have large windows opening into the garden. It’s a part of our home. Each plant is like a little child to me. I delight over its beauty and success and feel sad when it doesn’t look too good. When one dies, I feel bad. I found the quote below which puts it the way I feel it.        

When one of my plants dies, I die a little inside, too.  ~Linda Solegato        

Gail Manishor, Author of        

From Here to Serenity, A Spiritual Guide to Transform Your Life
Buy Gail’s Book  

War & Peace (Continued)


“Know that what you resist persists. What you focus on is attracted to you. Focus on the good outcome of the problem and not how bad it could be. Begin to set boundaries and to stand firm. When you realize who and what you really are, it makes you a formidable person. You will be respected because you respect yourself.”
Gail Manishor, author of
From Here to Serenity, A Spiritual Guide to Transformation   

Gail’s Desert Garden


They’re back ….  It was the middle of the day and I was innocently watering the desert area. Out jumped a rabbit and off he went.  Obviously, I hadn’t been vigilant enough about using the rabbit repellant.    

My Garden Angel came up with the idea for a trap and release plan. If my husband Bill would buy a trap, she will take the rabbit to a wilderness area and release him or her. I have no idea how many rabbits there are here, but there must be a lot. And of course you know how rabbits are. They multiply like … rabbits.    

So Bill has researched rabbit traps on the web and found one and ordered it. He read that they like sliced apples. I refuse to buy them my favorites which are “Pink Ladys.” They aren’t invited to my picnic!  I’m beginning to sound a little manic don’t you think?   

I once worked at a large firm where one of the Project Managers raved on and on about how the rabbits were ruining his lawn and he was going to shoot them. I tried to persuade him not to, but he was adamant. I’m beginning to understand how he felt. But as I wrote in my book, “What you resist persists.” I bet he still has rabbits.   

 Gail Manishor   Check out my website:   


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. bird feeder sale
    Dec 16, 2011 @ 21:30:30

    I think that is one of the such a lot significant info for me. And i’m glad reading your article. But wanna remark on few common things, The site style is perfect, the articles is actually great : D. Excellent task, cheers


  2. DeLynn Hood
    Feb 04, 2013 @ 13:21:42

    It is nice to have a friendship Garden


    • gailsserenity
      Feb 04, 2013 @ 16:34:35

      Hi DeLynn, How I miss you. You would have been proud of me yesterday. I went out and worked on the roses. Hoang cut them back for me, but I did the “fine-tuning” and dug around the 4 on the left side and fed and weeded. I filled that big pink pot with weeds and old stuff. Then I went in and slept till 6:30pm. I think I will have to do 1 a day after this until I’m done. I miss our laughing and kidding around when you were here. Hugs, Gail


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