Chris Schnieders was tired of looking at a sea of uninteresting green grass in her backyard, and thought to herself, “It could be a soccer field, or it could be something fun.” Fortunately, fun was found when walking through interesting gardens across the Twin Cities with her niece and grand nieces and nephews. The Global Harmony Labyrinth in Como Park that establishes in connection with St. Paul’s sister city of Nagasaki, Japan inspired Chris to create a labyrinth at her St. Paul home. She said, “I’m interested in design from a career of designing curriculum as educator. And, when I thought about what would be good for my yard, I determined that a labyrinth would provide a calming physical space.”
Fitting a labyrinth unto the elongated shape of Chris’ yard was a bit of a challenge because they are typically circular. But with a can of spray paint in hand, Minnehaha Falls Landscaping Owner Russ Henry mapped out an inverted spiral design like something Chris had seen on Pinterest. She said, “Russ had a vision, and I went with it.”
A beautiful labyrinth garden with steppingstones has been laid within the grass, filled with native plants that sparked memories for Chris. “The plants remind me of working in my father’s greenhouse, while the large lawn made me think of the water shortage and unnecessary grass in Pasadena, CA where I lived for many years.” A retaining wall and stairs were also installed to make it easier to exit the yard from the back.
Joe Pye Weed, Meadow Blazingstar, Canadian Columbine, Sky Blue Aster are just some of the plants that adorn Chris’ labyrinth, attracting and feeding bees and butterflies. She says, “A labyrinth creates a journey in your yard and for me, watering it is meditation.”
Labyrinths have existed for centuries and may be best known from Greek mythology. They are meant to provide a meditative journey for body and spirit, a journey that Chris now takes within her patch of peace and quiet behind her St. Paul home. She also finds happy memories along the path. “I think of my dad when I walk the labyrinth. I think he would be fascinated with it.”