Thee Sisters Sanctuary: A Healing Garden

A two-story tin man with a bright red heart greets you at the entrance of the Three Sisters Sanctuary. The sanctuary is a sculpture garden and art installation, but most importantly, it is a healing garden. When Richard M. Richardson visited Goshen more than 40 years ago, he felt drawn to the area. He began building the healing garden 25 years ago after the tragic death of his older brother, followed 10 years later by the death of his eldest daughter. He says that he did not find the garden, but the garden found him and shaped him into the environmental artist that he is today. It filled a void in his life with purpose and meaning. 

As you enter the sanctuary, you will see Richard’s house–another art installation– on the right. Inspired by a lifelong love of gypsy wagons that he saw on visits to Ireland, the house is clad in zigzag and diamond-shaped shingles painted in two shades of orange. A path leads to a firepit and a pond with a waterfall that is guarded by a life-size mermaid. Adjacent to this is the outdoor dining area, covered in climbing vines. As you make your way through the garden, you will see both whimsical and thought-provoking sculptures from a handful of local artists beautifully incorporated into the setting. The Tina Marie Sanctuary with its iron orbs is a tribute to Richard’s oldest daughter. An eagle sculpture by John Bander crafted from cutlery hangs suspended from a birch tree near a peaceful clearing. A huge stone amphitheater provides a setting for restorative yoga and concerts. A pathway lined with art glass takes you past the wetland and offers lovely nature scenes.

Photo courtesy of wgby
The central part of the garden is the Life Labyrinth, a series of connected spaces outlined by huge Goshen stones and fastigiate (narrow, upright) arborvitae. The labyrinth takes you on life’s journey, beginning with an area called “Dancing with the Ladies” on to “Courtship,” “Seduction,” “Commitment,” and through several other life stages until you arrive at the “Exit of Life.” It ends in the Butterfly Garden, where a group of “children” sculpted from wire by artist Michael Melle twirls around a maypole. Continuing past the Grounded Treehouse and the Faerie House, you finally reach the Mosaic Dragon Den, a space elaborately decorated with colored glass, metal objects, toys, and collectibles. Encircled by the stone body and tail of the dragon, the interior of the den offers a space for contemplation and remembrance of loved ones. If Richard is in the garden, he may ignite the dragon so that you can see the richly decorated head breathing fire. 

Richard’s latest project has been the construction of a massive three-section labyrinth adjacent to the scenic wetland. Many years in the planning, the labyrinth has evolved into a second dragon, this one more than 200 feet long and consisting of three adjoining spirals. Still under construction, the labyrinth promises to be an outstanding addition to the sanctuary.

Three Sisters Sanctuary is a perfect garden destination in September. It is located at 188 Cape St., Goshen, MA, and open daily 8 am to dusk. Admission is $10. threesisterssanctuary.com

Excerpted from The Garden Tourist’s New England, published in 2020.A two-story tin man with a bright red heart greets you at the entrance of the Three Sisters Sanctuary. The sanctuary is a sculpture garden and art installation, but most importantly, it is a healing garden. When Richard M. Richardson visited Goshen more than 40 years ago, he felt drawn to the area. He began building the healing garden 25 years ago after the tragic death of his older brother, followed 10 years later by the death of his eldest daughter. He says that he did not find the garden, but the garden found him and shaped him into the environmental artist that he is today. It filled a void in his life with purpose and meaning. 

As you enter the sanctuary, you will see Richard’s house–another art installation– on the right. Inspired by a lifelong love of gypsy wagons that he saw on visits to Ireland, the house is clad in zigzag and diamond-shaped shingles painted in two shades of orange. A path leads to a firepit and a pond with a waterfall that is guarded by a life-size mermaid. Adjacent to this is the outdoor dining area, covered in climbing vines. As you make your way through the garden, you will see both whimsical and thought-provoking sculptures from a handful of local artists beautifully incorporated into the setting. The Tina Marie Sanctuary with its iron orbs is a tribute to Richard’s oldest daughter. An eagle sculpture by John Bander crafted from cutlery hangs suspended from a birch tree near a peaceful clearing. A huge stone amphitheater provides a setting for restorative yoga and concerts. A pathway lined with art glass takes you past the wetland and offers lovely nature scenes.

Photo courtesy of wgby
The central part of the garden is the Life Labyrinth, a series of connected spaces outlined by huge Goshen stones and fastigiate (narrow, upright) arborvitae. The labyrinth takes you on life’s journey, beginning with an area called “Dancing with the Ladies” on to “Courtship,” “Seduction,” “Commitment,” and through several other life stages until you arrive at the “Exit of Life.” It ends in the Butterfly Garden, where a group of “children” sculpted from wire by artist Michael Melle twirls around a maypole. Continuing past the Grounded Treehouse and the Faerie House, you finally reach the Mosaic Dragon Den, a space elaborately decorated with colored glass, metal objects, toys, and collectibles. Encircled by the stone body and tail of the dragon, the interior of the den offers a space for contemplation and remembrance of loved ones. If Richard is in the garden, he may ignite the dragon so that you can see the richly decorated head breathing fire. 

Richard’s latest project has been the construction of a massive three-section labyrinth adjacent to the scenic wetland. Many years in the planning, the labyrinth has evolved into a second dragon, this one more than 200 feet long and consisting of three adjoining spirals. Still under construction, the labyrinth promises to be an outstanding addition to the sanctuary.

Three Sisters Sanctuary is a perfect garden destination in September. It is located at 188 Cape St., Goshen, MA, and open daily 8 am to dusk. Admission is $10. threesisterssanctuary.com

Excerpted from The Garden Tourist’s New England, published in 2020.

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A two-story tin man with a bright red heart greets you at the entrance of the Three Sisters Sanctuary. The sanctuary is a sculpture garden and art installation, but most importantly, it is a healing garden. When Richard M. Richardson visited Goshen more than 40 years ago, he felt drawn to the area. He began building the healing garden 25 years ago after the tragic death of his older brother, followed 10 years later by the death of his eldest daughter. He says that he did not find the garden, but the garden found him and shaped him into the environmental artist that he is today. It filled a void in his life with purpose and meaning. 

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As you enter the sanctuary, you will see Richard’s house–another art installation– on the right. Inspired by a lifelong love of gypsy wagons that he saw on visits to Ireland, the house is clad in zigzag and diamond-shaped shingles painted in two shades of orange. A path leads to a firepit and a pond with a waterfall that is guarded by a life-size mermaid. Adjacent to this is the outdoor dining area, covered in climbing vines. As you make your way through the garden, you will see both whimsical and thought-provoking sculptures from a handful of local artists beautifully incorporated into the setting. The Tina Marie Sanctuary with its iron orbs is a tribute to Richard’s oldest daughter. An eagle sculpture by John Bander crafted from cutlery hangs suspended from a birch tree near a peaceful clearing. A huge stone amphitheater provides a setting for restorative yoga and concerts. A pathway lined with art glass takes you past the wetland and offers lovely nature scenes.

Photo courtesy of wgby
Photo courtesy of wgby
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The central part of the garden is the Life Labyrinth, a series of connected spaces outlined by huge Goshen stones and fastigiate (narrow, upright) arborvitae. The labyrinth takes you on life’s journey, beginning with an area called “Dancing with the Ladies” on to “Courtship,” “Seduction,” “Commitment,” and through several other life stages until you arrive at the “Exit of Life.” It ends in the Butterfly Garden, where a group of “children” sculpted from wire by artist Michael Melle twirls around a maypole. Continuing past the Grounded Treehouse and the Faerie House, you finally reach the Mosaic Dragon Den, a space elaborately decorated with colored glass, metal objects, toys, and collectibles. Encircled by the stone body and tail of the dragon, the interior of the den offers a space for contemplation and remembrance of loved ones. If Richard is in the garden, he may ignite the dragon so that you can see the richly decorated head breathing fire. 

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Richard’s latest project has been the construction of a massive three-section labyrinth adjacent to the scenic wetland. Many years in the planning, the labyrinth has evolved into a second dragon, this one more than 200 feet long and consisting of three adjoining spirals. Still under construction, the labyrinth promises to be an outstanding addition to the sanctuary.

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Three Sisters Sanctuary is a perfect garden destination in September. It is located at 188 Cape St., Goshen, MA, and open daily 8 am to dusk. Admission is $10. threesisterssanctuary.com

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Excerpted from The Garden Tourist’s New England, published in 2020.

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