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The Three Sisters Sanctuary

Richard Richardson turned his grief over the passings of his brother and daughter into a magical garden that is now open to the public.  The Three Sisters Sanctuary, right next to Richardson’s business Good Time Stoves in Goshen, has been in the making for 18 years. The story of the garden is now told on its own website, along with information about events like concerts and plays, and how you can hold your own event in this amazing space.  This Sacred Garden Garden contains a cairn containing his daughter’s ashes.

The garden is made up of circles arranged in the Circle of Life.

Dancing Ladies

The garden is a wonder of ‘hardscaping’.  When I asked Richardson where he got all the stone, surely it couldn’t have all been on site, he laughed and said it was all right there, stones going down ten feet deep. This piece of land had been used as a stone dump when Route 9 was being widened.

Richard Richardson

A few of the enormous stones are made of quartz, a stone that can receive and emit energy. These are carefully placed through out the garden. Here Richardson is in the Garden of Conception, preceeded by a Walk of Courtship, and Gardens of Seduction, and Committment.

Butterfly Mosaic

The Three Sisters Sanctuary is not only a garden it is an ongoing work of art. Richardson has welcomed, and solicited work from others. Brilliant butterfly mosaics made by a friend are resting in the Butterfly Garden where butterfly plants donated by Annie’s in Amherst bloom is wild abundance.

Tree House

Although the garden was born out of Richardson’s grief, it is not a place for mourning, but a place celebrating life with riotous exuberance. There is humor as well as beauty. When Richardson saw me looking at his tree house, he laughed and said he always wanted a tree house, but was afraid of heights.  He solved that problem!

Three Sisters Sanctuary Ampitheater

It took six years to build the ampitheater, with stone donated by the Goshen Quarry. People often asked why on earth he was building  an ampitheater and his response was people like Arlo Guthrie and James Taylor, who live nearby, might want to perform there.  Destiny can surprise. Concerts and plays have been performed here, and it is possible that Arlo Guthrie may, too.

The Three Sisters Sanctuary Dragon

I did not totally recognize this as a Dragon when I first saw it near the entry, although the head was clearly ferocious.

Three Sisters Sanctuary Dragon

It was not until I got up close and could look inside the curling body of the dragon that the monster was revealed to me.

Three Sisters Sanctuary Dragon

Although Richardson’s approach is often fantastic and whimsical, he had a massage therapist help him get the musculature of the dragon’s head correct.  The head is placed above a fireplace; it will not breathe fire, but it will breath smoke.  And remember, Richardson is a stove man. He knows how to make smoke go where he wants it.

There is much more to this garden.  Richardson’s creativity is not limited to the Three Sister’s Sanctuary.  What would you do with a bunch of old bicycles? Visit and see.

11 comments to The Three Sisters Sanctuary

  • Good morning Pat, What an interesting post! I love that the garden’s genesis was in grief, but there is such hope and joy captured in your photos. Gardens are for healing, for ourselves and those we invite to share them.

  • Pat

    Cyndy – While tears are a common response when people visit this garden, myself included, they are not tears of grief but of recognition of all aspects of the human condition and of the way creativity turns grief into healing and joy.

  • Love the amphitheater and a garden made from tears has a special feel to it, I think. Love the uniqueness of these spaces.

  • What a wonderful place. I’d love to stroll this sanctuary for real, sometime, but your photos capture it beautifully. That butterfly is very cool. 😉

  • Pat

    Layanee – This is a remarkable garden. And Richard is quite a tour guide!
    Kate – Nothing takes the place of actually being there. If you are ever in the neighborhood . . .

  • Lisa at Greenbow

    What an intersting place. I love the dragon head over the chimney, very clever.

  • Pat

    Lisa – Richard wants you to know that he is a stove man and he knows how to control smoke!

  • Looks like a very special garden! And interésting, I lke that it has taken 18 years to create, many people think that at graden sholud be perfect from day one, but I think it becomes much more interesting when it grows slowly.
    kram Sophia ( kram=hug in swedish)

  • Oh, I know this sanctuary and Richard… quite an amazing space and artist. Your post really captures the spirit there Pat. I see some of my grasses rising up among the rocks! ;>)

  • Pat

    Sophia – The garden is still growing! And through the generosity of the gardener it is now officially open to the public although some passersby have had the pleasure of watching the progress for some years.
    Carol – Richard uses a fair number of grasses. He says he chooses and plants, but that he has someone maintain the plants. He is busy with those 10 ten stones.

  • […] Richard told me that when it was time to create the dragon head he invited a massage therapist to spend a couple of days with him to make sure he got the musculature correct.  I had not known we had local massage therapists who were familiar with dragon musculature. I’ve written about the rest of this amazing garden here. […]

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