Legacy labyrinth at Morning Star Lutheran Chapel in Matthews adds landscaping

Workers install the final plants for the woodland garden that surrounds the legacy labyrinth.
Workers install the final plants for the woodland garden that surrounds the legacy labyrinth.

The labyrinth at Morning Star Lutheran Chapel is now surrounded by a woodland garden with more than 70 native perennial plants and shrubs.

Church member Marlene Perrotta, who spearheaded the garden project at 12900 Idlewild Road, Matthews, hopes the new landscaping will add another dimension to the legacy labyrinth built in honor and memory of her daughter, Shannon Christine Kennedy, who died in 2011.

Perrotta says incorporating nature into the labyrinth is a natural extension of the spirituality that the labyrinth encourages.

“Our world seems very disconnected today. Walking the labyrinth bring a spirit of connection and unity with our Higher Power, with ourselves, with others, with nature. The woodland garden is part of the flow,” said Perrotta.

“The plants will enhance the labyrinth with fragrance and soft colors, and they attract butterflies. I love that they are delicate and powerful at the same time.”

The garden was designed and installed by Lisa Tompkins of It’s Elemental Landscaping and Carolina Heritage Nursery. Tompkins specializes in native plants. She says it’s frustrating that more natives aren’t readily available.

“In landscaping, native plants are definitely in the minority,” said Tomkins.

When installed properly, native plants require very little watering and pruning, and produce flowers and berries that support local wildlife.

Though it wasn’t her original intent, during the planning process Perrotta discovered that with the natural resources already in place on the property, plus the installation of a bird bath, the labyrinth and its new garden met the qualifications for FAITH (Fellowship Actions Impacting the Habitat) designation through the North Carolina Wildlife Federation.

The FAITH program is a non-denominational program designed to recognize and certify places of worship as wildlife friendly habitats. She recently received confirmation that her FAITH application was approved, and a FAITH sign is on the way to be installed at the site.

Margaret Kinney, a trained labyrinth facilitator who leads guided walks at the site several times a year, says she wishes more people would take the time to discover both the peace and the power that the labyrinth can offer.

“Our lives are so busy, we don’t have time to listen to what God, or our Higher Power, might be saying to us,” said Kinney.

“At the very least, walking the labyrinth will give you peace.”

Melinda Johnston is a freelance writer:

Want to go?

A dedication service for the labyrinth garden and wildlife habitat will be held 10 a.m. Oct. 22 in the garden. The labyrinth is open to the public everyday, with free brochures available explaining how to take a self-guided labyrinth walk. For information, call the church office, 704-847-4502.