The name for my landscape and garden design business, A Peaceable Garden, came to me one day as the dog was walking me through Rock Creek Park. I was looking for something that would convey serenity and peaceful engagement, and the word “peaceable” sprang to mind.
My first thought was: perfect! My husband and I have restored an old stone farmhouse in Loudoun County that in all likelihood was built in the 1700s by Quakers from Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The Quakers are by definition a peaceable people. And all of those paintings of “A Peaceable Kingdom” by 18th-century Quaker artist Edward Hicks neatly capture the gestalt of our farm.
But I’ve since decided that the word peaceable is an even better fit than I originally anticipated. Addressing the distinctions between “peaceful” and “peaceable,” Grammarist says that while the two words are often used interchangeably, the conventional definitions are slightly different. “Peaceful” means free from turmoil; “peaceable” means inclined to peace.
I think the nuance is intriguing. When I think of a “peaceful” landscape, a scene of passive quiet and tranquility comes to mind. But a “peaceable” landscape is more active; it is intentionally designed to be in sync both with nature and with its gardener. I like the idea of not just happening upon peace but of actively seeking it out through thoughtful design.
I was fortunate to attend a talk recently by Barbara Wien, Adjunct Instructor in American University’s School of International Service. Barbara spoke passionately about the importance of peace education, and noted the positive role that gardening and respect for the environment can play in kids’ ability to learn the critical skill of non-violent conflict resolution.
Experiencing peace is a wonderful thing. Making peace – with the environment, with others, with yourself — is even better.