Since the days of the Old Testament, gardens have been part of our lives.
When we are feeling weary or dispirited, it’s amazing how being surrounded by new life in the greenery can lift our spirits.
And it doesn’t seem to matter if you don’t have your own personal garden—a walk around most suburban blocks will offer you a feast of colour and fragrance as you admire other peoples’ gardens. Who can resist the fragrance of roses in full bloom, or the scent of gardenia or jasmine as you stop to take a luxurious sniff?
Australian trees are no slouches in the fragrance and colour stakes either. Walking past a lemon-scented gum just makes you feel energised and glad to be alive, and the sight of our glorious flowering gums brings it home to you that as a garden designer, God is unparalleled with what he has given us to enjoy.
Gardens are a big theme in the Bible. Obviously, they can be a mixed blessing, as Jesus’ garden experience praying in the Garden of Gethsemane before his crucifixion was heart breaking.
But most references to gardens in the Bible are joyful ones.
And what could be more joyful and enticing than the garden reference in the Song of Solomon?
‘Awake, O north wind, and come, O south wind! Blow upon my garden, let its fragrance be wafted abroad. Let my beloved come to his garden, and eat its choicest fruits.’ (Song of Solomon chapter 4, verse 16).
Right at the beginning of the Bible in the book of Genesis, gardens become a vitally important theme.
‘God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, upon the earth.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.’ (Genesis chapter 1, verses1-12).
Many years ago in a school Bible class (which was generally extremely boring to uninterested teenagers!), our wise teacher Mrs Thomson, a lady of sincere Christian faith, shared with us the way gardens enriched her spiritually. I will never forget her favourite reference that linked gardens and God.
‘And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day…’ (Genesis chapter 3, verse 18)
Mrs Thomson’s favourite garden reference has stayed with me for many decades, and always occurs to me when I am enjoying the sight of a beautiful garden.
A healthy garden means that life thrives, so when we are in the midst of gloom, let’s make the effort to go for a walk and look at our neighbours’ gardens, or visit one of the superb botanical gardens found in so many Australian towns and cities.
I’m sure it will restore your soul.