Biblical Garden - Further Information
Opened in August 1996, the project was the brainchild of staff at the former Moray District Council. It became a reality through a partnership between ‘The Four Cs’ – Church, Commerce, Community and Council – which has enabled the development of a ‘people’s garden’. The entire garden has been created from public subscription and trainees from Moray Training have undertaken the majority of the development work as part of the council’s rural skills training initiative. The official opening was performed by Councillor Dennis Scaife, chairman of The Moray Council’s technical and leisure committee, and it was followed by an interdenominational service in the Cathedral ruins.
The striking sculptures were all funded by local companies and include the Sower, the Prodigal Son, the Good Shepherd, and a giant figure of Samson pushing against two mighty pillars. One area of the garden is dominated by a large mound, inside which is a cave symbolising the tomb of Jesus. Another particularly impressive feature is a stone well, where Jesus (sculpted in white) meets the woman of Samaria as she goes to fill her water jar.
The garden is divided into a number of distinct areas which highlight the wide variety of climatic conditions found in the Holy Land, such as mountains, fertile valleys, deserts and marshland. The fact that the Biblical Garden is walled on all sides contributes to its atmosphere of peaceful seclusion; yet it is entirely accessible to all visitors.
The garden has been skilfully designed in the shape of a Celtic cross, the main outline of which is marked by paths and borders exhibiting a dazzling display of colour. Varying shades of antirrhinum, petunia and nicotiana combine with the reds and pinks of pelargonium, polygonum, saliva, poppies and geum. Marigolds and rudbeckia, goldenrod and clumps of calceolaria provide eye-catching splashes of gold which contrast with the familiar edging plants, lobelia and ageratum. Effective use has been made of white pelargonium and antirrhinum which possess a purity of their own at the same time as accentuating the colours of neighbouring plants.
A particularly attractive feature is a floral rainbow, a reminder of God’s promise to the world after the great flood – this has been strikingly planted with acres of white and purple alyssum, yellow and orange marigolds, red begonias and blue ageratum.
Undoubtedly one of the main achievements has been the acquisition and nurturing of the 110 plants mentioned in the Bible. Each is clearly labelled with a biblical reference and information on the plant’s particular use. Among them are many favourites, predominantly herbal, which grow happily in most gardens and can therefore be found alongside the colourful border plants. These include mint, rue, garlic, coriander balm, dill and the more bitter flavour of wormwood.
There are also numerous biblical references to vegetable foods, many of which can be found growing in beds situated behind the main floral displays.
For those who wish to rest and contemplate the beauty and significance of the garden, wooden benches are positioned beside areas of lawn dotted with young trees. Beds along the south and east walls are devoted mainly to trees and shrubs, many with biblical connections. It would be impossible to mention more than a representative selection of the garden’s carefully chosen trees – pomegranate, oak, laurel, poplar, fir and apple are just a few.
Quite apart from those trees and shrubs which have biblical significance, there are others which have clearly been chosen for the attractiveness of their foliage. Weeping willows and several types of acer have also been planted; also, at ground level, the variegated leaves of hostas provide both colour and interest.
Not all of the biblical plants make suitable companions for our familiar garden varieties. Some need special growing conditions, while others would be invasive unless grown separately. These have been provided for in raised beds situated along the garden’s west wall and include poppies, cornflowers and daisies.
To the pool enthusiast, no garden is complete without a water feature and there is something rather moving about the tiny pool which one comes upon quite unexpectedly. A peep into its surrounding rushes reveals a glimpse of the basket in which baby Moses was set afloat in an attempt to save him from slaughter by the Egyptians.
Moray’s Biblical Garden is, without doubt, a veritable treasure trove of variety. Where else would you encounter the broad-bean and the begonia, the onion and the oleander in such close proximity to one another? More importantly however, this garden is a haven of peace and a credit to the faith, foresight and sheer hard work of all those who have participated in its construction.
Adapted from an Article by Gordon S Cowie.
Lands, Parks and Countryside