The Biblical Garden

11 August 2014 · 2 comments

in Community Involvement, Gardening, Reflective Activities, RME Outdoors, Urban

Post image for The Biblical Garden

A couple of months ago, I was passing through Elgin and took the opportunity to visit the Biblical Garden, which is the only one of its kind in Scotland. Having never visited before, I was rather intrigued to find out more.  They are known for housing some or all of the plants mentioned in the Bible. Sometimes, they also have texts and objects which depict key stories or themes from the scriptures.

Celtic Cross

The garden is 3 acres in size and at the entrance you can see the Celtic cross walkway ahead. It is the central feature of the garden and apparently was created from more than 1000 paving slabs. The Bible in the centre has the following garden-related quotes on its open pages…

Stone Bible

At the far end of the Celtic cross are a number of life-sized sculptures which depict various parables. The one in the photo below stands over a well.

Well

The trellis beyond the walkway has been designed to complement the nearby Elgin Cathedral…

Lattice Work

It was a lovely touch and I liked the recognition of the nearby church. Connections between places matter.

Lattice Work 2

You can catch a glimpse of the cathedral in the background. It is very impressive…

Cathedral Backdrop

Along the walk in the photo above were several mosaics, again, all depicting different biblical stories. I’m sure you can guess the theme in the mosaic below…

Ark Mosaic

The bed which wasn’t in full flower when I visited was the rainbow garden, but this display gives a hint of what it may look like, only on a much larger scale…

Flowerbed

Students from Elgin College help maintain the Biblical Garden as part of their course work. Beside their potting shed was this biblical quote…

The Sower

Mount Sinai had been recreated in miniature with various desert like plants and a statue of Moses. There’s no doubt that children visiting this garden would learn lots about different Bible stories.

Mount Sinai

At the foot of “Mount Sinai” was the resurrection cave where Jesus was buried after being crucified. The cave is empty as the boulder guarding its entrance has been moved…

Tomb

The stable where Jesus was born, complete with a manger, rather aptly, has been turned into a shelter and resting place…

Stable Shelter

Naturally, the story of Moses and the bulrushes springs to mind at the marshy area…

Moses Pond

Beside this was the relevant quote from Exodus…

Moses Sign

Whilst the biblical features were easy to spot, finding and identifying all 110 plants referenced in the Bible was another challenge altogether. There was no map to guide you and not all the plants had signs like the one below which gives the plant and the biblical reference…

Signage

For me this was the part I would have been most interested in. When it comes to making connections between people, cultures and religion, I think a Biblical garden could be a really interesting project for a school where Christian faith is practised.

Rockery

It’s also inspired me to consider what other religious gardens may look like. Visiting the Samye-Ling Buddhist Centre was an insight and you can see my blog posts here and here. I hope that an Islamic garden would be interesting in terms of the layout and detail too as well as the choice of plants. There are many plants which we use in our kitchens and recipes, which allow us to step back to a different time or imagine ourselves in a different climate or society. Gardens like these have the potential to help create a better understanding of any faith and the commonalities of religions.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Joanne Cowan August 15, 2014 at 22:06

What a lovely and very timely post about religion, Juliet.

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Juliet Robertson August 16, 2014 at 05:38

Thanks Joanne

I know some readers may find the religious and moral education (RME) posts irrelevant but in Scotland primary teachers have to teach RME. This is different from acts of worship such as asking children to pray or sing hymns. I always want children to learn about all religions in a positive way without bias and I hope the RME posts contribute to this approach.

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