A Garden for All Seasons

by Christine Sine
A Garden for all seasons 1

post and photos by Carol Dixon, (The Abbey Gardens, Tresco)

When my husband Donald & I were on holiday in the Scilly Isles in July this year for our belated ‘Golden Wedding holiday’ (a year late due to the Covid pandemic) we visited the beautiful tropical Abbey Gardens on Tresco, in the Scilly Isles, just off the coast of Cornwall in the UK.  It was something we had wanted to do for a long time.  It is certainly a Garden for all Continents with the Mediterranean Garden, The Eastern Garden, and South Seas Garden with palm trees and other exotic plants but it is also a Garden for all Seasons with its evergreens and fir trees that seem to reach the sky.

Dorothy Frances Gurney wrote: ‘You are never closer to God’s heart than in a garden.’

THE Lord God planted a garden
In the first white days of the world,
And He set there an angel warden
In a garment of light unfurled.
So near to the peace of Heaven,
That the hawk might nest with the wren,
For there in the cool of the even
God walked with the first of men.
And I dream that these garden-closes
With their shade and their sun-flecked sod
And their lilies and bowers of roses,
Were laid by the hand of God.
The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth,–
One is nearer God’s heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth.
For He broke it for us in a garden
Under the olive-trees
Where the angel of strength was the warden
And the soul of the world found ease.    © Dorothy Frances Gurney

Gardens are places where it is easy to draw close to God. Margaret Silf in her book Landscapes of Prayer’ speaks of the seasons of our heart in a section entitled, The Garden:

What, I wonder, does a. garden mean for you? Summer days enjoying the scent of new-mown grass and the fragrance of the flowers? Birdsong? Vegetables and herbs that travel only the distance between your kitchen garden and your table? Or maybe hard work, an aching back, an invincible army of weeds?  It is good to remember that God is in all of these aspects of your heart’s garden, and that prayer is to be found in the labour as well as in the love, in the heart’s aching as well as in the heart’s desire?

Your heart is a garden, the place you go to meet God in prayer, and the place where God meets you, to help you tend the sacredness you share. There will be weeds there, for sure, and maybe brambles and thorns. No human heart is without these. Sometimes, perhaps, it will be good to uproot them, so that they don’t spread any further. And at other times it may be good to leave them and remember that sometimes a “weed” is just a flower we didn’t plant, which refuses to submit to our control. There will be desires and yearnings in our garden, striving for the light, like enormous sunflowers, or insinuating themselves into our dreams, like rambling roses. There will be blossoms of pure joy, and other plants that may harbour thorns, stings, or poisonous intentions, like nettles and nightshade.

You will have to work at your garden, if it is to remain a sacred space. You will need to cultivate your heart’s prayer, by watering it regularly with your focused attention, pruning back anything that is growing out of control, turning over the soil as you reflect on your own life and relationships. But you will have help. The birds will serenade you as you toil and will eat the pests that threaten your plants. The bees will pollinate your flowers for you and the worms will ventilate your soil. They all remind us that the garden does not belong to us, but we belong to the garden. We are not in sole charge of anything, not even of ourselves, but we are living cells in the body of all creation, living in mutual inter-dependency with all inhabitants of planet Earth.

A good garden gives life to many creatures as well as to its gardener. In what ways does your heart, your life, give life and nourishment to others? What herbs, such as sincerity or gentleness, grow in your heart and add their special flavour to the feast of life? Does anything you find there threaten to spoil the feast for others? Sarcastic tongues, for example, or spiteful gestures? What gifts bear fruit in your life and bring joy to others? Is there anything in the way you relate to others that threatens to overwhelm them with impatience or intolerance and choke the channels of love? And a garden is a place of loving companionship. Who shares the sacred space of your heart’s garden? How lovingly do you share the space of others when they invite you to enter their holy ground?


Take a little while in a quiet space tending to the garden of your heart 

  • How is the weather in your garden this morning? Is it sunny or foggy, bright or overcast in the core of your being today?
  • What season is it? Do you feel full of energy, or heavy in the grip of winter? Is new life burgeoning in you & springing up, or are things dying away? What is making you feel more alive? What is tending to deaden you?
  • What blossoms do you want to show, grown from the seeds of love God has planted in your heart? What fruits or gifts from your life would you want to offer to God, to share with others?
  • Are there any weeds you would like him to deal with? Does anything need pruning, and can you ask for the courage to let God do what needs to be done?
  • Are you content to let God be the Gardener, or are you trying to do it all yourself?

Try describing the garden of your heart, either in words or images to the Gardener in the silence you share, and perhaps also to a trusted friend.”   [© Margaret Silf 2011]

Imagine yourself sitting on a seat in a garden. Perhaps there is a pool near you with dancing dragonflies and goldfish flashing to the surface from time to time.  As you soak up the peace and beauty of the place, ask the Holy Spirit to bring to your mind people and situations you know to be in need of God’s healing love. 

One of my favourite songs that my children learned when they were at school is ‘When God made the garden of creation’.

When God made the Garden of Creation
He filled it full of his Love.
When God made the Garden of Creation
He saw that it was good.
There’s room for you 
And room for me
And room for everyone,
For God is a Father who loves his children
And gives them a place in the sun.
When God made the Garden of Creation 
He filled it full of his Love.

When God made us Stewards of Creation 
He gave us his Vision to share
When God made us Stewards of Creation
Our burdens he wanted to bear.
He cares for you,
He cares for me,
He cares for all in need;
For God is a Father who loves his children
No matter what colour or creed.
When God made us Stewards of Creation
He gave us his Vision to share.

© Paul Booth (1931-1995)


A blessing:  May God the Creator fill your days with abundant blessings,
May Christ the Living Water refresh you each morning with love,
May the Holy Spirit dance through the garden of your life
sprinkling joy and hope and peace as you go on your way;
and the blessing of God the three in one be with you now & always. Amen.

A Garden for all seasons 2

by Carol Dixon

Join the Godspace Light Community Group on Facebook! This is a place to discuss a whole-life faith that embraces spirituality especially contemplative, Celtic, & creative spiritual practices, environmental & economic sustainability, social & environmental justice, and gardening & creation care.

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