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Psalm 23 Garden wins gold at RHS Chelsea Flower Show

Sarah Eberleā€™s Psalm 23 Garden for Bible Society at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show has scooped a gold medal in the Sanctuary Garden section at the first ever September Show.

“I am absolutely over the moon,” said Sarah. “I really love the garden. Setting out to create tranquillity in a show site in the middle of London where you can actually impart that sort of emotional response to a garden is always the biggest challenge. The response we’ve had from everybody is that it touches their souls.”

Paul Williams, CEO of Bible Society, said, “I’m just so delighted that after all this effort there’s been such a positive response to Sarah Eberle’s design. I’m totally delighted for her because she’s put so much of herself into this.”

The award-winning garden is set to spearhead a campaign to see the creation of community gardens around the country, as we emerge from the pandemic.

Bible Society has published an easy-to-use guide on how to create such a community garden and an accompanying video, and there are special resources for schools too.

Paul Williams said: ‘I hope the gold medal enables us to inspire more people to have a go at interpreting the psalm in this way so that their local communities can engage with the psalm through the garden.’

The first Psalm 23-inspired community garden was created during lockdown in Tadley in Hampshire.

Sarah (pictured right) said: “Creating a community garden gives us an opportunity to overcome the loneliness that we’ve all felt. It will build communities' mental welfare and it enhances the environment. 

She added: “We know that gardening is good for our mental health as well as our physical health. Gardening together helps build communities and friendships. I hope people get fun, health and community spirit from this.

“Green spaces are so important, particularly in urban settings,” she said. 

The well-known biblical text is highly visual, making it perfect for a community garden design. It refers to ‘green pastures’, ‘still waters’, a difficult journey and a homecoming at that journey’s end. So just four elements are needed to create a garden: a tree, wildflower planting, water and seating.

Prof Paul Williams, CEO of Bible Society, said: “We’ve all spent too long apart over the last year. It would be wonderful to create community gardens together as a positive way of emerging from the pandemic.” 

He added, “The garden expresses something of the mood and message of one of the best-loved passages in the Bible. So, we hope it’s a reminder and an invitation to go back to something foundational, spiritual and beautiful in our lives.

“Psalm 23 is all about God’s care and kindness toward us even in very difficult times. It invites us to look to God in the troubles of life.”

The first Psalm 23-inspired community garden was created during lockdown in Tadley in Hampshire. 

“There was a sense in the community that something was happening,” said minister of St Mary’s Church, the Revd Gill Sakakini. “When we planted it, we could barely see the seeds. But week by week things grew and there was something that people could engage with when there was very little going on.”

Now, she said, the garden has become “a focal point for the community”.

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