When God created the first humans, he put them in a garden. The garden was a place where God could work and create, frolic and play, rest and talk with humans. When they rejected God’s wisdom, they lost their place in the garden, along with all the fun and enjoyment that went with it.
I am always intrigued by TV programs about people in New Zealand and England who have turned huge areas of land around their house into a garden, because they enjoy creating and they find their garden a pleasant place to be.
My mother was very busy, raising six children, feeding farm workers, and active in church and community groups, but she loved her garden. At the back of the house, she had a big vegetable garden which kept the family self-sufficient in vegetables all year round. On the front and the sides of the house, she had flower gardens, including a shrubbery, a herbaceous border, with formal rose gardens and tidy lawns on which we children could play.
Mum planned her garden, so there was colour all year round (it was less than half an acre). She rarely went to a garden shop. Most of the plants were grown from seed or grew from cuttings that she got from other people’s gardens. Others came from the bring and buy table at a local community group she attended, or by swapping with friends.
She never worked in the garden on Sundays. When a friend or one of her many sisters visited on Sunday, they would walk around the garden together in the afternoon enjoying its prettiness. Each plant had a story. When her visitor commented about a plant, Mum would tell the story of how she obtained it and described the person who had given it to her.
Walking in the garden was restful for my mother. Even her more fractious sister became less critical when they walked in the garden together. The garden was also a place fun, where we played when we were growing up. It was the site of all sorts of games.
When I think of the Garden of Eden, I think of Mum’s garden. Gardens are a place of creativity, hard work, beauty, pleasure and enjoyment, peace, stories, people games and community.
The only thing that took my mother’s peace was if one of us children left the gate open and some hens or a cow got in and started wrecking the garden. That was a family disaster.
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