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Psalm 23 garden coming to Chelsea Flower Show

by Cara Bentley

The Psalm, which starts: "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures" (ESV) has been turned into countless songs and posters but it will now be portrayed as a garden space at the popular Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show 2020.

It's a collaboration between The Bible Society and Sarah Eberle, an award-winning garden designer.

In a trailer for the Psalm 23 garden, she said: "I just felt it's so relevant because reading through the psalm again, it's like, wow, I know where that relates to - it's where I come to be peaceful, where I come when I'm troubled and when I'm happy and it's this place.

"The thing I'm hoping for at Chelsea is for the visitors to be stopped and for them to find some sort of emotional communication with the garden and to want to stay and feel the peace and the restoration.

"There's always a personal view on any garden I design," said Eberle. "I grew up around Dartmoor. Walking the lanes, I saw the way the light played in the ferns. It was incredible.

"The inspiration is about spirituality, that sense of wellbeing, of arriving at a special place and a sense of being able to breathe, to feel comforted, to feel a sense of belonging, if you like."

The Bible Society are also encouraging people to read the psalm and learn more about it through the project. 

Hazel Southam, the garden's project manager said: "Psalm 23 is so visual, it just cries out to be turned into a garden. Sarah's used those visual cues in her design: the green pastures, still waters and the valley of the shadow of death. 

"But she's done far more than that. Her design takes us on the journey of life, about which the psalm speaks. The submerged rock at the front of the garden shows that even starting out on that journey can be difficult. 

"It culminates in a broad rock where you can just sit and rest at the journey's end, which the psalm describes."

Southam continued: "When Sarah and I first chatted about this, more than a year ago, we didn't just want to evoke the journey that the psalm talks about, but the spirit of it too. 

"There's a key line for me early on in the psalm which says, 'He restores my soul'. I wanted people to feel that sense of restoration just looking at the garden. And Sarah's drawn on the sense of restoration she felt, and still feels, in Dartmoor."


The garden will find a permanent home at the Winchester Hospice, in Hampshire, which will open after the show in 2020.

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