Dear reader,

You may have watched 'Paradise Gardens' a brief but fascinating tour of Islamic gardens with Monty Don. It opened the eyes to see how many gardens have been influenced (even if unknowingly) by the idea of a garden made for contemplation.

Contemplation and reflection require a still mind.

Places in themselves are benign and inert - they only have a voice as they are filtered by our eyes and ears through the mysterious channels of our brain. It is a very human thing - but certain elements such as symmetry, water and sound enhance the effect in the human mind.

We can sit in the same space and have very different reactions to it depending on what is happening in our minds and what is happening to the weather and the light. In this country we are very much at the mercy of the weather in terms of contemplating paradise !

These fluctuations in our internal landscape and how they change our visual perceptions and self esteem fascinate me.

I wrote the following as a response to the idea of paradise being a garden.

Heaven in a garden
There is no heaven here today
Just a hard heart

I know where this hardness comes from
It comes from the heart of a banished tribe
Lost in genetic time

Last night I dreamt of gardens
Places of inspiration
Of the deep breath of the spirit

My lungs filled with sweet air
Of birdsong and incense
Of spikenard and flowers of the field - jasmine and orange blossom

But I have nothing to offer from the treasury today
The doors are bolted shut
Not even a chink of light

Sometimes I am left in places outside the garden
The one I have been trying to return to for most of my estranged life
I cannot even see the flaming sword - so far away am I now from that place

I know a river runs through it
It has trees either side for the healing of the nations

We all need health - not just of the body but of the mind
It is the mind that needs to find the garden

There was once another garden
Where pain was contemplated among the olive trees
Perhaps that is the garden I must return to ?

Is there light there ?
They say it is a wondrous garden.



  1. I too have enjoyed watching Monty in his paradise gardens and some years ago his predecessor Geoff Hamilton designed and planted some paradise gardens on Gardeners' World again as places to be still and quiet. Your poem is lovely, though sad, and I wish you some moments of contemplation during which you might see that even outsideof that wonderful garden you dream of there is much to wonder at and to enjoy. I noticed a yellow dandelion yesterday blooming alongside the busy main road for instance and wondered at how Nature can provide solace in the most unlikely places if only we take the time to notice.

    1. That's so true - I've just read a poem along those very lines . I think this internal struggle will always be with me until the day I step into the eternal garden.


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