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Sea-front church garden to a place of 'inspiration and restoration'

Author: Hazel Southam, 30 November 2022

Garden designer and churchgoer, Sheila Wattley, has created a Psalm 23-inspired garden at Gouray Church on Jersey, having been inspired by Sarah Eberle’s design at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show last year. 

‘We just had a scrubby piece of grass with a chain link fence,’ said Sheila, ‘but there is a wonderful view over the bay. It’s just a lovely place. I felt sure we could do something.’

Sheila incorporated elements from Sarah Eberle’s design, using low-growing pine trees and a multi-stemmed birch to add some height, but not block the beautiful view. 

She added texture and variety, using plants with a range of different leaf types and colours, and brought in a large stone for people to sit on. 

‘I loved creating the garden,’ she said. ‘It seemed like an opportunity to do something special. 

‘This didn’t seem the obvious site, because it’s exposed and windy. But gardens touch people in ways that other things don’t. God can speak to you through very, very natural things.’

She added, ‘People will be able to see the psalm in the hawthorn and rocks for the valley of the shadow of death, and the grass for green pastures, though we have planted quite a few herbs and lavender too.’ The sea takes on the role of the ‘still waters’ in Psalm 23. 

A quiet day has already been held in the garden to enable people to spend time reflecting on it. 

‘My prayer is that it would be a place of inspiration and restoration for people who visit,’ said Sheila, ‘that they would find what they need there.

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