Revd Gill Sakakini says the Psalm 23 garden in Tadley has given the community hope during the pandemic. All photos: Bible Society/James Greig

Please DO walk on the grass

How about creating a Psalm 23-inspired community garden? Hazel Southam shows us how it’s done.

St Mary’s Church in Tadley.

‘Please do walk on the grass round the wildflower labyrinth!’ reads the wooden sign. I do a double-take. This is not the usual forbidding ‘don’t walk on the grass’ message. This is the opposite, an invitation to wander.

Wander where? St Mary’s Church in Tadley, Hampshire, last year created a garden based on Psalm 23. St Mary’s got the idea from leading garden designer Sarah Eberle’s Chelsea Flower Show garden design, which included wildflowers, trees and logs for seating.

Sarah’s garden, inspired by Psalm 23, was due to feature at last year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show, but the event was cancelled due to Covid. Her Psalm 23 garden will now make its long-awaited debut at the Show in September this year, pandemic permitting.

It’s hoped that communities around the country will be motivated to create their own Psalm 23-inspired gardens, as places of solace and of contemplation as we hopefully emerge from the pandemic.

The Psalm 23 garden in Tadley.

A team of three at St Mary’s Church in Tadley created the garden during the first lockdown, making a labyrinth of wildflowers.

Unlike a maze (where you get lost!) a labyrinth is circular and leads you to the centre. This means you can simply walk it and be refreshed, not worry about where you are: a metaphor for life and so, a simple tool for reflection.

I took the invitation and stepped inside. Instantly, there was purpose and direction, my feet drawn to the centre. But it’s slow, calm, unlike the walk to the shops, the bank, or in my case, the allotment. Who knew walking could be different and meditative?

Prayers left in the garden.

The outer ring of flowers was ablaze with blues, signifying the ‘still waters’ of the psalm: viper’s bugloss and salvias doing their bit to depict water. Bees love blue flowers, so this once barren stretch of grass was now a-buzz with honey and bumble bees.

It felt like I was walking down a country lane. Why? Because the gardeners chose a seed mix of more than 30 local varieties of wildflower. So, everything looked like it belonged, because it did. Yarrow, wild carrot, cornflowers and mallow, were augmented by echiums, coreopsis, as well as marigolds, grown by local children. This new, lockdown garden had a song to sing, and was singing loudly.

At the centre, a wooden stump offered a place to pause and reflect.

The neighbouring houses only have lawns so the garden was a pop of colour and interest, as well as a much-needed home for wildlife. A red kite wheeled overhead. Its presence meant there was something to eat, thanks in part to the newly-established garden.

On the wall of the church was a giant stag beetle, part of a nature trail across the town. Stag beetle larvae were found here as the garden was created, an auspicious sign of future flourishing.

Shoulders relaxed, breathing slower, soul touched by Psalm 23, I returned to work knowing that many more will walk through other Psalm 23 community gardens feeling the same.

You can sign up here for free resources to help you create your own Psalm 23-inspired community garden.

This is a version of a story that first appeared in our Bible a Month prayer letter. Join Bible a Month and see how your regular giving, of just £10 (or as much as you like) every month, transforms lives through the word of God in the Middle East, China, Africa and here in England and Wales.

What else we're up to

The true God triumphs in the land of the pharaohs)

The true God triumphs in the land of the pharaohs

There is an oasis of opportunity for Bible work in Egypt, especially in the digital realm, reports Ramez Attalah, leader of Bible Society in Egypt.
Death of Prince Philip)

Death of Prince Philip

Bible Society extends its deepest sympathy to Her Majesty the Queen and the Royal Family on the death of His Royal Highness Prince Philip.
Will you bring the Bible to remote communities in the shadow of extremism?)

Will you bring the Bible to remote communities in the shadow of extremism?

People living under the threat of Boko Haram are longing to hear God’s word. You can put the Bible in their hands today.

Bringing the Bible to life

Bible Society, Stonehill Green, Westlea, Swindon, SN5 7DG. Registered charity 232759

Read the Bible icon Read Bible
Open full Bible