‘This is my way of sharing my faith'

When 80-year-old Iona Birchall moved into a new house outside Cirencester at the start of this year, she was determined that the garden should reflect Psalm 23.

Iona is incorporating tips from Sarah Eberle’s Psalm 23 Garden, including a meadow, a pond, and planting birch, crab apple and lilac as part of the scheme. She’s also hoping to install a large rock, similar to those in the original garden, to depict the psalm’s ‘table in the presence of my enemies’.

‘I could have done anything or nothing with this garden,’ she said, ‘but I had heard such excitement about Sarah Eberle’s Psalm 23 Garden. I realised that I could show this garden to everyone and it could become a conversation starter. I can talk about the garden and the psalm at the same time.’

Iona only began her garden this year, but is already hoping that it will encourage local churches to use whatever space they have to celebrate Psalm 23 in garden form.

‘I want to encourage them to think about using the space that they have for the Lord’s work in some way,’ she said. ‘I think that it brings in the people to church from the outside, those who would normally just walk past. It can get people talking.’

Though the garden is only in its first spring, it’s possible to see how beautiful it will be, with a large herbaceous border full of roses, hydrangeas, elder, weigelia and peonies, intended to attract insects. The pond is planted with marsh marigold.

An established fig tree shelters against the Cotswold stone wall, and the garden is bordered by mature espaliered apple trees.

‘When I saw the garden, I realised that it had many of the ingredients of the Psalm 23 Garden,’ said Iona, ‘and I wanted to bring it all together in my garden. This is my way of sharing my faith.’