Quiet Gardens is an exploration of horticulture as a medium for meaning and for spirituality.
In an increasingly secular age when absolute values are taboo, political correctness reigns supreme, and our lives orbit Planet Consumer, we need experiences to balance the emphasis on material acquisitions.
Internationally, tensions are running high in the global village and environmental issues are at the top of the agenda. The shadow of terrorism emphasises ideological differences, but it also draws together those living underneath it: inter-faith and ecological conversations have become necessities rather than luxuries.
In this climate, with the yearning for experience and our new understanding of collective responsibility, the spiritual dimension can flourish; but the desire to pursue the spiritual manifests itself, not in traditional or institutionalised religion but in new ways.
This book describes a journey that seeks to re-investigate mankind's relationship with nature and, through this, an understanding of what is spiritual. The Bible begins with the story of creation and of God walking with the man and the woman in the garden in the cool of the day. For many, enjoying and/or making a garden is both a connection with the wider environment and a link to that which is beyond ourselves, and the book includes a section on the Christian charity, the Quet Garden Trust, featuring some of its unusual and remarkable gardens.
From conversations with three leading garden thinkers and creators (Charles Jencks, Beth Chatto and Sir Roy Strong), the journey takes us on a path of exploration and discovery, via Buddhist, Bahai and Islamic gardens, to the making of an inter-faith garden which won a medal at the Chelsea Flower Show. It shows us that the relationship between meaning, spirituality and horticulture transcends cultural and religious differences and offers hope for the future.
Susan Bowden-Pickstock has RHS qualifications in general horticulture, as well as an honours degree in Literature and Religious Studies. She designs gardens in her spare time, maintains an allotment and leads a contemplative spirituality group. She was until recently Faith and Ethics Producer for BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, producing a weekly faith programme and making radio documentaries.
Quiet Gardens by Susan Bowden Pickstock was published by Continuum in June 2009. The ISBN for Quiet Gardens is 9781847063410.