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Quiet Gardens The Roots of Faith? by Susan Bowden-Pickstock


Quiet Gardens The Roots of Faith? by Susan Bowden-Pickstock

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, Baa??hai 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.


Category Preview in The Bookseller, February 2009 Reviewed in Good Book Guide, 1 July 2009 Here is a manual not on weed-ing or mowing, but for listening and looking. We are to remember Can-dide's sane advice when, after en-dur-ing every kind of activity and its usually ghastly consequence, he says: We must cultivate our garden in order, of course, to have some-where to do nothing in. Quiet Gardens guides the reader through the contemplative plots of the world, and contains the confes-sions of, among others, Beth Chatto and Sir Roy Strong. Mrs Chatto is matter-of-fact: My spirituality, such as it is, I find here in the living things, and even in the stones and the earth. Sir Roy is elegant. Garden writing has never been without contemplation, but here is an easy-to-understand entrance to it. It is a wise and delightful book, and it will help to restore your faith and to answer many questions. Adam, of course, did no work in Eden; it was only when he was turned out of the garden that he had to dig. Simplicity can flower in gardens, but not puritanism. They are places for the senses, for touch, for vision. Susan Bowden-Pickstock wants cathedrals, mosques, prisons, hospitals, parish churches, and univer-si-ties to give as much attention to providing Quiet Gardens as they do to providing car parks. And why not?--Sanford Lakoff Church Times

About the Author

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.

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Book Info

Publication date

11th June 2009


Susan Bowden-Pickstock

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Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd. an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing PLC


176 pages


Christian spirituality & religious experience
Religion: general
Religious life & practice



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