Chelsea garden to spearhead community gardens

Award-winning garden designer Sarah Eberle will be creating a garden for the Bible Society at this year’s (2021) RHS Chelsea Flower Show and hopes that it will help spearhead a campaign to see the creation of community gardens around the country as we emerge from the pandemic.

The Bible Society Psalm 23 Garden is based on the theme of The Lord is my Shepherd, the well-known text and one which is highly visual, making it perfect for a community garden design. It refers to ‘green pastures’ and ‘still waters’, a difficult journey and a homecoming at that journey’s end. So just four elements are needed to create a garden: a tree, wildflower planting, water and seating.

Sarah points out that creating a community garden gives us an opportunity to overcome the loneliness that has been felt during the pandemic as well as working together, growing flowers that will brighten our spirits: “We know that gardening is good for our mental health as well as our physical health. Gardening together helps build communities and friendships. I hope people get fun, health and community spirit from this,” she added.

Prof Paul Williams, CEO of Bible Society, said: “We’ve all spent too long apart over the last year. It would be wonderful to create community gardens together as a positive way of emerging from the pandemic. Those gardens will unite people, and be beautiful sanctuaries for many years to come.”

He added: “Psalm 23 was written some 3,000 years ago, but it could have been written last week for us living through the pandemic. The psalm paints a vivid picture of the restfulness of creation, of our experience of journeying under the shadow of death, but also of the promise of a place of arrival that is a beautiful sanctuary. We hope that gardening – which so many Britons love – will enable people to reflect on the psalm as they sow and plant.

The garden will feature star plants such as a multi stem Carpinus betulus (Hornbeam) and multi stemmed Crataegus monogyna (Hawthorn), adding volume and to visually frame the garden. Sarah will also be using heathers, gorse and Vaccinium, to set place and provide the genius loci.

Sarah explains that the Psalm 23 Garden aims to engage our emotions, to be a place of contemplation and spiritual renewal, portraying an ultimate destination that makes the trouble of life’s journey worthwhile.

When the show is over the garden will be moving to a permanent home at the Winchester Hospice.

The garden is in the Sanctuary Garden category and will represent a spiritual oasis within an urban setting, a place to escape and re-engage with nature, a place to strengthen mental health and wellbeing. It features time-worn granite stone, glass to retain water creating a sense of awe and infinity and water for reflection and contemplation.

You can find out more about the garden and how to create a community garden by visiting:

The Chelsea Flower Show runs from 21st to 26th September 2021 – visit for details.

Picture credits: Garden design image ©Sarah Eberle; photograph of Sarah and tree image: Bible Society/James Greig.