Create a Psalm 23 garden

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Have you ever considered making a garden version of a psalm?

This is the core idea of the Psalm 23 garden project, launched by the Bible Society. They are encouraging people to get involved in creating community gardens which embody Psalm 23, and in September, the Bible Society will have a Psalm 23 garden at the Chelsea Flower show, which they hope will inspire communities across the country to create their own version. Their website has lots of ideas and stories about how this could work, as well as stories of how Psalm 23 has helped people in their every day lives.

When I heard about it I wondered if families could also read Psalm 23 and then create a mini-garden of it!

This can be as simple as using sand, rice or play dough and ‘planting’ sticks, stones, flowers and leaves as trees, a little like this no-grow Easter garden. You can do it on a lid or a tray, with something in the bottom to help things stand up and a wide selection of options of things to add.

The Psalm 23 garden project resources suggests including the following in your Psalm 23 garden:

  • a meadow
  • a tree
  • a seat
  • some water

You could do this in a no-grow mini-garden using sand or play dough as your base, then adding:

  • a meadow made from cut grass with some wild flowers, like clover, popped in
  • a small twig with leaves on or sprig of rosemary ‘planted’ upright like a cypress tree
  • a twig or flat piece of wood as a seat
  • a large jar lid or small bowl with water in it for a pond

Alternatively, you could use soil and actually grow or transplant some little plants to your garden. You could use:

  • cress seed as it grows really fast, then maybe add some poppy seeds to make it more like a meadow
  • a small tree grown from an apple seed or a cutting of rosemary (it should grow roots).
  • a little bench made of sticks or off cuts of wood glued together big enough for play people to sit on
  • a large jar lid or small bowl with water in it for a pond

If you have some large pots, you could do grow it slightly larger scale, and plant a few pots and place them together to create a place to sit and experience Psalm 23.Personally, I would add stones for a path and maybe some lettuce or peas to create more interesting foliage, plus some nasturtiums as they grow easily and have bright flowers.

As you make your garden, it’s a great time to chat about the psalm together, thinking about what the words mean to you, and how you might embody them in a garden!

When I spoke to Hazel Southam, the project manager for the Psalm 23 garden, I asked how this garden fitted in with the more main stream work of the Bible Society, and she answered that the Bible Society exists to help people encounter the Bible. Sometimes this is through a translation, and that this project is translating Psalm 23 into something everybody knows and loves – a garden – it’s an experiential translation.

I love this idea – and so whether you get involved in a building a community garden, or simply make a mini-one in your family, this is a brilliant way to let a Psalm out of the box and into our experience!