We were very moved by the way visitors responded to our garden. They arrived and stood and looked, sometimes so lost in thought that we didn’t want to interrupt to give them a leaflet. The first remark was almost always ‘How peaceful’. Some came back at the end of the day to have a final look before going home, many started working out how they could incorporate something like it into their own garden.
People related to the garden, each in their own way.
One lady told me it evoked the same feeling of calm as a Buddhist garden she had sat in when she was in pain awaiting surgery. Her response was at the emotional level, nothing to do with thought.
Another said it felt like a Quaker Garden, not a remark I was expecting, but in fact many of the people involved in its making are Quakers.
Yet another woman said it felt Islamic because of the keyhole shape of the path. This shape is very significant in Moorish architecture.
Some children said it was like a church because of the arches.
Everyone loved the soothing colours. The headmaster of the Roman Catholic school where the garden is going after the show remarked that the violet purple matches the colours that the priests wear during lent and advent.
We felt the garden was speaking at a level where people of any faith or no faith can agree and that can unite us all.
We invited a few people to sit in the garden for a while. It was interesting to see how they settled down to long conversations, apparently unaware of all the people looking in at them. They were experiencing the same feeling of safety, enclosure and separation from the everyday world that I felt when I was in the garden. I knew that was the intention of the design but they were simply responding to it.
Many said it was their favourite garden and we were thrilled when at the end of the show we were given the ‘Peoples Choice’ award. The garden had worked its magic as we intended and we are very proud of that success.