File photo provided by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) shows the Swan Lake Gazebo in the Singapore Botanic Gardens. The Singapore Botanic Gardens is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site after it was inscribed at the 39th session of the World Heritage Committee in Bonn, Germany, local TV Channel NewsAsia reported on July 4, 2015. (Xinhua)
File photo provided by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) shows the Swan Lake Gazebo in the Singapore Botanic Gardens. The Singapore Botanic Gardens is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site after it was inscribed at the 39th session of the World Heritage Committee in Bonn, Germany, local TV Channel NewsAsia reported on July 4, 2015. (Xinhua)

By Ernestina Boadi

Since time immemorial, gardens have been a trait of open spaces and have been fashioned into amongst other things, grounds for relaxation, solace and meditation.

File photo provided by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) shows the Swan Lake Gazebo in the Singapore Botanic Gardens. The Singapore Botanic Gardens is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site after it was inscribed at the 39th session of the World Heritage Committee in Bonn, Germany, local TV Channel NewsAsia reported on July 4, 2015. (Xinhua)
File photo provided by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) shows the Swan Lake Gazebo in the Singapore Botanic Gardens. The Singapore Botanic Gardens is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site after it was inscribed at the 39th session of the World Heritage Committee in Bonn, Germany, local TV Channel NewsAsia reported on July 4, 2015. (Xinhua)

These pockets of paradise are refreshing for limitless reasons. Whatever your individual motivation may be for visiting or keeping a garden, we can all agree that it is uplifting to just have a physical space where we can experience and soak in creation with the company of others or on our own.

The mention of church often conjures imagery of togetherness and a sense of community; a place of spiritual restoration where parishioners gather to worship and foster a secure environment of encouragement and concern for their fellow man. However, many churches in Ghana are not readily known for having spaces dedicated to nurturing the mind, body and soul through the outdoors and connecting with nature.

?To cultivate a garden is to walk with God?. This sentiment expressed by 19th Century New York-born writer, Christian Nestell Bovee, has been adopted by several churches the world over. Many have identified with the concept of tending gardens within church grounds; which are freely accessible not only to the congregation but surrounding communities and general public.
The innumerable flora including exotic fruits, vegetables and trees with their medley of hues, scents and medicinal properties, have the ability to permeate every aspect of our being, while facilitating emotional, mental and physical healing plus spiritual rejuvenation.
Throughout the Bible, gardens have been intricately woven into the fabric of some of the key messages and lives of individuals represented; the Gardens of Eden and Gethsemane, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, King Solomon?s flower, herb and spice gardens and King Ahab?s infamous vineyard to name a few, all embody elements of fertility and beauty. Mention is made of an array of plants, spices and vegetation ? aloe, flax, barley, apples, cucumber, cinnamon, beans, figs, saffron and palm… the list is endless.

The benefits of taking the time and making an effort to cultivate the habit of gardening in our churches and communities goes beyond growing flowers, fruits and vegetables for aesthetic purposes and nurture – it affords an opportunity to bind people from all walks of life and backgrounds together for a greater cause. The acts of digging, weeding, planting, fertilizing and watering, it has been said, provide a chance for reflection on the changes and opportunities for cultivation in one?s own life.

The third annual Ghana Garden and Flower Show, the flagship event of the Ghana Garden and Flower Movement will this year boast a bevy of activities aimed at garden experts and novices alike.

The five-day extravaganza will once again be held at the Efua Sutherland Children?s Park from the 10th to the 14th of September, and will not only be a one-stop shop for all for flower, garden and home wants and desires but will also play host to a variety of gardening workshops for adults and children, pottery classes and unforgettable happenings. As part of this year?s Movement, the fostering of team and community togetherness will also be channelled through competitions geared at awarding communities who have embodied the spirit of clean and beautifully cultivated spaces for their residents.

Why not challenge members of your congregation and communities to create gardens unique to your church and places of worship, and transform them into harmonious and serene sanctuaries where the mind, body and soul are fed beyond the pews.

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