Biblical Garden of Elgin

In Scotland’s Elgin is a ‘Biblical Garden’. For a land disposing of its Christian heritage with such alarming enthusiasm, one is all the more impressed by its existence. It contains 110 species of plants and flowers which are named in scripture. I do not know which surprised me most- that there were so many, or that any would manage to grow in northern Scotland. A few Biblical characters are depicted in statue, such as David and Samson. An explanatory plaque by the entrance proclaims:

One is nearer God’s heart in a garden, than anywhere else on earth.

I would normally dismiss this as a watery cliché much beloved by the clergy of the current Church of Scotland, in whose ruined cathedral’s shadow the garden sits. Yet on this occasion, I am minded to agree. Not only do we behold in nature the Creator’s intricate designs and love of colour, but gardens are replicas of the earthly paradise into which our parents were initially placed. The new Jerusalem, as described in Revelation’s later chapters, has the distinctive air of a garden city. Additionally, the Lord’s passion and sufferings began in a garden- Gethsemane- wherein He shed His first blood, and soon followed his betrayal and arrest. If gardens offer a contrast to the arid deserts and wildernesses created by our rebellion, there is little wonder we still feel most at home in a beautiful garden. When the Lord Jesus assured the repentant, dying thief and fellow recipient of Roman justice that he would that day be with Him in paradise, he was inviting him to a ‘walled garden’, which is the meaning of that Persian word.

A garden enclosed
Is my sister, my spouse,
A spring shut up,
A fountain sealed.
Your plants are an orchard of pomegranates
With pleasant fruits,
Fragrant henna with spikenard,
Spikenard and saffron,
Calamus and cinnamon,
With all trees of frankincense,
Myrrh and aloes,
With all the chief spices—
A fountain of gardens,
A well of living waters,
And streams from Lebanon.

Song of Solomon 4:12-15