In many religious traditions – both theistic and non-theistic – an association is made between gardens and spiritual experience. A Zen Buddhist garden, it’s been said, is a glimpse of this world as it appears to a Zen-enlightened sensibility. For the Sufi poet Rumi, the divine is present in the garden, in its “roses and tulips … and limpid water”. Many Christians share Dorothy Frances Gurney’s sentiment that “One is nearer God’s heart in a garden than anywhere else on Earth.”

But why should this association be made? Why should the garden be an appropriate site for a spiritually charged experience ...


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