FROM THE VICARAGE
I was fortunate enough to spend the inside of a day at Hidcote recently, a garden that has been described as one of the finest, most influential gardens in the country. The first time I visited was 10 years ago when I was training to be vicar and on placement in Warwickshire. Rich and I decided on the spur of the moment to visit. With no real expectations, but in search of rest and refreshment, we thought we would find a nice coffee shop and somewhere to sit under a tree and read the paper! However, that day has stayed with me ever since. What we stumbled upon was pure delight, a riot of colour, shape, scent and form that has fixed vividly in my memory, an experience I will never forget. Without realising it we had timed the visit perfectly,- everything was majestic and in full glory, flowers toppling over themselves to be seen, colours masterfully planned together. I will never forget the white garden, and then the red, with the Bishop of Llandaff dahlia with its shiny, glossy black stems that almost looked like something from a sci-fi movie.
Gardens may seem frivolous to some, but on that day 10 years ago, and again this past month, I sought refreshment and received it. Such was the beauty, the shock to the senses – and the amazing vista from one scene to another, breat-htaking views and framed to perfection – it lifted me. Such was the legacy of Lawrence Johnston, a little known man who transformed the gardens of his family estate. We all have places, people and experiences that have refreshed us, and bring us life. We too can be people that provide that space for others. I have since read that Johnston’s mother called him a ‘waster’, and yet through what I’ve experienced, he was a man with a huge gift, a master designer with phenomenal talent in his craft. His legacy is still giving so much today. He was certainly ‘no waster’.
I pray that whether we are holidaying this month, or working, with company or without, that we might also be refreshed in some way. Perhaps too, we might offer others refreshment. We may not be gardeners, but that’s the delight in difference, for what we can bring might be just what someone else needs for that season. It might also make a difference for good we might never know, but changes someone forever.