About The Quiet Garden Movement
The Quiet Garden Movement nurtures access to outdoor space for prayer and reflection in a variety of settings, such as private homes, churches, retreat centres, schools and hospitals – and creates opportunities for people to experience silence, restfulness and contemplative practices, with regular quiet days and retreats being offered in many Quiet Gardens. There are over 300 Quiet Gardens worldwide.
“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest”
The Quiet Garden Movement flows from the example of Jesus’s withdrawal to natural places to pray and his invitation to, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest’ (St Mark’s Gospel 6.31). If Jesus regularly and consistently needed such space to just ‘be’, then so do we.
Those involved in the Quiet Garden Movement come from a variety of traditions, churches and cultures, and as such we express our heritage in many diverse ways and welcome the diversity of fellow travellers on the journey. All are welcome to Quiet Gardens, to rest in the presence of God, whatever spiritual path they follow.
Quiet Gardens vary widely in their size and situation, but at the core is the provision of outdoor space intentionally set aside for prayer, silence and refreshment. This can be a permanent space, such as in a church, retreat centre or school setting, or a provisional space set aside for a particular time, such as the use of gardens in private homes. A key feature is setting aside a sanctuary space and time for stillness, prayer and contemplation. Quiet Gardens are enjoyed in solitude and with others, with some gardens being open as part of regular ‘quiet days’ and retreats and others by appointment only.
“Quiet Gardens are a local initiative and resource for people from your area… they are accessible, friendly and adaptable to local needs, and aim to be places where people can find welcome, stillness and spiritual refreshment. “
Categories of Quiet Gardens
There are two categories of Quiet Gardens:
- Affiliate Quiet Garden Scheme is for those that have a garden they would like to open to the public as a quiet space, as well as for individuals who lead and organise retreats and quiet days in the outdoors. Find out more and apply
- Associate Quiet Gardens are usually within organisational settings such as schools, hospitals or community gardens. The host organisation may be unconnected to any faith tradition, but they recognise the value of the provision of space for quiet and stillness for their staff, clients and students. These spaces are provided for refuge and quietude – and are usually without teaching from any particular faith tradition. Find out more and apply
Quiet Gardens provide hospitality and a safe, quiet space for coming home to oneself, for spiritual contemplation and reflection.
Uniquely Quiet Gardens are a local initiative and resource for people from your area. They operate in a low-key way with low-costs and charges, and are situated in town and country.
Quiet Gardens are accessible, friendly and adaptable to local needs, and aim to be places where people can find welcome, stillness and spiritual refreshment. The outdoor space and garden act as both a context and focus, in which to share the inner search for wholeness, natural beauty and silence, and in which ancient Christian wisdom and the contemplative tradition can be explored.
Examples of Quiet Gardens
Our core values
The core values of Quiet Gardens include:
Hospitality – the offer of a warm-hearted, simple welcome to all
Quiet Gardens are places of hospitality, which is offered to all who wish to visit from any faith background or none. Such hospitality draws on the deep wells of Christian spirituality and the monastic past as well as the gifts of the host team. In a home setting this may begin with listening to guests, as Jesus listened to those he encountered, before responding to individual needs whether those needs are a cup of coffee, a warm corner or a niche in the garden just to be.
Contemplation – the practice of silence, stillness, meditation and prayer
Quiet Gardens are rooted in the Christian contemplative tradition as expressed in the Scriptures and the wisdom of the desert tradition, as well as the Christian mystical tradition and Celtic spirituality. Quiet Gardens provide a context for learning about these sources and resources, and enjoying silence, attentiveness and contemplative prayer.
Nature Connection – the opportunity to deepen our relationship with the natural world
Time in a Quiet Garden can be helpful for our health and wellbeing, as well as our spiritual journey. Deep restfulness and refreshment within the beauty of creation can often take place, and there will be many opportunities for attentiveness and moments of wonder and transcendence to occur. All these restore body, mind and soul. Our care for the environment creates balance for daily life and inspiration for compassionate activism. Time in a Quiet Garden enhances our relationship with the earth and encourages care for creation.
Creativity – the provision of quiet outdoor space to inspire
Quiet Gardens are often spaces designed with great creativity. They are hosted by creative people and groups. And time spent in them allows moments of inspiration and creativity to come to the surface.
The core beliefs of the Quiet Gardens Movement include:
We honour what unites us and we are enriched by our differences
Guided by our past tradition, we are open to the freshness of the future
In collective participation, we can be more effective
Creating intentional space for inner silence is important for everyone’s wellbeing
Time spent in the natural environment will inspire our reflection and invigorate our action
History of the Quiet Garden Movement
The original vision for Quiet Gardens was developed by Philip Roderick in the early 1990s. Enthusiasm and support soon came from others who were drawn to the contemplative dimension of the Gospel and who wished to explore the creative tension between action and contemplation, between involvement and withdrawal, between work and prayer. This group opened the first Quiet Garden in September 1992 in the village of Stoke Poges (in Buckinghamshire, England) and thereafter the vision spread, with Quiet Gardens opening across the UK and North America.
Today there are over 200 Quiet Gardens in the UK and over 100 spread across Europe, Africa, Australasia and North America. Read more about we started…
“We live in a world where we are swamped by methods of communication and yet we find ourselves unable to communicate. Silence is the missing and vital ingredient. Even as little as five minutes can be restorative and healing.”
“If you stand still for a few minutes in the relentless onward rush of 21st century life you might hear a quiet but insistent undercurrent. It is the cry of our hearts for space and time just to be, to listen to the heartbeat of creation, to let our souls catch up. Quiet gardens offer just such longed-for oases of peace. They open up once more what all our busy-ness has buried – the precious gift of heart-time and soul-space.”
In an increasingly busy and noisy world, we often forget the importance of finding stillness and peace during our daily lives. We do not get the opportunity to stop, be still and quiet and spend some time with ourselves and with God. It is in this stillness that we become conscious of God’s love and his action in our lives. The Quiet Garden Movement offers people the space and opportunity to find this peace and time for reflection, away from the distractions and worries of the outside world.
“The Quiet Garden Movement represents that increasingly vital space in our bewildered culture where our store of peace can be replenished, our creativity can be renewed, and our capacity for joy can be recharged. There is deep wisdom here, and invariably it overflows in love. Do get involved.”
“When I walk into our quiet garden I can be distracted by the fact that it is furiously busy with things growing; but I reinterpret it, if I can, as the worship of the Creator by the created. A garden looking quiet to me is actually full of natural sound, the music of creation which is the music that I join in, every time I open my mouth to sing a hymn or to say a prayer. It’s a fundamental principle of going to church. It is a fundamental principle of liturgy that our own services are simply joining in what is already happening which is the worship of all creation of the Creator. So a quiet garden isn’t quiet, it’s full of fabulous noise. “
Meditation is such an important part of one’s Christian life and so I am delighted that Quiet Gardens now exist in so many places to encourage us towards a more prayerful and thoughtful faith.
“A garden can be strong medicine to nurture and shape the soul. Gardens have a way of seeping in to your soul and you find yourself enjoying the air and watching for miracles. In a hurried and distracted world we need garden sanctuaries, places that ground us. We need Quiet Gardens.”
“In our day the great danger to the spiritual life is distraction.
May The Quiet Garden Movement lead us into new and creative ways to overcome this danger.”
“The natural environment of gardens with their mixture of tending, cultivating and sanctified neglect, are places that draw me into the heart of God. They are places where I can dwell deeply, through being in the slip-stream of prayer, contemplation and renewal, and find life again in all of its abundance. Through the work of the Quiet Garden Movement, I pray that this will also be true for many other people, and I remain grateful to those who open their gardens so that others can slow down and rest in God’s abundant love in Jesus.”