STARTING A QUIET GARDEN
We are delighted that you are exploring creating your own Quiet Garden, and joining your garden with the Quiet Garden Movement.
Each Quiet Garden is unique and each responds to local needs and circumstances, and has its own particular identity, rhythm and charism. Be it through day retreats, “drop-in” times or led quiet mornings, each Quiet Garden provides space for sharing prayer and stillness, learning and laughter.
To understand more about starting your own Quiet Garden – and before applying to join – please read about the categories of Quiet Gardens below and explore the background information.
Categories of Quiet Gardens
There are two categories of Quiet Gardens:
Affiliate Quiet Gardens are usually within private homes, churches and retreat centres. The hosts, or host organisation, will self-identify as Christian and are likely to be part of a church community for support. Find out more about Affiliate Quiet Gardens
Associate Quiet Gardens are usually within organisational settings such as schools, hospitals or community gardens. The host organisation is usually 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 about Associate Quiet Gardens
If you have any questions about joining before applying please do get in touch:
Joining pack by email or post?
If you would like to receive all the information for joining as an email or by post, please let us know:
Note on references: If you are applying to affiliate as an individual / private home we will ask you for the name of two people who will act as a reference and support you. These can be people from the support group mentioned above, your local clergy or someone that is in agreement with our core values and work and has known you for a number of years.
This serves two purposes – firstly, to ensure you have support as a host (this could be practical support in the day-to-day hosting, or more hands-off support, such as a spiritual director or pastoral support), and secondly, to ensure we follow good practice in the safeguarding, care and nurture of everyone within our communities.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the benefits of being an affiliate / associate Quiet Garden?
Belonging to the Quiet Garden Movement, either as an affiliate or associate, connects hosts, coordinating teams and participants as part of a worldwide community of people sharing these quiet spaces and supporting one another. Through the Movement’s newsletter, website and social media, stories from different Quiet Gardens provide nurture and encouragement.
Each affiliate or associate Quiet Garden benefits from advice and support in developing their activities, including regular news by email and twice yearly newsletters. New Quiet Gardens receive a welcome pack, a membership certificate a designated page on the Quiet Garden website and the option to promote events on the events section of the website.
What about costs?
We ask Quiet Garden hosts for an annual donation towards the costs of running the Movement.
Currently we suggest:
- Affiliates – £40 / €60 / $100
- Associates – £20 / €30 / $50
If this suggested amount is a problem then please do get in touch.
This suggested donation does not cover the costs of running the Movement, and if you are able to contribute more that would be welcome.
Many Quiet Gardens encourage a “suggested donation” (e.g. £5) for Quiet Garden days, mornings or similar event, that go towards the cost of tea/coffee etc, but this is for each host to decide.
We ask that any surplus funds from Quiet Garden days – after deducting expenses – be donated to the Quiet Garden Trust. This contributes towards extending the work of the Movement around the world.
Can I use the gift aid scheme?
If you are a UK tax payer, by gift aiding your annual donation, and any other donations you make, you can increase the value of your gift at no extra cost to yourself.
Who can come to a Quiet Garden?
The Quiet Garden Movement welcomes everyone to enjoy Quiet Gardens, to rest in the presence of God, whatever spiritual path they follow. The way the garden opens though will depend on the individual Quiet Garden and is determined locally by the host and their support group.
Affiliate gardens (usually within private homes, churches and retreat centres) are usually open to the public either for set times or by arrangement.
Associate gardens (usually within organisational settings such as schools or hospitals) generally are not open to the public, but instead are a resource for staff, students and clients.
How often would I open the Quiet Garden?
Each Quiet Garden develops its own rhythm of opening times. These may vary from a few times per year, once a week, or by arrangement with individuals or groups. Each responds to local needs and circumstances. We are happy to share what works well for others, but there is no one-set way of opening. It could be through day retreats, “drop-in” times or led quiet mornings.
What is an appropriate space for a Quiet Garden?
Quiet Gardens vary greatly in size and design. They can be large or small, manicured or wild. The size, tidiness or perfection of the garden are not paramount. It is more important that there is a provisional space in natural surroundings which is set aside for stillness and creative reflection. It may be in rural or urban settings.
Privacy - do I allow people to wander all over my home and garden?
Not necessarily – it depends on the type of Quiet Garden and the host! A few Affiliate hosts do offer “open house”, but most set limits to where visitors may go. A few clear and strategic signs will help. It is up to the host and support group to decide how they use their space and when it is open.
Most associate gardens are not open to the public
How would I make the Quiet Garden known?
Each Quiet Garden is given a designated page on the Quiet Garden website (including a location map – which can be the precise location or a general idea of where it is), as well as the the option to promote events on the events section of the website.
Local promotion, however, is also crucial. An effective method is to have a simple publicity flier which can be distributed to individuals and, as appropriate, in the local community, in such venues as churches, libraries and doctors’ surgeries.
How important is it to have support in this venture and from whom?
We strongly recommend that there is a small supporting team for each Quiet Garden. This small group of people who will support the host, practically and with prayer – and they may help design the format and programme for that particular Quiet Garden.
This small group can be made up of people who understand what the Quiet Garden is about, and pray for the work of the Quiet Garden. They can also welcome visitors, make the coffee, and set the tone of what is offered in that Quiet Garden. Visitors may bring their own needs and emotions so someone from the host team may be available for support and to listen should the need arise.
We also recommend enlisting the support of local clergy, particularly as Quiet Gardens can act as a resource for them and their congregations.
How much input does a Quiet Garden day need?
Many Affiliate hosts choose to run Quiet Garden days, mornings or afternoons on a regular date. It is helpful to have some structure for these times if possible. For a group on a Quiet day, we recommend some reflective, led input with opening and closing reflections or prayers. This may include suggestions as to how to use the stillness. Some gardens offer a more formal programme of teaching, while others simply offer quiet space for individuals or group use.
What are the practicalities involved in setting up a Quiet Garden?
Practical arrangements, while not onerous, include providing tea and coffee, welcoming visitors, organising appropriate publicity, and handling donations. For Quiet Garden Days, it can be helpful to have some relevant books available
What is at the heart of the Quiet Garden vision?
The Quiet Garden Movement draws for its inspiration on the Scriptures, the wisdom of the desert and the early Fathers, as well as Western and Eastern Church teachings.
Affiliate Quiet Garden hosts will usually provide a simple service of hospitality and prayer drawing on the spiritual resources of the Christian tradition.
We ask that Quiet Garden hosts are in agreement with our core values of hospitality, contemplative prayer and nature (re)connection.
What are the core values of the Quiet Garden Movement?
The core values of Quiet Gardens include:
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.
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.
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.
How do I join and become a host?
The process of joining the Movement as an affiliate or associate host begins when you complete the application forms. It is a process of mutual discernment and discussion, and if you are applying as an individual / private home we will ask you for the name of two people who will act as a reference and support you.
We strongly recommend that there is a small supporting team for each Quiet Garden, which will support the host, practically and with prayer – and they may help design the format and programme for that particular Quiet Garden. It may be appropriate to form this group before applying.
If you would like to proceed, please apply online or contact us to ask questions (see above).