Spring’s ‘proud pied April, dressed in all his trim,’ is putting a ‘spirit of youth in everything’. Clothed in the white ‘vestments’ of Easter it heralds a season of hope for a sad and suffering world.
Spring Garden Flowers
In the garden we are ahead of nature out in the countryside. Winter flowering cherry that has cheered us throughout the colder months gives way to amelanchier. Our fruiting cherry waits for its turn, so does the fruiting quince and the wedding cake tree Viburnum maresii. In our back garden, these are being joined by blossom from damson, pears, apples. All this blossom is accompanied by daffodils and tulips, polyanthus and honesty, cardoon and giant Euphorbia at their best now. An extravagant display- the garden showing off with a rush of richness as if to celebrate Easter.
The Garden of Tears
White is the colour of peace. But Easter’s peace was bought at a cost. The Garden of Eden had first to become Gethsemane, the Garden of Tears:
But he was pierced for our transgressions,The Old Testament prophet Isaiah 53: 5
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
He Calls us by Name
In that first Easter Garden, Mary Magdalene, more than any other, felt what the cross meant for her and the loss of the One who had rescued her broke her. Her tears of both grief and gratitude were inevitable. But her grief was short-lived for a footstep behind suggested someone was there. Was it the gardener? In a sense yes for this is his garden full of sweet-smelling herbs that heal – a physic garden. But he was another kind of ‘gardener’ with that familiar comforting voice calling Mary by her name and bringing a breath of heaven and turning tears to joy.
‘all unlooked for, Christ himself was there
Love in his eyes and on his lips, our peace....
And then she hears her name, she hears Love sayFrom Malcolm Guite’s ‘This Breathless Earth‘ and ‘Easter Dawn‘
The Word that turns her night, and ours, to Day.’
The Garden to Come
Our garden here anticipates the fullness of spring and summer. Trays of small over-wintered antirrhinum, cornflower and larkspur plants wait for their turn. Roses prepare to steal the show with their colour and scent, herbaceous perennials begin to grace summer’s borders. But Easter’s Garden points to a much more wonderful ‘garden’ to come. Not just a wonder for 7 days like a garden at the Chelsea Flower Show, but a perfect garden that lasts for ever – always spring and continually blossoming into the new. Best of all the ‘Master Gardener’ will be there to meet us. There stands the ‘tree of life’ and the trees that bear fruit every month whose leaves bring healing to the nations. (Revelation 22).
Easter is an open door, an invitation. For the Christian believer the glory of heaven’s ‘paradise garden’ beckons.
These are thy wonders, Lord of love,From George Herbert’s ‘The Flower‘
To make us see we are but flowers that glide;
Which when we once can find and prove,
Thou hast a garden for us where to bide;
Who would be more,
Swelling through store,
Forfeit their Paradise by their pride.
The Fragrant Garden
First at the Easter tomb were the women. They came with spices and ointment to honour the body of their dear Lord and show their grief and deep sense of loss. There was something special about the lives of those who were nearest to Jesus, Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene and John, the beloved disciple. They had a fragrance that was not their own, but which reflected the beauty and loveliness of Jesus himself. How close am I to that fragrant beauty and source of all joy?
“Let Him easter in us, be a dayspring to the dimness of us, be a crimson-cresseted east.”From ‘The Wreck of the Deutschland’ by G.M. Hopkins
New for me this year is scented Tulipa sylvestris, the wild woodland tulip, growing in my front meadow.
It brings you wishes for a very Happy Easter.