Nearer God’s heart in a garden at Rustenberg

- gardening for biodiversity 
in Cape Town, South Africa

This year I hoped to gather rare plants for our new garden but the Rare Plant Fair has been postponed. Maybe next year? In April we will go the Plant Fair at Kirstenbosch for indigenous plants.

Nearer God’s heart in a garden. With the whole verse.

The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth, -
One is nearer God’s heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth.

We saw this verse displayed when we went to Rustenberg Wine Estate, near Stellenbosch for the Rare Plant Fair in March 2009. In 2008 I was so engrossed in the plants, that I didn't even realise, that there is a serious garden there.

Enchanting work in this brick-paved path at Rustenberg
Enchanting work
in this brick-paved path at Rustenberg

Border in Rozanne's Garden
Border in Rozanne's Garden

We found Acer palmatum Black Magic for my Dark Side or Autumn Fire rose garden in Porterville. The wine dark leaves fight with the terracotta pot - I will be seeking out a sea blue green glazed pot. It will need a corner which is sheltered from both the afternoon sun and the summer Southeaster, still trying to find it that sweet spot. Wurmbea stricta Colchicum family, vlei lily (a vlei is a seasonal pond) lived in 2 pots in Plum Creek, now waiting for the new wildlife pond. White flowers with delicate burgundy markings in the centre.

Vlei lily growing at the edge of a field outside Porterville in August 2010
Vlei lily growing at the edge of a field
outside Porterville in August 2010

As we hunt for THAT plant, so I tracked down the other verses. And the back story. And the music for the hymn.

God’s Garden 

The Lord God planted a garden
In the first white days of the world,
And he set there an angel warden
In a garment of light enfurled.

So near to the peace of Heaven,
That the hawk might nest with the wren,
For there in the cool of the even
God walked with the first of men.

And I dream that these garden closes
With their shade and their sun-flecked sod
And their lilies and bowers of roses,
Were laid by the hand of God.

The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth, -
One is nearer God’s heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth.

For He broke it for us in a garden
Under the olive-trees
Where the angel of strength was the warden
And the soul of the world found ease.

Pergola at Rustenberg
Pergola at Rustenberg

Once there were two sisters. The older was planning her wedding in Windermere. That hymn has a lovely tune, shame about the words though. Her sister, Dorothy Frances Gurney (1858-1932), “after fifteen minutes” came up with the words of “O perfect love”. That young bride has faded into obscurity, but Dorothy’s words live on.

(And the music? Somewhere, among sheet music from your grandmother, or in a music archive, the music slumbers on ...... I have found it! Strength and Stay by J.B. Dykes. Number 7 in the Anglican Hymn book. Words at 280.)

Remembering my Irish roots on St Patrick's Day with sandblasted Celtic knots, circle of life, on our new bathroom windows.

Pictures by Diana Studer  
of  Elephant's Eye on False Bay 

(If you mouse over teal blue text, it turns seaweed red.
Those are my links.
To read or leave comments, either click the word Comments below,
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Comments

  1. Diana, I saw much to like in this post, especially the creative pathway and the colorful border (not expected In a place like that) in the top two images. I would like to see your bathroom windows!

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    1. I will blog my Celtic knots, once they no longer lurk under a layer of builder's murk.

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  2. I loved this personal post from you Diana. And being motivated by research myself, I thank you for the full story and back story of the song. What sumptuous gardens! The stone path was very appealing. It's such good writing to say little and yet say so much.

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  3. Rustenberg looks like a great place to visit for garden inspiration.

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  4. That is a serious garden, Diana. Is Rozanne's garden at Rustenberg, too? It is beautiful. P. x

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    1. I imagine Rozanne is the 'lady of the manor'. All part of the wine estate

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  5. A beautiful serene post Diana. "One is nearer God’s heart in a garden than anywhere else on earth" is so true. One need only to take a few steps into the garden to feel that truth deep within your soul. I see you have finally settled into your new home. How wonderful that must be. I would love to live so close to the sea... perhaps someday. So nice to visit you again, my short break from blogging turned into a very long one. I look forward to visiting again!

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    1. A few more weeks of building stress, and then we will settle in to enjoying our new life, walking along the beach and the unburnt part of the mountain.

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  6. Beautiful mosaic with the lily....and lovely words of God's Garden.

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  7. It's one of my favorite, and loveliest garden quotes....it always speaks to my heart.

    That brick path...it speaks to my gardener's heart also.

    And yes that's one of my cherished bird houses my Dad made two of them. It never goes out in the rain.

    Jen

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  8. Love your pretty garden shots and the old hymn / poetry. I think that the Garden of Eden must be in us somewhere, quite hard to find, but we can get close as we can enjoying the outward gardens and beauty : )

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    1. I see the Garden of Eden in unspoilt nature, and in the fire lilies on our burnt mountain. Already, only 2 weeks after a HUGE fire.

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  9. I hadn't heard that hymn. Thanks so much for sharing it and the gorgeous garden photos. xo Laura

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  10. I like that brick path too. The added stones really take the style to another level. Did you say a southeaster? is that a type of storm there? It caught my notice as we have nor'easters (winds out of the north east) and they always bring terrible winter weather.

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    1. the prevailing summer wind in Cape Town, the Cape doctor because it blows 'away' the city smog. It can get on your nerves if you are not used to it. Not a storm wind. Our winter storms come from the NorthWest.

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  11. Diana, I have often seen the "Nearer God's heart in a Garden…" verse on garden plaques, but I never completely appreciated it until now that I have read the entire poem. Thank you!

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  12. The photos are beautiful but spoilt by the water mark. Have you considered not adding one? Hard to enjoy them...

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    1. No link to your own blog?
      My photos carry a watermark as a first defense against scraping. It's also another way to draw readers to my blog - if the picture is 'borrowed' WITH its watermark.
      After 5 years of blogging, yours is only the second or third complaint I've had.
      May we see your pictures?

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    2. https://www.pinterest.com/enneevelyn/arte/
      Is this yours?

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