Former Governor-General Sir William Deane has opened a new Bible Garden in Canberra that will feature all 148 plants mentioned in the Bible.
The Canberra Times reports Sir William Deane described himself as an enthusiastic ''convert'' to the concept of a Bible Garden as he helped open the garden in the grounds of Charles Sturt University's Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture in Barton overlooking Lake Burley Griffin.
In time, it will feature all 148 plants mentioned in the Bible, with almonds, cyclamen, garlic, lentils, oleander and pomegranate among the almost 60 varieties already in the ground. The noxious weeds referred to in the Bible will be in a separate glasshouse.
The centre received a gift of almost $1.8 million to develop the garden, and for other theological work, from the trust of the late South African born businessman Gerald Hercules Robinson. He created Australia's first Bible Garden at Sydney's Palm Beach in the mid-1960s after seeing a similar one in Bangor, Wales.
The centre's executive director, the Reverend Professor James Haire, said he hoped the Bible Garden would be a place of meditation, prayer and reflection, while educating more people about the Scriptures.
Standing between olive trees, Sir William, a Bible Garden trustee, said he was initially sceptical of the value of such a venture, but time and knowledge turned him into a strong supporter.
"Gerald Hercules Robinson has made one convert at least and that's myself," Sir William said. "In that, I see this as a focal point in a centre in which I see tremendous importance to our nation's spiritual wellbeing. It was, as with the old indigenous people, a meeting place, it's a place of coming together, it's a place of reaching out."
Sir William said it was "an extraordinary and wonderful thing" that the garden was now a reality "slap bang in the middle of our national capital with the best view in the whole of the national capital."
Work on the garden started last year. Sir William said a large mural wall would also be built, on which a painting by the late Aboriginal Christian Hector Jandany would be displayed, showing a white owl in the Kimberley and emphasising the ''Holy Spirit in our land''.
"One thing I think non-indigenous Christians can learn from our indigenous fellow Christians is the focus and the understanding of the Holy Spirit in our land," Sir William said.
Holy Spirit takes root in 'extraordinary' garden (Canberra Times, 4/8/08)