The Ascension Paradise Garden & Community Space

Our Paradise Garden

The creation of our contemporary ‘Paradise Garden’ is based on the key, traditional elements of this iconic feature historically shared by all three Abrahamic traditions of Christianity, Islam and Judaism,whilst also drawing on the characteristics of traditional ‘English country church-yards,’with wild-flower meadows, a native species cottage garden, hedgerows, organic vegetable plots, fruit trees and lawns. We are also taking the steps necessary to introduce a bee-hive into the garden in 2014 in collaboration with the Irwell Valley Sustainable Communities Project.

Activities within the Paradise Garden are aimed at delivering practical skills training, 'learning by growing' activities and work experience for volunteers from within the community, greatly improving their confidence, skills set and employability as well as providing a sense of collaborative, ‘shared ownership’ and social reconnection with peers.

We aim to further develop our support and training of participants and to expand our work with partner organisations, faith networks and the local and wider community, continuing to fund-raise in order to enable the development of these activities in our Paradise Garden.

The Middle Eastern 'Roots', History & Principles of Paradise Gardens

Archaeological evidence now confirms that some 10,000 years ago, initially around the region of North Africa and the Middle East, humankind first started to sustainably settle in one place, creating the need and opportunity for food growing. Wall murals in upper Egypt indicate that by 4,000 BC gardens were already considered ‘sacred spaces’ and the Empires of Persia and Central Asia subsequently developed their 'Paradeisoi', literally fenced enclosures, where beauty, colour, scent and the sound of water features heightens all the senses and reflected the idea that our relationship with the Nature we clearly depended upon was essentially spiritual.

The three great, monotheistic religions that arose and took root in the Near East, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, thus all share in this same tradition of 'Paradise Gardens', where water is a central feature, often with four water channels representing the four 'rivers of life' and a pool or fountain, often lined with aquamarine blue tiles to give an impression of greater depth.

Islamic Paradise Gardens aimed to integrate the gardens and surrounding buildings harmoniously into one, aligning trees and paths with the pillars of the mosque, much as the Christian 'Cloister Gardens' would align plants and trees with the Gothic arches of the surrounding, monastic buildings.