13 August 1999

Noisy world prompts a growing need for refuge

Short of permanent earplugs, how do you escape the

increasing bang, clatter and whine of modern life for the

soothing balm of fast-disappearing tranquillity?

The Quiet Garden Trust believes it has found the answer

SHUSH! You can hear a pin drop on Joyce Worsfolds farm. Her guests at Lenacre Farm, Emley Moor, West Yorkshire, have settled down to enjoy – a bit of peace and quiet.

Joyce belongs to the Quiet Garden Trust. Set up by the Rev Philip Roderick, it offers sanctuaries from the technological bedlam and stressful life in which many find themselves. In her teaching days Joyce had pupils who had never experienced natural silence.

One of her visitors inhabits an inner city terraced house that is permanently subjected to the roar of traffic, and even the countryside is getting increasingly noisier and stressful.

Refugees from modern life are threatening to turn into a flood. In six years the Trust has swelled to 170 members, who open up their gardens. Their numbers are increasing by nearly 50 a year. A third are overseas.

Silence had indeed become golden, realised Mr Roderick when he was struck by the demand for quiet corners in beautiful settings where people

could sit, contemplate and

mentally refresh themselves. The first garden

to open was at Stoke

Park Farm, Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire, now the Trusts headquarters.

&#42 Biblical appeal

Its outdoor figs, dates and olives give it a Biblical appeal, underscoring the Trusts Christian basis. There are gardens attached to churches, but the majority are private whose owners, all believers, allow access on certain days at their own discretion.

There is no pressure to engage in religious activity. A noisy world spares neither saints nor sinners and both are welcome to take a respite among the trees, shrubs and flowers of secluded gardens.

&#42 Converted cowshed

Sue and Nick Nightingale, of Westfield Farm, Sheriff Hutton, near York, are also newcomers to the scheme. They have converted a cowshed into a meeting room and kitchen and there are 1.5 acres of lawns and informal gardens where visitors can walk and talk. Societies book it for the day, summer and winter.

Joyce Worsfolds recently planted garden is still maturing. She has put in a laburnum walk and flower beds and there is a delightful stream and pond complex. In the 4.4ha (11-acre) smallholding she has installed seats in private corners among blossoming hawthorns, bluebells and other wild flowers. The only sounds are the drone of bees and the call of birds. Perhaps another sign may soon be appearing at farm and garden gates: "Do not disturb".

Tom Montgomery

Inquiries: The Quiet Garden Trust, Stoke Park Farm, Park Road, Stoke Poges, Bucks SL2 4PG (Tel: 01753-643050).