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Tyburn the Monastic Garden

In the heart of Bombay, on the rural outskirts of Auckland City, lies Tyburn Monastery where a community of Catholic Nuns live. What a privilege it is in this modern era to be able to visit a monastery garden with park-like grounds, native bush walks, and quiet places of peace and contemplation.

Pokeno Garden Ramble is immensely grateful and proud that Tyburn Monastery has opened their beautiful gardens for the public to visit – one day only on Saturday November 13th.
Where better to find solace than in an uplifting monastic garden, a quiet sacred space where you can turn inward.  Tyburn provides beautiful enclosed and hidden gardens that shelter visitors from the storms of the world.

Tyburn is a garden of its own time, its own being, possessing its own outstanding originality and style.

Though similar in principle to monastic gardens the world over, Tyburn is a uniquely New Zealand garden in its choice of plants. The whole garden is a composition in lush, exuberant greens, an education for those who believe the main purpose of a garden is colour. It has a great deal of colour too, but the colours are harmonious inflections, used with great subtlety and imagination.
Green is a restful consoling colour, soothing and relaxing, traditionally a major colour of paradise. An appreciation of the myriad shades of green is fundamental to successful paradise gardening. 

Green is both transparent and opaque, varying in the refinements of leaf formation in each plant. At Tyburn green is provided in infinite variations, lush verdant greens and variegated leaves, green tinged with lemons and yellows, green overlaid with silver greys, brown-greens, blue-greens, light greens, deep dark greens, red greens, all crisp, fresh, clean and soothing. 

In an era of acute ecological consciousness Tyburn has focused on a natural garden, a garden of refuge, a healing garden. 
Tyburn is full of outdoor garden rooms in which to relax, alongside tiny alcoves of exquisite detail and delicacy in which to pray and meditate. Within its framework separate gardens flow naturally on one from the other. The result is a mixture of natural charm, sophistication and subtlety, where visitors can connect with their natural surroundings and nature does the healing. 
Monks and Nuns have welcomed travelers for over 1700 years since the first Christian monastery was established in 290 AD. Tyburn Monastery was originally founded in France by the Benedictines to follow St Benedicts edict since 480 AD:
 
“All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ, for he himself will say: I was a stranger to you and you welcomed me.”

Tyburn Bombay is one of 2 Tyburn monasteries in New Zealand, and one of a group of monasteries the world over, one link in a chain of Tyburn Monasteries that have provided uplifting gardens, refuges, and secluded retreats for many visitors over the world who needed a sanctuary, for hundreds of years. 

Traditionally the 3 main purposes of a monastery garden were that it be functional, symbolic, and aesthetic. 
While Bombay’s Tyburn Monastery garden is not an exact replica of monastery plantings from millennia past, it does contain a variety of plants and features traditional monasteries would have cultivated. 

Traditionally small monasteries like Tyburn were miniature villages of monks and nuns that needed to be self-sufficient. In centuries past gardening, baking bread and cooking to feed everyone, were major tasks to be performed, second only to praying and meditating. 

Monasteries were self-contained with functional kitchen gardens and orchards  full of fruit and vegetables, and medicinal herb gardens for healing and apothecary work. 
Traditionally monks and nuns were the scholars of their communities. They created libraries, recorded births and deaths, created hospitals and medicines,  collected data, and ran schools and educational institutes that were the forerunner to universities. 

Such knowledge and skills often made them the most advanced gardeners, farmers, and manufacturers in their communities. Monasteries not only used ancient plants but also bred derivatives, suggesting the state of horticulture and botany were very advanced.  Gregor Mendel (1822 – 1884) the meteorologist, mathematician, biologist, and father of modern genetics, who discovered the fundamental laws of genetic inheritance, was a reflection of the enlightened horticultural practises encouraged in monasteries. 

Equally important was the spiritual and religious meaning of the monastic garden, which saw the garden as a natural symbol for Heaven or the lost Garden of Eden. Traditionally many monastery flowers were grown for their precise symbolic meaning, such as the red rose as a symbol of the blood of Christ, or the white rose which symbolised the Virgin Mary. Avenues with pergolas adorned with vines, enclaves and garden rooms with seats were important places for adoration and worship, meditation and prayer. Flowers were not only grown for aesthetics, but would also have been grown for their perfume, like jasmine, to be used as offerings to church figures, and decorations for the chapel. 

Visiting a monastery like Tyburn is an important link to understanding the past, glimpsing a way of life common in medieval communities, whose origins stretch back thousands of years. 

Apart from the welcome extended to visitors, who come to look, Tyburn also provides facilities for people who want to stay longer and use the beautiful surroundings for spiritual renewal and retreats, as well as education and training. For more information please visit their website https://www.tyburnmonastery.nz/retreat-bombay