Olivia Harrison, leaders of the Bhaktivedanta Manor and other dignitaries at the opening celebration of the George Harrison garden.
The George Harrison Memorial Garden was officially opened on Saturday 25th May, with Olivia Harrison and friends, local faith leaders, devotees and television presenters Monty Don and Peter Owen-Jones.
When George passed away on 29th November 2001, the Manor resolved to create a quiet garden in his memory. The shady woodland dell behind the main building was chosen because of George’s fondness for the site. The Garden is a place set aside for prayer and contemplation to commemorate the friendship between George and the devotees.
The opening began with a sitar recital, played from the centre of the garden. The ambiance from the recital brought calm to the guests facilitating a deeper connection with the garden.
Then from the main decking area spanned by the lyric of George: ‘Awaken and See’, Olivia shared some inspiring words.
“I am grateful to the devotees for honouring George in the form of a garden. A manifestation in the material world of which he would be very proud.”
“George was not a perfectionist, but he did have the ability to see the potential in gardens, and he did see potential in this dell. Admittedly the creation of this garden has stopped and started a few times, but that just reflects life and the stages we go through in our own journeys.
Monty Don, presenter of the BBC’s ‘Gardeners’ World’ series then spoke about being often approached for solutions to the challenges faced in gardening, in answer to which he believed the ultimate solution was ‘love’, you have to love your garden.
“I am delighted and honoured to open the garden that the public will be able to share George’s great love of gardening and deep spirituality.”
Speaking on the theme of the garden, Gauri das added:
“’There is a deep spirituality in the lyrics of George Harrison, some through metaphor and others more direct. For us it is a tremendous honour that garden is opened on the 40th Anniversary of Bhaktivedanta Manor”.
With the short speeches complete a tour of the garden began. As the guests arrived at each step, the words of the song in which George had expressed the related sentiments, were read by representatives of different faiths.
When the journey was completed Peter Owen Jones, presenter of the BBC documentary series ‘Around the World in Eighty Faiths’, led everyone in a silent meditation. He encourage that those gathered should all ‘stop and listen’ to the garden.
Yvonne Innes, the garden’s designer, wrote: “Some of the plants George particularly loved were maples, birch, ferns, grasses, and perennials such as Japanese anemones. Here we have tried to echo George’s planting, using drifts of many of the varieties used at Friar Park…We hope that it will show that George had an eye for planning as much as an ear for music and that the dell garden will become a place of meditation as well as inspiration.”
A special thanks to Sripati das, Ranchor Prime and Richard Sneesby, who worked with Gauri das over many years to see the garden to completion.