"Let us dwell in fair Ithilien and there make a garden. All things will grow with joy there, if the White Lady comes."
So goes the proposal of marriage between Faramir and Eowyn; a promise and a hope for renewal of a ravaged land, peace for two cultures and a haven for two warriors who sought healing. It is fitting indeed for a garden as a place of healing and renewal reappears many times in Tolkien's works: in Minas Tirith's Houses of Healing; in Rivendell's hidden and never-fading refuge of an earlier Age; in Bag-End, Hobbiton's homey space that Sam dreamt of in Gorgoroth; and even in the little pot of Kingsfoil kept on a window ledge that cured the Black Breath.Spring is also a time of renewal and promise for fair days and blooms and sun to come and so our theme for May and June is Garden.
The most beautiful gardens in Middle-Earth were said to be those of Lorien in Valinor, where Tilion and Arien rejoiced in the fruits and dew of the Two Trees. Sam's da, The Gaffer, tended a riot daffadowndillies and snapdragons and nasturtiums trailing all over the turf walls and peeping in at the Shire's round windows. Ithilien was the garden of Gondor and even in its ruined state the wild thyme and cow parsely and saxifrage brought heart's ease to the weary travellers. Legolas lamented the lack of gardens and open greenswards in Minas Tirith, for the Fair folk treasure Yavanna's works in Arda.
Gardens can work for a living, producing vegetables and sweet fruit, pipe-weed and healing herbs. They can be wild as Goldberry dancing among the water-lilies or ordered as a panoply of Swan Knights. Perhaps you'd like to imagine Elflings playing pranks on a Balrog-Slayer asleep in birch-strung hammock. Or maybe you'd like to wander Morgul Vale's dark grots and the eerie features there. Perhaps you envision children learning the difference between a wanted plant and a weed, or doing anything they can to get out of their chores in the garden. You can set your story in a garden or tell a tale of making one. Even the Entwives made gardens to live in.
A garden can also be a metaphor. We speak of gardens of verses, of being lead down the garden path, and of sowing what we reap.
And the winners are:
The Battle of the Beds by Sian22 1st place
The Garden by Karri 2nd place
The Stewards by Altariel 2nd place
If you would like to illustrate any of these stories, you can take part in our special all-year-round artistic challenge!
Happy reading and congratulations to the winners!
Mirach, Carawyn, Karri, Sian22 and Lotrfan