Whether it’s called Elstedhaven, Bibelhaven, the Elsted Garden or the Bible Garden, this small patch of land of one devout Danish farmer has taken on a life of its own.
Peter Hvidberg was known as a “smallholder,” in Denmark that’s a farmer with a limited amount of land to work. He was a Christian man, and in the 1940s he decided he would devote some of his small plot to a family garden. What he ended up creating went beyond just a well-tended little family refuge, turning the combination of his agricultural skills and his devotion into a kind of Scripture Park.
Along with the landscaping and plantings, Hvidberg filled the place with stones etched with Bible passages, models of biblical sites, stone crosses, and miniatures illustrating various parables. Initially he kept it as a private space, but word got out and he couldn’t keep people away. He kept expanding, building tables and benches for picnics, and turning his once-private world into a public space for everyone to come and cherish.
His hopes for the garden may have been evangelical, but it’s turned out to be a respite for everyone who stops by. In the 1970s a new and better road, Stenbjergvej, was built through town, and a small rest area was added alongside, attracting even more garden lovers.
In 1993, after Hvidberg’s death at the age of 82, his children opted to keep the garden open to the public, and it’s still open today. It’s had its struggles, and isn’t kept up the way Peter had kept it up — much of the scripture has been washed away, and there is a sense of decay. Eventually the family painted over the original Elstedhaven entrance sign, but it’s still open for everyone, and better known now as simply Bibelhaven, the Bible Garden.