I used to own a property called Voltaire’s Garden. I named the fifteen acres of cattle paddock blanketing a saddle of a hill overlooking a panoramic view of rolling green and mountains after Voltaire’s Candide. Voltaire’s Garden was to be a project in self-sufficiency and a bed and breakfast that would provide for others an opportunity to share in the vision and maybe become inspired. For after much journeying and questioning of his experiences in the light of his tutor Dr Pangloss’ favoured interpretation of most cruel and catastrophic events, ‘All’s for the best in the best of all possible worlds,” Candide and his friends settled on some land to live out a simple life of gardening. Upon a little research I then discovered that Voltaire himself had a garden filled with produce, that he lifted out of poverty and misery his local villagers, and that he campaigned tirelessly to free those unjustly imprisoned during the Inquisition. In Voltaire in Exile, biographer Ian Davidson, describes Voltaire as ”a one man amnesty international.”
In 2005 I bought the land, designed the building and dug the footings for my dream. My then husband and I created home and garden. Every day I would wake and take in the views and marvel at the progress and the potential. I even wrote the memoir so inspired I was, so committed to the vision.
It is with much sadness that I had to let my garden go. The one time I visited Voltaire’s Garden I wept. The land upon which it was built is of life-cleaving significance, the deciding factor in me leaving behind another project dear to my heart, another vision I had little choice but to relinquish – The Ghana Link.