An “eyesore” statue of Jesus has been removed from a picturesque Moray attraction based on the bible amid plans to resurrect interest in the site.
Elgin’s Biblical Garden has been open for more than 20 years and contains all 110 species of plant which are mentioned in the bible, as well as likenesses of some religious figures.
But a statue of Jesus fell victim to the elements over that time and ended up missing a hand, fingers and a chunk of its nose.
The charity volunteers who maintain the garden have now removed the statue, along with four others.
Ruth McIntosh, of the Friends of the Biblical Garden group, said visitors had often commented upon the poor condition of the “disfigured” objects.
But she said ditching them was part of a wider project aimed at rejuvenating the horticultural haven, which she believes is one of Elgin’s “hidden gems”.
Mrs McIntosh added: “The statues suffered a lot of wear and tear over the years, and would have been difficult to repair as they were specially made by someone down south.
“We were getting comments saying that the garden was lovely but that the statues let it down, so the worst ones have been removed.
“We would like to get new ones if possible, but for now we are focussing on other things.”
The group has recently replaced a wooden gate which obstructed views into the garden and “discouraged guests” with an attractive wrought iron alternative.
Metal plaques showing biblical proverbs have also been refurbished, with the sayings now simplified to make them more understandable.
The signs also explain how different flowers and plants relate to passages from the Good Book.
Plans have been drawn up to replace a rose arbour, and volunteers are working on extending the site into space at its rear along the River Lossie.
Thousands of bulbs have been planted along the banks.
Mrs McIntosh is hopeful that the removal of some statues will deter any negative reviews from visitors.
One woman left a critique online last year stating: “The statues should be removed since they really spoil the place.”
Another described the resin models as “beyond grotesque”.
The Biblical Garden
The Biblical Garden is just opposite Elgin Cathedral and regularly lures in global guests who have visited the historic ruin.
The King Street spot was opened in 1996, and is run by the Friends of the Biblical Garden volunteer group, the Moray Rock Garden Club, Moray Council and horticulture students from Moray College.
Organisers say its “main mission” is to act as a scenic space for “reflection and tranquility” regardless of visitors’ religious beliefs.
The three-acres grounds are shaped like a Celtic cross, and there are various elements designed to represent different parts of the bible.
Students use greenhouses at the back of the site to grow the various plants during term time, and also design flowerbeds.
The plants are maintained by the Friends of the Biblical Garden and Moray Rock Garden Club.
School groups from across Moray visit often and have donated 90 trees and shrubs which have been planted within the garden.
The site is run by volunteers while open between May and September and admission is free, with all proceeds coming from donations.
Mrs McIntosh issued an appeal for more helping hands to take part in the weekly sessions each Tuesday between 6pm and 8pm.
She said: “No experience is required and people’s religious beliefs don’t matter, people are welcome to come along if only for the social element.”
For more information, people can contact 01343 843111.