“You know,” I said to Rupert, “under Islamic law a quintessentially English occasion like this one would probably be outlawed.” Rupert nodded. He played the garden some more, a glass of white wine in his hand. Then it was time for him to make a speech about Omar Bakri. He took his place next to the raffle stall, and the garden fell silent.
Extract from Jon Ronson, Them: Adventures with Extremists
Will you help me with understanding the meaning of the phrase "play the garden" in the sentence above. Neither literal nor metaphorical meaning does not make me sense.