Monday, 18 September 2017

Jacob's ladder and other Biblical plants

I was planting a new bed today with roses, violets and one of my favourite plants, named Jacob's ladder. There were angels ascending and descending this ladder in the Bible but did you know it's also a perennial plant with purple flowers and greeny bronze leaves. There is also a delightful pink and cream version called in latin polemonium. It made me think of other plants mentioned in the Bible that can grow here and there are quite a few.

There's an actual smoke bush that is rarely seen in gardens nowadays  but its pretty spectacular and it does look like it's on fire and could it have been one Moses saw in the desert one night?

In the verges all along my street there's a Olive trees, famous for the leaves being brought back to the ark as a sign the waters have abated by Noah's dove. In Jerusalem there's a mount of Olives and it was under olive trees Jesus went to pray in the garden of Gethsemane.

I am banned from Nikau palms, but palms are often mentioned in the Bible when the 'trees clap their hands' for joy. Palm branches were waved when Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey.

Speaking of trees, when the Israelites were freed from being held captive by the Babylonians, God said to them let everyone sit under the own vine and under their own fig tree. This was after they wept by the rivers of Babylon when they sat down, and hung their harps on willows. And of course back in the garden of Eden, there were two significant trees, the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. I can't quite imagine what the tree of life really looks like, it could be a cedar of Lebanon perhaps...or a fruit tree or even a coconut palm (the Cook Islanders their revere their coconut palms as a tree of life) but the tree of knowledge of good and evil I would say the evil part could be privet. (Very evil!)

Hyssop is a herb that was used to cleanse, and was also used to wipe the blood of the lamb on the doorposts so that the angel of death could pass over the Israelites. When the Israelites had to leave Egypt they left their bread unleavened in haste, and bitter herbs like horseradish or romaine lettuce or maybe even...brussel sprouts are eaten each passover to represent the bitterness of slavery under the Egyptians. But while their manna fell from Heaven and did taste like coriander...unfortunately they still complained in the wilderness...and pined after the onions, leeks, cucumbers and melons they feasted on in Egypt.

Jonah found shelter under a gourd after watching the hoped for destruction of the city of Ninevah. He was a moaner too! It didn't end up happening, for they repented, but God pitied Jonah enough to give him some shade. Was he sitting under an arch? Gourds are not trees but vines.

While out west our vineyards are rapidly disappearing...I work at a former vineyard estate that no longer has any grapevines except for an ornamental one for show - we ought to remember that Jesus said I am the vine, you are the branches, without me you can do nothing, so to be fruitful and keep abiding in the vine..we must continue to prune and cultivate our gardens.

We've got our trees, shrubs, herbs, fruits and vegetables, what about our flowers...the lilies of the field, they toil not neither do they spin...could God have in mind indestructible African lily agapanthus, our unofficial flower of Auckland? (Sorry NZ Christmas tree, pohutakawa, you look too much like a bottlebrush and your name does not mean 'love flower' agape + anthus...I really think our Auckland City Council logo should be more agapanthus looking.)

If you are visiting Sydney in Palm Beach they have a Bible Garden! I am thinking maybe having some of these plants at St Giles...must start planning it soon.