Thursday, April 19, 2012
Every year we plant a garden. We don’t plant anything particularly exotic, just vegetables we like to eat. While we have fruit trees, the birds eat all our cherries before we can, the apples always have fungal infections, and the plums and apricots never fruit. Although each year I am a bit disappointed with my harvest, my frustrations are probably nothing like those who plant biblical gardens.
As reported in The Wall Street Journal (February 11, 2012), many individual gardeners, synagogues, and churches in different areas across the U.S. including Vermont have attempted to recreate gardens from herbs, fruit trees and flowers described in the Bible. Many, if not most, have learned that successful cultivation of plants native to the Middle East can be remarkably challenging when grown in the U.S. In this day of international commerce and internet access, purchasing the seeds or seedlings is easy. Specialized gardening groups with expertise in Middle Eastern plants offer advice and support. Books, in a range of prices, are available for the burgeoning biblical gardener. The hard part, however, is getting the plants to grow, survive the pests and weather of a very different environment, and finally fruit.
Many biblical gardeners have story after story of their failings. Occasionally, biblical gardens, such as the wonderful garden of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, thrive. However, the annual maintenance budget for the Cathedral of St. John the Divine biblical garden is $20,000 and hordes of expert gardeners volunteer their time. For many gardeners, faith, hard work, and persistence are not enough to overcome the challenge of growing non-native species. Still, congregations persist in their efforts as a biblical garden can attract new members and help build stronger community bonds. As for me, I know that despite my best efforts I will never successfully cultivate a pomegranate or olive tree in northern Vermont. However, I will continue to battle the pests and weather for a crop of zucchini and tomatoes and strive to arrange a visit to the biblical gardens in New York.
Noted by WVR, MD
*This filler excerpt can be found in the April 2012 Pediatrics print journal p. 779, or via online here.
Posted by Dr. Lewis R. First at 12:01 AM