Thursday, March 31, 2016

Gardeners Bible: A Book Review

My custom for many years has been to start each day with a devotional reading, preferably while sitting in my garden with the calming sounds of the early-morning birds and the waterfall splashing in the pond. During the long winter months I still rise early to read in my favorite armchair, resisting the urge to check my email and social media first. In this way, I feel renewed, relaxed and ready for whatever the day will bring. When I saw this book displayed at the Garden Writers' Association Conference in Pasadena last year, a devotional written especially for gardeners, I was amazed and excited. Shelley Cramm, the editor, was there and I was honored to meet her. Immediately impressed with both Shelley and her work, I bought the book and promised to write a review on my blog. Over the past six months, I've found NIV God's Word for Gardeners Bible unique, inspiring and applicable to daily life -- particularly to my life, the life of a gardener.

Longing for warm weather when I can sit by the pond again.

The book's attractive cover in lavender and greens has a garden theme. The super-simple layout gives 260 daily readings and 52 weekend readings. The readings have a structure: 12 weeks of touring actual gardens mentioned in the Bible (loads of information new to me); 23 weeks of garden work such a planting and pruning; seven weeks of garden tools, for example prayer and work ethic; and ten weeks of garden stories about topics like the weather, pests and Jesus' horticultural parables.  The invaluable 30 page introduction lists and explains each Bible reading and its related essay.  At the end of the book is an index of readings in canonical order. The NIV translation of the Bible is a perfect choice for any devotional.

I'm illustrating this posting with Bible plants in my garden mentioned in Shelley's essays. I took note of them as I read. Later I discovered some of them in Shelley's plant guide on her web page, click here, where she gives photographs, descriptions, planting tips and recipes. Shelley lives in Texas where the climate is similar to that of the Bible lands, so she can grow more of the plants. Check out Shelley's blog, Garden in Delight, which is a delight indeed.

"We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost -- also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic" -- Numbers 11:5



I'm growing leeks for the first time this year:

I started these seeds indoors this week.
I will set in the desert the fir tree, and the pine, and the box tree together: That they may see, and know, and consider, and understand together, that the hand of the Lord hath done this, and the Holy One of Israel hath created it. Isaiah 41:19-20 - See more at:

I have boxwood, mentioned in the garden tour to the Cedars of Lebanon:

"I will set in the desert the fir tree, and the pine, and the box tree together: That they may see, and know, and consider, and understand together, that the hand of the Lord has done this."
-- Isaiah 41: 19-20

Two spherical boxwoods in the shade garden border in front of the statue.

I learned the Promised Land had seven necessary foods in abundance: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olive oil and honey. The farmer who tends our fields sometimes grows wheat or barley. We have a grape vine for ornamental purposes covering a pergola.

Concord Grapes Vitis labrusca 'Concord'
The grapevine that covers the pergola is just one plant.

Hyssop is one of the zone 7 plants that is not perennial here. I have the closely related agastache. I also grow verbena which is sometimes called wild hyssop.

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Psalm 51:7
- See more at:
Hyssop Agastache 'Blue fortune' a bee magnet
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Psalm 51:7
- See more at:
"Cleanse me with hyssop and I will be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow."
-- Psalm 51:7

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Psalm 51:7
- See more at:

The crocus mentioned in the bible is the autumn blooming one. I must plant some this year.

Spring crocus
Speaking of the desert: 
Like the crocus it will burst into bloom.
Isaiah 35:1-2

Another favorite place to read.

I have very few criticisms of this book. The print is a little small, though if it were larger the book would be heavier. The page number for the next daily reading is conveniently written at the bottom of each essay, but occasionally it sends you to the wrong page. This is easily rectified by turning to the Introduction which gives all the links.

The essays are not too long. They are thought-provoking, often uplifting and/or inspiring, always refreshing. They are full of metaphor, but not in a corny way. Today, I read, "The battle against weeds is a sobering metaphor for the spiritual battle being waged on this earth." Shelley reminds us to stand firm against the wrongs in our lives just as we diligently destroy the weeds in our gardens.

I'm not as devout a Christian as I should be -- many a Sunday I choose working in the garden to going to church. In these uncertain times, however, I am thankful to start each day in my garden with this wonderful devotional. I sincerely recommend it to you, my gardening friends.

Pamela x

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Monday, March 21, 2016

Celebrating Spring at the Philadelphia Flower Show

This beautiful scene shows Delaware Water Gap near my home. I visited it earlier this month. No, not the cold, gray, winter Gap just a few miles from here, but a wonderful facsimile at the Philadelphia Flower Show.  The Delaware Valley Fern and Wildflower Society provided the lovely display that complied with this year's theme, 'Explore America: One Hundred Years of our National Park Service.' I especially loved the ostrich ferns supplied by Morris Arboretum. Can't wait for warmer weather when our Delaware Water Gap turn's green again.

The entrance to the flower show was as spectacular as ever, decorated with perennials --  including some new-to-me purple cone flowers that I coveted. We entered a lodge, a wooden structure in a clever pentagon shape. My camera couldn't do justice to the suspended audio visual displays in there. The lodge contained various vignettes, my favorite being the life-sized bison.

Entrance to the 2016 Philadelphia Flower Show
Bison, with redwood frame and caste iron eyes, trampling on the daisies.
14 foot waterfall like those found at Glacier Park

Many of the exhibits conceptualized the parks, and some of these I found difficult to understand. I enjoyed more the replication of park features and flowers which I show in this posting.

Tall tree trunks for Yellowstone National Park
Wildflowers in the park
Lupines depicted regrowth after the fires of Yellowstone National Park

I was very taken with the fish sculptures among the seagrasses growing at Cape Cod National Seashore.
"A man may stand there and put all America behind him."
-- Henry David Thoreau
Sandy Dunes: Cape Cod National Sea Shore
(We have family at Cape Cod -- maybe this is the year for a summer visit.)

There were several contributions by students. One of my favorites, the vegetable garden planted next to a log cabin, represented Abraham Lincoln's humble beginnings.

Simple and serene: Abraham Lincoln's vegetable garden

I loved the 'Front Entrance: Welcome Home Annie' exhibits for Ellis Island. Several front yards were shown and I enjoyed them all, but the one with the suitcase on the step was my favorite. I would not have thought to grow delphiniums in containers. They were stunning.

Welcome Home

The High School of Agricultural Sciences, Philadelphia, PA depicted the historic Valley Green Inn at Wissahicken where Edgar Allen Poe was inspired under a canopy of hemlock and beech. I was motivated to go to the inn's website and put it on my list of 'must visit.'

'Wander Inn to the Valley'

Browsing the Hamilton Horticourt provided me with lots of ideas for my own garden. Here is where amateur gardeners vie for the coveted blue ribbon. I loved the fairy gardens and terrariums:

Walking around the show can be very tiring. I was ready to take my afternoon nap and found the perfect place. The honeymoon tent with its cathedral of branches was decorated with 1,000 carnations. Unfortunately, the bed was roped off, but I was tempted...

Beautiful, comfortable-looking honeymoon bed.

One last picture from the show ...

Colorful tulips depicting the tulip library at the National Mall
We traveled into Philadelphia by train, checked into a hotel, and had two days of 'blooming' fun. While I celebrated the unofficial start of spring at the Philadelphia Flower Show, back home spring arrived early to my garden. I usually force forsythia branches into bloom and purchase tulips or hyacinths, but never before had daffodils and hellabores this early.

Spring flowers from my garden picked March 19.
Grandson gave me the tulips. Thank you, Jon. Beautiful!

I'm celebrating the new season with my dear friend, Donna, at Gardens Eye View and look forward to reading about similar celebrations around the world on her wonderful blog. Sorry for the late posting, Donna.  I owe an even bigger apology to Diana at Elephants Eye on False Bay for missing two months of her 'Dozen for Diana' meme. I was on a very hectic Master Gardener speaking circuit, giving five presentations in about ten days. I'm exhausted. But I'm going to catch up with my 'Dozen' choices with snowdrops for February and daffodils for March. Snowdrops are a must-have even though I don't experience too much luck with them. The moles often push up their little bulbs. In addition, they have a hard time surviving the Pocono weather conditions. But the survivors really cheer me when nothing else is blooming in my garden.

Snowdrops for February

I intended choosing daffodils for later, but because they bloomed in March this year, I'm making them this month's pick. My favorite, Tahiti, is budding. Love those blooms.

Daffodil Narcissus 'Tahiti"

I celebrated the unofficial start of spring at the flower show which ran March 5-13, and spring officially arrived on March 20 bringing early blooms. Happy Spring, dear gardening friends. So much to celebrate.

Pamela x

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