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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  1. Pam this looks like a wonderful book, and a lovely way to start the day. I too like to start my day in a soft and devotional way...I meditate but a book like this would add to it as well. Thanks for sharing this book.

  2. Very nice review, Pam. I like how you used plants and passages from the Bible when writing. I agree with you on type being larger in the book. I know a few friends that can only read books with large print. Like you said, it would be a trade-off with the book being heavier though.

    1. There are things I'd like added too, Donna, such as maps of the Holy Land. Then the book would weigh a ton!

  3. we have our carob tree.
    The 'locusts and wild honey' in the desert were apparently carob pods and dates.
    Perhaps that is also in your book?

    1. Yes, Shelley writes that the locusts John the Baptist ate were pods from the carob tree. No mention of the wild honey and dates, though.

  4. Very nice review Pam. This looks like a wonderful book to have in one's collection. Thanks for sharing!

  5. I will look for this one. We find so many blessings in the garden and in nature, don't we? Blessings to you, too, Pam. :)

  6. The Garden is a Blessing of Gods wonder he wants you to feel his presents all around I am glad you have found that in your garden and its shows it sounds like a great book thanks for always sharing your an inspiration Pam

  7. What an interesting concept for a book. I do love the choice of seats you have at your disposal for reading, I think the one by the pond is just perfect. Roll on that warm weather.

  8. Interesting. I don't really do devotional readings as such like you, but each day when I go to my garden, I first sit in my favorite seat and meditate for a few minutes. It centers me and prepares me for the day. I think it is very important to approach each day mindfully.