From the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof the Eternal One’s name is to be praised. Psalm 113:3
In these dark days, plants in the Biblical Garden lie bare, skeletal, with hollow stems and brittle, desiccated remains of leaves littering the frozen ground. Seed-heads are scattered across the waiting earth, their promise of new life at rest until brighter days awaken their life-force, and their pods or seeds split open under the warmer rains of spring. The bitter wind rasps the branches of the almond tree and the willow. The essential structure of the garden lies hidden beneath the snow and no visitors come to sit on the bench and listen to the birds chattering among themselves about nest-building days to come.
Once again it’s that liminal season when all is quiet, and as the daylight hours gradually lengthen, we reimagine what the garden can be in the growing season ahead.
Do we want to re-establish the dye-plants whose color-laden roots and blossoms made Joseph’s coat so vivid? Do we want to set aside a plot for wild plants we know as weeds, but which served as forage for Abraham’s flocks and added flavor to the stewpot bubbling on Sarah’s hearth? And should we relocate the Stachys byzantina, the lamb’s ear plants, with their soft, wooly leaves which were petted by third-grade Religious School students during last autumn’s exploration of the garden?
The Biblical Garden is a world of possibilities. To bring those possibilities to fruition, first comes observation and evaluation of the garden that was, then a plan takes shape to realize the “garden to be” in the longer days ahead. We can be grateful for this waiting season as we dream and imagine and plan for the warmer days to come.
While the garden is designed to be relatively low-maintenance, all gardens need an occasional helping hand. If you like to work with plants and can spend a couple of hours planting and tidying up this spring, please contact Catherine Walters at 401 419-7698, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michael Schlesinger is Temple Sinai’s Biblical Gardener. Mike has been gardening since he was eight years old. He used to grow grape vines and make wine when he lived in California. He now tends to our garden, continuing the traditions started by Catherine Walters.