Our season of evergreen greenery is here—perfect time for a myrtle moment. This Biblical beauty, Myrtus communis, is celebrated for its delicately fragrant boughs that are brighter than boxwoods and softer than hollies. While myrtle is said to be hardy to zone 8, which is supposedly my garden’s hardiness zone, we lost our dwarf myrtle shrubs in the epic “snowmageddon” of 2021. But I’m back with a measure of my Father’s determination to replant (Jeremiah 32:41, Ezekiel 36:36)!
This time I hope for victory by keeping the myrtles in pots to bring inside during icy arctic blasts. Admittedly, author Abbie Zabar’s advice has stirred my garden curiosity ever since reading her book, A Growing Gardener, nearly 30 years ago, quoted in My Father is the Gardener. Her cheery botanical drawings of topiary have guided me to this myrtle moment.
Get to Know Myrtle
Myrtle is mentioned in several prominent passages in God’s Word and has graced Devotions Blogs over the years. Enjoy glimpses of dwarf myrtle in the landscape in Where Can I Find Bible Plants in Pasadena?; cook with myrtle’s sweet scent in A Citron Fruit Celebration; behold myrtle’s place in bridal bouquets in Myrtle, A Growing Success; study in-depth myrtle’s role in the Feast of Tabernacles with Nehemiah’s Call or easy-breeze in the whim and meter of this Bible plant in YearlY JoY with LeafY Myrtle Trees. Did I mention that I’m mesmerized with this plant?
The flirt and fascination with its aromatic branches and charming white flowers have led me to imagine myrtle as a backdrop to scenes of festive, joyful praise in the Scriptures, especially evident in Isaiah’s revelation:
You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the Lord’s renown, for an everlasting sign, that will endure forever. Isaiah 55:12-13 NIV
Though not mentioned directly, maybe the psalmist had myrtle in mind when he wrote:
Lord, save us! Lord, grant us success!… With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar. Psalm 118:25, 27 NIV
Behind the Scenes in Hebrews 12
And this morning, as I chased visions of sugar plums and topiary frames from my head to soak up Scripture and start the day, it seemed like some of myrtle’s scented victory wafted through these choice Words:
We have joined the festal gathering of myriads of angels in their joyous celebration! Hebrews 12:22 TPT
What a holiday moment, whether Chanukah or Christmas, to imagine an angelic assembly, “myriads” almost homophonic with myrtle, reiterating Nehemiah’s command:
Celebrate with great joy. Nehemiah 8:15 NIV
Add to our celebrations the divine promise that all our “stumbling,” sinful ways will be divinely healed—sweet success has been declared through our dedication to the Lord, hallelujah!
…keep walking forward on God’s paths all your stumbling ways will be divinely healed! Hebrews 12:13 TPT
May the beauty and emerald-like brightness of myrtle leaves remind us to embrace these realities.
I am a rookie at forming and trimming plants into geometric shapes; I don’t even box our boxwoods. Yet it seems a well-matched fit to grow myrtles in Christmas tree shapes since they will be in-home for the holidays.
The steps I have taken so far involve purchasing 4” myrtle plants from www.companionplants.com (see Garden in Delight Winter Newsletter for more information) and transplanting them to one gallon pots to grow freely outdoors through spring, summer, and fall. Once winter temperatures began to whorl, I transformed galvanized tomato cages into topiary forms, cutting off the top ring and driving the remaining guides as stakes into the dirt perimeter of the pot. Time to trim!
Myrtles send up multiple stems from their base in arching habits; one of the plants needed to be staked to grow straight and tall, while the other one had a more upright stature already. I hand-clipped branches that were sprawling out of the cage form, and I suspect it will be another year’s growth to fill in sprigs and form a more densely leafy, conical shape.
Because I don’t want to lug heavy pots indoors, I have kept them in plastic liners and made fabric coverings to go with silver and gold decorations. May any or all of this inspire your own creativity in garden decorating.
Myrtle Moment Prayer
O Lord, let us layer your encouraging Words in Hebrews 12 over the myrtle promises of restoration, refreshment, and evergreen strength. Turning briers into soft, aromatic, brilliantly emerald myrtles as Isaiah declared (Isaiah 55:12-13) nourishes our imagination and nurtures endurance through our gardener’s desire to be near nature. Help us let go of the “thorns” of life that have wounded and pierced us, and the sins like “briers” that have entangled us (Hebrews 12:1), and move into the refreshing blessing that awaits us in the Lord. Jesus kept focused on the joy set before him to endure his agony (Hebrews 12:2-3), joy being another myrtle association. Help us celebrate this season with great joy (Nehemiah 8:12), remaining dedicated to You, O God. Because of You, dear Jesus, our stumbling ways are healed, transforming us in sweet success. Remind us of the myriads of angels singing to You in the heavenly realm (Hebrews 12:22, Revelation 5:11-12) and join their holy worship.
If your faith remains strong, even while surrounded by life’s difficulties, you will continue to experience the untold blessings of God! True happiness comes as you pass the test with faith, and receive the victorious crown of life promised to every lover of God. James 1:12 TPT
Read more about myrtle in chapter 14 of My Father is the Gardener, Devotions in Botany and Gardening of the Bible, link here to find where to buy the book
Myrtle is celebrated in God’s Word for Gardeners Bible beginning on page a-30
Find Myrtle in the Plant Guide, www.gardeninDelight.com/Plant-Guide/myrtle
Enjoy a poem from A-to-Z Primer of Plants from God’s Word for a snappy-patter understanding of myrtle in Scripture, “Y is for mYrtle”
Photo Credits: ©2015-2023 Shelley S. Cramm
NIV denotes Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.®
TPT denotes Scripture quotations taken from The Passion Translation®. Copyright © 2017, 2018, 2020 by Passion & Fire Ministries, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ThePassionTranslation.com