Memorial Day weekend is a sort of season opener for gardeners. So with the holiday past and gardening now in full swing, do the weeds seem to be winning? The best defense is a good offense, many sportsmen would say, and on this premise any gardener hoping for weed-free flower beds will plant Artemisia, member of the silvery-fronded segment of the sunflower or Compositae family. Beating weeds at their own virulent game, I am in favor of filling the garden to overflowing rather than leaving a spot unoccupied where weeds could gain ground. This season, Artemisia has been my MVP (Most Valuable Plant!), spreading and filling speedily in the most striking way, shading soil, discouraging weed growth, and covering the ground before weeds can take root. Bearing its genus name, Artemisia is cousin to Artemisia judacia, one of the species growing in the Holy Land more likely the wormwood of the Bible. The nurseries in my area stock Artemisia rather than wormwood, similar in appearance though lacking the distinctive pungency that helped warrant its association with bitter poison in Scripture.
Make sure there is no man or woman, clan or tribe among you today whose hearts turns away from the LORD our God to go and worship the gods of those nations; make sure there is no root among you that produces such bitter [wormwood] poison. Deuteronomy 29:18
Wormwood in Scripture serves as a warning, synonymous with bitterness, an acrimonious condition of a heart unoccupied with the Lord, his commands and covenants. A weedy heart, so to speak—a heart turned away from God, filled not with his loving-kindness but with an unkempt assortment of other gods which brings disaster.
When it comes to a God’s Word garden, however, the only bitter consequence is not planting Artemisia along with your finishing touches this season. The slightest breeze sends flickers through the foliage, as if ruffling feathers, making Artemisia an eye-catching, interest-adding mover and shaker in the garden. You won’t want to miss out on this pleasing weed preventative, a captivating contrast certain to enhance all that is already established in your yard. Artemisia advances against the voids, running up the score on lush loveliness. May the silvery perennial be a reminder to take to heart all God’s blessings set before us (Deuteronomy 30:1-3).
For more on Wormwood and its intricate presence in the Bible, see the devotion on page 244 of the NIV God’s Word for Gardeners Bible.