Once again, The Association of Garden Communicators (GWA) gathered its gaggle of writers, editors, photographers, videographers, marketers, etc. for its annual conference—nothing is more fun than being with a group who loves everything garden and who are crazy to communicate the joy and intrigue in a meaningful way. We took Atlanta by storm; literally the first rainfall in many days drenched us, but did not discourage!
Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given you the autumn rains because he is faithful.
Joel 2:23 NIV
Before sharing more snapshots from the journey, may I repeat my annual mantra: If you have a trade association, join it! Enjoy fellowship on common ground with your colleagues. If you want to associate with fellow gardeners, join ours!! Social media makes us all broadcast journalists at some level, and the hope and goodness in gardening is a story we each have a part in communicating to the next generation.
Are there Bible plants in Atlanta?
Atlanta’s hilly terrain compares to the hillsides of Judea, yet its humid, forested, woodsy ravines and summits create a much different atmosphere that the sun-scorched lands of the Bible. Nevertheless, many plants mentioned in Scripture are easy to spot, especially in edible gardens.
Atlanta Botanical Gardens
First stop, the renowned Atlanta Botanical Gardens, an extensive adventure. These gardens have captured the essence of garden delight! Fun and whim are found around every corner, especially with the current exhibit of Chihuly glass. The woods and Kendeda Canopy Walk to the north surely capture a measure of the splendor of ancient cedar of Lebanon forests.
Yet I spent much of my time in the Edible Garden in the southwestern corner, and found old favorites thriving in the warm Atlanta sunshine. Figs, pomegranates, grapevines—the Deuteronomy 8:8 classics—along with crab apples and bay laurel, some of the more controversial Bible botanicals in terms of discerning precise species.
Let us go early to the vineyards to see if the vines have budded, if their blossoms have opened, and if the pomegranates are in bloom— there I will give you my love.
Song of Songs 7:12 NIV
Crab apple trees, Pyrus malus ‘Robinson,’ at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens
Strengthen me with raisins, refresh me with apples, for I am faint with love.
Song of Songs 2:5 NIV
I loved the whimsical play of structure and color at the entrance to the Edible Garden area. Rusted rebar trellises support climbing beans and vines, accenting the terraced beds of deep purple-leaved basil. Above, the structured apple espaliers form a sense of enclosure to this amphitheater-style space. Large, boldly-colored, plastic apples ornament the cultured trees – effective plant tags, wouldn’t you say?!
They sowed fields and planted vineyards that yielded a fruitful harvest
Psalm 107:37 NIV
Private Gardens in Atlanta
Private garden tours equaled the wow of public garden displays, hosted each year by Master Gardeners and garden enthusiasts in the regions GWA visits. I was charmed by glimpses of God’s Word out in the woodland sanctuaries and private collections surrounding Atlanta.
They brayed among the bushes and huddled in the undergrowth [acanthus].
Job 30:7 NIV
Atlanta History Center
The impressive grounds surrounding the Atlanta History Center highlighted the final day. We enjoyed a momentous walk across extreme terrain, criss-crossing ravines and woodlands to take in everything from the splendor of the Swan House mansion to the humble garden plots at Wood Family Cabin. Working gardens such as the cabin’s are rarely without reference to the foods and crops cultivated in the ancient Holy Land, infusing Scripture with the realities and rigor of living close to the earth.
Put your outdoor work in order and get your fields ready; after that, build your house.
Those who work their land will have abundant food
Proverbs 24:27, 28:19 NIV
Once again, it was a joy to journey through gardens and discover plants and vignettes that brought me back to the transforming Words from the Bible. Walking up the private garden path pictured above, with the unpretentious lamps poised along the way, seemed to whisper in my soul—
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.
Psalm 119:105 NIV
Photo Credits: ©2016 Shelley S. Cramm