Bible plants in Minneapolis?! This northern city is 13 degrees further north in latitude and at least 4 hardiness zones colder than the Holy Land…yet would I find Bible plants in Minneapolis?? Yes! resounding with a confidence confirmed at my GardenComm Annual Conference, held the first week of this month, where I traveled to fill up on marvelous gardens and keep company with remarkable garden communicators.
I have reported on our trips over the years, encouraging you with my restored-to-travel-in-person 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 a basic level, and God’s hope and goodness in gardening is a story we each have a part in communicating to the next generation. Visit GardenComm.org to learn more about our vivaciously savvy group.
Are There Bible Plants in Minneapolis?
We visited Bailey Nurseries Display Garden, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, Tangletown Gardens and Wise Eatery and many private gardens, including the home garden of Meg McAndrews Cowden, author of Plant Grow Harvest Repeat (affiliate link). I am happy to flash the following snapshots of flora mentioned or implied in the Scriptures flourishing and filling out these gardens; see the Word of the Lord prevail everywhere from Meg’s raised beds to the Arb’s landscaped wonder. Enjoy “I spy”-style devotions with the following plants that connect to the pages of our treasured ancient text.
Conifers, of Course
How glorious it was to leave behind my scorched Texas prairieland and take in the cooler northern climate and shelter near the “Big Woods,” the dreamy, forested biome traversing Minnesota, imagined long ago as a little girl reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House in the Big Woods. Big Woods refers to mostly deciduous trees carpeting the land, though conifers are common, too, and planted frequently in residential and commercial landscaping.
A beautiful juniper caught my eye at the Bailey Nurseries Display Garden, Juniperus scopulorum ‘Bailigh’ or Sky High™ Juniper. Its topaz-colored, feathery branches, polka-dotted with berry-like cones, make an alluring addition to evergreen plantings, a surprising visual refreshment to splash among deeper green shrubs and trees. It will keep its bushy, teardrop habit with little forming and shaping. May it speak to your heart of the Lord’s renown as noted in Isaiah 55:13—
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 55:13 NIV
—and remind you that the Lord has tucked deep treasures in His Word to help us know Him:
I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name. Isaiah 45:3 NIV
Crazy for Crabapples
Crabapples graced nearly every garden we visited, and I can only imagine how delightful the views of flowering canopies are in springtime. Yet our late summer panoramas revealed the picturesque trees laden with clustered fruits, some blushing red already, other cultivars still speckled in unripe apple greens.
As discussed in greater length in Devotions Blogs and both of my books, God’s Word for Gardeners Bible and My Father is the Gardener, “apples” translated in the Bible were likely to have been apricots instead. The Holy Land climate does not have the chilling hours needed to produce apples as we cultivate today; at the very least, the fruited trees mentioned might have been ancestral crabapples.
Nonetheless, it was easy to picture the beloved’s enthralling revival at the pleasure of her lover’s company as crooned for in Song of Songs; I, too, lingered in the shade of crabapple trees throughout our tours to retreat from the bright sunlight and take in their sweet loveliness, which I rarely see around me at home.
Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the young men. In his shade I take delight and sit down, and his fruit is sweet to my taste. He has brought me to the banquet hall, and his banner over me is love. Song of Songs 2:3-4 ISV
Lord, how wonderfully you bless the righteous. Your favor wraps around each one and covers them under your canopy of kindness and joy. Psalm 5:12 TPT
Several Artemisia species filled out plant-packed garden beds, spilling over walkway edges and shading out weeds. In the Minneapolis region, the low-growing perennials are identified commonly by the Biblical name wormwood, whereas in my region, we call them by the genus name Artemisia. ‘Silver Mound’ Wormwood, Artemisia schmidtiana, pictured here in the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, looks fresh on our warm tour day, a testimony to the grace and resilience God plants in those turned to Him…so don’t turn away!
…so that there will not be among you a man or woman, or family or tribe, whose heart turns away today from the Lord our God, to go to serve the gods of those nations; that there will not be among you a root bearing poisonous fruit and wormwood. Deuteronomy 29:18 NASB
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord Acts 3:19 NIV
Jonah’s Casting Cares
Speaking of poisonous fruits (Deuteronomy 29:18), gorgeous castor bean plant, Ricinus communis, is another dramatic addition to garden beds, also with contrasting foliage, standing tall and lush with color among background evergreens. Red-to-green leaves, punctuated by bright, fuzzy, red “beans”—the spiny coverings dry and fall away to resemble beans, that is; not edible but poisonous beans, however.
Amazingly, the Lord used a treacherous, tall shrub to shelter Jonah yet shake him to attention. Jonah turned away twice in his whale-of-journey—I suppose he never noticed wormwood plants along the way!
Adonai, God, prepared a castor-bean plant and made it grow up over Yonah to shade his head and relieve his discomfort. So Yonah was delighted with the castor-bean plant. Jonah 4:6 CJB
Let castor bean remind us where to cast our cares and concerns:
Cast all your care upon Him, because He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7 MEV
Even so, every detail of your body and soul—even the hairs of your head!—is in my care; nothing of you will be lost. Staying with it—that’s what is required. Stay with it to the end. You won’t be sorry; you’ll be saved. Luke 21:18-19 The Message
Moses’ Moaning Vegetables
Who knew the cry from the rabble in the Sinai would come around to unite gardeners everywhere, for nearly any summer garden can be found filled with melons, cucumbers, leeks, onions, and garlic. These annuals have been cultivated for thousands of years, connecting us across time and continents. With hot summer days fueling our human tendency to complain, we are blessed by the story in Numbers 11 of what NOT to do—moan and wail.
The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!” Numbers 11:4-6 NIV
Let us keep cultivating gratitude and trust in the Lord that we are being led to good land, no matter how cloudy things may seem currently, or how monotonous the manna.
For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills Deuteronomy 8:7 NIV
Oh yes! God gives Goodness and Beauty; our land responds with Bounty and Blessing. Psalm 85:12 The Message
Running out of garden space? Tangletown Gardens has completely transformed that narrow strip of disregarded ground between their sidewalk and the street into a kaleidoscope of garden plants, punctuated by papyrus. What a joy to see garden beauty all the way to the curb! Papyrus offers a distinct fluff and form of foliage, creating drama and intrigue. I was surprised to see this old favorite growing this far north;
even in my garden, papyrus must be overwintered indoors or grown as an annual. Be sure to have a watering plan if you plant your “hell strip,” as it is affectionately called among urban gardeners, because papyrus withers without water, and God’s Word reminds:
Can papyrus grow tall where there is no marsh? Can reeds thrive without water? While still growing and uncut, they wither more quickly than grass. Job 8:11-12 NIV
The passage leads us to an important question of self-examination when facing a situation as Job did: What is our source? Have we been drawing water from a metaphorical marsh, instead of the fresh spring of living water found in God’s Spirit (John 4:13)?Shelley S. Cramm, “Source of Hope,” My Father is the Gardener, page 88
Minneapolis gardens abound with herbs, soaking in the summer sunshine and filling the views with fragrant, soft green leaving, mostly in their flowering stages by now.
Mint and rue particularly caught my eye, longtime lovely standbys in my southern garden, too. Their persistence in gardens from north to south, east to west is a testimony to the insistence that Jesus has for justice and the love of God, for the Father’s mercy and faithfulness. These are to be the flavor of our lives, from family garden to public landscape. Let thriving herbs keep our vigilance fervent to heed Jesus herbal warning.
“Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone…” Luke 11:42 NIV
Rue is also a popular plant in these parts, its bright yellow flowers blooming and attracting butterflies.
I will listen to what God the Lord says; he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants— but let them not turn to folly. Psalm 85:8 NIV
O Lord, this line up of Bible plants in Minneapolis, growing and thriving in these northern gardens, helps us linger in your Word and remember You in all the gardening we do. Yet there are many warnings and Words of rebuke in this plant gathering…hmmm. Let us pause and ponder, like Mary was inclined to do (Luke 2:19), and seek deeper meanings and hidden mysteries in You. O Father, if we could fully know and grasp the depth and delight of Your love for us, the forever canopy of your kindness and joy — Wow! We would never need another warning. Let the forests and crab apple trees move us to desire You and Your shelter and know that You are the Lord (Jeremiah 24:7). But thank You, for speaking your warnings in plants to make sure we get the message! We see the beauty and tastiness in wormwood, castor bean, cucumber, leeks, onions, garlic, mint, and rue, and You will steer us away from bitter poisons and living sour lives. We will never “rue the day” or the time spent lingering with You, hallelujah! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Garden hats off to all who sponsored and organized the GrdenComm Annual Conference. Visit www.gardencomm.org to learn more about joining our organization. Photo courtesy of Tracy Walsh Photography
Keep traveling! Enjoy these Devotions Blogs showcasing Biblical plants at gardens across the country: God’s Word in the Gardens of Salt Lake City Where Can I Find Bible Plants in Pittsburgh? A Bible Gardener Visits Buffalo Where Can I Find Bible Plants in Pasadena? Mayor Daley Goes to the Dentist Where Can I Find Bible Plants in Atlanta?
Do you love connecting God’s Word to your gardening work and the trees and plants around you? You will love my new book, My Father is the Gardener, Devotions in Botany and Gardening of the Bible, which includes deeper devotions on Papyrus, Wormwood, and Apple & Apricot Trees featured above
Photo Credits: ©2023 Shelley S. Cramm
CJB notes Scripture quotations taken from the Complete Jewish Bible by David H. Stern. Copyright © 1998. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Messianic Jewish Publishers, 6120 Day Long Lane, Clarksville, MD 21029. www.messianicjewish.net.
ISV denotes Scripture quotations from The Holy Bible: International Standard Version. Release 2.0, Build 2015.02.09. Copyright © 1995-2014 by ISV Foundation. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED INTERNATIONALLY. Used by permission of Davidson Press, LLC.
The Message denotes Scripture quotations taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries.
MEV denotes Scripture quotations taken from The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House. All rights reserved.
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