The idea of a biblical garden is essentially growing a selection of plants that are mentioned in the Bible. This can be in pots, containers or a even a small garden plot. Some people are attracted to the more exotic or symbolic plants out of interest, while others prefer to grow plants as a more devotional exercise.
The focus of this project is to ‘keep-it-simple’.
- The plants featured are all very easy to grow – some a little too easy, so, if you are planting directly into the ground, be careful that they don’t take over your garden!
- They also are edible and so have the added advantage of being useful in the kitchen and allay any fears about being eaten by small children.
- All these plants are also suitable for small pots/containers and can be kept on a windowsill. The advantage of this is that you are not so restricted to seasonal weather
This makes the exercise ideal for encouraging children to take an active part. There are plenty of resources that teachers can use to integrate this project with the National Curriculum.
There is plenty of guidance and some superb free resources (including free lesson plans across all Key Stages) relating to gardening and growing plants in school at the Royal Horticultural Society’s ‘RHS Campaign for School Gardening.’
For parents and teachers
These help to introduce each plant to the younger reader and to help contextualise it within the ‘biblical’ period Israel (notionally, the Roman period – very roughly 70 BCE to 70 CE).
We have chosen to use free downloadable clipart from Free Bible Images. This allows you to use these images in your own material or create your own characters in the same style. The artwork for the characters come from the following ‘Bible Characters’ sets: Men Group 2 and Women & Babies.
A note on the plants
Botanical, like zoological, studies of the Bible are fraught with difficulties. This is because names for flora and fauna often change from region to regain as well as across time. Some plants (and animals) have multiple names or a referred to generically (see Nettle in the Bible) – in the same way we often use the name crow to refer to a rook, jackdaw, raven and (carrion) crow. Other plants, although important, are sometimes hidden to the reader of English translations; for example see Madder – an important plant used for dyeing.
For more on identifying biblical animals and plants in the Bible see Day 1 of 30 Days [Biblically] Wild.
For more information on helpful books on biblical plants: ‘Field-guides’ to fauna and flora in the Bible.
Some general information on creating a biblical garden can be found on the Gardening Know How website. The article also suggests a number of plants that a featured in the Bible. Difficulties in identifying specific species mentioned within biblical texts means that a couple of plants listed are open to question, but nevertheless, give a good starting place.