Bangor Civic Society


News & EventsTown WalksTools & FeaturesMembershipMessage Board
Bible Garden


The planting of a ‘Bible Garden’ in that part of the Civic Centre which adjoins one of the oldest Cathedral sites in Britain, is not only an expression of the City Council’s policy in the development of the Town Hall precincts, but also perpetuates the close, and even intimate, relations which have existed for centuries between the City and its Cathedral. The Welshman still draws much of his inspiration from the ‘Good Book’, and there is perhaps no better way of bringing the Bible to life than by making a garden of the plants, in the chronological order in which they are mentioned in the Bible story. The Patriarchs, the Prophets, Kings and even Apostles, were men as we are, and the plants they mention may have been chosen for no other reason than their familiarity to the hearer. Who can doubt, however, that similar references by Jesus have a significance limited only by the knowledge and understanding of the student.
There are difficulties, of course, in identifying many of the Biblical plants which should not be under-estimated, but careful examination of all available evidence leads to virtual certainty in far more cases than might have been expected - and, in others, to an identification based at least upon reasonable probabilities. Since, in a book of this kind, it is not possible to present this evidence - space alone forbids it - a selection has been made of four highly controversial identifications as examples of the kind of ‘detective’ work thrust upon the ‘Biblical Gardener’.

(1) The ‘Apple’ of the Garden of Eden. In the original Hebrew the word used does not specify any particular fruit in the temptation of Adam, but merely a fruit sweet of smell and taste. Perhaps about the year 250 B.C. this word was translated in the Greek version by the word ‘Melon’ - which then meant ‘any apple-like fruit’ (the fruit we now call a Melon was given its name because - although it belongs to the Cucumber family - it has the shape of an apple). Eighteen hundred years later (1607) King James’s Scholars rendered the word ‘Melon’ as ‘Apple’ because by that time the Greek word had become restricted to the Apple alone. Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’ sanctioned this identification, which has since been accepted universally. Actually, the only fruits known to have existed in Armenia and Mesopotamia since before the dawn of history, and meeting other requirements of the Temptation, are the Quince and Apricot. Even today the Apricot is known in the East as the ‘Apple of Gold’ and, as a fruit eaten straight from the tree, would be much more tempting than the Quince, acid and astringent as is this fruit when eaten raw. Hence, Apricot has been planted as the ‘Apple’ of the Garden of Eden.

(2) A different problem is presented by the ‘Thicket’ in which the Ram was caught by the horns at the Sacrifice of Isaac. The Hebrew word used is correctly applied to any thorny bush which forms ‘thickets’. It cannot therefore refer to the common Oleander of Palestine which, although it forms dense thickets, is without spines. Nor can it apply to a common ‘Bramble’, Rubus sanctus, because this bush is almost invariably found growing along lowland water-courses, and we are told that Abraham and his son, Isaac, ascended a mountain to build the sacrificial altar. The most probable plant, therefore, to meet the facts of the story is the ‘Elm-leaved’ Bramble Rubus ulmifolia, which commonly forms extensive thickets on the bare hill sides of northern Palestine, on which it is usually believed the story is located.

(3) Solomon’s 'Rose of Sharon’ is the cause of much controversy; and many plants have been named by different authorities. The reference in ‘Song of SolomonII.1’ reads ... “I am the Rose of Sharon and the Lily of the Valleys,” and the Hebrew word translated as ‘Rose’ means, in fact, an ‘acrid bulb’. Clearly this rules out all true roses, the ‘tree-rose’ or ‘Rhododendron’ of the Greeks, and all other shrubs. Some commentators who accept this fact consider that the two references may be to the same plant, but this cannot be the case since the word ‘Sharon’ means ‘Plain’, so that it would seem that Solomon is comparing his beloved with the most beautiful flowers of both plain and valley. Actually, the first-known Greek version reads ... “I am the Narcissus of Sharon and the Lily of the Valleys”, and the word ‘Rose’ is never mentioned until the end of the twelfth century A.D. We have therefore planted what we believe to be the favourite Narcissus of the Arabs - Narcissus tazetta, the ‘Rose of Sharon’. Three alternative identifications, however, are quite possible and are planted beside the Narcissus. These are the ‘Autumn Saffron’ or Colchicum autumnale, which is favoured by the Revised Version of the Bible; the Tulip, Tulipa Wilsonii which, although a hill-side species, is the nearest we have been able to find to the ‘Sharon Tulip’, Tulipa sharonensis, and the Lily-like Pancratium, still sold in Palestine as ‘The Rose of Sharon’.

(4) Jesus’s reference to the ‘Lilies of the Field’. The earliest version of this passage is in Greek and uses a word which literally means ‘any lily-like flower of the field’. None of the true Lilies is common in Galilee, yet Jesus was surely indicating that even the most common and familiar flower had been adorned by God with a beauty with which Solomon, in all his glory, could not compare. Practically all Botanists who have expressed an opinion are agreed that the multi-coloured and exquisitely beautiful ‘Wind Flower’, Anemone coronaria, is probably the commonest and most widespread of all the flowers around the Sea of Galilee, and that this is almost certainly the flower to which Jesus referred. A Hebrew Botanist in Palestine, however, has recently suggested that the reference may have been not to the most beautiful, but rather to the least showy among the common flowers of that district, which, he says, is the common Chamomile, Anthemis nobilis; and so alongside the Anemone we have planted a species of the Chamomile Genus, Anthemis.
We must, therefore, beg the indulgence of the student who may be disturbed by finding a biblical reference to a ‘Cedar’ illustrated by a ‘Juniper’ and another reference to ‘Juniper’ represented by a ‘Broom’, or Isaiah’s ‘Fitches’ shown to be a form of Nigella (Love in a Mist) - far removed from the common ‘Field Vetch’- and ask him to accept an assurance that the identification of every plant in the Garden has only been made after a thorough sifting of all the evidence.

Crag Side,
Penrhos Drive,
April, 1962.

The Bible Garden
Gardd yr Esgob, or ‘Bishop’s Garden’ is a pleasant enough and sufficiently secluded part of the Town Hall precincts in which to rest quietly for a while. Most people will be interested in wandering among the flowering shrubs and examining many which may be unfamiliar to them, but it is for those of you whose interest is increased when you realise that the Garden is unique in the fact that every plant has some direct connection with religion, that this booklet has been written. On the south, or upper, side of the curved ‘Bible Walk’ are to be found giants traditionally associated with Christian Festivals and the Saints, while the space on the other side of this Walk is entirely planted with trees, shrubs, and flowers referred to in the Bible. At first sight, the planting may seem haphazard but, in fact, they are arranged in the chronological order in which they occur in the Old and New Testaments, and so, if you care to follow the numbering of the plants - each plant being labelled with its number, name and Bible reference - you may have the really stimulating experience of “walking” through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation; telescoping, as it were, some six thousand years of history into sixty minutes.

Creation of the Universe
Starting from the ancient Gate on the eastern side of the Bible Garden you will see first a group of plants symbolising the Creation (Genesis. I. 11-13, II 8-9 and 15-17; III. 1-6) ... “And God said, Let the earth bring forth Grass and Herb yielding seed, and the Fruit Tree after this kind”. Plots (1), (2), (3), consist of primitive cereals and grasses which are certainly among the oldest plants of which we have record - apart from fossils.
(la) is Wild Small Spelt, and (1b) Wild Emmer - both being wild forms of Wheat from Palestinian hills. (1c) is Small Spelt Wheat, recorded from the upper reaches of the River Euphrates (in the region of Mt. Ararat), 5,000 B.C. (1d) ‘Emmer’ Wheat, a lowland Wheat recorded in Egypt and Mesopotamia (Iraq) certainly in 5,000 B.C., and possibly as early as 7,000 B.C. (le) ‘Club’ Wheat - a ‘bread’ Wheat recorded in Egypt in 5,000 B.C., and beginning to replace ‘Emmer’ by 1000 B.C.
The number (2) is given to wild forms of Oats or Barley; the former occurring naturally among the primitive grasses although they are never mentioned, as such in the Bible. Thus (2a) is Bristle-pointed Oat, (2b) the Short Oat and (2c) the Sterile Oat; while (2d) is wild ‘Wall’ Barley. Similarly, wild grasses of the area are included under number (3). Thus (3a) is Aegilops umbellulata, and (3b) is Aegilops ovuta, the Goat-Grass; the genus Aegilops is believed by many botanists to be the ancestor of-our cultivated Wheats. (3c) is Setaria viridis purpurea, the Purple Bristle-Grass, and (3d) Setaria viridis, the Green Bristle-Grass; the genus Setaria being closely related to cultivated Millet. (3e) is ‘Rye’ Brome-Grass, (3f) Barren Brome, (3g) is Upright Brome and (3h) is Compact Brome. (3f) is the ‘Ratstail’ Fescue and (3k) ‘Rough Dogstail’; the only annual grass represented being (31) Polypogon, the ‘Annual Beard-Grass’.
No. 4 is the ‘Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil’ (Genesis. 11.9). Popularly, this was supposed to have been an Apple, but is much more likely to have been an Apricot; the mistake having arisen from mis-translations of the actual words used in both the Hebrew and Greek original versions of Genesis (see Foreword of this book).

The ‘Fall’ of Man
Genesis III. 6 tells us that Eve tempted Adam to eat of the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil ... “And he did eat” and this, we learn from the next verse, made them aware of their nakedness ... “And they sewed fig-leaves together and made themselves aprons”. The Fig-Tree is planted as No. 5 to illustrate this episode, but it is repeatedly referred to in the Scriptures as the emblem of fruitfulness; and, indeed, this fruit has sustained many a desert nomad as an essential part of his ‘Dates and Barley’ diet. The disobedience of our first parents called down upon their heads the wrath of Jehovah (Genesis, III. 17-18) ... “Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and Thistles shall it bring forth to thee”. To represent the thorns we have planted the Palestinian Buckthorn (No. 6) while the thistles are illustrated by the ‘Lady’s Thistle’ (No. 7a) the Star Thistle (No. 7b) and The Iberian Thistle (No. 7c).

The Deluge
Nine generations after the death of Seth (the third son of Adam) saw the birth of Noah who, with his family and representatives of all living animals, were spared when God destroyed mankind in the great Flood or Deluge. There is scientific evidence that an unusually heavy flood, covering all Mesopotamia, did actually occur, and clay tablets dug up at Ur of the Chaldees, which have been dated at about 3,000 B.C., give essentially the same account of the Deluge as that recorded in Genesis, although Noah is given his Sumerian name of Ute-Napishtim.
In Genesis VI 14, God commanded Noah to ... “Make thee an Ark of Gopher wood”. Now, the ‘Gopher’ wood was almost certainly the Cypress tree planted as No. 8, It is a native to all the eastern Mediterranean region and the island of Cyprus is named after it. Alexander the Great built his fleets of this timber which, it is said, also formed the great doors of the pagan Temple at Ephesus. It has the reputation of being almost indestructible, and this is borne out by the fact that the great Cypress-wood doors of Constantine’s Basilica in Rome stood, with little or no deterioration, for eleven hundred years until the time of Pope Eugenius IV (1431-39) when they were replaced by the bronze doors which were ultimately transferred to the present Basilica of St. Peter’s. There is no dispute about the next quotation from Genesis VIII. 11: “And the Dove came in to him in the morning and Lo, in her mouth was an Olive-leaf pluckt off”. The Olive (No.9) not only produces the much prized fruit of the East and an invaluable oil, but its timber is very hard, of a rich amber colour, and valuable in cabinet-work. Nor is there any difference of opinion about the next quotation from Genesis IX. 20-21 ... “And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a Vineyard”. The Grape-Vine (No.10) was therefore grown as a beverage as well as for its food value, in ‘Stone-Age’ times.

The Age of the Patriarchs
It was perhaps three thousand five hundred years ago (1,500 B.C.) that Abraham -the first of the Patriarchs - together with Sarah his wife and Lot, his nephew, reached the land of Canaan (Palestine) after months of travelling across the desert from Haran in Mesopotamia, and because of famine conditions, continued on his way to Egypt. Here he prospered and, returning to Canaan, he built the first recorded Altar to Jehovah under a great Oak tree. This was almost certainly the common ‘Kermes’ Oak planted as No. 11. After parting from Lot, Abraham was tested by Jehovah, who demanded the sacrifice of Abraham’s beloved son, Isaac. This he prepared to do at an Altar built on the mountain side, but God stayed his hand (Genesis XXII. 13), and Abraham was allowed to substitute a Ram caught by his horns in a thicket of the ‘Elm Leaved’ Bramble (No. 12), Isaac married Rebecca who “was fair to look upon” (Genesis. XXVI.7) and it was their son Esau who sold his birthright to his twin-brother Jacob for a ‘Mess of Pottage’ (Genesis XXV. 30-34). This was a ‘soup’ or pottage of ‘Red Lentils’ which we have planted as No. 13.
Jacob sold himself as a slave to his Uncle Laban in order to earn the ‘dowry’ to marry his two cousins Rachel and Leah. The birth of sons was of vital importance in those times, but Rachel remained childless though Leah had one son, Reuben. Since the dawn of history it has been believed that the ‘Mandrake’ plant (No.14) would help women to bear children, and Rachel begged Reuben to give her a Mandrake he had found in the Wheat field and was taking home to his mother, Leah; but he refused - it is curious that of the ancestors of the 12 Tribes of Israel. ten were sons of Leah and only two, Joseph and Benjamin, the sons of Rachel, Jacob arranged with Laban that he should have all ‘speckled’ and spotted cattle born in his father-in-law’s herds, as his share, and we are told in Genesis XXX. 37-38, that Jacob peeled branches of Poplar (No.17), Hazel (No.16) and Plane (No.l5) - not Chestnut, which is a mistranslation used in the Authorised Version of the Bible - to increase the proportion of calves marked in this way.

Joseph in Egypt
Some years after Jacob’s son, Joseph, was sold by his half-brothers to the Ishmaelites and taken to Egypt, there was famine in the land of Canaan. Jacob, hearing that ‘there was Corn in Egypt’ sent ten of his sons with presents of ... “a little Balm, a little Honey, Spices and Myrrh, Nuts and Almonds” to Pharaoh, to beg for Corn for his starving dependants (Genesis. XLIII.11). There is some doubt as to the identity of the ‘Balm’ and ‘Spices’, but evidence is not wanting that the spices were fragrant gums extracted from the ‘Storax’ tree; a decorative form of which is planted as No.18 and for identifying the Balm with the ‘Gum Mastic’ tree (see No.20). On the other hand. the word ‘Myrrh’ is definitely a mistranslation for the fragrant ‘laudanum’ gum extracted from a species of ‘Rock-Rose’, planted as No.19. The ‘Nuts’ referred to are the ‘Pistacio Nuts’ of today, and this is the tree planted as No.20, previously mentioned as a close relative of the ‘Gum-Mastic’ tree. Almonds, of course, present no difficulty, and an Almond tree is labelled No.21.
You will now have re-entered the curved ‘Bible Walk’, alongside which you will see ‘The Corn which was in Egypt’ planted near the Pool; ‘Six-Rowed’ Barley (No.22), ‘One-grained’ Spelt Wheat (No.23), ‘Broom-Corn’ Millet (No.24) and ‘Foxtail-Millet’ (No.25). Joseph, who had become Pharaoh’s ‘right-hand’ man as a result of his interpretation of dreams, was thus re-united with his father, Jacob, and brethren and obtained permission for them to settle, in comfort, in Egypt. Pharaoh’s two dreams are illustrated by plots in or near the Pool. Nos.26 and 27 are, respectively, a form of common Rush and the soft or lake-side Rush, while the Water-Gladiole is labelled No.28; all of which are common in the ‘water-meadows’ of Europe and Egypt. It will be remembered that it was in such a water-meadow that the fat and lean ‘kine’ of Pharaoh’s First Dream grazed on coming up out of the water. Similarly the Second Dream is illustrated by the normal ‘single-eared’ wild Emmer Wheat (No.29) and the many-eared, or branched form of Wheat commonly known as Egyptian ‘Mummy’ Wheat (No. 30).

Moses and the Exodus
For many generations - during which both Jacob and Joseph died - the Israelites prospered in Egypt until, in fact, the great Pharaoh, Rameses II (1,300 - 1,230 B.C.) required slaves to build his Temples and Pyramids. For seventy years they were subjected to slavery until Rameses’s successor Menephtah, Pharaoh of the Exodus, ascended the throne. He gave orders that all Israelite boys of less than one year of age should be killed, but we all know how the baby Moses was saved by his mother hiding him in a cradle among the rushes and ‘Flags’) of the river. The Papyrus plant of which the cradle was made will not survive our weather, but the ‘Rushes’ will be found planted as Nos. 26 and 27, while the Water-Gladiole (No.28) and ‘Sweet Calamus’ (No.31) represent the ‘Flags’.
We are told of Moses, in Exodus, III 2-4 … “And the Angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush … And, Behold, the bush burned with fire and the bush was not consumed”. The ‘Burning Bush’ has been identified as the crimson-flowered Dictamnus fraxinella (No.32), the leaves and branches of which are covered with tiny-oil-glands. In hot countries, an inflammable gas escapes from these oil-glands and burns with a blue flame without the development of much heat; the flame dies down as the gas is used up, and ‘the bush is not consumed’. Moses, being instructed by God to prepare for the escape of the Israelites, returned to Egypt from the desert and ordered that the lintels of the Israelite houses should be sprinkled with blood so that the avenging Angels should ‘pass over’ them. Exodus XII. 22 tells us that branches of Hyssop were to be used as brushes, dipped in blood for this purpose. The ‘Hyssop’ referred to is the well known medicinal herb Marjoram (No.33) - a herb which, it is believed, the Hebrews always used in purification rites.
It was about three thousand years ago (1,200 B.C.) and after a sojourn in Egypt of some four hundred and thirty years (Exodus XII.40) that Moses led the Israelites over the northern tip of the Red Sea and turned south towards Mt. Sinai. At the end of the first day they rested in the Oasis of Elim ... “Where there were three score and ten Palm Trees” (Exodus, XV. 27). These are, of course, Date Palms, and one such tree is planted as No.34. This tree has always been the symbol of grace and elegance, and Jewish girls (e.g. the sister of Absalom) were often named Tamar after the Hebrew name for Date. The fruit has always been the staple diet of the desert nomad, and its fermented juice forms the potent wine known throughout the Bible as ‘Strong-Drink’.
By walking along the ‘Bible Walk’ back towards your starting point, you will be following the Israelites during their forty years wandering in the wilderness. At first they were sustained by the food brought out of Egypt, but as it failed, they … “Murmured, and remembered the fish, Cucumbers, Melons, Leeks, Onions and Garlic, which they did eat in Egypt freely”. Samples of these ‘Culinary Vegetables’ are planted and respectively numbered 35 to 39. Then came the miracle of ‘Manna from Heaven’, on which these Israelites largely subsisted for forty years with, of course, the help of milk and dairy products obtainable from their herds of cattle and flocks of sheep and goats.
There appear to have been at least four different sources of 'Manna'. In the neighbourhood of Mt. Sinai, the Manna probably came from the Tamarisk tree (No. 40). This tree is especially liable to attack by a tiny ‘scale-insect’ which repeatedly pushes its needlelike mouth into the leaves and branches. After it has withdrawn its needle, drops of sugary juice collect outside the puncture and, being blown in the wind, these drops settle down like rain on to the desert, where they were collected and stored as a form of ‘honey’ - gathering it as instructed by Moses (Exodus. XVI. 4 and 13-35) in the cool of the evening for, under the heat of the sun the drops, of course, dried up. Also in the desert there was an Alga, a bluish-green crust on the rocks, which swelled up in the dew of the morning almost like sage and this also dried up in the sun or even - as the Bible says -bred worms and stank. Neither this form nor another form to be described, can be grown under our conditions. This latter form is a peculiar lowly kind of plant known as a Lichen which forms loose crusts on the rocks in Syria and Armenia. The edges break off and roll up into tiny balls that are as light as bubbles, and are blown for, sometimes, many scores of miles into the desert, where they settle down and serve, even now, an excellent safeguard against complete famine - this is the Manna described as being like Coriander died - in times of shortage it is still collected and baked into a kind of bread. As the Israelites approached Jericho they would be able to eke out other food by using the ‘Manna’ produced from the ‘Flowering Ash’ (No.41) in the way described for the Tamarisk - it is still sometimes used in medicine as a gentle laxative.
Again, as the Israelites drew near to Jericho, their great generals, Joshua and Caleb defeated the Moabites in several battles, and Moses began the difficult task of welding the scattered Tribes into a truly Hebrew nation. This he did in several ways. (1) The observance of the Feast of the Passover was re-established as a thanksgiving for their deliverance from bondage; (2) an ‘Ark of the Covenant’ was made on which the worship of Jehovah could be focused and (3) a High Priest was appointed to act as the mouthpiece of Jehovah to His people. During the Feast of the Passover the Israelites were to eat their meat with certain 'Bitter Herbs' which are planted as No.42 (Coriander); No.43 (Horehound); No.44 (wild Lettuce), No.45 (Chichory); No.46 (Endive); No.47 (Sorrel) and No.48 (Horse-Radish).
The Ark of the Covenant was built by a workman named Bezaleel of ‘Shittim’ wood - a form of desert Acacia known as Acacia seyal (No.49) and was carried in a mobile, wooden, Tabernacle in which all religious rites were observed for the nation. In these rites Incense formed an important part; a special kind of ‘Holy Incense’ being made up of Spices, Stacte Onycha and Galbanum. The spice and Galbanum were fragrant gums extracted from sub-tropical trees which cannot be grown out-of- doors in our latitude. but the bushes which yielded the equally fragrant gums Stacte and Onycha withstand cooler conditions and have therefore been planted; the former as No. 50 and the latter as No. 51.
In the election of the High Priest it was ordained that the head man of each Tribe should place the branch of a tree in the Tabernacle; the first one to burst into flower determining who should be elected. We all know that it was Aaron’s Rod (a branch of Almond) (No.52) which first blossomed; and he was therefore installed as the first High Priest of Israel. The ceremonial robes of the High Priest are described in Exodus XXXIX, as being set with gold and jewels, and ornamented with floral patterns embroidered in blue, purple and scarlet. The blue dye was obtained from a small, marine snail, but also from the ‘Indigo’ plant (No.53) and Dyer’s Woad (No.54) which latter, by the way, was the source of the woad with which the ancient Britons painted their bodies. Red dye was almost certainly extracted from the Madder plant (No.55) but the remaining colours originated in ways we cannot demonstrate. Thus, purple was extracted from a marine snail by a secret process known only to the Dyers of the city of Tyre; it was known as Tyrian Purple and was so expensive that normally only Emperors (e.g. Caesar) wore robes of purple. Yellow came from the Henna tree which still provides the stain for Eastern ladies’ hair and skin, and nail varnish; it cannot be grown here. Vermillion was made by powdering the mineral Cinnabar, while Scarlet is particularly interesting since it was extracted from the crushed bodies of a tiny scale-insect parasitising the Kermes Oak (No. 11) in much the same way that Cochineal is prepared from a similar insect parasite of the Prickly-Pear.

The Age of the Judges
After the death of Moses and Aaron, Joshua successfully invaded Canaan and, having captured many important cities, he erected an Altar to the Lord under a Kermes Oak tree (No. 11). The Altar was used, of course, for ‘Burnt Offerings’, and the odour of burning flesh was reduced by the ‘Purification’ rites described in Leviticus and Numbers, in which branches of fragrant plants were thrown on to the animal sacrifice. These plants were also always used after child-birth and to protect persons against fevers and leprosy. They always included Hyssop (No.56) and Cedar-wood which, however, was not the true Cedar (No.73) but the Juniper planted as No.57.
Foreseeing that riotous living would probably follow their military successes, Moses, among his last injunctions to his people, besought them to obey the Covenant of the Lord ... “Lest there should be among you a root that beareth Gall and Wormwood” (No. 61) - Deut. XXIX 18. He also insisted on the due observance of the Feast of Tabernacles, during which all Israelites must live for one week in ‘Booths’ made from Palms, Juniper, Willow, Box and Myrtle. As symbols of the gratitude for the survival during forty years’ wandering in the wilderness, they were to carry branches of Palm, ‘Goodly’ trees, ‘Thick’ trees and ‘Willows of the Brook’. The Palm is, of course, the Date Palm (No. 34) while the Goodly trees were a species of Citrus, too tender for our climate, but four species of the ‘Thick’ trees or Junipers are planted as follows: T. oxycedrus or ‘brown-berried’ cedar (No. 57); J. communis or Common Juniper (No. 58); J. drupacea or Syrian Juniper (No. 59) and J. Phoenicia (Sabine) or Phoenician Juniper (No.60), The ‘Willows of the Brook’ are really the Euphrates Poplar, a near relative of which is planted as (No. 17); the ‘long-leaved’ Box is planted as No. 62 and the Myrtle as No. 63.
At this time the Tribes were ruled by their head-men who were chosen mainly for their physical strength and were known as ‘Judges’; the best known of whom were Jerubbaal (Gideon) and Samson. Sometimes a Judge aspired to become ‘King’ and this called forth Jotham’s parable of the Bramble (No. 64) elected to be ‘King of the Trees’. Always the Judges were subject to intrigue and watchful of treachery. Hence, Samson allowed Delilah to believe that, strong as they knew him to be, he would be unable to break beads made of green, un-dried, branches (withes) of Willow (No. 65) but when they used these withes to hold him prisoner he burst them asunder with ease.

The Age of the Kings
The High Priests Eli and Samuel were the last of the Judges, and the latter anointed a farmer called Saul to be King, after the Tribes had been defeated in battle and the very Ark of the Covenant taken away by the Philistines. During one of Saul’s successful battles a young boy, David, son of Jesse, arrived with rations of ‘Parched Corn’ for his soldier brothers and, with only a Sling and pebbles, killed Goliath the Philistine Champion. The parched corn consisted of roasted Barley (No. 66) and Wheat (No.67), Millet (Nos.24, 25) together with Peas (No.68) and Beans (69). David became a Captain in Saul’s army and later, King of the two Tribes of Judah - ten Tribes of Israel electing Saul’s son who reigned for eight years before David was again crowned in his place. We learn from II, Samuel. V. 23 how David destroyed the Philistines by encircling them ‘behind the Mulberry trees’, Mulberries, however, were not planted until long after David’s time, and the trees were really ‘Aspens’ which are planted as No.71.
After capturing Jerusalem (known for ever afterwards as ‘David’s City’) rebellion broke out and was led by David’s beloved son, Absalom who, however, was caught by the hair in the branches of an Oak - the ‘Holly Oak’ (No. 72) and was killed by one of the King’s Captains. David is described in II. Samuel, XXIII, 1, as... “The anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet Palmist of Israel”. These Psalms, in their beauty of language and sentiment have become one of our most precious heritages. Some are illustrated in the Bible Garden:-

Psalm XXIX. 5 ... “The voice of the Lord breaketh the Cedars” (No.73),

Psalm XXXVII ... “I have seen the wicked in great power and spreading himself like a green Bay Tree” (No.74),

Psalm L1.7 ... “Purge me with Hyssop and I shall be clean” (No.33),

Psalm LVIII.9 ... “Before your pots can feel the Thorns he shall take them away as with a whirlwind.” These Thorns are represented by the ‘Butcher’s Broom’ (No.75).

Psalm LXXIV. 5-6 ... “Once a man was famous according as he had lifted up axes upon the thick trees”. These trees are the ‘Brutian Pine’ (No, 76).

Psalm XCII. 12-14 ... “The righteous shall flourish like the Palm tree” (No.34).

Psalm CXX. 4 - Lying tongues are described as ... “Sharp arrows of the mighty with coals of Juniper”. This reference is really to a form of ‘Broom’ planted as (No.77), the roots of which are a source of high-grade charcoal.

Psalm CXXXVII. 1, 2 … “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept when we remembered Zion ... We hanged our harps upon the Willows in the midst thereof.”.

Although modern commentators tend to identify this ‘Willow’ with the Euphrates Poplar - a near relative of which is planted as No.71 - there is good reason for agreement with the great Botanist, Linnaeus, who supported the traditional belief that the tree used was the ‘Weeping Willow’ planted as No.78. In passing, it should be said that David could not possibly have written this last Psalm, for it describes events which occurred some three hundred and eighty four years after his death.
The last years of David’s life were full of bitter disappointment, for Jehovah refused his prayers to be allowed to build a Temple fit to house the now recovered Tabernacle. This decision he accepted with proper resignation but remained confident that the Tabernacle would be safe from their enemies ... “But the sons of Belial shall be all of them as Thorns thrust away, because they cannot be taken with hands”. These thorns are represented by ‘Butcher’s Broom’ (No.74).

Solomon the King
And so David lay with his fathers and Solomon reigned in his stead. In these early years Solomon built the first Temple in Jerusalem and, alongside it a Palace, which set the standard for Kingly magnificence for generations. The floors and ceilings of the Temple were of ‘Fir’ which has been identified as the ‘Aleppo or Brutian Pine’ (No.76) while the Altar on which stood the Ark of the Covenant, and the paneling of the walls, were all of timber from the Cedar of Lebanon (No.73). Behind the Altar were two great Cheribim of Olive wood (No.141), this timber also being used for the huge Eastern Doors.
Without doubt, Solomon was a great man, yet he was as licentious and uninhibited in his actions as he was profound and humane in his writing. His licentiousness can be illustrated by a quotation from the apocryphal Book ‘The Wisdom of Solomon’, II.8 - although the Book was almost certainly written eight hundred years after Solomon’s time ... “Let us crown ourselves with Rose-Buds before they be withered”. This, and a similar reference in II Esdras, II. 19, are believed to be the only references to a true Rose in the Bible; it has been identified as the ‘Phoenician Rose’, planted near the Pool as No. 79, though some prefer to identify the rose with the species of Cistus, or ‘Rock-Rose’ planted as No. 19.
There is no lack of material to illustrate Solomon’s wisdom as shown in his ‘Proverbs’, or his joy in life illustrated in the greatest ‘Love-Song’ of all time - the ‘Song of Solomon’ but, since these and the beautiful Psalms of David were later to be the great solace and ‘stand-by’ of the Jewish nation when in travail, we defer consideration of the former until the end of the Old Testament. We can, however, conveniently quote two passages from Ecclesiastes which Book was undoubtedly written by Solomon; VII, 1, 5, 6... “A good name is better than precious ointment ... It is better to hear the rebuke of the Wise than for a man to hear the Song of Fools. For as the crackling of Thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of Fools.” The Thorns are said to refer to the ‘Spiny Burnet’ (No.80) but could just as easily have been the ‘Butcher’s Broom’ (No.75), for both were regularly used as fuel for the desert fires. The other quotation is from XI. 1 ...”Cast thy Bread upon the Waters; for thou shalt find it after many days”. This refers to the Egyptian custom in sowing the nuts of a water-lily. the sacred ‘Lotus-Bean’ (a near relative of which will be found in the Pool) (No. 81) from which they made a much appreciated, delicately-flavoured Bread. Each nut was embedded in a clay ball and cast into the river Nile, where, although apparently lost for ever, it grew and eventually appeared above the water with its panicles of flowers, inside each of which were a number of nuts - a return of an hundredfold.

The Age of the Prophets
With the death of Solomon in the year 930 B.C., after a reign of forty years, the nation spit into two kingdoms; Israel with ten Tribes and Judah with two. For two hundred years of wars and murder, devout men whom we call the Prophets, spoke out fearlessly against these things and the worship of false gods. Among the first was Elijah who, when pursued by the infamous Queen Jezebel, fled into the desert and slept under a Juniper tree. This however, was not the true Juniper (Nos. 57-60), but a ‘Broom’ (No.77).
Elijah’s mantle fell upon the prophet Elisha, who did much to protect Israel against her Syrian enemies, and the city of Samaria, Capital of Israel, successfully withstood a siege of three years; living towards the end on little more than ‘Doves Dun’ (No.84), i.e., the bulbs of the plant we know as ‘Star of Bethlehem’. Meanwhile many things were happening in Judah, including the capture and sacking of Jerusalem in 925 B.C. by the Egyptians, and amid all this turmoil scholars were writing down the traditions of the Hebrews - passed down from father to son - until what we know as the Old Testament began to take shape. Among the earlier of the prophets were Amos and Hosea, some of whose words are illustrated in the Garden:- In Amos, V. 4-5, he refers to the bitterness of Wormwood (No.85) and his later reference to Hemlock is really also to the same plant and not, as some believe, to the poison cup used by Socrates generations later. Amos was one of the lowest forms of labourer, being a gatherer of ‘Sycamore’ fruit. This is not our Sycamore but a tree with the leaves of a Mulberry and the fruit like a Fig - it cannot be grown in our latitude. Hosea X.8. and IX.6 refer to ‘Thorns’, ‘Thistles’ and ‘Nettles’, which grow upon the Altars of a degenerate Israel. These thorns, thistles and nettles are planted respectively as Acanthus (No.86); Iberian Thistle, (No.87a), Blue Thistle (No.87b), and Nettle (No.88), near to the ‘Star of Bethlehem’. Before continuing along the path, we may note the Iris, or Palestinian Yellow Flag which is really what Hosea meant when he said that a restored Israel should grow as the ‘Lily’ (Hosea, XIV. 1-8). This Iris (No.89) is also the ‘Lilies by the rivers of waters’ of Ecclesiasticus, L. 8. And so to his anthem of God’s blessing upon the Israelites: Hosea XIV. 6-9 ... “His branches shall spread and His beauty shall be as the Olive tree (No. 141) ... They that dwell under His shadow shall return; they shall revive as the Corn, and grow as the Vine (No.135), the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon, i.e. Cedar (No. 73) … Ephraim shall say, “What have I to do with idols? I have heard Him, and observed Him. I am like a green Fir tree. From me is thy fruit found.” This is the only reference in the Bible to a ‘Fir’ producing food - all others are to the use of the timber and are identified as the Aleppo Pine (No.76). Without doubt, however, the present reference is to the ‘Stone Pine’ (No.90) whose seeds are popularly known as ‘Nuts’ and, with their delicious Almond-like flavour, are regarded as a great delicacy in Mediterranean countries even today.
Alas, the prayers and preaching of Amos and Hosea were of no avail and, forty years after their deaths Samaria was captured by the Assyrians, and practically the whole of the Ten Tribes disappeared into captivity - where, no one knows, and they are still the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. Following Amos and Hosea came that greatest of Old Testament Prophets - Isaiah, who for forty years tried to bring the Hebrews back to the true worship of Jehovah. In Isaiah 1-8, he describes Israel as derelict - a ‘Lodge’ in a garden of Cucumbers (No.92); such lodges were constructed of branches of Oleander (No.91) or Carob-Bean (No.128), In Isaiah V. 1-4, he refers to ‘Wild Grapes’ (No. 97) and in V. 5-7, to ‘Briers and Thorns’ which should replace the Vineyards of Israel; these are planted as No.93a (Palestinian Buckthorn), 93b (Palestinian Burweed) and No. 93e (Syrian ‘Christ-Thorn’). Isaiah XXVIII. 23-26, promises that, just as Jehovah teaches the ploughman how to sow and reap his ‘Fitches’ and ‘Cummin’, so he would help Israel to restore their country if they would but repent. The Fitches are a species of ‘Nigella’ whose black seeds are used as a condiment in the East, a near relative (‘Love in a Mist’) is planted as No.94, while_Cummin (No.95) is a member of the Carrot family, the seeds of which are used in the East as a spice to flavour stews or bread. Isaiah XXXIV. 16 and XXXV. 1, sum up the Prophet’s appeal to the people to return to Jehovah’s fold ... “Seek ye out of the Book of the Lord and read ... The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as a Rose”. Here, and as we shall see later in the ‘Song of Solomon’, the reference to a Rose is really to Narcissus tazetta, which is planted as No.96a or to Panctratium 96b. During his preaching, this Prophet of two thousand six hundred years ago foretold the Virgin Birth of ‘Immanuel’. Isaiah is said to have been killed as an old man by being thrust into a hollow Mulberry tree (No.139) which was then sawn asunder.
Following Isaiah came that gentle soul, the Prophet Micah, whose teaching can be summed up in Micah VI, 7, 8 ... “He hath shewed thee, O Man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love Mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God. Micah had much influence with King Hezekiah, towards the end of whose reign there arose two other Prophets; Zaphaniah and Jeremiah, but only the latter drew his illustrations from plants. Jeremiah, like Isaiah, compared a degenerate Israel with a ‘Strange Vine’ No.97), but in the next verse (Jeremiah. II, 22) he goes much further and warns the nation that nothing will conceal their sins from Jehovah... “For though thou wash thee with Nitre and take thee much Sope, yet thine iniquity is marked before Me, saith the Lord God”. The ‘Nitre’ is a form of Carbonate of Soda, and the ‘Sope’ refers to a Saltmarsh plant called Saltwort (No. 98a) which, mixed with Olive-0il, produced a good lather and was the fore-runner of our ‘Soap’; later the Soapwort and the Egyptian ‘Fig-Marigold’ were used for the same purpose, and are therefore planted as No. 98b and No. 98c.
Zaphaniah and Jeremiah had no lasting effect on the people, and even the priesthood became almost idolatrous. So much so that Josiah, who reigned after the death of Hezekiah, concentrated all the ritual of worship in the Temple at Jerusalem - which accounts for its great importance in the time of Jesus. Jeremiah bitterly reproved the priests who remained unchastened even in Jerusalem, saying, (Jeremiah. XXIII. 15) ... “Thus saith the Lord ... Behold, I feed then with Wormwood (No.85) and make them drink the water of Gall”. Josiah was killed at the Battle of Migiddo in 608 B.C., and his enemies, the Egyptians, occupied Jerusalem. Eight years later and in the fifth year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar the Babylonian, defeated the Egyptians, and left Zedekiah to rule in Jerusalem in his name. Zedekiah was evil and persecuted the people - particular the Prophet Jeremiah whom he threw into a ‘pit’ to die. However, Nebuchadnezzar discovered Zedekiah’s intrigues against him and suddenly marched into Jerusalem and, incidentally, released Jeremiah. Many of the rebellious Hebrews fled to Egypt and took Jeremiah with them, in which country they, later, stoned him to death and so put an end to his fearless prophesies against them. Those who had remained in Jerusalem were taken back into captivity to Babylon so that, one hundred and thirty-five years after the disappearance of the Ten Tribes, the remaining two also went into captivity and the Hebrew nation ceased to exist until after our own second world war, when Britain relinquished her Mandate and established the nation of Israel.
About this time a new Prophet arose, Job by name, who first clearly spoke about an immortal life, (Job XIX, 25, 27) ... “For I know that my Redeemer liveth ... Whom I shall see for myself”. Isaiah’s parable of man’s dependence upon God is paralleled in Job VIII, II. . “Can the Rush grow up without mire? Can the Flag grow without water?” The Rush is probably the British common Reed (No.144) though the Bulrush (No.140) has also been suggested. The ‘Flag’ is almost certainly the Flowering Rush planted in the pool as No. 28, Job preached that the righteous must submit to tyranny and describes the plight of those who fled into the desert and … “Who cut up Mallows by the bushes and Juniper roots for their meat.” (Job XXX. 4). The ‘Mallows’ were really the Sea-Purslane (No. 99), eaten chiefly for the salt it contained, while the ‘Juniper’ is a mistranslation of the Retam Broom (No.100) and these roots certainly cannot be eaten - what was indeed eaten was the ‘fruit’ of a Fungus parasitic upon the Broom roots. Job says the Israelites were ‘brayed’, i.e. bruised and scratched, under the Nettles; these being the Acanthus ‘Thistle’ (No.86). Later, Job calls down God’s wrath upon those who lift up their hand against the fatherless, and says that if he has done this ... “Let Thistles grow instead of Wheat and Cockle instead of Barley”. The Thistle is believed to be either the Syrian Thistle, No.87a, or Blue Thistle (No.87b), The ‘Cockle’ is almost certainly the Corn Cockle (No.101a) but the possibility exists that the reference is to the Wild Arum (No.101b), or to the common Fleabane (No.101c).
Four Hebrew Noble Youths who were captives in Babylon namely Belteshazzar (Daniel), Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, are famous for several reasons. They gained Nebuchadnezzar’s respect by refusing to eat ‘Gentile’ food, and lived wholly on ‘Parched Corn’, while - like Joseph long before his time Daniel gained affluence by interpreting the King’s dreams, amongst them he identified the King’s Oak as the Oak of Bashan (No.102). During the captivity the Hebrews were kept together as a nation by the preaching of two new Prophets, Ezekiel and the ‘Second Isaiah’, who proclaimed the great things that would come to pass when the Lord had released Israel from bondage. Ezekiel, 11.6, tells the faithful to be outspoken with their idolatrous brethren, and not to be afraid of their words “though Briers and Thorns be with thee.” These Briers have been identified as either ‘Butcher’s Broom’ (No.103) or the Fleabane (No.101c) while we have planted Zizyphus sp, or Jujube (No.104) to represent the Thorns. In warning them of the privations they would have to face before ‘coming into their own again’ he said that for food they must be content with bread made of ‘Parched Corn’ (No.106), which, however, in this case included ‘Fitches’. The Hebrew word he used was quite different from the one used in Isaiah XXVIII, 23-26 (page 18) which is also rendered as ‘Fitches’, Ezekiel’s ‘Fitches’ were, in fact, Spelt Wheat which is therefore included. The unfaithful are described as a poor kind of Vine among the trees of the forest which the Lord had given to the fire as fuel. To represent this decadent Vine we have planted the Oriental, or wild ‘Fox-Grape’ (No.97). It is of interest to note that Ezekiel was the first to mention ‘Silk’ by name, so that it would seem that Mulberries (No.139) were now being cultivated for the ‘Silkworms’ Ezekiel XXVII. 5-6. When Israel had resumed her rightful place, her powerful neighbours would be cast down. This would be true even of mighty Tyre whose very ships had rowing seats made of Boxwood (No.107) inlaid with ivory, and oars made of the Oaks of Bashan (No.102), whose ‘ship-boards’ were of Fir (No.113) and masts of Cedar (No.109), and whose wealth provided for imports of ivory and of Ebony (No.105) from Ethiopia. Yet in the Lord’s good time they should cease to be a “pricking Brier (No.103) unto the house of Israel.”
We know nothing of the ‘Second Isaiah’ except that he appears to have survived the Babylonian captivity and his sayings - among the noblest in our language - are to be found in the last fifteen Chapters of the Book of Isaiah, His message is that of a nation restored to greatness by an all-forgiving Jehovah. Isaiah, XLI. 19 ... “I will plant in the wilderness the Cedar (No.109), the Shittah tree (i.e. the Acacia sp., planted as (No.110) and the Myrtle (No.111) and the Oil tree, i.e. Eleaganus - (No.112). I will set in the desert the Fir tree (No.113) and the Pine (No.114) and the Box (No. 107) tree together”; and again: - Isaiah, L.V. 13 ... “Instead of the Thorn (No.103) shall come up the Fir (No.113) tree, and instead of the Brier (No.103) shall come up the Myrtle tree (No.111); and it shall be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off” ... “The glory of Lebanon (No.109) shall come unto thee, the Fir tree (No.113) the Pine tree (No.114) and the Box (No.107) together, to beautify the place of My Sanctuary.”

The Age of the Priests
The Babylonian captivity ended in 539 B.C., but only a remnant of the captives returned to re-build Jerusalem under the rule of Nehemiah and Ezra. Valiant efforts were made to mould the people into a strong, religious State; the city walls were re-built, the Feast of Tabernacles re-established and stringent rules of behaviour were imposed upon the ‘faithful’ who were, for the first time, called ‘the Congregation’. But the people’s spirit was broken despite the fervent preaching of two new Prophets, Haggai and Zechariah. A glorious future was foretold for Israel, and it was Zechariah who saw the horseman sat upon a red horse among the Myrtles (No.111) where also were other red, speckled and white horses who symbolised the evangelists to be despatched from Israel to convert the world to Judaism. Yet the apathetic Hebrews preferred to re-build hovels of wood for themselves rather than to build another ‘Temple of Solomon’ dreamed of by Zechariah. It Was not until 520 B.C. that the Temple was re-commenced and, when finished in 515 B.C., it was a very poor copy of the original.
This continued ‘looking into the past’ with its insistence upon the Hebrews as the only ‘Chosen of the Lord’ was not accepted by all, and Jonah even went so far as to suggest that Jehovah would be the God of the Gentiles. In the Book of Jonah we have a fable. cast as though it had happened hundreds of years before Jonah’s time in order to avoid the wrath of the Priests; we are told that Jonah was angered by his failure to convert the Gentiles of ‘Nineveh’ and called down the vengeance of the Lord on their heads. We all know how he fled into the desert where, whilst asleep, the Lord caused a Gourd to grow up over his head to protect him against the heat of the sun. And how, when the following day the gourd was destroyed, Jonah was depressed and sad. To which Jehovah replied that if Jonah could feel sorry for a tree for which he had no responsibility, how much more likely it was that the Lord God, who had created the thousands of Gentiles in Nineveh, should be sad because they could not discern between their right and left hands. Should He not save them? Jonah’s Gourd has been identified; the Castor-Oil plant (No.115) - a very rapidly growing Annual producing a dense canopy of large leaves. But nothing that could be said had any lasting effect upon the self-centred nation -not even Malachi, the last of the Prophets, who warned them:-Malachi.III 2 ... “Who may abide the time of his coming?; and who shall stand when he appeareth?, for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fuller’s Sope. The ‘Sope’ of course, was extracted from the Saltwort (No.116a), the Soap-wort (No.116b) and the Egyptian Fig-marigold (No.116c).
Ignoring these Prophets, the Priests continued to argue theology even when the country was conquered for the Greeks by Alexander the Great, and, after the break up of his Empire on his death, by the Egyptians (during whose rule the first Greek version of parts of the Bible was written) and then by the Selucids of Antioch. What mattered it who ruled in Israel so long, as the Hebrews alone could claim the Psalms of David and the Wisdom of Solomon: his Proverbs and the ‘Song of Songs’? Thus Proverbs V3 … “The lips of a ‘strange’ woman drop as a honeycomb … but her end is bitter as Wormwood (No.85): XXIV. 30, 31, 34 ... “I went by the fields of the slothful and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding ... And, Lo, it was all grown over with Thorns (No. 93) and Nettles (No. 88) XXVII. 22 … “Though thou shouldst bray (i.e. rub) a fool in a mortar among Wheat with a pestle, yet will not his foolishness depart from him” - in other words “Let a fool be ever so much in the company of wiser men, he still remains a fool”: XXVI. 11, 12 … “A word fitly spoken is like Apples of Gold (No.118) in pictures of silver. So is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear.”
As for the ‘Song” there are references in 1. 17; III 9; V. 15, and VIII 9, to the Cedar of Lebanon (No.109) and Fir, i.e. the Aleppo Pine (No.114), In the ‘Song’ are many illustrations drawn from his Garden and Orchard in which Solomon delighted: VII 13 … “The Mandrakes (No.119) give a smell. and at our gates are all manner of pleasant fruits, new and old, which I have laid up for thee, O my beloved.” IV, 13, 14 … “Thy plants are an Orchard of Pomegranates (No.120) with pleasant fruits; Camphire (really the ‘Henna’ tree which cannot be grown), Spikenard (a tropical spice tree which, also, cannot be grown out-of-doors here) and Saffron, this is the ‘Saffron Crocus’ planted as (No.122) VI. 11 ... “I went down into the Garden of Nuts to see the fruits of the Valley.” These ‘Nuts’ are identified with certainty as the Walnut (No.123). Among the most controversial identifications are the plants referred to in ‘Song.’ II. 1 ... “I am the Rose of Sharon and the Lily of the Valleys” and in the next verse “As the Lily among Thorns so is my love among the daughters.” The problem of the Rose of Sharon is discussed in the Foreword to this Book, where it is identified as the sweet-scented Narcissus (No.124a) but, since there is something to be said for other identifications, i.e., ‘Sharon Tulip’, a near relative of which is planted as (No.124b) and the ‘Autumn Saffron’ (Colchicum) planted as (No.124c), it is perhaps as well that they should be included. The identification of Solomon’s ‘Lilies’ depends upon the symbolism he had in mind. Thus, in ‘Song’ II. 1, and IV. 5, there is little doubt that the reference is to the blue, oriental Hyacinth (No.125a), although Sternbergia sp - a lily-like plant which, however, belongs to the Narcissus family - has also been suggested (No.125b), while in ‘Song’ VI2-4, it is to the Madonna Lily (No.125c), and in V 13, he compares his beloved’s lips to the Martagon or red ‘Turk’s Cap’ Lily (No.125d).
The Selucids made the fatal mistake of attacking the Hebrew Religion; they desecrated the Temple and erected their own god on the High Altar. This caused the ‘Wars of the Maccabeans’ which only ended by the total defeat of the Selucids near Bethlehem in the year 164 B.C. when, we are told in I. Maccabees VI, 34, that Elephants were provoked to fight by showing them the ‘blood of Red Grapes (No.135) and Mulberries (No.139). For a hundred years the victors at Bethlehem - the Hyrcanus or Hasonean family, endeavoured to rule the turbulent tribes until, in the year 63 B.C. the Romans under Pompey occupied Jerusalem, the father of Herod the Great was installed as Ruler of the Hebrews, and the scene set for the coming of Jesus.
Meanwhile it was the exiled Jews of Alexandria who were the main exponents Of the Hebrew traditions, and a number of profound~ theological treatises have come down to us. Probably the most important of these ‘Apochryphal’ Books is Ecclesiasticus, or the ‘Wisdom of the Son of Sirach’; three quotations from which are illustrated in the Bible Garden:- Ecclesiasticus XXIV 14 ... “I was exalted like a Palm tree in Engaddi (No.34) and as a Rose plant in Jericho, as a fair Olive tree in a pleasant held, and grew up as a Plane tree by the water.”
Ecclesiasticus XXX1X, 13 14 … “Hearken unto me, ye holy children, and bud forth as a Rose growing by the brook of the field and flourish like a Lily.”
Ecclesiasticus L. 8 … “As the flower of Roses in the Spring of the year, as Lilies by the rivers of waters.”
There is, of course, no difficulty in identifying the Palm, Olive or Plane; nor, indeed, the ‘Lilies by the rivers of waters’, for there is good reason for believing that the plant referred to is the same as Hosea’s Lily, i.e. the ‘Yellow Flag’ (No.89) to be found in the Pool. The ‘Roses’ are more difficult. Most authorities agree that the ‘Rose of Jericho’ and that ‘by the Brook’ refer to that beautiful bush, the Oleander (No. 91). The reference to the ‘flower of Roses in the Spring’ is believed by many to be to the ‘Rose of Sharon’ and is therefore illustrated by the ‘sweet-scented’ Narcissus (No.124a), the Sharon Tulip (No.124b) and the Autumn Saffron (No.124c). Nevertheless, what is probably the oldest Hebrew version of this verse is said to describe the Rose - not as a Spring flower - but as Summer flowering, and hence it is just possible that a reference to the Pancratium (No.124d) is intended. Finally, it must be noted that the Hebrew word translated as ‘Rose’ in Eccelesiasticus XXIV 14 is elsewhere in the Bible translated as ‘Wheel’, and this has led some to identify this plant - not as the Oleander (No.127b) but as the ‘Desert Tumble-Weed’ or Anastatica, which has been planted as (No.127a). It may be appropriate that we should end our quotations from the Old Testament with this plant, for its more familiar name is the ‘Resurrection Plant’.

The New Testament
It was at the end of Herod’s reign that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, but of His Life and Mission, we can of course only illustrate a few aspects. Six months before the Nativity of Jesus His second cousin, John - later to be known as John the Baptist or as he himself said as ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness - was born, probably on the slopes of Mount Hermon. We are told in Matthew III, 4 and Mark 1, 6, that he was clad in “raiment of Camel’s hair … and his meat was Locusts and wild Honey.”
One of the most prolific food trees in the desert beyond Jordan is still the Carob-Bean tree (No.128) and there can be no doubt that it was on the plentiful beans from this tree, rather than the grasshopper-like insects known as ‘Locusts’ that John chiefly relied for sustenance; the confusion probably arising from a mistake in the writing of the original Hebrew word. Also, it was the sticky, treacly pods of this same tree which were used to feed the swine, and which, we are told in Luke XV. 11-32, formed the ‘Husks’ that the Prodigal Son in the parable was fain to eat. To John, Jesus was the long-expected Messiah whose coming would fulfill the Scriptures, and whose Mission was to judge Israel. He was as one “Whose Fan is in His hand” i.e. engaged in separating the chaff from the good corn during the winnowing of the crop at harvest-time; by which John meant the Day of Judgement. He continues ... “He will thoroughly purge His floor, and gather His Wheat into the garner, but He will burn up the Chaff with unquenchable fire.”

The Parables of Jesus
Although some may think it an exaggeration to say with Matthew XIII 34 and Mark IV 34 that ... “without a parable spake He not unto them,” there can be no doubt that from the sixty or so (some say one hundred) parables related in the Gospels, it is possible to obtain the whole of Christ’s teaching. Many of these parables do not, of course, draw upon our knowledge of plants (e.g. The parables of The Lost Sheep, The Pearl of great value or of The Net cast into the sea), but those that do so very of ten reveal deeper, and yet deeper, truths the more one studies the significance of the plants selected to illustrate His meaning.

“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.”

Matthew VI 25-26 … “Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? … Behold the fowls of the air; for they sow not, neither do they reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?” Matthew VI• 28-29, “And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the Lilies of the Field, how they grow; they toil not neither do they spin … And yet I say unto you - that even Solomon, in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” These parables are not an excuse for sloth or laziness, nor for over-indulgence in showy, outward things, but rather indicative of the importance of man’s place in the universe. This is further emphasised in the next quotation in which God the Father is compared with an earthly father:- Matthew VII9, 11 … “What man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? … If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven, give to them that ask Him” - the operative phrase is “to them that ask Him”. The Lilies to which Jesus referred are clearly both very common and exceedingly beautiful. Practically all commentators are agreed that the reference is not to any true Lily, for these are rare in the Holy Land, but to the exquisitely lovely multi-coloured, Anemone (No.130a) which is perhaps the most common Spring and early Summer flower around the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Recently. however, Dr. Ephraim Ha-Reubeni has pressed the claim of the Palestine Chamomile, a staid and humble weed-plant, which nevertheless reveals much beauty to the discerning eye. Species of Anthemis have therefore been planted as No. 130b and No. 130c.
Jesus constantly warned his hearers of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, of which He had ample experience. They believed Him to be in league with Satan because He healed the sick on the Sabbath. They charged Him with breaking the Law of Moses because He allowed the disciples to relieve their hunger by eating the standing corn in the cornfield on the Sabbath - to which He had replied that their own great hero, David, under similar circumstances, had even eaten the sacred ‘shew-bread’ in the Temple. Always they considered only the letter of the Law, but He had come to give a new interpretation to it. Matthew XXIII 23 ... “Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, Hypochrites! for you pay tithe of Mint and Anise and Cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the Law” or, as Luke XI 42, puts it ... “But woe unto you, Pharisees, for ye tithe Mint and Rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgement and the love of God.” These herbs were not only greatly in use in the Temple ritual, but they were believed to have medicinal virtues and so were in great demand - hence the payment of tithes on them was of importance to the Temple. You will find the ‘tithe herbs’ labelled as Mint (No.131); Rue (No. 132); Cummin (No. 133), while the medicinal herb Dill (No.134) completes the list, for the ‘Anise’ of the Authorised Version is a mistake which we have therefore corrected.
He stressed the danger of listening to the facile arguments of false prophets:- they would be known by their fruits. Matthew VII. 16, and Luke VI, 44 … “Beware of false prophets - ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather Grapes of Thorns, or Figs of Thistles? ... For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of Thorns men do not gather Figs, nor of a Bramble bush gather they Grapes.” These references will be found as the Grape Vine (No.135); the Fig (No. 136); Zizyphus or ‘Syrian Christ Thorn’ (No.93c) and the Thistle Acanthus (No. 86). The lesson to be obtained from this warning is more subtle than appears on the surface, and that certainly is true of the variation found in the General Epistle of James III, 12 . “Can a Fig tree, my brethren bear Olive (No. 141) berries, either a Vine, Figs?” Here we are reminded that there are individual and characteristic qualities even among the best of us.
We might pause here for a moment to reflect upon the many references to these three fruit-trees, the Vine, the Fig and the Olive in Holy Script. Thus, in Matthew IX 16, 17, “New Wine in Old Bottles” - in which Jesus emphasised that it is as useless to try to fit His new Gospel into the outworn formulae of Judaism, as is the folly of putting new Wine into old Bottles; the pressure set up by the fermenting grape-juice being at first too great for any container, and for some considerable time would burst anything but the most flawless of such. His own coming and Sacrifice are foretold in Matthew XXI, 33, Mark XII 1, and Luke XX, 9-16. in the parable of the false stewards left to tend the ‘householder’s Vineyard’ - they merited destruction for they successively beat the husbandman’s emissaries and finally slew His son. The appointed time for the last Judgement of the World is given in Revelation XIV. 18-20 … “Thrust in thy sickle and gather the clusters of the Vine of the earth; for her Grapes are fully ripe.” Finally, what could be more poignant than John XV. 1-6 … “I am the True Vine, and my Father is the Husbandman”; or His vow in the institution of the Last Supper, Matthew XXV1. 27-29 … “But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the Vine until that day when I drink it with you in my Father’s Kingdom”.
Similarly, with regard to the Fig, there are two parables which relate to unfruitful areas. In one, given by Luke XIII 6-9, the ‘dresser’ of the Vineyard (in which it was customary to plant a few Fig trees for shelter) begged his Master to refrain from destroying a Fig which had been unfruitful for three years, had been given a chance to respond to further care and nourishment. The subtlety of the parable lies in the fact that no Fig tree can develop mature fruit out of its own resources, for not only does it require ordinary care and attention, but the stimulation needed must come from outside in the form of one particular insect (the Fig-Wasp) acting as a pollinating agent. In the second parable (Matthew XXI, 1 and 18-21; Luke XIX 29) Jesus cursed an unfruitful Fig tree which He had expected to yield refreshing fruit. Now, the Fig tree normally bears two crops of fruit each year, one maturing in August or September, and the other in June; the tree being in full leaf from mid-April or so, onwards. The incident is related as occurring a few days before the Passover i.e. at the end of March, at which time the sight of a tree in full foliage would raise expectations of an equally abnormal, and early, fruit crop. The lesson therefore seems to be the immediate punishment of hypocrisy - of seeming to be what one is not. When Jesus was asked how it would be known that the Judgement Day and the Kingdom of Heaven were at hand, He replied, Matthew XXIV, 32) “Now learn a parable of the Fig tree: when his branch is yet tender and putteth forth leaves, ye know that Summer is nigh. In other words, they must learn to interpret the happenings around themselves•
As for the New Testament references to the Olive (No. 141) they can be grouped into (a) its use as cosmetic and cleansing agent which was the basic reason for the ritual of ‘anointing with oil’. This anointing of hair, feet, and hands, was part of one’s daily toilet and to abstain was a symbol of mourning and fasting –an outward show which Jesus denounced (Matthew VI, 17). (Olive Oil (b) was also a valuable fuel for lamps, e.g. the parable of the wise and foolish virgins (Matthew XXV, 3, 4 and 8), though here it must be remarked that the less expensive oil obtained from the ‘Oil-Tree’ Eleagnus (No. 112), might also be indicated. (c) Mark VI. 13 and the Epistle of James V. 14, shew that purification with oil was used as a protector against fevers. Above all, however, (d) Olive-0il was used as a disinfectant and cleansing agent for promoting the healing of wounds, the best known illustration of which is the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke, X. 34). The author of the Epistle to the Romans refers to the Olive in an unusual way in the parable of the Wild and the fruitful Olive Trees, Romans XI. 17 and 24. In normal practice, the valuable fruit-tree is grafted (or budded) on to a vigorous but relatively unfruitful kind, so that the barren ‘Stock’ imparts added vigour and productivity to the ‘Scion’ without however, affecting the kind of fruit produced, e.g., an Apple grafted on a Hawthorn stock will fruit better and more quickly, but its fruit will still be apples and not haws. What the parable says is that - contrary to nature--an abundant yield of good Olives can be obtained by grafting a wild Olive (i.e. a Gentile)on to the firm root-stock of the Chosen (i.e. a cultivated Olive). This being so, how much more can be expected of grafting one good Olive on to another (i.e. the new Gospel on to Judaism)?
Jesus puts His hearers on their guard against enemies who might infiltrate into their ranks, in the parable of the ‘Tares’ (No.137). The plant known as Tares is a form of Rye grass, indistinguishable from Wheat in its early growth but like the false prophets - readily known by its fruit (i.e. ‘seed’). It is bad for the crop, for it takes the place of good grain; it is even worse because most of the Tares contain a poison which could cause violent symptoms, and even death, to those who eat bread containing the poison. The analogy could be carried still further by recognising that this poison is not present in all Tares but only in such as are themselves invaded by a fungus - which might be likened to Satan,
Similarly, the disciples are warned against anybody or anything which might undermine their faith, e.g. in the parable of the Sower (Matthew XIII, 1-23; Mark IV, 1-25, and Luke, VIII, 4-18) in which several instances are given of influences which would cause them to fail. The lesson is pointed with even greater emphasis in the two parables concerning Mustard seed (No. 138). Matthew XIII, 31, 32, and Mark IV 30-32, tell us ... “The Kingdom of Heaven is like to a grain of Mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field; which indeed is the least of all seeds but when it is grown it is the greatest among herbs and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.” And, again, when the disciples asked why they - unlike Jesus - were unable to work miracles. He replied (Luke XVII, 6) … “And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a gram of mustard seed, ye might say unto this Sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey thee.” Although there has been much controversy, there can be little doubt that, by Mustard He did indeed refer to the common Black Mustard (No.138) which under Palestinian conditions does grow into a tall bush, serving as a welcome resting place for linnets and other small birds. The Sycamine tree has nothing to do with our Sycamore tree or with the ‘Sycamore’ (the Mulberry-Fig), but is correctly identified with the true Mulberry (No. 139).
But faith requires the Divine helping hand, and we have the assurance that, so long as a spark of faith exists, this help will be forthcoming. Matthew XII, 20, 21 in a passage partly quoted from Isaiah XLII. 3 - says … “A bruised Reed shall He not break and smoking Flax (No. 146) shall He not quench, till He send forth Judgement unto Victory. The ‘Smoking Flax’ refers to the Tow or waste flax used by all ancient peoples as lamp-wicks. The Flax stalks were dried, peeled and split, and were then soaked or ‘retted’ in running water until the soft pulp was destroyed. The short fibres were then separated from those long enough to be spun into linen threads, by carding with a strong comb (referred to also in Isaiah XIX. 9), the waste fibres roughly twisted together, forming the tow-wicks. The reference to a ‘bruised Reed’ obviously concerns one of the relatively weak Reeds liable to damage by strong winds, and this has been identified as the Common Reed Phragmites (No.140) which will be found growing in the Pool. Again, it is to Phragmites that St. John is referring when, in his third Epistle to his well-beloved disciple, Gaius, he says (III, John, 13) ... “I had many things to write, but I will not with ink and pen write unto thee." The pens were fashioned by sharpening, and then splitting the end of Phragmites Reeds - they were replaced, much later, by feathered Quills.
This Reed is of interest in other ways also. In Matthew XI, 7-11, we have evidence of the deep feeling Jesus had for John the Baptist … “What went ye out into the wilderness to see ? - a Reed shaken with the wind? … A man clothed in soft raiment ? ... Behold, they that wear soft clothing are in King’s houses … A Prophet ? - Yea, I say unto you, and more that a Prophet. For this is he of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee ... Verily I say unto you ... There hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist.”

The Crucifixion of Jesus
It is fitting that this comment on John the Baptist, should be quoted as we come, with Jesus, to Gethsemane and the great Betrayal. Gethsemane, like most Hebrew gardens, consisted mainly of Olive Trees, and it is quite possible that some of those still growing there, were already in the garden during the Passion. They are certainly of great age and, although Titus ordered all the Olive trees in Gethsemane to be cut down, when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in the year 70 A.D., this would only induce the growth of ‘suckers’ from the base, and it is some of these which may have survived to this day (No. 141).
The purpose of this handbook is, of course, not to describe in detail the events which culminated in the Crucifixion, but only to identify the references to plants in the story of the Passion. Thus we merely note that the trial of Jesus took place in the third Temple built on the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, which was Herod’s attempt to duplicate the original Temple built by Solomon, of the Timbers illustrated in Nos. 73, 76 and 141. After the betrayal of Jesus for thirty pieces of silver (the price normally paid for a slave) Judas, overcome by remorse, hanged himself on a tree which, traditionally, has been usually accepted as Cercis siliquastrum, the ‘Judas Tree’ (No. 142).
During the mock trial of Jesus, we are told in Matthew XXVII. 29, and John XIX, 2 ... “And when they had platted a Crown of Thorns, they put it upon His head.” Some controversy there has been of course as to the identity of the bush from which the Crown of Thorns was platted, three different ones being suggested namely, the Spiny Burnet (No. 80), the Syrian Christ-Thorn (No.93c) and the Palestinian Christ-Thorn or Paliurus Spina-Christi (No.143). The weight of evidence favours the last of these for, although it possesses the least aggressive spines, it is the only one with branches sufficiently pliable to weave easily into the form of a crown or wreath. The plant most often hailed today as the true Crown of Thorns is a Euphorbia unknown in Palestine, and with nothing but its fearsome spines to recommend it.
Matthew XXVII. 29, continues by asserting that ... “They put a Reed (as a sceptre) in His hand,” while Mark XV. 19, records that ... “They smote Him on the head with a Reed.” It is usually accepted that this Reed was Typha, the Reed-Mace (No. 144) the terminal, cylindrical fruiting heads of which plant certainly suggest a Mace or Sceptre. But Rubens and other Old Masters are in error in depicting Christ as holding a mature Reed-Mace in His hand for the Crucifixion occurred in the first days of April and the plant flowers in mid-summer. On the other hand, there is little doubt that the Reed on which the sponge, dipped in vinegar was impaled, was the Arundo Reed (No. 145) which grows to twelve feet in length and is still sold as a measuring rod. The ‘vinegar’ however was by no means what we mean by the name; it is almost certainly ‘sour wine’ much used as a thirst quencher, to which in such circumstances as an execution, there was sometimes added a little narcotic. The incident may therefore have been an act of mercy, rather than an exhibition of satanic cruelty.
There are several references to Linen (No. 146) in the account of the Crucifixion, from which we may select Matthew XXVII 59 ... “And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean Linen cloth,” Mark XV 46 ... “And he brought fine Linen and took Him down and wrapped Him in the linen, and laid Him in a Sepulchre”; John XIX, 40 ... “Then took they the body of Jesus and wound it in Linen Clothes with the Spices as the manner of the Jews is to bury.” The Greek word used for linen winding-cloths for the dead is ‘Othone’ and it is possible therefore that an error has crept into Mark’s reference above to ‘Fine Linen.’ The word usually translated as fine linen is Ryssus and is that used to describe the robe of Dives (Luke XVI. 9) and of the ‘Bride of the Lamb’ (Revelation XIX. 8). The Spices with which Nicodemus anointed the body of Jesus, consisted of Myrrh and Aloes. The former cannot be demonstrated, nor can the plant representing 'Aloes' in the Old Testament be grown here, but the Aloes of the New Testament will be found numbered 147.
It is a sombre coincidence that our travel through Hebrew history in the Bible Garden should have brought us full-circle to that same Palm-Tree (No. 34) which represents both the Oasis of Elim with its promise of escape from bondage, and the glad tribute paid to the Master in his triumphant entry into Jerusalem; which was soon to be followed by the cry ... “Crucify Him” - so much for the influence of Judaism on human advancement. To the Hebrews the Crucifixion marked an end; to the Christian it spelled a beginning. We are assured in 1 Peter, V. 4 that for the believer there “is a crown of Glory that fadeth not away”. The Greek word which is translated by ‘fadeth not away’ is Amarantinos and the Roman poet Columella identifies this quality in the plant Helichrysum orientale by referring to it as ‘immortales amaranti’ -and this, in French became Immortelle, under which name we have planted it as No. 148.

Plants traditionally associated with religion
On the south side of the Bible Walk we have arranged as many examples as possible of plants around which religious traditions have persisted for many centuries. They are now largely incorporated into folklore, but they demonstrate how firmly established was a belief in the direct intervention of God in human affairs. Plants possessed particular characters which, being interpreted, would indicate the use for which the plant could be put, or some lesson to be drawn from it. Thus, particular plants became associated with individual Saints or Christian Festivals, and about some of them very beautiful and poignant legends have arisen; a few examples only of these legends are included in the following List of these ‘Traditional Plants.’

Prophets and Preachers

The Prophet Flower: Arnebia echioides.
Jacob’s Rod: Asphodeus lutea (but Milton says that the Asphodel formed the couch of Adam and Eve).
Jacob’s Ladder: Polemonium coeruleum.
Elisha’s Tears: Leycesteria sp.
Job’s Tears: Coix Lachryma-jobi.
Solomon’s Seal: Polygonatum multiflorum.
A cross-section of the rhizome (root) bears some resemblance to the six-pointed Star of Judah.
Glastonbury Thorn: Crataegus monogyna praecox. According to legend, this famous Thorn was the Staff of Joseph of Arimathea. He is said to have been the first to evangelise his country and, reaching Glastonbury in an exhausted condition, he rested on the Staff so heavily that it took root. Since then, the tree it became has always flowered twice each year - once in summer, and again on Old Christmas Day (i.e. Twelfth Night) It was destroyed by Cromwell’s puritans in the Civil War because branches from the tree had always been carried at Easter at the head of Royal processions. Fortunately, many people had already taken cuttings and so the Glastonbury Thorn persists

Saint’s Day
‘All Saints’ Cherry; Prunus cerasus semperflorens.
St. Michael and All Angels: Michaelmas Daisy.
Archangel: Yellow Deadnettle, Lamium galeobdolen, but Other plants also have been given the name of Archangel.
The Twelve Divinities: Dodecatheon meadii: so called by Linnaeus because normally the plant is crowned in May with twelve rose-coloured flowers which - like the Cyclamen - are reversed.
St. Andrew’s Thistle: Onopordon acanthium
St. Anthony’s Herb: Staphelia pinnata.
St. Augustine and Thomas a Becket: Canterbury Bell.
St. Barnabas: Chrysanthemum leucanthemum.
St. Bartholomew: Sunflower.
St. Benedict’s Herb: Geum Urbanum, the Wood Avens. The Saint’s power over poison was so great that any glass containing tainted wine shattered if blessed by him.
St. Bernard’s Lily: Anthericum liliago.
St. Bruno’s Lily: Paradisia liliastrum.

St. George’s Herb: Valeriana officinalis.
St. James The Great: Senecio jacobea Ragwort.
St. James and St. Philip: Lychnis sanguinea.
The ‘Little Staff’ of St. Joseph: When an angel told Joseph he was to be the husband of Mary, his joy affected even his staff - which immediately burst into flower (Lychnis coronaria alba).
St. John the Baptist: Hypericum sp. The common species has reddish spots developing on the leaves, traditionally always on the 29th August, on which day the Saint was said to have been beheaded.
St. Katherine’s Flower: ‘Love in a Mist’ (Nigella damascena). The radiating central styles in the flower suggest the spokes of a wheel, on which St. Katherine was martyred.
St. Luke: Rue (Ruta graveolens), the medicinal herb, as symbolising the fact that St. Luke was the ‘beloved’ Physician.
St. Mattias: Osmunda, the Royal Fern.
St. Mark: The Clarimond Tulip.
St. Patrick: Shamrock, Trifolium quadrifolia and Trifolium repens
St. Patrick’s Cabbage: Saxifraga umbrosa, also known as ‘St. Anne’s Needlework.’
St. Paul: Veronica sp, to commemorate the miracle of the impression of the Saviour’s face left on Veronica’s handkerchief when Jesus used it to wipe the Sweat from His face on the way to Golgotha.
St. Peter’s: St. Peter’s Keys, or Cowslip. A German tradition says that, in his agitation at discovering trespassers in Heaven, St. Peter dropped his Keys and these falling on earth took root and grew as Cowslips. Another plant dedicated to St. Peter is the common weed of pastures, Yellow Rattle. It is a less kind dedication for the Latin name of this plant, Rhinanthus Christa-galli, perpetuates Peter’s denial of Jesus before the ‘Cock crows twice’.
St. Stephen: Erica purpurea.
St. David: Daffodil.

Christian Festivals
Christmas: Holly.
Conversion of St. Paul: Red Hellebore, Helleborus rubra.
Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary: Galanthus or Snowdrop, for this flower was used to strew the altar after the removal of the image of the Mother of God.
Lent: Lenten Lily or Narcissus.
Lent: Lenten Rose, or Helleborus orientalis v. Roseus.
Easter: The Pasque Flower, Anemone pulsatilla, from the petals of which flower a green dye was extracted, and used to dye gift-eggs a brilliant green at Easter.
Rogation Flower: Polygala vulgaris, or ‘Milkwort,’ of which garlands were carried at the head of Rogation processions. Ascention Day: Amaranthus caudatus was carried as a symbol of immortality.
Whitsuntide: Guelder Rose or Whitsuntide Rose: Viburnum opulus Lily of the Valley, Convallaria majalis.
Trinity: The Trinity Flower, Tradescantia virginiana.
The Pansy, or Herb Trinity (also dedicated to St• Valentine).
Trillium sp• or the Three-Leaved Nightshade.

The Nativity and the Blessed Virgin Mary
The Nativity of Jesus: The Amellus. Aster amellus.
Christ’s Herb or Christmas Rose: Helleborus niger. Tradition says that a little shepherdess seeing the Wise Men kneeling before the manger and offering their gifts, wept bitterly because she had none to offer, but Lo, where each tear fell there sprang up a white flower crowned with gold.
The Immaculate Conception: the Arbor Vitae. Thuja orientalis; symbol of eternal life.
Bethlehem Sage: Pulmonaria saccharata, which often flowers at Christmas.
The Holy Rose: Andromeda polifolia.
Our Lady’s Milk: Pulmonaria angustifolia.
Our Lady’s Hair: Briza maxima.
Our Lady’s Cushion: Thrift, Armeria maritima.
Our Lady's Thistle: Silybum marianum.
The Virgin’s Bower: Clematis flammula.

Jesus and Calvary
Jerusalem Sage: Phlomis fruticosa.
Jerusalem Cross: Lychnis chalcedonicum.
Tree of the Cross. It is not known of what timber the Cross was made but one tradition says it was the Dogwood, Cornus florida. This large tree was so distressed at the shameful use to which its timber had been put, that Jesus took pity on it and promised that never again should the Dogwood grow large enough to make useful timber; since when it has grown only to the size of a bush. Its tiny white flowers, in memory of its supremely sad experience, are all in the form of a cross.
The Eye of Christ: Inula oculus-christi.
The Crown Imperial: Fritillaria Imperialis, the most regal of flowers. Even at the Crucifixion it remained haughtily erect although the little Snowdrop, the Narcissus and, indeed, all other flowers present bowed their heads in shame. Rather brazenly it stared at the gentle eyes of the dying Saviour until, overcome with sorrow and remorse, its head drooped and tear-drops began to form-to this day you can see those tear-drops at the bottom of each petal.
Blood of Christ: Anemone coronaria.
Cavalry Clover on which the Saviour’s blood dropped: Medicago echinops.
The Bleeding Heart: Dicentra spectabilis.
The Passion Flower: Passiflora coerulea. This remarkable flower was discovered by the Spanish conquerors of South America. They believed it to be a Divine sign that they were to convert the heathen Indians by whatever means were necessary, to the Christian Faith. At Rome in 1610, the flower was interpreted as follows:- The Bud - the Eucharist, the half-opened flower represented the ‘Star of the East’; the ten sepals and petals - the ten Apostles present at the Crucifixion. The circular growth (corona) from the petals - the Crown of Thorns. The five stamens - the five wounds; the three central styles with their flat tips - the three nails used. Five red spots on the corolla of some species - blood from the five wounds. The long tendrils in the leaf axils are the scourges used at the trial of Jesus.
Everlasting Life: The symbol of Everlasting life has always been shared by the Cypress and the Yew. Cupressus lawsoniana has therefore been planted to serve as a back-screen both to the plants of Calvary, and to the stage of the small open-air theatre in Gardd yr Esgob. The Yew has not been planted, but Prof. Thomas Martyn (1735-1825) is quoted as saying that, in Wales, the value of a consecrated Yew was set at £1, Whereas an ordinary specimen had a market value of only fifteen pence; branches of Yew were placed in the grave under the coffin.
St. Dominic’s Rosary: Finally we have planted two ‘old fashioned’ Rose trees - the Rose “Roseraie de l’Hay”, and the ‘Apothecary Rose’ to commemorate the institution of ‘The Rosary of the Blessed Virgin’ by St. Dominic (Domingo de Guzman), the Inquisitor who lived from 1170-1221 A.D. and founded in 1215, the Order of Dominicans or Black Friars. Dominic’s ‘Devotion of the Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary’ was a series of prayers to mark which he used a chaplet of beads. This chaplet consists of fifteen large, and one hundred and fifty small beads in the former representing the number of Paternosters or Lord’s Prayers; and the latter the number of Ave Marias to the Virgin Mary. A smaller Rosary is also in use consisting of fifty-five beads, each ten Ave Marias being separated by a Paternoster. The name Rosary came from the fact that the earlier forms had beads fashioned from rose leaves or petals, pressed tightly in a mould to form a bead. The Hindu, Mohammedan and Buddhist religions, all have similar aids to prayer.


a. Wild Small Spelt
b. Wild Emmer
c. Small Spelt
d. Emmer
e. Club
a. Bristle-Pointed Oat
b. Short Oat
c. Sterile Oat
d. Wild Wall Barley
a. Aegelops umbellulata
b. Aegilops ovuta:- Goat Grass
c. Purple Bristle Grass
d. Green Bristle Grass
e. ‘Rye’ Brome
f. Barrel Brome
g. Upright Brome
h. Compact Brome
i. Ratstail Fescue
j. Rough Dogstail
k. Annual Beard-Grass
4. Tree of Knowledge -Apricot
5. Pig Tree
6. Palestinian Buckthorn
7a. Thistle
7b. Thistle Star
7c. Iberian Thistle
8. Gopher Wood of the Ark
9. Olive
10. Grape-Vine
Age of Patriarchs
11. Kermes or Abraham’s Oak
12. Elm-Leaved Bramble
13. Red Lentils
14. Mandrake
15. Plane Tree
16. Hazel Tree
17. Poplar Tree Joseph in Egypt
18. Stacte (Styrax)
19. Onycha (Cistus)
20. Pistachio Nuts
21. Almond
22. Six-Rowed Barley
23. One-Grained Spelt
24. Broom-Corn Millet
25. Foxtail Millet
26. Common Rush
27. Soft Rush
28. Water Gladiole.
29. Single-fared Wheat
30. Multi-fared Wheat
Moses and Erodus
31. Sweet Calamus
32. ‘Burning Bush’
33. Hyssop
34. Date Palm

Culinary Herbs
35. Garlic
36. Egyptian or Welsh Onion
37. Leek
38. Melon
39. Field Cucumber
40. Tamarisk or Manna Tree
41. Flowering Ash or ‘Manna’
42. Coriander

Bitter Herbs
43. Horebound
44. Wild Lettuce
45. Chicory
46. Endive
47. Sorrel
48. Horse-Radish
49. Acacia-Ark of Covenant
50. ‘Stacte’
51. ‘Onycha’
52. Aaron’s Rod- Almond
53. ‘Indigo’ plant
54. ‘Dyer's’ Woad
55. Madder
Age of Judges
56. Hyssop
51. Brown-Berried Juniper
58. Common Juniper
59. Syrian Juniper
60. Phoenician Juniper or ‘Sabine’ 61. Wormwood - Artemisia
62. Buxus - Box Tree
63. Myrtle
64. Jotham’s Bramble - Lycium
65. Willow - Samson’s ‘green withes’
Age of Kings
66. Six-Rowed Barley
67. Spelt Wheat
68. Field Peas
69. Field Beans
70. Terebinth Tree
71. Aspens-David’s Mulberries
72. Holly-Oak or Absalom’s Oak 73. Cedar of Lebannon
74. Green Bay Trees
75. Butcher’s Broom
76. Brutian Pine-the Thick Trees 77. Genista-the Juniper
78. Weeping Willow of Babyion 79. Phoenician Rose
80. Spiny Burnet
81. Nymphaea-Lotus Bean
Age of the Prophets
82. Eijah’s Juniper
83. Wild Gourd or Squirting Cucumber
84. Dove’s Dung-Star of Bethlehem
85. Amos’s Wormwood and Hemlock
86. Acanthus
87a.Onopordum acanthium
87b. Blue Thistle
88. True Nettle
89.’Yellow Flag’ or Iris pseudacorus
90. Stone Pine
91. Oleander
92. Field Cucumber
93a. Palestinian Bucktho;n
93b Palestinian Burweed
93c. Syrian Christ-Thorn
94. Fitches- Nigella
95. Cummin
96a. Narcissus Tazetta
96b. Pancratium
97. The ‘Strange’ Vine
98a. The Saltwort - Salsola
98b. The Soapwort
98c. Egyptian Fig - Marigold
99. Sea-Purslane - Job’s Mallows
100. Retam Broom - Job’s Junipers
10la. Cockle in the Barley - corn cockle
10lb. Wild Arum
10lc. Fleabane
102. Oak of Bashan
103. Butcher’s Broom
104. Zizyphus or ‘Jujube’Tree
105. Palestinian Buckthorn
106a. Ezekiel’s Bread--Beans
106b. Lentils
106c. Millet
106d. Fitches or Spelt Wheat
107. Buxus or Box Tree
108. Ebony Tree
109. Cedar of Lebannon
110. Acacia
111. Myrtle
112. Oil-Tree - Eleagnus
113. The Fir Tree - Pinus Pinea
114. The Pine - Pinus brutia
115. Jonah’s Gourd - The Castor Oil Plant
116a. The Saltwort
116b. The Soapwort
116c. Egyptian Fig - Marigold
Solomon’s Garden
117. Wormwood
118. ‘Apples of Gold’ - Apricot
119. The Mandrake
120. The Pomegranate
121. Spikenard
122. Saffron
123. Walnut Tree Rose of Sharon 124a. Narcissis Tazetta
124b. Palestinian Tulip
124c. Autumn Saffron
124d. Pancratium ‘Lilies of the Valleys’
125a. Oriental Hyacinth
125b. Sternbergia
125c. Madonna Lily
125d. Turk’s Cap Lily
126. Rose growing by the brook-Oleander
127a.The Resurrection Plant
127b. Oleander

New Testament

128. Carob Bean
129. Spelt Wheat - ‘Lilies of the Field’
130a. Anemone
130b. Anthemis nobilis
130c. Anthemis tinctoria
131. Mint
132. Rue
133. Cummin

134. ‘Dill’
135. The True Vine
136. The Fig Tree
137. ‘Tares’ among the Wheat
138. Black Mustard
139. The Mulberry Tree
140. Phragmites Reed
141. The Olive of Gethsemane
142. The Judas Tree
143. ‘Crown of thorns’ bush
144. The Reed-Mace - the

145. The Arundo Reed on which the sponge with vinegar was impaled
l46. Flax, of winch Jesus’s ‘seamless’ garment was made
147. Aloes, providing the fragrant oil for His body
148. Immortelle







© Copyright Bangor Civic Society 2006 Contact Us | Site Map | Search