Archive for March, 2011


Most of us are more familiar with the tribe of Judah than any of the other eleven.  The fourth son of Jacob and Leah, his name means “praise or to be praised” and is the tribe identified with praise, worship, and salvation.  In Genesis 49, we see that Judah is a tribe of authority and strength.  Judah’s worship and praise produced an atmosphere of victory over the enemy.  No wonder, then, that Judah is closely connected to the month of Nissan, for this is the month when the Lord delivered His people from bondage in Egypt.  Jesus, a member of the tribe of Judah, was crucified and resurrected during the month of Nissan.  Judah goes first in praise and releases worship that moves the heart of God.

We have spent several days clearing roots, vines, and weeds from a large portion of Judah in preparation for rose planting.  Roses have been grown in the Middle East for thousands of years and certainly belong in a biblical garden.  Additionally, roses are often associated with royalty, and Judah is certainly a royal tribe!  Over the next couple of weeks, we will be clearing new pathways and preparing planting beds in the Judah portion of our garden.  Judah goes first, so that is where we will begin with the first phase of garden design and planting.

Take a look at some of the garden warriors at work in Judah’s rose garden!

Keeping You Informed!

Greetings to all of you gardening warriors!

Spring break was a busy time at the Twelve Tribes Garden in Corinth.  On Tuesday, the Next Generation flocked to the garden site and anointed the ground with their efforts.  On Wednesday and Thursday, I was joined by those of my own generation.  We spent some time clearing vines, weeds, and roots from what will soon be Judah’s rose garden.  I’ll be posting pictures and a description of Judah’s area in my next post.  After a few days of nursing sore muscles and catching up on those other chores that always beckon–like laundry–I will be back at the garden site on Wednesday afternoon and most of the day Thursday.  If you have time and energy to spare, please join me after lunch on Wednesday and at ten o’clock on Thursday morning.

I met with a group of people this afternoon at the garden site who will be instrumental in the composting operation and community vegetable garden at Beulah Acres.  It’s amazing how excited folk can get about the whole process of large-scale decomposition for the purpose of enriching soil!  While we were there on the property, we were blessed to see the first fresh, green leaves of the almond trees in Asher’s garden.  Spring really has arrived!

Blessings to you all!

Next Generation Workday

This has been a busy week for gardeners of all generations in the Twelve Tribes Garden.  On Tuesday morning, the Next Generation was represented by elementary, middle school, and high school young people at the Corinth property.  The weather was perfect: cool and breezy in the early morning, warming to the low seventies by noon.  Each age group spent time with their leaders in their adopted tribe area, praying and dedicating their piece of ground to the Lord and asking for vision over the planning and planting.  Then they all got busy!

We all had a great time getting dirty, a little sweaty, and excited about what God is going to do in this place.   The children and middle school youth eradicated the weeds from two flower beds and each planted a fig tree in Benjamin and Manasseh.  The senior high youth planted two almond trees, one pomegranate, and a fig tree in Asher.  For me, the most exciting part of the day was seeing young people get involved in the gardening transformation from the very beginning. We may have some future horticulturists in the group!


My thanks to all the children, parents, and teachers that made this first garden workday a success.

Happy Gardening!


Planning the Twelve Tribes of Israel Prayer Garden has given me the opportunity to go beyond my previous, Sunday School-level understanding of Jacob’s sons.  I knew their names, their birth order, and their reputations, but I didn’t really grasp their significance.  The connection between each tribe and the different months of the Hebrew calendar has enriched my understanding of our biblical heritage.  It has also broadened my appreciation for the agricultural and seasonal nature of God’s relationship to His people.

In our garden, the first section you will enter through the main gate will be that of Simeon.  The second son of Jacob and Leah, Simeon means “to hearken, listen or understand.” But it can also mean “there is iniquity.”  Simeon was a man of war and prone to anger.  Simeon is connected to the month of Av in the Hebrew calendar, which is considered a month of destruction.  The ninth of Av has been, historically, a dark time in Israel’s history.  Even so, that darkness is ultimately overcome by the joy found in the fifteenth of the month.  This was the day when Israel found a place of repentance for its idolatry and God renewed His covenant with them.  In spite of his flaws, Simeon is listed in the Book of Revelation and has a place in the eternal city of Jerusalem.  Even a man of war and violence can–and did–find a place of repentance and forgiveness.

In the created world, few things symbolize repentance and change like the butterfly.  For that reason, Simeon’s section will be a butterfly garden focusing on native perennials such as butterfly weed, aster, lantana, liatris, penstemon, salvias, and daisies.  In addition to the crepe myrtles and vitex trees that are already in the space, we will plant almond trees and spring-blooming bulbs. Of course, every section of the garden will include some kind of seating and shade.

Below are images of Simeon’s section as it appears now from several perspectives.  I hope you can imagine what the space will one day look like!

Seven Species of Israel

When my Junior Master Gardeners planted our biblical garden outside the Servant’s House at our Denton location, we used several of the seven species of Israel.  In case you are unfamiliar with the seven species, let’s have a look at Deuteronomy:

“For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, that flow out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing” (8:7-9).

When the scripture refers to honey as one of the seven species, it is actually the date palm.  In ancient times, the date was often made into a form of honey by mashing the dates and cooking them with water until they thickened into a syrup.  It is believed that the “honey” mentioned here is that of the date palm, not the honey produced by bees.  That is why dates are the seventh species.

The seven species of Israel will provide the foundational structure for the Twelve Tribes garden in Corinth.   Of course, because of environmental differences between north Texas and Israel, we will have to substitute a hardier tree to represent the date palm.  In addition, we will plant the “unofficial” eighth species of Israel, the almond tree.  The presence of these plants throughout the garden will be a living reminder of God’s chosen land and people, Israel.

Several other species figure prominently in the biblical landscape, including the four species of the Feast of Tabernacles–myrtle, citrus, palm, and willow–and numerous herbs and flowers.  In many cases, plants that are native and adapted to this continent are close relatives of those found in Israel.  It has been, and continues to be, a delightful investigative experience for me!  I look forward to sharing these plants and their significance with you as they go into the ground.

Bless you.

Shabbat Shalom

“Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished.  And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.  Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.”

Genesis 2:1-3

I’m sitting at my computer, next to an open window, enjoying what promises to be a beautiful, almost-spring day.  Right now, at 8:24 in the morning, the temperature is 56 degrees, the sky is clear, and the winds are out of the southeast at fourteen miles per hour.  Thankfully, the humidity is much higher today than it was yesterday when the drier air and gusting winds stirred up grass fires in the little town of Rhome just southwest of us.  It is a lovely Sabbath!

You may wonder how I can observe Shabbat by writing an entry in my blog.  The primary requirement for observing the Sabbath is to rest from one’s regular work (Leviticus 23:3).  Since my “regular work” revolves around the needs of my home, family, and church, then writing about the garden definitely falls into the category of appropriate Sabbath behavior!  Talking about, writing about, and working in the garden bring me great joy, and that’s what Shabbat is all about: taking the time out of our busy schedule to truly enjoy God’s abundant blessings.

Now that the garden site is cleaned up, the next step is to lay out the location of the twelve tribes and connect them with pathways.  At the same time, we will start planting trees and preparing bedding areas, then select places throughout the garden for seating and arbors.  This is the part of the process that requires the most patience for me since I am always so eager to get plants in the ground!  But, I’m trying to control myself and not fill my truck up with plants from the nursery before they have a place to call home.

Starting Monday I will be sharing the vision for each tribe’s section of the garden.  As I said in my Groundwork post, the Lord first planted the concept for this garden in my heart back in 2007.  The first place I went for inspiration was the web site of Neot Kedumim, the Biblical Plant Reserve in Israel.  Whenever you have the time, go visit the site and take the virtual tour.   One of these days I am going for the actual tour.  In the meantime, I’ll be busy in Corinth!

Shabbat shalom.



We Have Water!

As I mentioned in my last post, we have been working on the landscape irrigation system this week. In spite of several years of neglect, the system was in surprisingly good shape. When I arrived on the property in Corinth this afternoon, the crew was just about ready to run their first test. Take a look at what happened:






We have water!

Garden Responses

Last night, I took some time to read the comments that have been posted on the blog. What a blessing to see so many encouraging and enthusiastic responses from so many different parts of the world! My intention has been to let you all feel connected to the garden, but your reception has made me feel connected to you in a whole new way. Thank you for welcoming this special gardening project into your hearts.

A few people have shared their love of growing things in small, confined spaces. Let me assure you, there is no space too small that can’t be improved with one of God’s precious plants! When Chuck and I were newlyweds at Texas A&M University, I worked on campus in the Extension Horticulture department. I didn’t know anything about gardening, but those passionate horticulturists shared their knowledge and expertise with me in such a way that I couldn’t resist trying to grow something! By the time Chuck graduated from college in 1975, our little balcony looked like a jungle. My gardening canvas has increased in size since then, but I still get just as excited about the process today as the first time I watched a seed sprout on that balcony so many years ago.

For those who have wondered if I have actually planted anything in the garden yet, the answer is no. We are working on the irrigation system this week so we can start planting additional trees next week. The trees that currently call the garden home are several types of oak, vitex, and crepe myrtles. To those we will be adding fig, almond, red cedar, olive, pomegranate, and Eve’s necklace.

Next Tuesday, I will be working with students in our children and youth ministry, including those who have been a part of my Junior Master Gardener group, the Glory Gardeners. The children have adopted the tribe of Benjamin as their gardening project, the senior high youth have adopted the tribe of Asher, and the middle school young people are adopting either Manasseh or Reuben. This means that they will be involved in the planning, planting, and maintenance of those three areas of the garden. And, of course, they’ll learn something about the tribes and horticulture at the same time!

I will be posting a work schedule here within the next several days. Those of you in the area who enjoy digging and getting dirty will be welcome to pick a time and join me in the garden.

Happy Gardening!

Clearing the Winter’s Debris

I confess: I do not enjoy winter.  The only thing good about it, for me, is that I have plenty of time to study plant and seed catalogs and dream of spring.  Thankfully, where I live, I don’t have to wait long for the first signs of spring.  Here in north Texas, the forsythia and flowering quince are in full bloom, the daffodils are bobbing their cheerful heads in the breeze, and the red bud trees are starting their annual show of color right on schedule.  It won’t be long until fields and roadsides are awash with Indian paintbrush and bluebonnets, the signature colors of a Texas spring!

This is the time of year for raking up the rest of the fallen leaves, trimming trees, shrubs, and perennials, and preparing for the growing season.  At the Twelve Tribes Garden site in Corinth, that is exactly what has been happening the past few days.  Now that the winter’s debris is cleared away, the planting process can begin in earnest!  Over the next several weeks, we will evaluate the existing irrigation system, start laying out the boundaries for the twelve garden areas, establish additional pathways, prepare planting beds, and plant trees and shrubs.  I will let you know when we have work days scheduled so you can make plans to join us in the garden.

Take a look at the freshly mowed and trimmed landscape.

Getting to Know the Garden

Two weeks ago, on an uncharacteristically warm February day, I went for a walk on the new Glory of Zion property in Corinth, Texas.  Tucked behind a portable building that will one day house a new kitchen facility and Servant’s House is the skeletal framework of the Twelve Tribes of Israel Prayer Garden.  Hidden by years of neglect and overgrowth I saw what will, one day, be a place of beauty, contemplation, prayer and community.

I believe we all enjoy watching a project unfold.  I find it hard to resist those “before and after” photos on the internet, especially when they involve a changing landscape.  For that reason, I took a series of photographs of the garden space as it was in February 2011 so that we would all be able to appreciate the changes that will be taking place over the next weeks, months, and years.

I will be updating this blog regularly with information, pictures, plans and work opportunities.

Come back often and enjoy the transformation!

Scroll down to experience my walk along with me.