Seed, Spade and Sword: The Bible In Context

Helping to illuminate biblical context and background

BB Garden Review: The Warsaw Biblical Gardens, Warsaw, Indiana

Master Gardener:  PARDEE GUNTER

The Warsaw BBG,

Looking west from the center of the Gardens
This photo was taken shortly after the Gardens opened.
Today the growth is greener and lusher, the hedging trees much taller. the vines shading the arbor
much, much thicker, the shade -- cooler.

The Biblical Botanical Gardens Society are delighted to introduce you to the Warsaw Biblical Gardens, a northerly, American biblical garden that turned 25 just last week.

The Warsaw Garden says of itself in its Tour Aid and Plant Guide:

“The Warsaw Biblical Gardens began in 1986 as the idea of one individual. It has since emerged as one of finest Biblical gardens in the United States, and has helped establish or re-establish Biblical Gardens in places as distant as Japan, South Africa, Scotland and New Zealand. It has traded species and information with botanical centers in Missouri and Torino, Italy.

…Tall trees and a stone wall surround our gardens, providing a sense of enclosure. A meandering walk allows one to stroll at leisure, …

Our garden is comprised of six micro-climates which represent the main environments of which the Bible speaks. The Meadow, an open space in the center of the garden, is filled with flowers in season. A Brook flows through the garden, passing through several of the environments on its way and representing the six wet months of the Israeli year. The Orchard, filled with various fruits of the Bible, has as its high point a unique, hand-constructed grape arbor. The Forest contains large shade trees and plants. A small Desert, not far from the end of the Brooks’ wet part, provides a sampling of the dryer environs and plants named in the Bible. The Crops area contains over thirty types of vegetables, herbs and other useful plants.”

This is a  beautiful biblical botanical garden, complete in every regard.

The Warsaw Garden Master Plan

Near the entrance by the fountain, looking east

Take a look at this Google Map image.  The Garden compliments the other City park offering beautifully.

The entire three quarter acre Garden is set within the Warsaw Municipal Park. This setting provides ample parking for all visitors, both those who intend to visit the Biblical Garden and those whose visit to the Bible Garden may not be their primary goal. This arrangement, coupled with the Garden’s policy of not charging admission, provides a constant flow of visitors to and through this stunning garden from dawn to dusk, from 15 May through 15 September. To hear Master Gardener Pardee Gunter tell it, in fair weather the Gardens constantly hosts many visitors.

"[Since admission to our garden is free]. The number of visitors per season is difficult to gauge. Our gates are open from April 15 to October 15, day and night. My security camera snaps about 100 pictures in 24 hours on the average. It is set to detect movement. There are some false pictures, like a bird flying through the camera let's say 35 to 40 people walk through daily. If I take that times the 180 days we are open that comes out to over 6000 visitors per season.....

I host an average of eight weddings a year.

I also guide walking tours where I serve as the guide. These tours cost $2.00 per person. I host an average of 20 tours per season. Sizes of tours range from 2 or 3 people up to 50. I actually do more of the 40 to 50 sized tours. The Kosciusko County (our county name) Visitors' Bureau schedules 8 or 10 of these big bus tours a season."

Wow! That is more than 7,000 people visiting this city park, who well may otherwise never have come. That is an extra 7,000 customers present for the many nearby eateries lining North Detroit Street, to the east of the Gardens. The Warsaw Biblical Gardens prove that a fine biblical botanical garden is a regional and national attraction, a local tourist magnet and a boon to the local economy. Notice also the splendid cooperative arrangement between the County Visitors’ Bureau and the Gardens. All parties (garden, county, merchants, tourists) benefit from this cooperation.

Visitors also have the opportunity to buy the Gardens’ excellent Tour Aid and Plant Guide. A book easily the equal of that offered by other, larger gardens.

How is establishing a Biblical Botanical Garden in a City Park possible in this age when so many of our dear fellow citizens jealously guard their perceived First Amendment right to eschew all things religious?  The solution reached by founders of the Warsaw BG is pure genius; it is noteworthy and deserving of emulation.

As their Master Gardener explained it to me, The Warsaw Garden is owned by a 501c3 Foundation. That Foundation leases the parkland from the City Parks Department with a long term lease. The City‘s only role is that of lessor. Lessors may, must, offer lease to all regardless of faith.  Thus is the separation of Church and State ensured and thus may a ‘Bible Garden’ thrive in a City Park. Judging from the names captioning the ‘our founder’s photo’, planting this garden was an ecumenical venture representing at least two different faith communities. Now due to those efforts members of all faith communities and members of no faith community may come and relish their plantings.


From left are the board members of the nonprofit Warsaw Biblical Gardens Foundation: Larry Plummer, Jon Garber, Pardee Gunter, Paul “Rafe” Refior, Kevin Zachary, Sally Hogan and Ann Zydek.(Photo provided by the Warsaw BG)

Those of you with cell phones smarter than me, can vicariously visit the Warsaw Bible Gardens by taking the OnCell tour. Dial the number 574-344-4080.and feast your eyes to the lovely visions Pardee Gunter has laid before us. To those with phones as dumb as mine, I offer a broader glimpse of this miracle in Indiana.

One of the Gardens' 'wetlands' ponds 

From the center of the Garden looking East

A tour group in the Gardens

The Arbor in high summer. How cool and refreshing can you get?

Pardee Gunter, Master Gardener, Warsaw Biblical Gardens, leads a tour for the Red Hat Ladies of Michiana, which is based out of St. Joseph County. He highlighted the new arbor that was put in place over spring break; it is based off the original arbor, which was built in New York before being shipped and reassembled at the gardens, The new structure even used some wood from the gardens. (Photo by Sarah Wright, InkFreePress)

Pardee Gunter holds a giant reed, which would have possibly been used for measuring in biblical times.  Currently, the Warsaw Biblical Gardens no longer has any giant reeds, with them proving hard to be replaced. (Photo by Sarah Wright, InkFreeNews)

Pardee holding a piece of sweet flag, an aromatic plant that was used in ointments during biblical times. Plants present in the garden all have something to teach visitors, whether it is history or how they tie into the Bible.
(Photo by Sarah Wright, InkFreeNews)

Looking from the Meadow past the Desert. Warsaw shows how complete a Biblical Garden can be in a small space.
All in all, The Warsaw Gardens are a first rate Biblical Botanical Collections -- one of the best in the USA

About Master Gardener Pardee Gunter.

Before 'retiring' to work full time as a Master Gardener at the Warsaw Gardens, Pardee was an educator for 44 years including ten years as an elementary school principal, and two years teaching in Kyoto prefecture, Japan. He cycles the ten miles to and from the garden every day, Spring through Fall.

His example offers more proof that biblical gardening is a tonic to relieve the stresses imposed by an exciting life.

Shalom Pardee and Warsaw Biblical Gardens

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Tags: Pardee_Gunter, Tours, Warsaw_Biblical_Gardens, Warsaw_Indiana, garden_review, target_destination


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