Seed, Spade and Sword: The Bible In Context

Helping to illuminate biblical context and background

Garden Reverie -- It All Started 75 Years Ago in America

Our society is translating the excellent book by Pastor Dr Katrin Stückrath: Bibelgärten: Entstehung, Gestaltung, Bedeutung, Funktion und Interdisziplinäre Perspektiven (Bible Gardens: Creation, Form, Meaning, Function and Interdisciplinary Perspectives).  The book presents a thorough overview of the history of Biblical Botanical Garden Movement. It turns out that the movement, our movement, started in America !    The movement has since returned from the ‘New World’, back to the ’Old World’ whence came the Word.

In some countries it has taken hold and spread like wildfire.

I find that rather amazing, but Pastor Stückrath clearly makes the case. Furthermore, she points to one singular event and one remarkable person that started it all.

It was spring, 1941 and time for the New York City Annual Flower Show. The then Associate Curator of the New York Botanical Gardens, Harold N. Moldenke, carted every movable plant then identified  as having been named in scripture down from the Bronx to mid-town Manhattan  and put up a truly remarkable display in New York’s Grand  Central Palace.

It is no longer there, but New York's Grand Central palace (above) was the place our Biblical Botanical Garden Movement Started 75 years ago.  Heck ... we don't even think of NY City as a ''garden town', but it still hosts some of the worlds loveliest. The NY Botanical Garden is still the finest collection of Bible Plants this side of the Atlantic.
Alas, they no long boast their collection's Bible connection as once they did. Wee hope to change that.

I have long sought for color photos of that exhibition, but have found none. The NYC Botanical Garden was kind enough to provide me with their photos of Dr. Moldenke and the flower show. I share them with you here.

Doctor Moldenke in 1941

Doctor Moldenke examining plants in the NYCBG Herbarium, 1941

It takes a plant person of rare ability to put on a show like this..

I wish I could read those signs...!

The exhibit took the gold medal that year. For the exhibit, Mr. Moldenke wrote a pamphlet describing not only the plants at the show, but every Torah plant at the NYCBG.

In 1952, he and his wife Alma would publish an expanded version of this pamphlet as his book Plants of the Bible..

Here are the cover from the NYBG Journal and a first page of the article about the award winning display

Notice the refence above to a book by Eleanor King. That book is a seminal work in this field. 

So there you have it -- a brief write up of where and how the BBG movement started ..

We will share the translation of Dr. Stückrath's book with all our members as soon as we hash out the copyriight details (she wants us to have it free....)

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