Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Growing Plants of the Bible

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Growing Plants of the Bible

Article excerpt

THE APPLE IN THE biblical Garden of Eden may have gotten a bad rap over the years.

Despite generations of popular portrayals, the fruit that God forbade Adam and Eve to eat is more likely the apricot.

That's the conclusion of Allan A. Swenson of Kennebunk, Maine, author of "Plants of the Bible and How to Grow Them" (Carol Publishing Co., $18.95).

The apple tree was never a native plant of the Holy Land, Swenson says. Apples need cool temperatures and can't tolerate constantly torrid conditions.

"Considering the heat and lack of moisture in much of the Holy Land, it's most likely that the apple of the Scriptures was really the abundantly grown apricot."

Swenson's book combines historical fact and scriptural references with gardening advice.

You actually may be passing some biblical plants on your way to work, or be growing them in your back yard, indoor pots or windows boxes, and not even realize that their heritage is deeply rooted in the pages of Scripture.

If you're not interested in testing your green thumb and just want to see the blooming things of biblical reference and inhale their fragrance, Swenson tells you where to go all over the country.

Swenson has published 44 books on gardening and nature, including a series for children.

"I got to reading the Bible one night," Swenson said, "and I began noticing the reference to plants, and I realized there could be a whole book about flowers, fruits and trees. A lot of them we don't think of as plants of the Bible - like crocus, daffodil, tulip, lily, cyclamen, hyacinth."

The Bible Swenson was reading that night had been given to him when he was a 9-year-old in a Baptist Sunday School.

He says, "I read it when I was young, when I was in college, and I read it a lot in the Army when they were shooting at me."

He researched his book for a year, reading nearly eight different translations of the Bible - among them, King James, Douay, Moffett, Goodspeed and Jastrow. …

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