Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Flowers Fruit and Herbs of the Bible No 3 The Bay Tree

Growing up as a little girl on a farm in Kent, we had a simply enormous Bay tree in our back garden. I was told that this protected us from lightning strike. But I can personally attest to the fact that this is simply not always true!
Nonetheless, Culpeper did write in the 17th century, although on what authority I know not, that:"neither witch nor devil, thunder nor lightening, will hurt a man in the place where a bay-tree is." OK, so we weren't hurt, so perhaps it is true. And we certainly never saw any witches, harmful or otherwise, in our garden!

This picture is of one of two bay trees I bought several years ago and as a pair they stand at the top of the steps leading up to the lawn. Soon, (but then I have been saying this for two long and doing nothing!) I shall start pruning and training them into those spherical blobs on spindly main trunks that you see in posher gardens than mine - ones no doubt where they have a gardener or bought them "ready made" at astronomical cost from a nursery. But i must do my own. I shall start by cutting off their top growing points at the desired height, and trimming all the side shoots to a requisite number of leaves ... and so on ... but that's a story for another day. I hope one day to be able to show you some success with this project.
For now we turn again to my biblical theme.
My tea towel tells me that the Bay Tree is mentioned in Psalm 37 at v. 35. But when I looked this up it refers simply to "a native green tree:"
"I have seen the wicked in great power,
And spreading himself like a native green tree..."
And the trusted commentary in the side margins that I have come to rely on tells me nothing more. So I have had to search further afield. How did the tea towel designer know this verse referred to a bay tree?
I have not yet found the answer, but I have found lots more fascinating facts about the Bay Tree, and will continue these in another post.

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