"The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth.
One is nearer God's heart in a garden
Than any place else on Earth."
Dorothy Frances Gurne
The Wildscape Guild's purpose is to provide a beautiful and welcoming outdoor environment at St. Francis' church for all God's creatures—including humans. We seek an awareness of God's presence in fellowship, in silent meditation, and in all the sensual joys of planting and harvesting in the care of creation. We are filling the grounds with native and adapted plants that will support birds, butterflies, and other wildlife as well as saving water and preventing erosion. We hope to make the gardens a living classroom to encourage the love of the outdoors in children at the school.
Last year we dedicated a Monarch Waystation habitat project to be included in the Monarch Waystation Registry, an online listing of Monarch Waystations worldwide. The purpose of this habitat is to provide food, shelter, and nursery plants to support migratory Monarch butterflies, whose numbers are in steep decline in the United States. See www.MonarchWatch.org/waystations
The most recent addition to the grounds is a Meditation Garden near the columbarium. A fountain and benches provide a pleasant environment for meditating on God's love and care—and listening for his voice. Plants mentioned in the Bible have been included in the plan, with signs indicating the Biblical source. Below is a list of these plants with their corresponding verses:
ALOE (Aloe vera): John 19:39-40
Nicodemus, who at first had gone to see Jesus at night, went with Joseph, taking with him about one hundred pounds of spices, a mixture of myrrh and aloes. The two men took Jesus’ body and wrapped it in linen cloths with the spices according to the Jewish custom of preparing a body for burial.
AROMATIC RESIN TREE (Sweet Gum Tree): Genesis 43:11
Their father said to them, “If that is how it has to be, then take the best products of the land in your packs as a present for governor: a little resin, a little honey, spices, pistachio nuts, and almonds. . .”
BITTER HERBS (Prostrate Rosemary): Exodus 12:8
That night the meat is to be roasted, and eaten with bitter herbs and with bread made without yeast.
BROOM (Retama): 1 Kings 19:4
Then [Elijah] went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day, and sat down under a broom bush and prayed that he might die. “I’ve had enough,” he told the Lord. “I’ve got to die sometime, and it might as well be now.”
CITRON (Arctic Frost Satsuma): Song of Soloman 2:3
As a citron among trees of the forest, So is my beloved among the sons, In his shade I delighted, and sat down, And his fruit is sweet to my palate.
CYPRESS (Arizona Blue Cypress): Isaiah 44:14
He might cut down cedars to use, or choose oak or cypress wood from the forest. Or he might plant a laurel tree and wait for the rain to make it grow.
DILL (Anethum graveolens): Exodus 30:34
The Lord said to Moses, “Take an equal part of each of the following sweet spices – stacte, onycha, galbanum, and pure frankincense. . . ”
FIG (Brown Turkey Fig): Joel 1:7
They have destroyed our grapevines and chewed up our fig trees. They have stripped off the bark, till the branches are white.
GARLIC (Society Garlic): Numbers 11:5
In Egypt we used to eat all the fish we wanted, and it cost us nothing. Remember the cucumbers, the watermelons, the leeks, the onions, and garlic we had?
GRASS (Little Bluestem): Isaiah 40:1-8
A voice cries out, “Proclaim a message!” “What message shall I proclaim?” I ask. “Proclaim that all mankind are like grass; they last no longer than wild flowers. Grass withers and flowers fade when the Lord sends the wind blowing over them. People are no more enduring than grass. Yes, grass withers and flowers fade, but the word of our God endures forever.”
LILY (Daylily): Matthew 6:28-30
And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
MYRTLE (Crepe Myrtle): Isaiah 55:13
Cypress trees will grow where now there are briers; myrtle trees will come up in place of thorns. This will be a sign that will last forever, a reminder of what I, the Lord, have done.
OAK (Monterrey Oak): Joshua 24:26
Joshua wrote these commands in the book of the Law of God. Then he took a large stone and set it up under the oak tree in the Lord’s sanctuary.
OLIVE (Olive 'Montra' Sale): Judges 9:9
The olive tree answered, “In order to govern you, I would have to stop producing my oil, which is used to honor gods and men.”
POMEGRANATE (King Red Pomegranate): Song of Soloman 7:12
We will get up early and look at the vines to see whether they’ve started to grow, whether the blossoms are opening and pomegranate trees are in bloom. There I will give you my love.
MYRRH (pink rockrose): Genesis 23:11
“Listen, sir; I will give you the whole field and the cave that is in it. Here in the presence of my own people, I will give it to you, so that you may bury your wife.”
ROSE (Belinda’s Dream Shrub Rose): Song of Soloman 2:1-2
The girl: “I am the rose of Sharon, the lily of the valley.”
King Solomon: “Yes, a lily among thorns, so is my beloved as compared with any other girls.”
THORN BUSHES (Texas Lilac Vitex): Job 40:21
He lies down under the thorn bushes, and hides among the reeds in the swamp.
WILLOW (Desert Willow): Job 40:22
The thorn bushes and the willows by the stream give him shelter in their shade.
WORMWOOD (Artemesia): Revelation 8:10
10 The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water— 11 the name of the star is Wormwood.[a] A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter.
In the future, we plan to add water catchment storage tanks with additional drip irrigation and wildlife water source.
We meet weekly, weather permitting, on Thursday mornings from 9:00am until 11:00am. During hot weather, we move the meeting times earlier so as catch the cool of the morning.
Every few weeks we plan a field trip to a garden shop, nursery, garden, or other venue. We plan to eat lunch and just enjoy each other's company in shared interests.Please contact the church office for details about volunteering for this ministry.
Certified Master Naturalist:
Work on the St. Francis' Wildscape counts as required volunteer hours for anyone who is aiming for status as a Certified Master Naturalist, which is a designation sponsored by Texas Parks and Wildlife and Texas Agrilife Extension Service.