Friday, October 22, 2010

The Pin Oak in Autumn

pin oak
In 2006, we planted a 15-foot pin oak in the Gethsemane Prayer Garden in recognition of the Founding Pastor J. Lee Simmons. The tree was presented as a living memorial by the first graduating class of the Living Faith School of Ministry. It was a beautiful tree then, and is an even more beautiful tree today standing at 22- feet tall. While the leaves on some pin oaks are deep red in autumn, this one has a very attractive orange color that compliments the yellows, reds, and purples that are prevalent this time of year.

The soil in our area is heavily laden with limestone, which means that the pH is very high, around 7.3 or so. Oaks typically require a low pH such as 6.0, so we had to make some drastic adjustments. First came the backhoe that dug a hole 4-6 feet deep and 18 feet wide. We brought in 40 yds of lower pH soil which we mounded three feet above the ground level. As the soil was placed, we spread 8 pounds of sulfur acidifier into the soil to help reduce yellowing of the tree (iron chlorosis). We did not use aluminum sulfate, as some are prone to do, because of the long-term toxicity of aluminum to the oak. The tree was planted in the center of that mound.

Why the oak? Pastor Simmons has stated that the pin oak is his favorite tree, partly in memory of his childhood near Philadelphia, and partly because of what Isaiah wrote, "They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor" (Isaiah 61:3).

In Luke 4:18-19, Jesus states that he is the fulfillment of Isaiah 61, "... the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor ..." Jesus, in his grace to the downtrodden, is to bind up the brokenhearted, free the captives, release the prisoners, and comfort those who mourn. The effect is that these otherwise hopeless people will become like oaks of righteousness. Therefore, the oak with its strength, size, and beauty, represents the how these people have changed, a "display of his splendor."

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End Note: The overall theme for this series of articles is flowers and plants, showing how they point to love. Sometimes I write 'how to' do something, other times the emphasis is a status update, or the article will be about how a plant or flower touched my heart. All of these writings are based on plants from the Gethsemane Prayer Garden in Syracuse, NY. Please consider some of the other blog articles: Index of Articles About the Gethsemane Prayer Garden.