Horticulture in the Holy Land: a Portfolio of Israel’s Plant Life

One of our goals at Passages is to cultivate a deeper understanding of the Holy Land, its people, and its significance to the Christian faith, both during our participants’ time in Israel and after they’ve returned home. To supplement our participants’ experiences in the Holy Land, we encourage students to complete the Passages Capstone course in the months following their trip. This course offers students a number of ways in which to process and reflect upon their time in Israel, including participating in an essay, photo, or submit-your-own-project contest. Winners have their work featured on various platforms and receive a cash prize for their creative submissions.

This post highlights our 2021 Capstone Submit-Your-Own Contest winner, Adam Honour. Adam collected 10 plant samples from his journey through Israel, presenting each one with its name, location, and personal significance. Keep scrolling to see Adam’s incredible portfolio of plants from the Holy Land!


Mt. of Olives – Olive Branch

A beautiful pilgrimage site, a different place from the bustle and noise of Jerusalem Fortress. Across the Mount of Olives, the Savior’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem took place. The last nights before His death were spent by Christ on this mountain and from here the Ascension to the Lord took place.

On the Mt. we could see one of the oldest Jewish cemeteries, the wonderful Garden of Gethsemane, the Carmelite Church “Pater noster” and the Church of All Nations.

The panorama from the Mount of Olives on Jerusalem is wonderful: we see the walls of Jerusalem, the valleys of Hinome and Kedron, the Golden Gate and Mount Moriah, the Temple Mount, Mount Zion, the City of David. This olive branch was very special, as we learned about the oil pressing that was a staple economic past time, and has continued in Israel today.

Jordan River Native Flower

Witnessing a friend on our Passages trip being baptised in the Jordan River for the first time was an encouraging experience bringing me back to when I was baptised as a young man. To dip my feet in the water that Jesus had been baptised in Himself was incredible. This dried leaf now rests in the pages that the following Scripture is written in my Bible, Matthew 3:13-17, “Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

Megiddo Wheat

Visiting Megiddo was our hottest day, but after extensive study in Revelation it was incredible to be in the place where the End Times are predicted to have taken place. It rests in the pages that the following Scripture is written in my Bible, Revelation 16:16, “Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.”

Trumpet Flower – Yad Veshem 

We toured this memorial museum on one of the last days of a tour of the Holy Land. The building itself was a remarkable structure on the mountainside. It was an elongated building and you walked through several sections which were broadly chronological in order. The material was very well laid out and vividly showed the suffering of the European Jews in the first half of the twentieth century. It illustrated well man’s inhumanity to man and that such a terrible event must never happen again. This beautiful trumpet flower was properly placed on the walk to the National Cemetery, and to me the beauty was worth holding on to as a remembrance of those who suffered. 

Golem Heights Spiky Weed (Vachellia farnesiana)

The views at Golem Heights were simply unreal, it was strange to be on the border of two counties (Lebanon and Syria) and know the groups like Hezbollah and Hamas are waiting just a few miles away, plotting war against the Israili people. Everything in this terrain was a bit rough, and harsh, and this plant is a perfect example of the state of the north, with its sharp thorns and woody appearance. 





Caesarea Philippi Fig Leaf

Jesus announced that He is the Messiah in this place that is known to be the gates of hell in Greek theology. It shows how the Lord will meet you where you are for a relationship with Him. This dried leaf now rests in the pages that the following Scripture is written in my Bible, Matthew 16: 13-16, “When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Lavender from the Garden of Gethsemane 

The Garden tomb and the Garden of Gethsemane were both very impactful for us as a whole, it was simply amazing to see the 800 year old olive trees, and imagine their lineage likely came from trees which Christ himself walked among. The private Pope’s Garden was where this amazing Lavender was growing, and it still to this day fills up a room with a calming, relaxing smell which I can only imagine truly helps one feel at peace during their prayer time in that special place.





Mt. Precipice Native Sage

The experience on Mt. Precipice was unlike anything I have ever experienced. I had a time of devotion with the Lord on the cliff face where I found this native sage growing. It rests in the pages that the following Scripture is written in my Bible, Luke 4:29-30, “They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.” 

Mt. of Beatitudes Rosemary

The experience on Mt. of Beatitudes was amazing, we basically had the entire place to ourselves, and we were able to take in the same dramatic view Christ must have had when he left the town of Capernum.

It was amazing to be greeted by the familiar scent of Rosemary, and to be able to take a long pause reflecting on what it means to be blessed in Christ’s words.

The Crown of Thorns Tree, En Gedi

The experience at En Gedi was truly one of the most exciting times our group had together. We are able to cool off in the hot summer sun under the waterfalls that carved through the valley. The most amazing tree with massive spikes was mentioned to be the same plant that was used to craft the crown of thorns. This was quite impactful for me, and quite a somber moment for the group as a whole.