By: Viki Doyle Heagy
Springtime is here. The earth is coming back to life after its long winter’s rest. The grass is greener. The birds are back and building nests. It is time to plant the garden.
The soil must be turned over and prepared for the new plants and seeds. Families will work together to plant vegetables, fruits and berries. The seedlings must be nurtured and watered. Weeds must be pulled. In a few months, the harvest begins.
Many people plant a Mary garden. It is a beautiful way to show devotion to the Blessed Mother. The practice of a Mary garden began in Europe in the Middle Ages. St. Fiacre, the Irish patron saint of gardening, is credited with planting the first known garden. This took place in the seventh century in France.
Your Mary garden can be as simple as a few plants in a container, or larger if you have a big yard. Whatever size garden you choose to plant, a statue of Mary should be the central focus. The plants will remind us of events in the lives of Mary and Jesus. If you already have a statue in you your yard, surrounding it with flowers will become a lovely reminder to pray.
Here is a partial list of plants you may use and what they represent in Mary’s life.
Baby’s breath – her veil
Bluebells – look like tiny thimbles and remind us of her working hands
Canterbury bells – her nightcap
Carnations – bloomed the night Jesus was born and represent Mary’s joy
Chrysanthemum – the Epiphany flower
Columbine – or Our Lady’s shoes – it is said to have spouted where Mary’s feet touched the ground on her way to visit Elizabeth.
Daisy - a sign for the Magi to find the house where Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were
Dandelion – Mary’s bitter sorrow
Forget-me-nots – her eyes
Foxglove – her gloves
Herbs – any herb may be planted. Mary’s love and mercy is represented by soothing and healing herbs. Sweet smelling herbs represent her spiritual sweetness. Sour and bitter herbs represent her sorrows.
Hosta – bloom at the time of the Assumption
Lavender – a drying bush. Mary placed Jesus’ clothes on these to dry.
Lily of the valley – Our Lady’s tears
Madonna lily – represents purity. It is said that the Archangel Gabriel held one at the Annunciation.
Marigold – Mary’s gold. These were placed around Mary statues instead of coins.
Morning glory - her mantle
Peony – Pentecost rose
Rosemary – another drying bush
Snowdrops – these were blooming when Mary took Jesus to the temple for the Presentation
Star of Bethlehem – represent the star that the Magi followed
Veronica – our Lady’s faith
Violets – represent humility and modesty
A beautiful garden honoring Mary can be planted using some or all these flowers. If space allows, rocks can be place in a circle signifying the rosary. Enjoy the planning, planting and booms. Reflect on Mary’s life and her son, Jesus Christ our Lord!