What is a Mary Garden?
“Let everything in creation draw you to God. Refresh your mind with some innocent recreation and needful rest, if it were only to saunter through the garden or the fields, listening to the sermon preached by the flowers, the trees, the meadows, the sun, the sky, and the whole universe. You will find that they exhort you to love and praise God; that they excite you to extol the greatness of the Sovereign Architect Who has given them their being.” - St. Paul of the Cross
“He who finds Mary finds life, that is, Jesus Christ who is the way, the truth and the life.”
- St. Louis de Monfort
Mary Gardens have their roots in a spiritual imagination that recognizes the divine throughout creation. During the medieval Age of Faith, rural Christians bestowed names upon flowers and plants to symbolically represent Mary, the Mother of God, as well as the life of Christ, the saints and the liturgical year. These humble people had no books about devotions to Our Lady. Rather, they had creation; they had flowers. These names were almost forgotten once the printing press allowed for easier access to the proper classification of plants although some names held strong, (for example, marigolds come from the old name, Mary’s Gold). The Mary Gardens movement in the twentieth century resurrected the tradition of using flowers and their historic religious names to create spaces of prayer dedicated to the intercession of Our Lady. As St. Louis de Montfort wrote, “Through her, Jesus came to us; through her we should go to him.”
Here are some popular flowers and their religious names.
- Baby's Breath - Our Lady's Veil
- Black-eyed Susan - Golden Jerusalem
- Bleeding Heart - Mary's Heart
- Columbine - Our Lady's Shoes
- Dahlia - Church Flower
- Daisy - Mary-Love
- Dandelion - Mary's Bitter Sorrows
- Forget-me-nots - Eyes of Mary
- Iris - Mary's Sword of Sorrow
- Madonna Lily - Annunciation Lily
- Pansy - Our Lady's Delight
- Peony - Pentecost Rose
- Poppy - Christ's Blood Drops
- Sunflower - Mary's Gold
- Violet - Our Lady's Modesty.
The Stokes Mary's Flowers and Gardens at the University of Dayton
Mary's Flowers: Gardens, Legends & Meditations (Living Legends of Our Lady) by Vincenzina Krymow