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Mary Gardens for Mother’s Day: A DIY Windowsill Display

By Melanie Fields and Kayla Harris

May is the month of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Mother's Day! On May 6 at 6 p.m., join Marian Library archivist Kayla Harris and library specialist Melanie Fields to grow your knowledge of the many flowers and plants named as symbols of the Blessed Virgin and be inspired to make your own dish garden display. 

The Mary's Gardens movement began in 1951 with John S. Stokes Jr. and Edward McTague’s research on medieval flower names as symbols of the life, mysteries and privileges of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus. Stokes spent a half-century creating this movement and providing a multitude of resources so that others could begin their own gardening journey. From a mail-order seed catalog service to an extensive website full of knowledge and experience, Stokes was passionate about sharing the faith and spiritual joy that can be found in tending to nature. 

In 2007, the Marian Library became home to Stokes’ archival collection and steward of his legacy of promoting the cultivation of these gardens in honor of the Blessed Mother. More than just papers and research, the archive is a living collection meant to inspire Marian devotion in gardeners for generations to come. 

Mary Gardens for Mother’s Day: A DIY Windowsill Display

One of Stokes’ associates, Bonnie Roberson, was especially interested in bringing Mary gardens indoors by planting dish gardens. Using containers ranging from kitchen saucepans to brandy snifters, Roberson showed that even those without outdoor gardening space could participate in the Mary’s Gardens movement. 

Blending the past with the present, this webinar will present the history of the Mary’s Gardens movement while inspiring participants to create their own Marian plant displays or present them as gifts to loved ones. Participants will receive a list of 45 plants to choose from — flowers, herbs and houseplants compiled from Stokes’ original resources — and will learn the four main aspects of creating and maintaining a successful miniature Mary garden display. Find your own inspiration from the presenters’ examples or choose to follow along live as they demonstrate how to build a simple yet elegant Marian terrarium.

Register for the webinar.

— Melanie Fields is a library specialist in the Marian Library, working with artwork and special collections, writing informative articles and communicating about the Marian Library through a variety of media. Kayla Harris manages the arrangement and preservation of the Marian Library’s archival materials including photographs, personal papers and other artifacts.  

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