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All About Mary

Annuals Mary Gardens

Introductory Annuals Mary Garden

Introducing the Flowers of Our Lady and Mary Gardens of Medieval Tradition

For cultivation today by faithful stewards as works of veneration and prayer at: Homes, Schools, Parishes, Institutions, Convents, Monasteries, and Shrines.

Your Mary Garden

Start a Mary Garden.... Or, add Flowers of Our Lady to your present garden.... Have an outdoor shrine. Or be the giver of such means to a person or family, society, school or religious institution.

Your Mary Garden may be started with easy to grow annuals Flowers of Our Lady purchased from garden stores, roadside stands or nurseries as a:

- Patio Container Mary Garden
- Niche Mary Garden in a corner of an existing garden
- Small Mary Garden

Or plants for such Mary Gardens may be started from seed sown directly in the garden after the danger of frost is past in the spring; or started in seed trays indoors 4 to 6 weeks early indoors and then transplanted to the garden outdoors. In following years biennial and perennial Flowers of Our Lady may be added.

1. Inspiration

The Mary Garden is an act of faith.

It is first of all a picturing in your imagination of its Flowers of Our Lady - named as symbols of the Blessed Virgin in medieval times - with loving reflection on their meanings.

That garden is an appeal to the heart. May it be that as you envisage the Flowers of Our Lady they bloom spiritually within your interior life.

Then, with your garden stewardship, foliage, buds and blooms will come of God's creatures the seeds, in due season and according to his established order - in veneration of the Blessed Virgin, and quickening recourse to her in meditation and prayer.

12 Flower Meditations

2. The Flowers of Our Lady

Suggested Annual Flowers of Our Lady for your beginning Mary Garden

Cornflower: Mary's Crown
Forget-me-not*: Eyes of Mary
Impatiens*: Mother Love
Larkspur: Mary's Tears
Marigold*: Mary's Gold
Morning Glory: Our Lady's Mantle
Petunia*: Our Lady's Praises
Poppy: Christ's Blood
Snapdragon: Infant Jesus' Shoes
Sweet Alyssum: Flower of the Cross
Sweet Scabious: Mary's Pincushion
Zinnia: The Virgin

* Low flowers, for container Mary Gardens.
Photos copyright 1992-1997 FLOWERscape garden design software, by Richard H. Kline - All rights reserved



5. Mary Garden Care

Choose a location for your garden that has at least five hours a day of sun.

Prepare the garden soil with sand to make it porous for deep penetration of water and air; humus to make it spongy to retain water; and fertilizer to nourish plant growth.

After planting, firm soil around plant roots; water; then shade several days to prevent wilting.

Sprinkle garden with as much water as soil will absorb without forming puddles. Allow some drying from the top down to induce deep root growth and to draw in fresh air needed for soil processes and root vigor. Then re-water thoroughly, etc.

Remove any spent blooms and weeds, and loosen soil with a cultivating fork if it becomes packed.

For container Mary Gardens, trim the plants back to keep their blooms low.

6. Mary Garden History

The Flowers of Our Lady were devotionally named as symbols of the life, virtues and mysteries of the Blessed Virgin and her Divine Son in the oral traditions of the medieval countrysides - circulated by itinerate preachers, mendicant friars, wandering minstrels, roving players, pilgrims, merchants, missionaries and other travelers.

The old religious names, largely omitted from early gardening books, were recorded later through the research of botanists and folklorists in the various countries and regions - serving to preserve them and bring them down to the present day.

In our modern Information Age, these old flower names are being circulated again: now through the print media, and electronically via the Internet throughout the entire world - from which devoted individuals learn of them and spread the custom of growing them in their parishes.

7. A Mary Garden Prayer

Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

As our hearts are raised to you in love and thanksgiving through the light, grace, fragrance and symbolism of these pure, blest, transfigured flowers of Our Lady - your direct creations, showing forth and sharing with us your divine goodness, beauty and truth - we commune with you in awe and rapture and pray that we and all our brothers and sisters may be opened to the fullness of the divine love of God and Neighbor, through which we are to transform the fallen world into the culminating earthly Peaceable Kingdom and Paradise, that all may be lifted up resplendent in the eternal New Heaven and New Earth of our Crucified and Risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.


(For accompanying Litany of Garden Saints, see Mary's Gardens Internet web site homepage.)

8. For More Information

To learn more about the Flowers of Our Lady and Mary Gardens, see the Mary's Gardens homepage on the Internet at:

Here you will find:

- Introductory Slide Lecture
- Flower and Garden photos
- Informative and inspirational articles
- Research and Documentation
- Lists of hundreds of Flowers and Plants
- Mail order sources of seeds, bulbs, plants
- Plant Selection and Garden Design aids
- Full Gardening Instructions
- Indoor Dish & Windowsill Mary Gardens
- Garden Blessings and Prayers
- New postings each month
- This Booklet - for printing copies

Email address:

9. Gardens Give Mary Glory

These are the loveliest of her litanies,
These are gardens where the glad abounding earth
Still gush the Holy Spirit's primal mirth
In endlessly renewed diversities

These from the faithful and fecund soil
Are generations that have called her blest,
They magnify her always without rest
While man's sad cyclic ages still uncoil.

They beat the perfumed air with noiseless sound,
They ring out her renown, freshly repeat
Her names taught them by men whose pulses beat
With God's great rhythm of the Seasons' round.

Each garden gives her glory, chants her praise
Even in harsh and hostile places where
Men have forgotten gentleness and prayer,
And what still canticles waft through their days.

Who plants a garden builds a carillon
To peal her praises with the pulse of time,
And laud her with the earth's loveliest, lasting chime
In bright, unalterable antiphon.

– Liam Brophy, 1961

Copyright Mary's Gardens 1951-1998

The John Stokes and Mary's Garden collection was transferred to the Marian Library in May 2013. In addition to his archives, manuscripts, artwork, and personal library, John S. Stokes also donated his extensive website. It was transferred to the Marian Library in early 2010. This particular entry is archived content original to Stokes' Mary's Gardens website. It is possible that some text, hyperlinks, etc. are outdated.

All About Mary includes a variety of content, much of which reflects the expertise, interpretations and opinions of the individual authors and not necessarily of the Marian Library or the University of Dayton. Please share feedback or suggestions with


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