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John Stokes and Mary's Gardens

Annapolis Mary Garden

Photo by Vincenzina Krymow

Magnificent Mary Garden at St. Mary's Parish, Annapolis, Maryland, established in 1989, adjacent to historic Carroll House. Original focal sculpture, "Mary of Nazareth" dedicated 1991. Cared for by parish Mary Garden Guild and fully integrated into Parish and School life.

Parishioner Care of Garden, Photos "Seeds of Devotion"
Desciption of the Garden Planting
Plant List and Planting Plan
Dedication and Blessing
Visitors' Guide
Garden Tour
Developmental Correspondence 1990-1997


Heaven and earth meet in the peace and beauty of the Mary Garden behind St. Mary's Catholic Church in Annapolis.

Women in the Mary Garden feed a flowering of the spirit

By Susan Reimer, Sun Staff Correspondent
The Baltimore Sun, Sunday May 14, 1995

The women of the Mary Garden at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Annapolis often arrive in early evening, when the sun has cooled and the chores of their secular lives are finished. But they don't come to meditate among the flowers.

They come to work.

Bending their tired backs to weed or plant, they hear hymns drift out from the stained-glass windows of St. Mary's Church as the choir rehearses. Sailboats whisper in and out of Spa Creek. Birds gather for an evening bath in the fountain that burbles at the sandaled, granite feet of Mary and Jesus.

"And you really feel that this must be what heaven is like," says Laura Van Geffen. "If it is heaven," she adds, "the Saints and angels are laughing at me."

"I feel as if I've been tricked," she says as she wipes her sweaty forehead with the back of a garden-gloved hand. "I'm Catholic, but I never understood the veneration of Mary. I used to pray, 'I don't get it. Show me how to love your mother.'

"Then this fell in my lap". Mrs. Van Geffen drives a spade into the soft, spring earth where another rosebush will be planted.

"I would have preferred a revelation to years of backbreaking work."

Somewhere between the muddy reality of tilled soil and the chaste beauty of the woman for whom the flowers are named, there lies the Mary Garden.

The flrst public garden dedicated to the Virgin seems to have been the Garden of Our Lady at St. Joseph's Church in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, in 1932.

John S. Stokes Jr., who, with Edward A. G. McTague, in 1951 began a spare-time project called Mary's Gardens in Philadelphia, remains the official arbiter and historian. He says the Mary Garden at St. Mary's is the largest one in a parish, and praises it for its beauty and its spirituai roots.

The garden is tucked behind St. Mary's Church, hardly known beyond the high walls of the 300-year-old church and rectory that protect it. The breezes of nearby Spa Creek rustle it softly, like a prayer. Even parishioners who pass through it on their way to the parking lot after Mass are not all aware of its symbolism.

For the handful of women of St Mary's who tend it, this patch of earth represents something between God and gardening. It is a spiritual Journey that needs to be watered and weeded. It is a meditation on Christ's mother that requires 70 bags of mulch twice a year.

"There is a tranquility here that keeps coming back in the middle of our crazy lives," says Kahla Lehman. The hedge trimmer she grips with two hands flies like a sword which is a sharp contrast to her words. "We all have weeds at home, you know."

The Mary Garden began as a seed in the determined mind of Nan Sears, a St. Mary's parishioner who, at 76, is not much taller than the hollyhock spikes she tends. (In the Mary Garden, they are called St. Joseph's staff.) She had been waiting since 1945, when a garden club lecturer first told her of Mary Gardens, to create such a church garden.

"Having grown up with a family who loved the woods and the wilds, it is part of me," says Mrs. Sears. "I don't ever walk through a garden that I haven't thought of her. I feel she is there, a part of everything beautiful in the outdoors. I wanted a Mary Garden as a tribute to her and to be closer to her.

In 1989, the pastor of St. Mary's, the Rev. John Murray, gave Mrs. Sears his blessing to turn a patch of weeds and gum wrappers behind the church into such a tribute. "Just don't ask me for any money," he said cheerfully.

Tony Dove, curator of the gardens at London Towne Publik House in Edgewater, and Mrs. Van Geffen, a heavy-duty volunteer who, at 50, has the freedom to garden that only older children can give you, joined Mrs. Sears in designing the garden.

Tons of topsoil were moved in, and a statue was commissioned. All of this was done before Mrs. Sears and Mrs. Van Geffen, at cocktail parties and in church, had collected the $35,000 to pay for It. "I've had to believe that she wanted it there," says Mrs. Sears.

In 1991, Father Murray dressed in his finest vestments and sprinkled the garden with holy water. It was Sept. 8, the feast of Mary's birth, the traditional day for blessing the harvest and the seeds for the coming spring.

Today, the Mary Garden is full and mature. Colors move through it in waves as the seasons change. It is a backdrop for photos of brides and first Holy Communion children. Factory workers eat lunch there. St. Mary's schoolchildren plant Mother's Day flowers there. And mourners weep there.

"One time, it is just a pretty place. Another time, it hits you hard because of something that is going on in your life," says Mrs. Sears.

"It is a thinking place," says Mrs. Lehmann, a 40-year-old stay-at-home mom from Annapolls. "I have been working here when people come to sit. And you can feel their hearts breaking."

A statue at the center

At the center of the garden is the granite statue of Mary and Jesus. He looks to be about 9 or 10, and he gazes up at her with the kind of love in his face that only a mother ever sees.

Created by sculptor Leo Irrera, it recalls the Holy Family's peaceful time in Nazareth, when Mary might have had a garden of her own.

Around the statue and fountain are the flowers that carry Mary's name or praise her attributes, or recall some Mary of Nazareth household possession. You'd recognize them all. None is rare. But you know them by other names, not the names given them by priests, poets and storytellers in the Middle Ages. The Mary names were erased during the Reformation when devotion to the Virgin went out of fashion.

Forget-me-nots are the eyes of Mary: a bleeding heart is Mary's heart; sedum recalls Our Lady's hair; fuchsia, Our Lady's eardrops; lavender is known as flight to Egypt; the thrift is Our Lady's pincushion; gladiolus was her ladder to heaven; the iris, Mary's sword of sorrow.

Church fathers first referred to Mary as "the rose of Sharon" and "the lily of the valley" from references in the Old Testament that they believed foretold the virgin mother of the savior of the world. But early Christians found reminders of Mary in every flower that bloomed. The rose was an emblem of her love of God. The lily represented her purity, the myrtle her virginity, the violet her humility and the marigold her heavenly glory.

In other flowers, there was seen some resemblance to her hair, her fingers, her hands. Still others called to mind her mantle, her smock, her slippers. Others, her needles, her thread, her thimble. It seemed everything she touched was remembered in a flower.

Elaborate legends grew around her flowers. Manger plants - holy hay, cradlewort, Our Lady's bedstraw - were supposed to have bloomed when the newborn Jesus was laid on them. The white markings on Our Lady's thistle first appeared when her milk dropped on them as she nursed the infant. Rosemary's clean fragrance is said to have come from the days when Mary hung her wash on its bushes to dry.

Not all are cheerful. Our Lady's tears appeared when she wept at the foot of the cross; Our Lady's hair, when she rended her tresses in grief.

For the people of the countryside, who could not read or had no books of theology, flowers recorded the story of Mary's life.

Religious nature

For the women of St. Mary's, this is more than a horticultural hobby. Mr. Stokes has written them, urging the restoration of the prayerful dignity of gardening, the returm to the understanding that nature is the link between God and man.

"True happiness does not come from hundreds of blossoms, gigantic blooms or riotous color," Mr. Stokes writes. "Neither does it come from scratching the earth and throwing in a few seeds. Rather, it comes from the devoted tending of the good and faithful steward, who realizes his or her dependence on God's providence and who sees in its fruits God's artistry."

Mrs. Van Geffen and Mrs. Lehmann, attracted to the Mary Garden project by the spunk of Mrs. Sears, are not so ephemeral as they fill garbage bags with weeds and unload flats of marigolds, known in the garden as Mary's Gold. They are the strong backs here. But there is God in their gardening. And they believe God is in this garden.

"We have our own little ecosystem going here," says Mrs. Van Geffen, who has her own garden a short walk from St. Mary's. "The walls, the sun, the Holy Spirit. Everything grows here, even the weeds."

"We all have places we have to be," says Mrs. Lehmann. She often brings her energetic kids with her as she works, and finds the garden calms 9-year-old Lindsay and 7-year-old Jamie as surely as a lullaby might.

"But you just have to have this mental image of how it will feel here. Then you just get yourself here, and God takes over."

Reprinted with permission of The Baltimore Sun, article by Susan Reimer, photographs by Amy Davis.



The Mary Garden in the court of St. Mary's Parish, Annapolis adjacent to historic Carroll House was initially laid out through the expertise of horticulturalist Tony Dove, who at that time was Curator of the London Tower Public Gardens in Edgewater, Maryland. It was dedicated in a special blessing ceremony on the Vigil of the Assumption, 1988, in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary and her Divine Son, and as a tribute to the deep faith in Mary of John Carroll, first Bishop of the United States, and to his constant recourse to Mary for the protection and blessing of his undertakings for the development of the early United States Church.

The Garden was planted, and incorporated into Parish life, with the blessing of the pastor, through the initiative of parishioners who wished to share more fully with others the spiritual riches, devotion and prayerful work of their home Mary Gardens. The Garden is maintained by volunteer members of the parish Mary Garden Guild.

A special section of the Garden, in the boxwood circle, is developed and maintained by pupils of the parish school.

The pink Vermont granite focal statue of Mary and the boy Jesus, "Mary of Nazareth" - especially designed for the Garden by renowned sculptor, Leo Irrera, in residence at the Pius VI Religious Art Center in Washington, D.C. and designer and coordinator of the Navy Memorial in D.C. - was installed in 1991, with dedication blessing on the feast of the Birth of Mary.

The Flowers of Our Lady in the Mary Garden include many flowers uniquely native to the Americas which were adopted and named as symbols of their faith by early Christian explorers, missionaries, converts and settlers. Notable among these are three which have become known and cultivated throughout the world: the Marigold (recalling the European Marigold), Passion Flower and Fuchsia (Our Lady's Eardrops).

Other widely cultivated American plants commonly known by religious names locally or regionally - as recorded, like those of Europe, by botanists, folklorist and lexicographers - include the Poinsettia ("Christmas Flower"), Zinnea ("Little Mary"), Blue Morning Glory ("Our Lady's Mantle"), Ageratum ( "St. John's Flower"), Celosia ("Jesus Plant"), Cosmos ("St. Michael"), Caladium ( "Heart of Jesus"), Calceolaria ("Our Lady's Slipper"), Gloxinia ("Canterbury Bells"), Tiger Flower ("Christ's Knee"), Dahlia ("Church Flower"), Sunflower ("Marigold of Peru") and Yucca ("Tower of Ivory").

Also included among the Flowers of Our Lady are some of the numerous centuries-old flower symbols of articles in the Nazareth household such as Mary's needlework, lace, pincushion, mirror, brushes, comb, duster, drying plant, ladle, candle, knives and forks, etc. Symbols of Mary's features such as her eyes, hair, hand, fingers; of her garments such as her mantle, smock, veil, shawl, slippers; and of her food such as bread, cheeses, flavoring.

Reflection on these symbols brings visitors to the Garden to meditation on the daily life of the Holy Family in Nazareth, as Mary and Joseph nurtured the boy Jesus in his growth "in age, wisdom and grace before God and man".

The flower symbols of Mary's spiritual life and mysteries include: the white "Madonna Lily" of her immaculate purity, "Mary's Rose" of spiritual love, the pansy of "Our Lady's Delight" in the Trinity, first revealed to Mary, the "Lily-of-the-Valley" of her humility, the violet of "Our Lady's Modesty", "Mary's Tulip" of spiritual openness, the strawberry - "Fruitful Virgin" - of her virginal motherhood (in flower and fruit at the same time), "Our Lady's Bedstraw" of the manger, "Christmas Rose", "Star of Bethlehem", several "Mary's Milkdrops" plants, and the "Mother Love" Impatiens, named from its constancy of bloom.

Also, "Lent Lily", "Penitent's Rose", "Passion Flower", "Crown of Thorns", "Christ's Back", "Christ's Knee", "Christ's Blood Drops", "Tree of the Cross", the tiny pendant flowers of numerous "Our Lady's Tears" plants for Mary's weeping at the foot of the Cross, "Mary's Sword of sorrow."

And, "Pentecost Rose" of the descending flames of the Holy Spirit, white "Assumption Lily", "Mary's Gold" of her heavenly glory and the glory of her appearances on earth, "Mary's Crown", "Christ's Eye", "Sweet Mary" of her heavenly sweetness, the wild orchid of "Mary's Hand of Pity", "Mary's Balm" and other fragrant healing herbs of her spiritual comfort, "Our Lady's Keys" of her mediational access to the storehouses of heavenly grace, "Ladder to Heaven", "Heavenly Way", and so many others.

Since many graces and spiritual illuminations have been received through the years as hearts have been raised to prayer while beholding the symbolical Flowers of Our Lady, and since Mary is immediately present by her action as Mediatrix of All Grace, wherever grace is distributed, the gift of a sense of her presence has been experienced by many in garden and countryside. As a consequence many flowers resembling the human form have come to be named as symbols of Mary's presence: "Mary", "The Virgin", "Mary's Face", "Our Lady by-the-Gate", "Our Lady in the Corn", "Our Lady of the Meadow", "Our Lady of the Lake", "Beautiful Lady"; along with indirect symbols of her presence such as the leaves of "Our Lady's Thumb" (prints), "Our Lady's Bite" (marks), etc.

Those Flowers of Our Lady planted in the Garden are listed in the Visitor's Guide, revised from time to time as the planting is enhanced, and available in the pole-mounted "wayside" wooden shelter at the Garden and in the church pamphlet rack.

Liturgically blest through a ritual of the Roman Rite, the Mary Garden focal statue, Mary of Nazareth, and its surrounding Flowers of Our Lady are holy objects which are vehicles, especially to those so disposed, of blessings from the merits of Christ and the Church, opening minds and elevating thoughts in religious reflection.

John S. Stokes Jr.

Copyright, Mary's Gardens 1992



Full text pdf

Visitors guide text





Parish Dedication and Blessing, September 8, 1991 - Background

The Annapolis Mary Garden, developed from an original plan by renowned horticulturalist Tony Dove, then Curator of the London Tower Public Gardens in Edgewater, Maryland, was originally dedicated and blest on the Vigil of the Assumption, 1988.

Today's dedication of the newly installed focal Garden sculpture of Mary of Nazareth - a major work especially designed for this garden by renowned sculptor, Leo Irrera, in residence at the Pius VI Religious Art Center in Washington, D.C. - is a fulfillment of the hopes and prayers of the parishioners who have founded the Mary Garden, and brings it to a national and international stature.

Bringing the visitor to reflection on Mary and Jesus, as they were in the Nazareth countryside, the statue quickens hearts and minds to meditation on the rich symbolism of the Flowers of Our Lady in the beds around it - as we pray in the words of the Blessing of Images from the Roman Rite:

"Almighty and eternal God . . . as often as we look on this image with our bodily eyes, so often do we consider the actions of your saints with our mind's eye, and ponder their sanctity for our imitation. Be so good, we beg of you, to bless and sanctify this statue . . . that whoever in the presence of this image humbly pays devout reverence and honor to your only-begotten Son and his Blessed Mother, may through their merits and intercession win grace in this life, and everlasting glory in the world to come. . . ."
Today, the Feast of Mary's Birth, is the traditional day also for the Roman Rite Blessing of Seeds, Flowers and Crops for the coming year. Through it we renew the blessing of the entire Garden as a holy place:

"Almighty, everlasting God, sower and nourisher of the heavenly Word, you till the ground of our hearts with spiritual tools. Hear our prayers, please, and pour your blessings upon the fields that have been sown . . ."
Through these blessings of the Church we are assisted in re-entering the piety of the medieval Christians, for whom all areas of life were transformed for the sanctification of souls and the building of God's Kingdom.

With the installation of Mary of Nazareth, the Mary Garden and the work of its tending have been especially dedicated to peace in the Holy Land, in our own country and throughout the entire world.

The turning of our thoughts to Nazareth reminds us that rural Nazareth, in which Mary and Jesus lived as the New Eve and the New Adam, became in effect the New Garden of Eden, according to the lines from the liturgy for today's feast of the Nativity of Mary:

"When the most holy Virgin was born,
the whole world was made radiant."
It is this illuminative view of nature which is the basis for the transforming symbolism of the Flowers of Our Lady of the Mary Garden.


St. Mary's Parish Annapolis, Maryland


The religious names of the symbolical Flowers of Our Lady in St. Mary's Parish Mary Garden are displayed, together with their more familiar common names, on hand-crafted wooden markers at each flower group.

This guide provides a full list of these names, together with the scientific botanical name for each species, and a numerical key indicating the location for each in the accompanying plan of the Garden.

The numbers have been assigned in the general sequence in which you come upon the groups as you enter the Garden, from the parking lot, by the southeast corner of St. Mary's Church, and proceed through it in clockwise manner, returning to the point where you entered.

Most of the flowers indicated on the plan are biennial or perennial flowers of limited bloom duration - some spring, some summer and some fall. For Garden color through the year, selected annual flowers, as indicated, have been planted throughout the garden, as well as at the locations indicated by marker and by plan identifying number.

As you walk through the Garden, identifying the flowers and plants by their names, view the symbolical form and color of each imaginatively as it might have been seen by the faithful of the medieval countrysides: as a distillation of the quality of a mystery, virtue, event or article of reverence.

Then, take the list with you and in moments of recollection let your imagination range over all the flowers in it, rejoicing and giving thanks for their contribution to the the richness of the popular religious traditions supporting our faith.

And, in your daily life, as you encounter flowers - in field and roadside, gardens, window boxes, bouquets, florist's shops and shopping malls:

"Look on the flower, think of Mary"

Planting Plan

Plant List



Some Reflections

Mary's Rose. In beholding the red color of this flower, we recall that Mary is the beautiful Mystical Rose in God's garden of souls, whom he created and blessed to be the Mother of his Divine Son, Savior of the world. We pray to Mary that our souls, too, may bud forth as the rose, praising God in love.

Our Lady's Pincushion. As we look at the flower pins in their foliage cushions, we think of Our Lady's wonder and joy as she sewed garments for the Divine Redeemer she was to bear. Like Mary, we offer all our work and thoughts to God.

Our Lady's Mantle. We raise our thoughts from the blue of Our Lady's Mantle to the spiritual mantle with which Mary, Mother of the all-powerful God, and our Heavenly Mother also, mercifully protects all who turn to her for her perpetual help. We beseech her protection from all dangers.

Our Lady's Delight. Like Mary, we take delight in flowers as God's riches and artistry, showing forth the beauty of heaven on earth. We take heart that with Our Lady's merciful intercession and mediation we will see God's beauty face to face in heaven.

Photo: Vincenzina Krymow

Copyright, Mary's Gardens 1992



Mary Garden, Annapolis, Maryland

Dedicated on Mary's birthday, September 8, 1988, the Mary Garden in Annapolis, Maryland, is located behind St. Mary's Church, in the quadrangle formed by the church, the rectory and the historic John Carroll House. St. Mary's Church, on narrow Duke of Gloucester Street in the heart of old Annapolis, stands on the site of the first private Catholic chapel in Maryland, built in 1822 by Charles Carroll.

A Visit to the garden

Red brick steps and a brick walk lead to the Mary Garden from the parking lot in the rear of the church. The walk, along the left side of the garden, leads to the Mary of Nazareth statue at the end of the garden.

The very old crepe myrtle tree, hundred year old boxwood circle and the surrounding red brick walls of the church, rectory and Carroll House all help to give this garden the appearance of being much older than it is. In front of the boxwood circle a wooden information box tells us of the plants growing here and their Mary names.

To the right, bright yellow Stella Dpro day lilies remind us of St Joseph's faithfulness; behind them we see the Lord's Candle (yucca). Continuing to the right clusters of weeping lantana flowers call to mind the Sorrowful Face of Mary.

Next we see St. Joseph's staff (hollyhock), and more day lilies. Later in the season the Virgin¹s flowers (zinnias) and Mary's Flower (shasta daisies) will bloom and Mary's Shawl (Russian sage) will blanket the area. We feel Mary's presence as we enjoy her flowers.

On our immediate left as we enter we see the Rosary, where a variety of rose bushes (Her Flower) have been planted. The Hail Mary's of salvia echo our own. Climbing roses adorn an arbor in the middle of this space and manger bed straw (creeping thyme ) forms a border. We remember that roses, as well as lilies, grew in Mary's time and that roses have long been associated with Mary.

A walk leading to the church building separates the Rosary from the herb garden, which ends at another walkway, this one to the chapel where there is perpetual adoration. An angel watches over the Herb of Grace (rue) and other herbs, planted in a geometric design. We associate rue with regret, sorrow and pain and think of Mary's heartache and her anguish. Here we see manger bedstraw, Our Lady's Pincushion (sweet scabious), Our Lord's Back (yarrow) and stroke Our Lady's Fingers (lamb's ears).

Beyond the path to the chapel, in an area called Mary's Garden, we sing Our Lady's Praises with the petunias as we contemplate Mary's apple tree (Lady Apple), the Gentle Virgin (pink geranium ) and Virgin's Bower (pink clematis). A recently installed marble fresco of two angels guarding the Eucharist looks down from the low brick wall to the left.

To the right tulips proclaim Mary's Prayers and pansies tell us of Our Lady's Delight. Here the Blue Lenten Flower (squill), Lenten Rose (helleborus) and a dogwood tree (The Cross) remind us of Mary's sorrow at the end of Jesus' life on earth. Along the edge we find the Crown of Thorns of barberry.

The garden opens up now into a wide grassy path leading to the statue of Mary and Jesus. In a large area on the left a very old crepe myrtle tree (Her Virginity) presides over Madonna lilies and Our Lady's Rose (peony). The Ave Maria sings out from beautiful hydrangea, some of it in a large pot. Lady fern, myrtle ground cover and Bishop's Weed ground cover (aegopodium) are luxurious here.

In this area, along a wrought iron railing, we see Where God Has Walked (ground ivy) and remember the Holy Family's Flight into Egypt (lavender). We can reflect on Joseph, the faithful companion, with the day lilies and Maiden Grass (Japanese plume grass) and enjoy Our Lady's Frills (primrose).

Looking to the right we might meditate on Mary's Faith (veronica), the Trinity (Japanese iris) or Mary at the Cross (Cross wort, loosestrife). Phlox reminds us of Our Lady's Wedding, and we see the Virgin's glove (foxglove), Our Lady's Frills and Maiden Hair (sedum).

Further to the right, in the center of the garden, is a circle of 100-year-old Candlemas greens (boxwood). Inside the circle school children plant their own garden each spring, each child naming her plant for her mother.

Straight ahead now is the four foot Mary of Nazareth statue, sculpted from polished Vermont granite. Mary stands with one arm around Jesus, who looks up at her. Her expression is one of love and concern and she holds his hand protectively.

Three heart-shaped basins at the base of the statue form a circulating pool. We see Mary's Eyes (forget-me-not) in front of the statue and know that she loves us as she loved Jesus.

Two crepe myrtle trees (Her Virginity) and Mary's Berry tree (hawthorn) shade this area. The hawthorn tree was a gift of the parish kindergarten class of 1988. To the right of the statue Our Lady's Tears (lily of the valley) and Mary's Sword of Sorrow (iris) remind us of the sadness in Mary's life, while the Assumption Lily (hosta) and Heavenly Bamboo (nandina) tell us that Mary is in heaven. Seeing Our Lady's Roses (peonies) we share her joy.

On the rectory wall behind the fountain is a bronze plaque with names of those who contributed significantly to the garden. Nan Sears points out that her parents, who loved flowers and Mary, are listed first, while she and her husband are listed last. Among the names are those of Mary Garden advocates John Stokes, Bonnie Robertson and Edward McTeaghe, the latter two remembered with a gift from Stokes.

Moving to the right and along the right side of the garden, back towards the beginning, we find the Tree of the Cross ( yew), Silver Archangel (lamium) and Mary¹s Star (daffodils). Now we come to the shade garden, a large area that brings us back to the front of the garden. Here we see Where God Has Walked (ivy) under a linden tree. We find also Lady of the Snows (viburnum), Mary's Star and St. Joseph's Plant (azalea).

St. Justin the Martyr, who was beheaded sometime between 308-314 AD, is buried at the end of the garden. It is said that one of the Redemptorist fathers dug him up and brought him here in 1873 to save his remains from sacrilege or destruction. The bones were found in a church safe in 1987 and buried in the garden after the Vatican said "hey had enough saints and his bones could stay here".

It should be noted that in this Mary Garden, not all of the plants are named after Mary but all have religious symbolism. A few of the plants were given Mary names by the garden's creators, consistent with the medieval practice of naming flowers.

Development of the garden

A garden club lecturer from Virginia first told Nan Sears about Mary Gardens in 1945. Having grown up with a family who loved the woods and the wilds, Nan often thought of Mary when she was outdoors. "I feel she is there, a part of everything beautiful in the outdoors", she said. She decided she wanted a Mary Garden as a tribute to her to and to be closer to her.

She immediately established a Mary Garden at home and always had one, wherever she lived, often improvising to create a shrine for Mary. One year she chiseled a hollow in the middle of a large lava rock left over from a garden show and pressed a plastic profile of the Madonna cradling the Infant Jesus into the recess. An annual 'soft paint' job disguised the plastic.

The rock was snuggled in Lady Fern and canopied with an overhang of Mary's Heart (bleeding heart). Our Lady's Delight (pansies) and Our Lady's Earrings (impatiens) were nestled in front of the rock, interspersed with the light blue of Mary's Wedding Dress (phlox). Nan carried the tiny grotto with her when she moved and it is now the focal point of the Mary Garden in her front yard in Annapolis.

It was not until she moved to Annapolis and became a member of St. Mary's Church that she found a pastor interested in a Mary Garden. In 1987 she received permission from Father John Murray, pastor of St. Mary's Church, to turn "a patch of weeds and gum wrappers behind the church" into a tribute to Mary. "Just don't ask me for any money", the pastor told her.

She knew Tony Dove, curator of the gardens at London Town Public House in nearby Edgewater, from her volunteer work there. With his help and that of another volunteer, Laura Van Geffen, she designed and laid out the garden. Dove, his wife and several of her brothers donated and brought in tons of dirt for the garden.

Nan looked for a sculptor and found him at the Paul VI Religious Art Center in Washington, D.C. A statue of Mary and Jesus was commissioned and she and Laura set out to raise $35,000 to pay for the garden. The need was announced from the pulpit and as the masses ended, eager young children with wreaths of flowers on their heads stood at the entrances with baskets in hand. Generous friends and parishioners gave money to pay for plants and the statue. Benches were donated as memorials and many of the permanent planting were given "in memory of ----."

Leo Irrera's design for "Mary of Nazareth", showing Jesus when he was about nine or ten years of age, was sculpted from pink Vermont granite.

On September 8, 1988, the feast day of Mary's birth, Father Murray dedicated the garden. The statue was installed and blessed on Mary's birthday in 1991.

In 1994 the area inside the boxwood circle became a children's garden, designed and planted by fourth-graders. Children had been slipping into the boxwood circle and making it their own secret garden, so with the help of Kayla Lehmann, another Mary Garden volunteer, they made their own garden. A bird bath is in the center of the circle and a weeping angel (in sorrow over aborted babies) looks on. Child size benches encourage children to linger. The purpose of this garden is to encourage children to learn about Mary and honor her in their own way.

Volunteers from the parish tend the Mary Garden, which keeps changing as they replace those planting that are not too successful, like the Stella Oro day lilies which replaced liriope. Nan Sears says she made up some of the Mary names, and figured it was OK since the medieval people had done the same thing.

Private Mary Gardens

Nan Sears' Mary garden is in the front yard of her house. The lava rock which shelters Mary (a friend paints the plastic image for her every year), came from a garden show in Washington D.C. and is now in its third home - she moved it twice in Washington.

Ann Duffy, another Mary Garden volunteer, has her personal Mary Garden behind her house. It is a small area with blue flowers - a sea of blue, she said. Lady's Tears (blue spiderwort) surround the statue and Our Lady's Mantle (blue morning glories) envelopes the pole holding the image of Mary. The Hail Mary of vibrant blue salvia and the lavender of Flight Into Egypt are also there, with Virgin Pink (pinks) and Our Lady's Fingers (lamb's ears) for contrast. Ann painted the face of Mary on wood, copying it from a holy card, and it is sheltered in an altar-like wooden box.

Photos and text by Vincenzina Krymow . Information about this and other Mary Gardens can be found in Mary's Flowers: Legends, Gardens and Meditations written by Vincenzina Krymow and published September, 1999, by St. Anthony Messenger Press.



Letters from John Stokes to Nanette Sears St. Mary's Parish Mary Garden, Annapolis 1990 - 1997

Orginally written on computer; printed out for postal mailing; and saved on computer disc.

Longhand postal letters from Nan's side of the correspondence are in Mary's Gardens archives, awaiting computer transcription for adding to this posting.

(Direct correspondence ended due to Nan's inability to write further longhand letters with her arthritic hand; and with the availability to her, via St. Mary's, Annpolis, parishioner, Paul Williamson, of downlaods from Mary's Gardens Internet website - put up September 8, 1995.)

This "book length" correspondence, and similarly extensive correspondence (to be posted to Website) with Bonnie Roberson of Hagerman, Idaho; Jane McLaughlin of Woods Hole; and Bro. Seán MacNmara of Ireland, represent my major Mary's Gardens developmental activity upon returning to this work in 1980 (rejoining Bonnie Roberson of Idaho who had carried it forward from 1968 until then) through 1965, when the Internet website and general e-mail correspondence were initited, requiring full time.

This correspondence is unique in that Nan entered into it after 30 years of home Mary Gardening, such that it was developmental for both of us.

Because of the book length and unediting of the letters, a listing of letter contents has been prepared .

John Stokes January, 2005

April 14, 1990 - Introductory and Catch-up
April 24, 1990 - Mary's Gardens Organization - Former Introductory Seed Kits
May 31, 1990 - Mary's Gardens People and Spirituality
June 22, 1990 - Taping - Illumiative Meditation, Faith, Piety, Devotion
July 8, 1990 - Mary Garden Care Essentials - Deepened Marian Piety
July 25, 1990 - Miniature Replica of "Mary of Nazareth" Garden Statue
November 4, 1990 - Statue Dedication and Blessing Plans - Grace - Glory
November 15, 1990 - Statue Dediction and Blessing Press Release Suggested Draft
January 1, 1991 - All best wishes for a happy and holy New Year!
March 17, 1991 – St. Patrick
May 1, 1991 - St. Joseph - Nazareth Nurturing of the Child Jesus
May 25, 1991 - Akita Shrine Mary Garden - Sculptured Plant Tableaux
May 31, 1991 - Arrival of Statue - Native New World Flowers of Our Lady
June 11, 1991 - Dedication Leaflet
June 17, 1991 - Clip Art Flower Drawings - Rural Life Prayerbook - Daisy
Juyl 3, 1991 - Tropical Flowers of Our Lady - Further on the Holy Family
July 16, 1991 - Woods Hole Mary Garden 50th Jubilee - Daisies of Innocence
August 15, 1991 - Re. Safe Arrival of Statue - September 8th Blessing
August 19, 1991 - Revised Dedication Leaflet - Sisters of St. Joseph visit
September 15, 1991 - Father James M. Keane, S.M. - Garden Plan - Booklet?
February 2, 1992 - Year's First Blooms - M. Garden Purity, Holiness, Healing
March 10, 1992 - Flower Mirrors of Revealed Truths - Spiritual & Divine Love
April 20, 1992 - Change Name to "Annapolis" M.G. - "Take One" Literature
May 10, 1992 - Going Forth from the Mary Garden to the World in Love
May 22, 1992 - Transcendence of the Dialectics of Alienation through Love
May 31, 1992 - Changed Dates of Marian Feasts - Mary Garden Healing Love
June 20, 1992 - Flowers Engender Purity of Heart for Promtings of Love
August 15, 1992 - Assumption
August 22, 1992 - Perpetuation of Woods Hole and Annapolis Mary Gardens - Dublin Garden
September 8, 1992 - Rosary Prayers in the Mary Garden - Flower Meditation
October 4, 1992 - Garden Funding - Plaque - Mary as symbolized by Flowers
April 4, 1993 - Flowers issuing from the Cross; and from our Mortifications
May 1, 1993 - Spring Blooms - Union with Jesus Through Mary
August 15, 1993 - Lincoln Cathedral Mary Garden Visited in England
October 8, 1993 - Annapolis Mary Garden Intention - Cyclamen - Fuchsia
January 1, 1994 - Dublin Ortory Mary Garden - Alliance of Catholic Women
August 22, 1994 - Blessing of Children's Garden - Furthering Mary Gardens
September 8, 1994 - Comprehensve Statement of Motivation for Mary Gardening
October 7, 1994 - Annapolis Children's Mary Garden Article - Ideas re. Garden
November 1, 1994 - More, Chidren's Mary Gardening - Mary' Maidenly Spirituality
November 19, 1994 - Beginning of Marian Liturgical Cycle. Ave Maria Reflections
December 8, 1994 - Fulness of the Marian Liturgical Cycle; the Cycle of Christ
January 1, 1995 - Spiritual Insights - Mary's Virtues, Blessings, Prerogatives
Febuary 2, 1995 - Candemas Bells - Rosary Insights - "Show unto us...Jesus"
March 1, 1995 - Garden Videotapw - Peace Lily - "Mary-Flowers in Ecumenism"
March 25, 1995 - Mary's Gardens and the Vatican II Council - Bonnie Roberson
July 3, 1995 - Baltimore Sun Article - Daily Spiritual Intentions
August 10, 1996 
May 12, 1997 - City Park "Mary Garden" - Website Update Report
December, 1997 - Christmas Greetings from Nan

Boston, MA
April 14, 1990

Holy Saturday

Dear Nan,

Thank you for your letter of April 2nd telling of your parish Mary Garden in the quadrangle adjacent to Carroll House.

Jane McLaughlin of Woods Hole mentioned some time ago that you and she had corresponded regarding the plans for the garden, and it is a joy to learn that it has been planted.

I was especially interested in your Mary Garden when she mentioned it because it has been one of my prayerful hopes though the years that there would one day be U.S. Mary Gardens of national note and importance, and your garden would appear to be such a garden - associated as it is with historic Carroll House and thus the origins of the Catholic Church in the U.S..

I have read of the deep devotion to Mary of the Catholic founders of our country - I think in a book, "Mary U.S.A.", or something like that - and it seems to me that the Mary Garden, coming from the popular relious belief and customs of the people, has a way of testifying and representing such devotion generically, so to speak.

More specifically, a Mary Garden has a special appropriateness for a Catholic historic landmark: both as a reminder that all graces of sanctification and and of building the Church and the Peaceable Kingdom have passed through the mediating and distributing hands of Mary, Mediatrix of All Grace; and as a present call to our own emulation of Mary's purity and humility and openness and responsiveness to grace and the word of God, and as a call to our recourse to her intercession, mediation and good counsel, as we each proceed with our own particular work for Church and Kingdom.

Further, the Mary Garden whose focal figure and symbolic plants have been sacramentally blest (by the Parish priest) is of itself a holy object and place which is an instrument of grace and thus a locus of Mary's presence, through her action as Mediatrix of All Grace.

The history of the Church and of the deposite of faith - from the Cross and the Upper Room of Pentacost, through Ephesus, and continuing up to the contemporary dogmatic definition of the Assumption (and hopefully to that of Mary's universal mediation of grace) - has been one of ever-increasing discernment and appreciation of Mary's primary place in the divine plan of Redemption and Kingdom - corroborated and reenforced by her own revelations and appearances: as the glorious queenly Woman Clothed With The Sun to St. John; as the interceding Mary Orante with supplicating upstretched hands of the early Christians and Byzantines; as Queen of the Missions at Guadalupe, with all its succeeding conversions; as heavenly Mary Mediatrix at Knock with her grace- shaping and channeling hands; as Our Lady of Grace, of the Miraculous Medal, at Paris, with her distributing arms and fingers; as sorrowing and supplicating Mother of the Faithful at La Salette; as the Immaculate Conception at Lourdes; and as summoner to prayer and Reparation for Kingdom at Fatima (how marvellous the recent events in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe!).

In this sweep of the Divine Plan and Sacred History, as proposed in my recent article about the Knock Mary Garden (copy enclosed), the Flowers of Our Lady, of the countrysides and of the Mary Garden, have been and are universal reminders of Mary's presence with us everywhere through her action as Mediatrix and Distributrix of all grace.

Francis Crane Lillie's 1937 printed plant list for the Woods Hole Garden of Our Lady - mother garden of the present-day world Mary Garden movement - was entitled "Our Lady In Her Garden", testifying to her experience of this. (She used to spend long hours sitting in the garden, reading, to explain its meaning to visitors.) This list is included with the enclosed article reprint, "Paradise of Our Lady".

Edward McTague proposed the name "Mary's Gardens" for our work in 1951, after we noted that some medieval drawings of the Virgin and Child in enclosed gardens we so named; but we thought of a garden of Flowers of Our Lady as a "Mary Garden". We soon found that many persons referred to the Mary Garden as "Mary's Garden", in the sense that they sensed her presence there.

Returning to your Caroll House Mary Garden - we hope that after having established it so devotedly and prudently, you are also giving some thought to its continity - which one would hope would be until the end of the world and time.

St. Louis de Montfort has discerned how true devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary is interior and tender, and that the outer forms and customs of devotion to Mary are properly expressions of this (otherwise becoming "critical", "scrupulous", "interested", "inconstant", "hypocritical" etc).. This has certainly proven to be true for the Mary Garden: that to continue through the years, every planted Mary Garden must have its continued sustenance in the interior Mary Garden of the heart.

Our chosen means of first presenting the Mary Garden idea in 1951, inspired by Mrs. Lillie's Woods Hole Mary Garden, and with her blessing, was the 10- variety "Our Lady's Garden" mail-order seed kit, with introductory leaflet, and prayer card.

The leaflet, composed by Edward A. G. McTague, (of which I will send you a copy) began with words something like:

"Our Lady's Garden is first of all the package you receive of the postman.

"May it first bloom within your heart, and then, in due season, may its seeds bear flower and fruit in your gardens . . ."

Like faith in God, and in the Church, devotion to Mary is a gift. But these are gifts God wants to and does give to all who seek goodness, truth and beauty. "Seek and you shall find".

There are ever those who, seeking natural goodness and truth, learn of God through his loving acts of providence and grace; realize that a loving God would not leave us in religious uncertainty, and has therefore given us the Church - imperfect as it must be in worldly circumstances - as authoritative source of truth and moral law and as channel of grace; and will not leave us in doubt as to how to proceed with the work of building His Kingdom, but has given us Mary, implicitly in our simple faith in her, as ever-present mediatrix of the gratuitous discerning and prompting actual graces needed for our elections and actions.

It seems to me that the combined existence of those who already love Mary interiorly, and those who implicitly seek and will find God, Church and Mary, should enable us to perpetuate communities of persons with interior, tender Mary -Gardens of the Heart, to sustain our planted community Mary Gardens through the decades and centuries.

As Father Galvin mentions in his 1946 article, "Lillie Tower", Mrs. Lillie hoped that the right person would turn up to continue her work; but she also prudently established a trust fund to provide for garden care and replacement plants through the years (and for maintenance of the adjacent Angelus Tower given by her). After Mrs. Lillie became ill in the late 1930's or early 1940's (?), the garden, with the funds provided, was maintained by persons loyal to her, but with the ravages of several hurricanes and the absence for a time of a sustaining Garden of the Heart, the Garden planting was reduced to that of a conventional, yet attractive, summer garden of the area.

Then, in 1981-1982, Jane McLaughlin, in doing research as parish historian for a History of St. Joseph's Church for the 1982 centennial year, uncovered historic documents about the founding of the Garden, and out of the love of the Garden in her heart undertook to restore it - according to the original planting plant developed by Mrs. Lillie with the help of landscape architect, Dorthea K. Harrison, over a five year period from 1933-1937. As the centennial year, 1982, was the golden jubilee of Mrs. Lillie's original founding of the Garden, herself, in 1932, the Garden Jubilee was celebrated along with the Church Centenial.

It would seem, then, from the experience at St. Joseph's, that care should be taken to sustain a public or institutional Mary Garden both by seeking successive generations of committed Mary-Gardeners, and by establishing some sort of fund, trust or endowment to provide for the cost of maintenance and replacement, and also of keeping constanyly available a supply of phamphlet and article-reprint give-aways - at the garden, if possible, and in the church phamphlet and library.

I will supplement the few reprints enclosed with this letter, and hope you will be able to keep them together in a binder of some sort. You have our permission to make quantities of photo-copies of any of these reprints.

Also some regular parish liturgical events in the Garden each year - such as on the feasts of the Visitation, Assumption, Queenship and Rosary - with blessings, processions, floral crownings, or any other activities found appropriate - both enrich parish life and sustain interest in and appreciatoion of the Garden.

Your mention of the duck nesting in a tree of your Mary Garden brings much joy, and is characteristic of the little providential surprises experienced in many Mary Gardens.

In my second residence Mary Garden a mother rabbit made her nest and gave birth to two babies under the thyme (sent me by Bonnie Roberson) in the center bed, nestled against the side of the focal statue pedestal.

(I am reminded that Bonnie Roberson and I passed through your area when she visited me and picked up her exhibit plants nurtured for in Philadelphia and we drove down to Washington to set up her exhibit Mary Garden, on invitation, for the 1962 annual meeting of the Herb Society of America. I recall it was in mid-May, when the Solomon Seals (Our Lady's Lockets, Belfry, etc.) which she had not seen before were in bloom.)

I also enclose a reprint of a 1955 article, "In Mary's Garden", describing the joys of parent and child working together in the Mary Garden, and illustrated by a photo of an actual nest some birds wove around the little figurine in a focal wayside shrine. At the time I sort of took these wonders in stride, with all the wonders of the Mary Garden, but looking back some 35 years later I am awed.

One of the special recurring joys to me of the Flowers of Our Lady through the years has been the unending first hand experience and intuitive recognition of the symbolical forms of new or old plants. My first experience of this was at the Garden of Our Lady in 1949 or 1950, as set forth in my enclosed article, "Cape Cod Shrine Mary Garden" (1955), but perhaps my most vivid memory is of first seeing in bloom "Our Ladys's Pincushion" (Armeria) and "Our Lady's Tears" (Tradescantia) at a local Philadelphia roadside nursery where Ed McTague and I were picking up perennial plants for our own first Mary Gardens, in May of 1951.

I recall that when we mentioned to the aged life-time nurseryman- horticulturalist the Tradescantia symbolism, he said, "Yes, she's crying all day."

And each year there are new discoveries - sometimes as I go through old books of flower paintings, where I first see a plant from a different angle, which reveals a previously elusive symbolism. A recent instance is that of "Our Lady's Crown" (Centauria cyanis), which only when it (the wild, single-flowered variety) is seen from the side reveals the crown-like ring of tiny flowerets around the edge of the flowering head.

Have there been any articles about your Mary Garden?
One aid in engendering new Mary-Gardeners is to have a library and file of books and articles relative to the Flowers of Our Lady and Mary Gardens, and to this end, I offer to provide additional reprints, rererences, etc.. We have provided extensive materials for the Woods Hole parish and historical society archives, including copies of pertinent correspondence, etc..

Also, don't forget to photograph the Mary Garden at various stages of development and bloom, and also activities and events in the Garden. Do you have any photos - preferably slides, but also prints - you could send me for our archives?

When the statue has been installed, and good photos of the garden taken at the best periods of bloom, etc., I would like to consider the possibility of writing an illustrated article about you and the garden, as I did with Bonnie Roberson and Bro. Seán. In this connection, is there a definitive biography of Bishop Carroll, and are there archives of his papers which might contain Marian references?

Finally, I would be interested in how you learned of the Flowers of Our Lady and Mary Gardens. Did you read an article? Did you write to us? (If so, we would have your letter(s) in our fairly complete files and archives, although it would require some digging to find them.)

I can't tell you what a joy your letter and its news have been, especially in this holy season. I have been able to give little formal input to the work of Mary's Gardens during the past year, and its's wonderful to know that the work and movement go on. Jane McLaughlin is "on location" with the Woods Hole Garden, and Brother Sean is in regular contact with Knock (his superiors having assigned him to be principal of at a nearby school, in Ballinrobe).

This year Brother Seán has assisted in the design and planting of another national Irish Mary Garden on the grounds of Ballintubber Abbey, which dates from the 13th century. He writes, "A garden in the shape of a map of Ireland is one of the attractive features and wild plants from most of nthe 32 counties - all associated with Our Lady - are in it."

I have tried to remain what Ed McTague described as a "pure source" for Mary Garden information and historical perspective - following up with persons Jane and Bother Seán refer to me or bring to my attention. A marvellous Parish Mary Garden was recently planted in Australia, for the Marian Year, inspired by the Garden at Knock and Brother Seán's booklet.

I look forward to being of any assistance to you I can, and to keeping in touch.


John Stokes


Boston, MA
April 24, 1990

Dear Nan,

On the 20th I sent you a number of additional article reprints and instructional materials hastily assembled from a temporary file in Boston (our permanant files are in Woods Hole).

I did not have time to cross out the various former addresses and "ads" included with these, so please disregard them - and opaque them out before making any photo copies for distribution to parishioners, visitors, correspondents, etc..

Our initial approach to reach as many people as possible with the Mary Garden idea was to distribute the appeal-to-the-heart "Our Lady's Garden" seed kits, leaflets and prayer cards through the placement of little 1" ads in national Catholic publications; and then, as articles were published, to include ads, and literature and starting materials lists on reprints which we sent out in reponse to inquiries. After four or five years we stopped advertising in the media and after fifteen discontinued all sales of of statuary etc.. The ads were of course paid for by contributions, but they were worth it because they brought in all sorts of wonderful people to us (such as Daniel J. Foley, former Editor of HORTICULTURE). Also, the act of placing the ads was an act and a commitment which were something for writers to write about - bringing us more inquiries. One article in the 1952 Catholic Digest, printed in 7(?) languages, brought us two thousand inquiries on a world-wide basis, including one, for example, from a Bishop in the Philippines who set up a 1954 Marian Year Mary Garden planting competition in some 30 schools in his diocese, for which he awarded a Bishop's Trophy. Also a Jesuit astronomer from a Manilla observatory, etc..

Ed McTague and I had a number of volunteers from our parishes to help us with all the work - for which we, of course, took primary resonsibility. Then, in 1965, when Ed McTague was ill, and I took on other obligations, such as accepting an offer to head up a Philadelphia area ecumenical organization ( "Wellsprings") being set up in the era of the Second Vatican Council, Bonnie Roberson, of Hagerman, Idaho, offered to assume primary responsibility for answering our correspondence, assisting others start Mary Gardens etc. - so we changed our address to Hagerman. Ed McTague died in 1972; Brother Seán joined us in 1973; I rejoined Bonnie actively in 1980; Jane McLaughlin began assisting people who inquired through Woods Hole in 1982, as well as writing chapers on the Woods Hole Garden of Our Lady in two beautiful books; and Bonnie died in 1983 (after seeing her dreams come true with the Woods Hole centennial/jubilee in 1982 and the founding of the Knock Mary Garden in 1983).

This is just to give you a little background and perspective, since you have made such a beautiful commitment to this work. Please feel free to put your own Mary Garden address on any literature copies you make or any original literature. Or you can use the Woods Hole address on the reprints if you don't want to use your own: Mary's Gardens, St. Joseph's Church, Box 3, Woods Hole, MA 02543.

"Mary's Gardens" was registered to "do business" under the Pennsylvania fictitious names act in 1951, but has been an informal association of those accepting its historical self-definition and purposes and, and willing to make a commitment to continue its work, until it, hopefully, becomes an established part of world Catholic culture. It has no books of accounts, etc., and any gifts where tax-deductability is desired are given to churches or shrines which may have Mary Gardens.

I hope you will be of any direct assistance you can in helping others start Mary Gardens who my be inspired by the Bishop Carroll Mary Garden; but if this is asking too much, please refer any inquirers to Woods Hole, where they will be referred to Jane McLaughlin or myself.

For my own part, I hope to publish one or more books one day, God willing, and also a CD-ROM. I have the materials, and my wife and I have the desktop publishing proficiency, so its a matter of finding and making the necessary time, under God's providence. In any case we have the articles and other printed materials to perpetuate the work; and now Knock and Carroll House, as well as Woods Hole, to give focus to the grass-roots movement - the scope of which we have no way of accessing. We cast out the seed, and have no way of knowing what kind of ground it falls upon - until we receive wonderful letters such as from Bonnie Roberson, Brother Seán and, now, you.

With renewed expressions of joy over your Mary-Garden love and initiative, and with all best wishes for the spiritual fruition of your work and Garden, I remain,


P.S. I found my copy of "MARY, U.S.A." with all its rich references to Bishop Carroll's recourse to Mary for the success of his undertakings. J.

Boston, MA
April 24 1990

Dear Nan,

If the Irrera sculpture has not yet been named, may I suggest "Our Lady of Nazareth"?

In the Garden this figure will bring to mind the flowers encountered or used by Mary and Jesus in Nazareth in the course of their daily lives - as they found them growing in wayside and countryside, or perhaps cultivated them around their dwelling or garden plot.

There are a number of flowers which bear names suggesting such a direct, rather than symbolic, relationship with Mary: Mary's Flower, Mary's Bouquet, Mary-Loves, Our Lady' Duster, Our Lady's Little Vine, Our Lady's Sprig, Mary's Nosegay, Virgin's Bower, Our Lady's Flavoring, Mary's Mint, Our Lady's Garleek, Our Lady's Pear, Mary's Sage, Our Lady's Duster, Our Lady's Tuft, Mary's Flower of God, Our Lady's Delight, Our Lady's Posies, Mary's Drying Plant, etc.

Reflection on the direct relationship of Our Lady with specific flowers and herbs, as suggested by these names, leads us to a consideration of her relationship with flowers as such, in terms of the overall sweep of sacred history.

In this we appreciate the special sacramentality flowers and all nature must have had for Mary in quickening her praise and worship of God, and as channelsand instruments for her fullness of grace.

Living prior to the establishment of the Eucharist and the other sacraments of the Church to establish special channels of grace for a redeemed yet sinful world, Mary, through her Immaculate Conception and freedom from sin, when she beheld the purity and beauty of flowers, lived, as it were in Eden, as the New Eve for whom flowers and all nature were utterly transparent revelations of God's glory and perfect instruments of his grace, for his praise and magnification and for her spiritual growth in this - as set forth in scripture:

"The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day pours out the word by day,
and night to night imparts knowledge;
Not a word nor a discourse
whose voice is not heard;
Through all the earth their voice resounds
and to the ends of the world, their message."

(Ps. 19: 1-5)

"Send forth flowers as the Lily,
and yield a fragrance,
And bring forth leaves in grace,
and praise with canticles,
And bless the Lord in his works."

( )

"I am a flower of the field,
a lily of the valley.
"As a lily among thorns,
so is my beloved among women."

(Cant. 2: 1,2)

"Like a cedar on Lebanon
I am raised aloft...
Like cinnamon, or fragrant balm or precious myrrh,
I give forth perfume...
I bud forth delights like the vine,
my blossoms become fruit fair and rich.
Come to me, all you that yearn for me,
and be filled with my fruits."

(Sirach 24: 14-18)

We can envisage that Mary was infused with grace as she meditated on scripture and performed acts of love, duty and worship, and also as she beheld nature and especially the beauty and purity of flowers, in the light pf scripture - so that flowers can be regarded as integral to Mary's filling with grace to fullness, and are therefore of special association with her for this reason.

The application to Mary by the Church Fathers and early liturgists of flower titles and imagery from the Old Testament were not just poetic refinements, but an intuitive perception of her spiritual formation, as "Flower of flowers" and "Mystical Rose", through these flower passages from scripture, and directly from nature as illuminated by them.

If the Canticle of Canticles could be of such profound inspiration for St. Bernard's "Sermons" and St. John of the Cross's "Spiritual Canticle", how much more profoundly must they have served for the spiritual formation of Immaculate Mary!

Or, considered theologically, from the prologue to the John Gospel: since all things were made through the Divine Word, and the Word was then made flesh in Jesus, there are consequently inherent correspondences between all the excellences of Christ and all the goodness, beauty and truth of Creation.

For every goodness of nature there is a corresponding human virtue of Christ, and for every virtue of Christ there is a corresponding goodness of nature - which is, after all, the basis of religious figures, parables and symbolism, and of poetic imagery, finding human and divine values in nature.

Thus, just as Mary was immaculately conceived, and preserved from sin, through graces of Christ's redemption preceding and anticipating his sacrificial death on the Cross, so, too, by this immaculateness and its graces Mary was enabled to assimilate, in anticipation, from the goodness of nature, in the light of revealed scripture, the corresponding virtues of the Word made flesh - both as a sharing from God, and as the means whereby she might maternally nurture them in Jesus for his growth "in wisdom and grace".

This gives still another meaning for the "Mary Garden", or "Mary's Garden" - as reminder of how Mary herself saw nature and flowers as instruments of God's praise and channels of his grace; and of how she opened her heart and soul to grace by opening them to nature and flowers.

Reflection on "The Flowers of Our Lady" in Nazareth assists us in attuning ourselves likewise to the Divine praise and grace through flowers, in imitation of Mary - with the added consideration that Mary, now elevated as Mediatrix of all Grace, is for us herself the distributive channel for the grace of blest flowers.

In this we are also assisted by the example of the "flower saints" - ultimately imitative of Mary - SS. Joseph, Francis, Patrick, Fiacre, Bernard, Frances de Sales, John of the Cross, Louis de Montfort, Theresa, etc. - as invoked in the "Mary Garden Prayer".

Flowers - after Jesus' redemptive life, death, resurrection and ascension; followed by the re-creating Pentacostal descent of the Holy Spirit - became transparent also, in the popular religious traditions of the medieval countrysides, of the light, grace, truth and power of our Redemption, as evidenced by the many-faceted array of the symbolic Flowers of Our Lady, mirroring her life and mysteries - as universally celebrated in the mysteries of the Rosary.

While flowers, in their tranparency are first of all symbolic of the human virtues and graces of Jesus, the God-Man, it would appear that in popular usage they became especially associated with Mary out of an appreciation that in her God fulfilled his desire to share, as well as to show forth, humanly, his goodness - including his redemptive goodness.

The divine attributes pre-eminently shown forth in the light, graces and glories of the human nature of the God-man, Jesus, were also shared and shown forth - through her immaculate fullness of grace, and her fiat - by his mother, Mary, "our tainted nature's solitary boast". And as God created human persons "male and female", the divine attributes, both male and female, were given their full human showing forth in Jesus and Mary considered together, so to speak.

It is indeed Mary's participation in and sharing, as human person, of the attributes of the divine/human person, Jesus, which most fully culminated God's desire to share as well as show forth his goodness. Thus, Mary is the hope of our own sharing also in the divine goodness - as witnessed by the lives of the saints - and it is this which is contained in the mysteries of the Rosary and of the Flowers of Our Lady.

Even more sublimely, God shared his virtues and graces with Mary not only in general, but also so she could be, in particular, the fit nurturing as well as biological mother of his Divine Son - thus also sharing, as Mother of God, in "his/her" divine procreativity.

A Mary Garden of Flowers of Our Lady thus proclaims the wonder of God's infused human sharing of his attributes. (I used to ponder, for example, the origin of the name "Virgin Flower", for periwinkle, which was probably more immediately from its use in paintings of Our Lady surrounded by the flower symbols of her attributes, or perhaps because it was one of the early-blooming blue flowers. I have now come to regard the permeation of its petals with the color blue as symbolic of Mary's infused fullness of grace.)

These profound truths will be beautifully presented by your sculpture of the boy Jesus and Mary in the setting of the Flowers of Our Lady - which, as I have mentioned, prompts (at least for me) a view of the Flowers of Our Lady which is specifically relational as well as attributive. A most inspired selection of a sculptural subject for your Garden!

I thank you ever more for your gift of the sculpture model casting, which has prompted the above spontaneous thoughts - pulling together a number of insights previously incomplete (serving also as "inspirational research" for a hoped for article about your sculpture and garden, in due time).

As I expressed the hope previously, we are now in a position to make a further contribution towards the garden sculpture, which is to be in memorium of Edward A. G. McTague and Bonnie Roberson (U.S. Mary Garden pioneers) - per the enclosed checks. No need to make specific mention of these memorial contributions as from us - just the simple listing of our own previous joint personal gift, as you indicated.

Also enclosed is a printout of a grey scale computer scan of a little 3 x 3 polaroid snapshot taken of the model casting, which was made to "take the statue with us" in our travels. Mindful of copyright considerations and also your coming formal unveiling, we are keeping the model and any photos confidential for our private priveleged use and edification until the final figure is made public.

With prayers to St. Rose of Lima, "to whom the boy, Jesus, and his Mother were present in the garden", for the magnificent fruition of your Mary Garden, I remain, as ever,


Boston, MA
April 24 1990


Dear Nan,

In several days I will be catching up with my Boston mail, and I hope to find among it communications from you and Brother Seán. This routing of communications has its delays, but it's better than trying to receive mail during our travels.

I sent you a Fedex letter containing two further contribution checks on Aug 7, which they inform me was received for you on Aug 9 by W. Gibson. (I hope this means you have been able to get in some vacationing.)

I would like to share with you some further thoughts which have been flowing from the stimulation of the sculpture model.

Chesterton wrote that for him becoming a Catholic was like sitting down to breakfast every morning with Shakespeare. Ed, Bonnie and I found it to be the same with our Mary's Gardens work. No matter how much we ranged over things, each day always brought some new insight, information or contact.

From the beginning, I always sought an understanding as to why the recorded Christian symbolism of flowers, of popular religious tradition, was predominantly referred to Mary, rather than to Jesus, who, as divine/human person, as the Divine Word Incarnate, must most perfectly have embodied the diversity of divine goodness shown forth all the things of nature, created through the same Divine Word.

About the best explanation of this I had found previously was the Nicolas passage from "La Vierge Marie..." quoted (in translation) in my "Jubilee 2" article (QUEEN, Jul-Aug '82, p. 37), of which I sent you a copy, which gave as the "justification" of this that Mary,

"(Mary) as the image most closely conformed to her divine Son (was), through the grace of this correspondence, a moral type surpassing all creatures . . . (giving) her also a symbolical claim to nature which justifies and consecrates all the figures which the Church has applied to her . . ."
It was only while writing you on August 7th that it became clear to me that all Mary's perfections - equivalent through her immaculate purity, fullness of grace and overshadowing by the Holy Spirit to those of divine/human Jesus - received special popular veneration and celebration for them because they testified to the utter fulfillment of the Creator's desire to share his goodness directly with us, as finite human creatures, as well as to show it forth to us in the Divine Word Incarnate.

All the virtues and excellences which were Christ's by divine nature were Mary's through her fullness of infused divine light, grace, word and power - from her immaculate purity, humility, openness, responsiveness and preservation and from her utter correspondence to divine overshadowing, providence and governance.

o O o

Then, with respect to Mary's personal perception of and spiritual enrichment through flowers, I appreciated from the start the application to her by the Church Fathers and early liturgists of the Old Testament flower, garden and nature figures - particularly from the Sapiential Books. But I never actually stood there with her, so to speak, in Nazareth, as she beheld flowers in the light of the Scriptures. The Irerra sculpure prompted me to do this.

In his Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius of Loyola repeatedly summons us to actually visualize imaginatively events, situations and circumstances from Scripture, as a means of opening ourselves to the impact of their full significance and meaning. Thus, if we imaginatively place ourselves with Mary, and reflect on this, we may see things missed in the scholarly analysis of texts. The Irerra sculpure does this in a special way for nature and flowers - because, as I wrote, it directs our attention not so much to the Virgin and Child, Madonna Enthroned, Our Lady of Grace, etc. (all equally fruitful to meditation, each in its own way) but to Mary and the Child Jesus present in the Nazareth outdoors.

What is important here - deriving also from the correspondences, through the creating and incarnate Divine Word - between human nature and all of Creation, is our ability, especially in the light of Scripture, to be quickened and illuminated and formed in our interior subtle spiritial growth of heart, mind and soul by the experience (or imagining) of facets of the goodness, truth and beauty of nature which correspond to them.

Placing ourselves, thus, in our imagination, with Mary before the flowers of Nazareth we can, from our own experience, envisage that, starting with the words of Scripture, she had an illuminative experience of the blooming of the rose to the sun as the opening of her soul to the warmth of God's love; or of a glance into the interior of the white lily, from petals to apex, as the drawing of the soul from earth to heaven by the divine light, etc..

In this connetion, in writing my August 7th letter I had immediately at hand the "Send forth flowers as the lily . . ." passage only as it appeared in the (pre-Vatican II) Breviary for the Feast of the Rosary (Douay translation). I have now had a chance to look it up in the New American Bible, where Ecclesiasticus becomes Sirach, and verse numbers are changed etc.:

"Open up your petals,
like roses planted near running waters,
Send up the sweet odor of incense,
break forth in blossoms like the lily.
Send up the sweet odor of your hymn of praise;
bless the LORD for all he has done!
Sirach 39:13-14

For us, as for Mary, such a turning to nature and flowers for supports for spiritual growth in knowledge, love, experience and service of God arises from our soul yearning, implanted in our nature and enhanced by grace, which prompts us - in the confidence of "seek and you shall find" - to ponder the forms of nature for such support.

And for us, our accompanying yearning to know Mary better, that we may love her more (and if we are consecrated to her, to serve her better moves us to seek nature forms and symbols and illuminative insights through which we may contemplate and enter ever more fully into her life, mysteries, virtues, prerogatives and glories.

o O o

At this point, I think it well to note that whatever facet of the Flowers of Our Lady we may be examining, as here, it is always well to keep in mind that the profundity of the Flowers of Our Lady is that they may be lovingly seen by those interiorly devoted to Our Lady according to various mode of viewing things: symbolically, horticulturally, esthetically, dcoratively, ornamentally, meditatively, illuminatively, sacramentally, etc. - all of which are part of the whole, to be equally valued, and to be kept in mind in introducing new persons to the Mary Garden, so that they may embrace it according to their own inclination and perception. "There is something for everybody".

All flow from an interior devotion to Our Lady, which is "the better part", "the one thing necessary" to Mary Gardening, and to all expressions and practices of Marian devotion, ad of Christian devotion generally.

In this I am reminded of an ecumenical conference I attended back in the 60's on "Public and Private Prayer" - in which one of the principal participants was Father Damasus Winzen, O.S.B., Prior of Mt. Savior Monastery in Elmira, N.Y., from whom I learned a lot. While many endeavored to diminish the importance of private prayer on the grounds that it was subjective and lacked the test of the centuries, etc., Fr. Damasus and others pointed out that that private, "non-liturgical", devotion, prayer and meditation were indispensible supports for the vitality of public prayers and liturgy. One only has to recall the widepread use of the Imitation, Books of Hours, and other devotional treatises in the medieval period; and it is this sort of "private" spiritual vitilization that can come and is coming today from the Mary Garden.

Interestingly, a number of the famous Books of Hours contain title pages for each of the Hours composed of a miniature painting of a scene illustrating it, paintings of symbolical flowers illuminating it, and the first lines of the associated spriptural passage. And today it is widely feasible horticulturally, as it was not then, to grow Mary Gardens of these symbolical flowers.

o O o

I would also like to share with you some further thoughts, prompted while pondering the loving glance between the boy Jesus and his Mother, as depicted in the sculpture.

St. Augustine observed how inadequate was the attempt to find an illuminative correspondence to the Trinity in nature. Today, however, we have the supplementary correspondences from natural science, which, in its processes, as Nicolas points out:

"profoundly reflects Jesus Christ and his mysteries. Indeed it soars even higher than nature, pushes farther ahead in its secrets, and arrives, as though by the formulas of a transcendental and divine alphabet, at marvellous illuminations which associate it with the visions of angels, and anticipate some of the answers that are reserved for us by eternity."
Such a scientific process is that of the laser, as I discovered one day, some years ago, while visiting the Boston Museum of Science. While I was attending a demonstration of a workbench 6 ft. laser device, cut away so you could see the interior, it was explained by a staff lecturer how the light originating from a source within the laser was increasingly intensified as it was reflected back and forth between two mirrors at either end, until it burst forth as an intense laser beam through an aperture in one of the mirrors.

I saw this as an illumiantive representation of how the love of the Father for the Son was mirrored back and forth between them in the fiery furnace of love of the Trinity, until it burst forth in the third Person of the Holy Spirit of Divine love.

This intensification and outpouring of love is mirrored in the loving glance between any two persons, and particularly that between the boy Jesus and his Mother - a "laser" generating grace which pours forth through the "aperture" of Mary, Mediatrix to the whole world, as I proposed in my letter to you immediately upon receiving the sculpture.

o O o

I hope you are well, Nan, and that you are having a good summer. I am of course interested in the progress of the full scale sculpture, which I am sure you are monitering and expediting closely. I am reminded of the late '50's when we "went into production" with castings of the Seat of Wisdom and St. Joseph, Garden Workman sculptures we commissioned from Ade Bethune. So many details - and disappointments as well as joys. I assume you will develop some sort of descriptive leaflet, for visitors, featuring the statue itself.


Boston, MA
April 24 1990


Dear Nan,

I have been delayed in catching up with my mail, in which I will hope to he ar from you. However, these are the last few days of a period of six months or so in which I have been able to make time for the kind of recollection I like to put into my Mary's Gardens communications - so I want to get in one additional letter "under the wire" at this time.

Well, I did have my hoped for journey through the magnificence of the fall colors. As with so many things in Mary's Gardens, it came unexpectedly. During a one-day business trip to north-central Ohio in mid September I drove through miles of some of the most magnificent goldenrod I have ever seen - both the density of bloom for each plant, and for the density of plants in the various roadside and field colonies. And this general background of goldenrod was interspersed with clumps of wild sunflower, white aster, late Queen Anne's Lace, chicory - and bog iris spears, in the moist roadside ditches. (Too early for purple asters.) The marvellous thing is that this is what you would see at this season just about anywhere in the temperate zone (I've had a similar experience in England and France in September), and it makes one feel immediately spiritually at home in a completely new countrysude, through the familiar beloved plants and their symbolism.

From the air it looked like a giant patchwork quilt with numerous golden squares and "threads" - the whole earth transfigured - reminiscent of the fields of red loostrife, Lythrum, "Gods's Blood" (or "s'Blood", per Shakespeare's epithet) you see from the air in August as you approach the Boston airport (and a magnificent planting I always look for from the highway as I drive past a field seve ral miles east of Morristown, New Jersey, near the old power lines).

(Goldenrod is also illustrative of the need to double-check things in our research. I first jumped to the conclusion that the specific name of the European goldenrod, S. virgaurea, was latin for Virgin's Gold, only to find in checking that the latin, "virg", referred to something like branch (or "rod"), so that this was actually the latin for "goldenrod". The first actual Marian name I found for it was "Mary's Plant", and I forget at the moment if there were others. I have noticed that goldenrod first blooms in eastern Masachusetts, appropriately, close to August 1st, the Feast of the Transfiguration. When I first saw Solidago virgaurea close up in Kew Gardens, I noted that the flower heads were less dense than those with which I was familiar in the U.S., and that the tiny blooms seemed larger than those in the eastern U.S. - widely hybridized and generally considered to be derived predominantly from Solidago canadensis.)

Part of our Ohio business involved a visit to a large rural property, where I found the same plants on location - from which I could feel the same pious and spiritually quickening uplift close-up, for my work and fellowship.

I of course had very much in the back of my mind what I have been writing to you in my last several letters of my current insights on sacramental piety, so I was consciously alert to and self-examining regarding the uplift I was experiencing through this goldenrod environment.

(In my recent letters, Nan, I have largely moved on from my earlier historical review of Mary's Gardens background and idea for you to current, "real time" , sharing of my ever-continuing ruminations on the various aspects of this work - so that much of what I am writing now is more tentative and developmental, as compared to my earlier letters, but equally integral to seeking a fuller understanding and sustaining the vitality of what we are dealing with. This is, after all a living tradition, which we are extending and hopefully enriching.)

When Ed McTague and I first started this work in 1950-1951, the question of our ecclesiastical relations of course came up. At the outset we couldn't exactly go to the Philadelphia Chancery Office and request, "Can we have your approval for this work?" Even the author of a book has to write and submit the book before it can be reviewed for an Imprimateur. And at that time the idea was very nebulous and emerging, so we couldn't even fully define or describe it. So we decided to get underway and then deal with the matter of approval when we had something to show. And sure enough, when we ran our first local ad, we had a phone call from a priest on behalf of the Chancery Office, but now we had our seed kit and leaflet as something concrete to present.

Ed's visit from the Chancery office representative (Mary's Gardens was conducted for the first several years, from Ed's home, before he became ill and we moved things to my home) was most instructive to us. We were advised that since we were proposing to restore an established, documented popular religious cultural tradition, and weren't advocating anything essentially innovative, there was nothing "objectionable" to what we were doing; but on the other hand as the restoration and extension of this tradition were largely cultural it wasn't something requiring formal approval. However, we could have the assurance of official "tolerance" (or was it "toleration"?) as he put it, and could feel free to go ahead. We were counseled, however, to beware of any pious fraud (which never has been much of a problem, since most of the research has been secular, rather than religious - from the findings of botanists, folklorists and lexicographers).

Ed was able to tell him that the Woods Hole Garden of Our Lady had been blessed by the Bishop of Fall River, and that - as we learned, at the time of our joint visit, from Mrs. Frances Goffin, who lived in the house diagonally across the street - he used to visit with Mrs. Lillie, sitting and talking with her in the Garden (as later Bishop Trinan of Boise visited Bonnie in her Mary Garden - of which I have an audio tape she made with him).

(I mention this because someone may ask you about the matter of approval.)

Then, came our first general response from lay people. Happily there was much immediate pious acceptance from the heart, but we had one rather vehement response from a parish acquaintance, along the lines of: "I don't need this! I have the Mass and Sacraments, and Devotions and Rosary, so why this? Don't bother me with it!"

This was very instructive, because it did raise the question very directly, "Why Mary's Gardens?"

Contained in this question are the same fundamentals I have been dealing with currently, viz., the relationship between the Sacraments and Sacramentals, as well as what I wrote earlier regarding the Montfortian distinction between formal Marian devotional practices, and interior devotion with its unending outpouring of new exterior expressions.

The view which has been emerging for me with some clarity is one that I don 't recall reading anywhere (although 40 years is a long time and covers a lot of reading which I may have forgotten), so it must for the moment remain speculative and tentative.

It is that the sacramental blessing of everyday objects, articles, tools, vehicles, buildings, workplaces, etc. is not primarily for our sanctification - which comes from Mass, Sacraments, Liturgy, etc. - but as a support for our actual work of building of God's Kingdom: especially in the sense pointed out by Teilhard de Chardin that whatever we build on earth for the Peaceable Kingdom is also at the same time built (in some modality) for all eternity in the Heavenly City - which will ultimately descend at the end of time, when all is to be transformed through it and the Heavenly Paradise into a New Heaven and New Earth.

Therefore, for those who are concerned primarily with Salvation and the Church, the Flowers of Our Lady and Mary Gardens, can indeed be subjectively somewhat superfluous - because they already have the Sacraments, etc.. And this is why the Church (per the Catholic Encyclopedia articles which I excerpted for you) is very specific in pointing out that the predominent view among theologians is that the sacmenentals are not to be looked to for sanctifying grace (although it also states there is a minority theological view to the contrary). They are not "needed" for this.

One important example of an improper use of religious symbols and sacramentals in this respect is that of the symbols of religious architecture and cathedral-building - which, in Freemasonry, were adopted as the basis for a secular rel igion with various symbols and rites of initiation, etc. originally taken from, but used and developed apart from, the Church and Sacraments, and drawing on many earlier traditions, such as from Egypt, etc..

On the other hand, the various medieval craft guilds made abundant use of symbolism from their crafts - which was used in its proper relationship of being nourished from and leading back to the Church and Sacraments.

The proper view of the sacramentals, I propose, is that in addition to our primary source of grace and sanctification in the Sacraments and Liturgy, we also need objective means of assistance - the sacramentals - for our work of religious transformation and building in the secular world for "Thy Kingdom Come".

In this respect, the Catholic Encyclopedia article on "Blessings" differentiates between: 1) those blessings which transform artifacts or natural objects into "religious objects", which are to be reserved as such, apart from other objects - viz., crucifixes, rosary beads, scapulars, medals, images, roses for the sick, flowers for crowning Mary's statues, Assumption bundles, etc., and 2) those artifacts and natural objects which are ordered to religious ends, but continue in their natural functioning, without special reservation, like leaven in dough - viz., food, tools, instruments, vehicles, household articles, seeds, plants, etc..

The former are generally valued, as reserved religious objects, for protection from evil spirits and for the enhancement of prayers for physical and spiritual healing; and the latter for the enhancement of the spiritual intentions and objectives of their ongoing prayerful use.

While I can't know exactly which blessings the roadside goldenrod may have received (other than my limited personal blessing with the Sign of the Cross, which I give to all flowers I behold, as to my meals, etc.) - such as inclusion in various blessings given from time to time to the world, country, state, county, countryside, etc. - I nevertheless experienced a pervasive spiritual uplift of sacramental piety as I beheld it, in awe.

Did Jane happen to show you the historic landmark in Falmouth of the birthplace of Catherine Lee Bates, author of the words of "America The Beautiful". The line, "America, America, God shed his grace on Thee", has always been very moving to me, and I envisage the grace prayed for as blanketing the coutryside, as well as people and cities - through Mary's universal mediation.)

On this occasion the goldenrod colonies, and therefore the sense of sacramental piety, extended into the grounds of our very property visited, as I mentioned, so that I was continuously quickened to the source and ultimate purpose of life; to the building of the earthly Peaceable Kingdom; and to the religious and moral considerations applicable to the work and relationships at hand.

On the other hand, when plants are cultivated and blest for their specific religious symbolisms - as with Mary Garden Flowers of Our Lady - the sacramental piety pervades each particular symbolism: moving us to imitation of Mary's purity of intention in her work at Nazareth; to praise of her excellences; and to recourse to her perogatives of intercession and mediation, etc. - as when we pray the succesive mysteries of the Rosary on blest Rosary beads.

Then, we flew and drove to our Ohio chemical purification plant (painted our standard white and blue, for purity, (as selected by others than myself, and thus providential, for me) - beautifully landscaped with flower beds of summer annuals, and newly planted chrysanthemums - within the setting of the wild goldenrod, white asters and blue chicory at the borders of the property - all serving to further extend the sense of sacramental piety from the drive.

I tell you about all this, Nan, as some examples of how the Flowers of Our Lady and Mary Gardens can contribute to our life "in the world" - augmenting what I have written about their contribution to domestic life, as in "In Mary's Garden", "A Garden Full of Aves" and "Our Lady's Solar Greenhouse". And from this sacramentalizing perspective, we follow closely and pray continuously for the course of events in the Persian Gulf, South Africa, the U.S. economy, etc., etc..

Recourse to sacramentally blest flowers and other objects engenders love, and gives an added confidence that prayers quickened through them are presented in the context of the efficacy of the prayer of the entire Church.

Another, more recent "event".

One of the delicacies I look for each fall is the occasional second blooming of a few of the spring perennials, including such favorite Mary Garden flowers as "Virgin Flower" (periwinkle) and "Our Lady's Modesty" (violet) - typically hidden down beneath the foliage. (Our Lady is "really modest".)

The other day a striking single large "Virgin Pink" (clove pink or garden pink, Dianthus plumarius) bloom stood out in the sun, against the dark background of foliage shadow, as I walked past the lovely little "cottage" garden atthe entrance to St. Mark's Episcopal Church in downtown Philadelphia.

First, I better understood why these flowers are also, in the research, called "Mary's Lights". But I was especially struck by the outlining of the tooth- like edges of the flower petals - from which "pinking" and "pinking shears" are named, or maybe vice versa. (The Oxford English Dictionary: "Pink. 1512 . . . scalloping of garments . . . ; 1573 . . . Dianthus...plumarius . . .")

In Holland (I believe), and maybe elsewhere, Pentacost is known as "Pinkster", as it is known as "Whit Sunday" in England, etc., so that the name, "Virgin Pink" also corresponds to the bloom of this flower in late May (as distinct from the early and mid-May blooming flowers) around Pentacost tide, as well as to it s pink color. Further, the pointed, "pinked", edges of the flowers are striking symbolic reminders of the pointed tongues of flame of the pentacostally descend ing Holy Spirit on Mary and the Apostles in the Upper Room.

One of the most multiply overlapping Marion flower symbols I have encountered.

As I touched upon at the outset of this letter, Nan, I am happy that I have been able to write to you extensively during this recent period. A major project is now coming up which may refocus my rumination and waking-sleeping flow of thought in other directions for the next six months or more. I consider it a providential privilege to have been able to share with you the fruits of my Mary' s Gardens experience liberally at this time - just as previous opportunities hav e come up in the last ten years to correspond at length with Jane at the time of the Garden of Our Lady Jubilee, with Bonnie in connection with Our Lady's Solar Greenhouse, and with Brother Sean about Knock.

I extend my prayerful best wishes to you and your committee in carrying for ward your work, and of course will look forward to your letters and will keep in close touch.

In conclusion, I must say that the casting of the Our Lady of Nazareth mode l is a great inspiration and very dynamic for me spiritually. Thanks again so very much. I envisage it in the Mary Garden with a clump of Impatiens - known in Germany as "Mother Love", the constancy of which is seen to be symbolized by the constancy of bloom of this much loved and used plant through the months. The statue and the plants enhance each other, and just with the statue in mind, each clump that I see in city tubs and window boxes becomes much more meaningful for me and quickening of sacramental piety.



Boston, MA
May 31, 1990


Dear Nan,

(After reading your letter of April 30th, I feel I have known you for ever. One of the beauties of the "Communion of Saints". How I look forward to the fullness of all eternity! - the first step towards which is our work of building God's Kingdom on earth here and now)

Due to travels, your letter of May 1st just caught up with me on May 22nd. Also a letter from Brother Seán MacNamara, from Ireland. And, just in case I hadn't noticed that the 22nd was indeed another special Mary's Gardens day, I was favored with one of those special caresses of providential love - like the snow in May on the day of St. Therese's vows. (The last such event was when a florist shop, "Thoughts in Bloom", opened nearby our Philadelphia studio. Or maybe it was when I noticed that the top of the new "Liberty Place" skyscraper now rising above central Philadelphia has a huge "M" pattern its peak, outlined by strip-lighting at night. Fitting that the watching over the City of Brotherly Love (I'm sure etymologists can come up with a more gender-free translation for "Philadelphia" today) by the Mother of us All is so strikingly symbolized, by an artifact of the Holy Spitit. In Boston the renowned glass Hancock Tower has been my "Ladder to Heaven", and now we have a more specifically Marian one in Philadelphia - I attach a photocopy of this tower from a watercolor painting by a local street artist).

Anyway, as I entered the taxie to the airport I noticed that the driver had laid 6 or 8 pink carnations in front of him on the ledge above the dashboard. Mary Mediatrix present with her flowers even in a taxie! When I remarked about them - "You must love flowers!" - the driver told me he had grown up across the street from an arboretum so that each morning when he looked out the window he saw a sea of flowers. I made bold to ask him, "Are you a Catholic?" "Yes." "Here's a reprint of an article ("AVE") about the Flowers of Our Lady and Mary Gardens I'd like you and your family to have." He then mentioned to me that he normally "held back" on showing his love for flowers because it wasn't considered "manly". I commented that in the Latin countries men were culturally freer to love flowers. He then remarked that with the humid Boston weather of the last days, the flowers had been lying there without wilting for four days - almost miraculously. Everyone else had been complaining about the weather.

I was delighted to hear that you learned of the Flowers of Our Lady and Mary Gardens from Nanette Strayer - after she had given a JL lecture on herbs. If I'm not mistaken, Nannette was or was then in the process of becaming a correspondent and good friend of Bonnie Roberson (who started Mary-Gardening in 1957) through the Herb Society of America.

I mentioned in my previous correspondence that at the time we started Mary's Gardens, in 1951, our very first little "ad" - in the garden section of the now defunct New York Herald Tribune - was read by Daniel J. Foley, a Catholic and Editor of Horticulture, then the official magazine of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, who wrote to us, and later met with me for a day at the Garden of Our Lady in Woods Hole. His office, in Horticultural Hall, Boston, was close by that of Mrs. Foster (Margaretta?) Stearns, also a Catholic, Editor of The Herbaraist, annual publication of the Herb Society of America. She, too, wrote to us and, indeed, sent us some lovely Medici Press Holy Cards of "Our Lady's Pincushion", "Our Lady's Thimble", "Our Lady's Eardrops", "Our Lady's Slipper" and "Mary's Rose" she had found in England.

The outcome of this was that a photograph of "An Illuminated Mary Garden" was published in the December, 1952, Horticulture, and an article, "Mary Gardens", by Dan was published in The Herbarist, for 1953. And in the December, 1953 issue of Horticulture, Dan published, "Flowers of the Madonna", the first of two articles in on the Flowers of Our Lady written at his request by Harold N. Moldenke, co-author with his wife, of the book, Plants of the Bible, which had just been published.

(Dan also wrote several articles for the Boston (Catholic) Pilot in May of 1956, and spoke on Mary Gardens at an annual meeting of the Catholic Art Association in (I believe) Latrobe, PA.)).

I should also mention that we were given invaluable horticultural advice at the beginning of our work by Jane (professionally, Martha) Garra, a professional horticulturalist of Philadelphia, and also a HSA member.

Thus, Ed McTague and I, who had no horticultural credentials, and in fact practically no gardening experience at all, were providentially blessed with needed "legitimacy", especially for skeptical religious authorities, through Herb Society of America members, as well as, and more importantly, a marvellous dissemination of the Mary Garden idea and movement.

Other milestones along this path were Bonnie Roberson's invitation focal Mary Garden Exhibit at the 1962 annual meeting of the HSA in Washington I mentioned, in which I and Ginney Thomas, a Philadelphia HSA member (with a large sunporch with which to "force" Bonnie's plants) assisted her; and then the 50th anniversary issue of The Herbarist in 1983 which included the article, "Mary Gardens - The Herbs and Flowers of the Virgin Mary", of which you mentioned you have a copy. In all this the HSA Catholics were ever alert to present the material in such a way as to not offend non-Catholics: for example the 1983 article was actually composed by the then Editor of The Herbarist, Sandy Gilmore (?), from excerpts of previous articles Bonnie and I had written, and then submitted by her to us for our final smoothing and approval. In her professional concern, she requested much primary documentation, and I remember she went to a local library in Lansing to actually see firsthand a photo of a medieval woodcut with the title "Mary Garden" Bonnie referred her to.

Fortunately, Ed McTague was very conscious of this sort of thing from the beginning - we had a Jewish typographer and a Protestant printer - and went to great lengths to document everything so we could not be accused of "pious fraud" (which I recall the Jesuit missionaries were accused of when they first brought back sketches of the Passion Flower which they found in the New World - until they actually some specimens of the flower itself back to Europe).

A couple of other HSA links come to mind as I write. You will note that in "Mary Gardens - The Herbs and Flowers of the Virgin Mary" a paragraph (originating with Sandy' editing) mentions that the founding of the Woods Hole Garden of Our Lady and of the Herb Society of America both took place in 1932. (By further coincidence, I found, from another article in the same anniversary issue, that the son of one of the HSA founders, Mrs. Lawrence Brown, had been a classmate of mine at prep school in Boston.)

In 1946 I was present at the annual meeting of the HSA Philadelphia chapter (hosted by my then employer's wife, who was chapter President), and in 1968 I gave a slide lecture to the Philadelphia chapter in connection with the Mary Garden at the 1968 Philadelphia Flower Show, designed by Jane Garra and exhibited by Jane and myself on special request of Ernesta Ballard, Director of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, organizers of the show.

(This sort of sounds like name-dropping, but I think its important that you are informed of these interconnections between Mary's Gardens and the HSA when you encounter established horticulturalist as the Carroll House Mary Gardens becomes mote widely known, written about and visited.)

Then, I should mention that I first entertained the idea of a National U.S. Mary Garden when I visited the beautiful National Herb Garden of the HSA in Washington the year after it opened (around 1980), while visiting my daughter, Stephanie, then at Georgetown.

I was prompted to recall and review this most important HSA Mary' Gardens support by your mention of Nanette Strayer. And her act of initiative in proposing Mary Gardening to you has stimulated some further reflection. Ed's and my approach was initially to "cast our bread upon the waters", as widely as possible; and Bonnie's was to plant, tell about and invite others to visit a magnificent Mary Garden at her "Garden of Memories" home herb nursery - but it would seem that Nanette, in the highest Gospel tradition of "It is not you who have chosen me, but I who have chosen you", sensed your potential interest in this and actually called you personally to this work.

This is in the tradition also of the archangels who - after the angels, and in particular our guardian angels, have prepared and opened us for spiritual receptivity and grace - summon and call us to particular vocations and actual graces, as the Archangel Gabriel summoned Mary at the Annunciation (Ed's Birthday: he took the confirmation name of Gabriel and always insisted on his name being given as Edward A. G. McTague).

I can see that while Bonnie, as an individual, would feel joyously free to proclaim Mary-Gardening, others who were organizational horticultural editors and lecturers etc. would not wish to offend their general constituencies by seeming to proselatize from their privileged professional positions. And it must be remembered that this was before the presidency of John F. Kennedy.

Your desire to pass on to others what you yourself received, is a beautiful one - especially after 30 years of a "hidden" Mary-Gardening life. And what a providential opportunity for which you have undertaken your public work! The timing parallels that of Jesus' hidden and public lives.

Interesting that this is the reverse of my situation, were my Mary- Gardening was highly visible for 18 years, and then "hidden" since then - working with Bonnie, Brother Seán and Jane through correspondence - and writing a few articles. I have given exactly two slide lectures since 1968 - both in 1982 at the time of the Woods Hole Garden of Our Lady Jubilee. (one became the AVE article). I guess this is smewhat like Mary, who went from a public life to a hidden one, after Pentacost (and has now re-emerged through her major appearances).

Always, as with your venture at Carroll House, Mary's Gardens is an act of faith - not of visible "results". I recall Bonnie mentioning at the time of the Woods Hole Jubilee that notwithstanding all the articles written, lectures given, inquiries answered and gardens assisted with, she only knew at that moment for sure of four specific persons actively committed to this work, or even to their own Mary Gardens, in love (Myself, Brother Seán, Jane McLaughlin and herself). The faith and hope were that there were indeed hidden Mary-Gardeners, both gardening themselves and passing on the tradition. I mention this to show how deeply I appreciate your work, private and public.

Actually, I have come across many devoted Mary Gardeners, as I have inquired about little gardens I have come across while driving through the countyside or walking through city neighborhoods.

But the devotional tradition of individuals must be supplemented by a more public continuity. Thus, your concept of having a "monumental" sculpture as focal point for the Carroll historic landmark Mary Garden is an exciting one.

In addition to the trust fund she established, Frances Lillie, built the St. Joseph's Angelus Tower, of which the Mary Garden was actually an adjunct. Without the "monumentality" of the Angelus Tower, just a Mary Garden might not have survived. I can see that the monumentality of your focal sculpture will play a similar role. (To this end, I enclose a contribution from "John and Marion Stokes" towards the sculpture - and if after it is completely paid for you set up some sort of trust fund for the Garden maintenance and basic plant replacement (according to planting plan) we would hope to make a contribution to this also).

Your photos of the digging of the Garden, with the children, prompts me to send you the enclosed photos of the digging of the Our Mother of Consolation Mary Garden in 1965. Alas, this Mary Garden had no self-perpetuating Mary Garden Society, no trust fund, no monumental sculpture, so when I moved from the parish in 1972 it regressed to the statue, a couple of rose bushes, the boxwood and grass. But who knows, it may one day be restored, as Woods Hole was. I just didn't give much thought to continuity in those days, but with this experience and that of Woods Hole, you can see why I do now.

Your mention of your devotion to Mary from your Sacred Heart days brings to mind the importance to Mary-Gardening of both "Convent and Convert"

As St. Louis de Montfort teaches us, the essence of true Marian devotion is its constant, tender, loving, interior aspect or source, from which external devotional acts and practices flow.

He observes that without this interior sustenance, Marian external devotion tends to beome conventional, routine, limited, critical, scrupulous, other- motivated ("interested"), inconstant, cold and/or even hypocritical.

With this interior sustenance, on the other hand, we are moved to seek ever greater knowledge of Mary, accompanied by increased outpourings of loving honor and praise of her, and acts, works, service and consecration, with heightened recourse to her bestowed prerogatives in the Divine Plan of Creation, Redemption and Kingdom - of universal motherhood, counsel, consolation, help, intercession, and of the mediation and distribution of all graces, etc..

The graces for this may come proximately via parents and religious (Ed McTague, Brother Seán, Jane McLaughlin, yourself), or through the graces of conversion (Frances Lillie, Bonnie Roberson, myself).

Our interior religious life is, of course, the proper wellspring of all religious acts and works. Father Chauminade's "The Soul of the Apostolate" is a classic here, where he cautions against "the heresy of good works", and calls for continual custody of heart - that we may be ever pure, humble, open and attuned to the word of God, to the movements of Providence, to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and to the sanctifying and actual graces universally mediated and distributed by Mary - rather than just to the discursive dialectics of the morality of issues and events ("the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil") - for true stewardship, reparation and renewal.

The beauty of Mary-Gardening is that it is a devotional work which, while it is rooted historically in popular religious tradition and culture, finds ever fresh, unique, expression through each and every Mary-Gardener and in every Mary Garden - small or large, private or public.

In sum, I now see more clearly - thanks to you and Nanette Strayer - that it behooves us all to be alert and to take initiative to "pass on to others what we have received" - actively at the immediate, individual, inter-personal level, as well as at the general dissemination level, with follow-up of inquiries. This is what Bonnie did, with each and every visitor who came to her nursery and Mary Garden, concurrently with her tremendous correspondence. This is what Mrs. Lillie did, sitting reading for hours on end in the Garden of Our Lady. And in this, with Mary's help, we are to endeavor to convey both the particulars of the flowers of Our Lady and Mary Gardens, and equally the tender, interior, loving devotion to Mary which sustains them.

As you have been living and practicing what I'm writing about for over 30 years, and have received much information and counsel from Jane, please understand that what I'm endeavoring to do here is to hold up the mirror of my own experience and perceptions, and to provide a sort of "check list" and historical perspective for your assistance.

As I have mentioned, I would very much like to write an article about the Bishop Caroll Mary Garden and its creation - which would of course be sent to you in MS form for your suggestions and approval before any submission for publication. This would be after the focal statuary has been installed, and suitable photos taken.

Would you be able to send me a copy of the garden planting plan and a photo of the sculpture miniature model? Photos and planting plans have brought me a lot closer to Knock in thought, and have been of assistance for my articles. (I passed through Knock on a bicycle trip with a friend in 1938, but was not a Catholic at the time and knew nothing about the shrine. Maybe I picked up some graces by "osmosis".)

I am enclosing a few more article reprints gleaned from my working files. I will also obtain copies of the Herbarist and Horticulture articles mentioned, in a few weeks.

Two of these articles, the first two 1982 "Jubilee" articles, are an attempt to carry forward the implications of Frances Lillie's founding vision of the Garden of Our Lady, in respect to religion and science. I also have another major, 1983, article about Woods Hole, "Medieval Countryside in a Garden" - more specific about the plant materials and the development of the garden plan -still in MS form, because religious magazines found it "too horticultural" and horticultural magazines found it "too religious". Perhaps you know of some publication which might be interested in such an article (preferably with color) .

You mentioned a special interest in the Caroll House Mary Garden within the Redemptorist order. Fr. James Galvin, C.SS.R.'s 1946 Perpetual Help/Our Lady's Digest article, "Lillie Tower", of course provided the initial inspiration for our work, and we have copies of our correspondence with him in 1950-51 when he was helpful to us in getting started, and wrote one of the first articles about Mary's Gardens of Philadelphia, "My Garden Prays" (telling, among other things, of how we were able to obtain a parole job for a prisoner who appealed to us after reading one of our first ads).

In addition to the Redemptorists, we have received valued interest and support from the Servites, Franciscans, Marianists, La Salette Fathers and religious of many other orders. Father Roger Charest, M.M., of the de Montfort Missionaries, and Managing Editor of QUEEN (of All Hearts) magazine has been a supporter almost from the very beginning, and has published 10 or more articles by us and others on the Flowers of Our Lady and Mary Gardens through the years. Sister Margaret Rose, S.S.J., of the Sisters of St. Joseph, was an early collaborator, and had the first school Mary Garden project we know of, on the grounds of one of the Philadelphia Catholic high schools. Then, of course, the Christian Brothers have been so important in Ireland, arranging for Brother Seán to move from Dublin to a position as Principal of a school in Ballinrobe, close by Knock, etc..

I know Brother Seán would treasure any direct word from you. We exchange letters every month or so, and I have of course already mentioned you and the Bishop Carroll Mary Garden to him. He used to treasure Bonnie's letters (she wrote regularly to him from 1983 to 1980, at which time I resumed regular contact with him) and your love and spirit remind me so much of Bonnie. (Knock, the Woods Hole Jubilee, and Our Lady's Solar Greenhouse - see enclosed article - were treasured by Bonnie as the culmination of her Mary's Gardens life's work, all coming in her last year. Her sister wrote me of Bonnie's vivid experience of the Heavenly fragrance ("Don't you smell it?") in her last several days. I asked her to describe for me her experience of heaven, to which she replied, "There is so much more love!"

In his last letter, Brother Seán writes, "Now that wonderful things are happening in Eastern Europe I feel confident that sooner than we expect the Knock Mary Garden will be planted according to the plans in the booklet". Let us pray for this.

I see the practical stewardship and separately funded support for the actual care of the garden itself - as distinct from groundskeeping and general maintenance - by especially devoted and committed Mary Garden Society or Guild members as essential in the long run to a shrine Mary Garden, even at world- class shrine, as to a parish or any other public Mary Garden.

In replying to your letter of April 2nd I neglected to mention that the listings for Marianna II were only half completed in my "sabbatical" year of 1965 before I took on the directorship of the Wellsprings Ecumenical Center, which turned out to be an around the clock and calendar job for some five years.

I do have the working card files, and as a matter of fact I pealed off a listing of Tropical Plants of Our Lady, incorporating Bonnie's Latin American research of which I will send you a copy (I could read French and German, and she was fleunt as well as literate in Spanish). I hope M-II will be published one day.

I am happy to be able to enclose a gift check towards the sculpture, which I would like to have recorded as from me personally, "John S. Stokes Jr", but kept low profile for the present. (Marion has in mind a joint gift for your committee, which we will forward shortly.)

I do hope all went well on the 20th. Great that you were ready with the attractive plant markers and with supplies of literature. A little garden map or plan, with keys to the plant cluster locations is very helpful to have. Jane's is ideal for the Garden of Our Lady; and the plan they used to have at the Cloisters in New York City (before they switched from the collection of medieval plants to a utilitarian approach) was very helpful for a larger garden like yours.

With deep joy and appreciation for this marvellous Carroll House Mary Garden undertaking by you, your pastor, your committee and your supporters, and standing ready to offer any further input from our vision and experience you may find helpful, I remain,



Boston, MA
June 22, 1990

Dear Nan,

Thanks for your letter of June 13th and the enclosed information sheet about Carroll House.

I hadn't realized that the house was under the custody of the Redemptorists . Does this mean that St. Mary's is a Redemptorist-administered parish?.

My parish for twenty-five years (OMC in Philadelphia) was Augustinian-administered, so that Our Lady of Good Counsel was much venerated - as I expect Our Lady of Perpetual Help is at St. Mary's.

The timing for the arrival of your package was awesome. It makes me realize that it is not enough just to bless a letter or package. I should have beseeched Mary more specifically to place an important piece like this under the ministry of the Principalities, as I place myself (along with the other angelic orders), through Mary, Queen of Angels, when travelling.

We did check, routinely, to make sure it got there OK, and, as you know, Federal Express, can tell you in about ten seconds who signed for any piece and wh en it was delivered, to the minute.

Ed McTague and I, and then Bonnie, made extensive use of portable tape recorders in the Garden, and for our Mary's Gardens "brain storming" sessions. I recall for example that a Jesuit college in Baltimore (Loyola?) put on a Mary's Gardens display as part of a 1954 Marian Year exhibit, and Ed and I made a tape of our several hour session with the priest in charge, at Ed's home, over dinner. Bonnie and I must have exchanged several hundred taped "letters". Now, so many years later, these are invaluable. A video camera can't be left just running in the corner, but we hope it can become an easy utility for you and the Committee in the Garden. And you can make back-up tapes on a regular video tape recorder. How I wish we had this technology in the '50's! On the other hand, for communications, I have now come to prefer the written word, because I don't have that sense of the tape running while I am reflecting - which is there even when I have a facility for turning the recorder off and on, or even have a voice- activated mike. And the written word is now, in electronic form, so much more readily searched and retrieved for future writing (my articles are often developed from thoughts originally occurring in letters, e.g. my "Presence" article from letters to Ireland.

Bonnie used to prefer taping for correspondence - and of course you get all the feeling that comes with tone of voice and with phrasing. What I loved to do was to walk through the Mary Garden, say at dusk, with a portable tape recorder and record all the things I noticed and all the thoughts I had. I did transcribe about ten hours of such recordings (Spring, 1965, 1966).

Your description of your awesome "heaven in a wildflower" experiences as you behold a rose or a pansy in the round of your daily activities was very moving , and very instructive to me. Thanks for sharing it with me.

In my "Paradise of Our Lady" article, written in 1983 I referred to St. Athanasius' teaching (of which I learned from a Thomas Merton instructional tape) about dissolving the barriers between our life on earth and the life of heaven. From computer terminology I have now learned the appropriateness of the concept of "transparancy" in this respect - such that we both penetrate to heaven through the veil of creatures, but also see heaven shining through them (as a prelude to our discovery of heaven on earth; the interpenetration of earth by heaven, as so beautifully set forth in the posthumously discovered poem of Francis Thompson, "The Kingdom of God").

I even developed a little exercise in this respect about ten years ago. I used to love the countless auto trips I took from Pennsylvania to Massachusetts because the sun was always pretty much behind me as I drove towards the Northeast. This meant that there was good reflected light from the roadside trees and plants before me, and in September-October this was especially glorious because of all the goldenrod, wild sunflowers, and marigolds and white asters, as well as the turning leaves (How I love Thomas Merton's poem, "Two States of Prayer"; also Kurt Weil's "September Song"!)

Anyway, this meant (with the radio off) some five or six hours of uninterrupted meditation and contemplation, and I found myself repeating a conceptual sequence (helpful on subsequent trips in re-entering this reflective mode). Starting with the beauty I was beholding, I would rise in awe to reflection on beauty' s Creator. From this the golden plants then seemed themselves to have an inhering aura of the God permeating them, through which I penetrated more directly to the Divinity itself in contemplation. From this I beheld in the eye of my soul the radiance emanating from the Divinity, and realized that as it dispersed, and then inhered in the total diversity of earthly creatures, they were in the aggregate God's showing forth to us of his face. With this then, all nature blazed forth with the full resplendance of the awesome beauty of the Divinity - completing the "exercise". Maybe we can develop a set of "spiritual exercises" to assist in handing down Mary Garden spirituality to future committees who are to carry on.

Again computer language is helpful, as it enables us to see that Creation is God's "interface" with us, away he communicates with us. "Then we shall see face to face, and know even as we are known".

And at the end of the trip where I first found this to be a fruitful reflective sequence, the skyscrapers of Boston, bathed in the glow of the setting sun behind me, came into view as I approached them on the elevated ramp near the end of the Mass Turnpike - the reflection of the sun sparkeling from all the building windows - a striking symbol of the Heavenly City. Then, as I was marveling at this, the orientation of the car became such that the direct brilliance of the sun almost blinded me in the rear view mirrors and reflection from the dashboard glass, giving a vivid sense of permeation with the heavenly glory.

I was mindful of all this as returning from the Philadelphia airport to center city at dusk yesterday, I marveled at how the strip-lighting-outlined "triple M" atop the central Liberty Place skyscraper was the first thing visible of the city - starting from five miles or so out.

o O o

Since hearing from you in April, I have tried first of all to supply you with practical Mary Garden materials and suggestions.

I was pleased you were able to make good use of the Phila. Flower Show leaflet for your May open house. So much thought goes into each article and leaflet that it's gratifying when some "extra milage" can be obtained from them. Please continue to feel free to adapt our materials to your own immediate uses as you see fit.

The only "surety" we need, and already have, is your pervasive Marian piety - which now prompts me to round out this initial correspondence with a distillation of some thoughts about

Catholic faith and practice in general, and Marian piety in particular, I've had, as I perceive they relate to our Mary Garden work.

In this, I find I always go back to the simple statement from the "Penny" Baltimore Catechism to the effect that "We were created to know, love and serve God in this world and to be happy with him forever in the next". Or to St. Thoma s Aquinas' statement that "God created the world in love to show forth and share his goodness." Or perhaps simply to St. John's statement that "God is love".

Loving piety is the heart of Mary-Gardening, for it is the interior tender, adoring, venerating, atoning, repairing and supplicating dimension of our religion which is primary and the essence of our faith, from which all our exterior works are to flow.

These works flow forth from our desire to share and to participate in the showing forth God's goodness; to proclaim his glory; to make loving atonement, with Christ, for all offenses against him; to participate in the building of the new heaven and new earth; and to live with him there and with the angels and saints and saved humanity for ever.

It is the discovery, proclamation and service of the goodness, truth, will, law and inspiration of the loving heavenly Father, Creator, Provider, in and with the utter love of Christ, which - by bearing our Cross, our portion of the intensified weight of the separation, rejection, denial, attacks, wrath, violence and death of the fallen, sinful world - makes up in love to the Father for all the sins of the world, such that he is moved in mercy to pour forth the graces and providential openings of regeneration, renewal and re-creation. Jesus experienced and took up the total weight of the fallen world because he loved the Father totally.

Piety, more specifically, is one of the seven Gifts - Pentacostal, Confirmational - of the Holy Spirit, all of which complement, enhance and perfect one an other in us. There cannot be true wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, strength and holy fear of the Lord without true piety, as well. Nor, can there be true piety without these other Gifts. As the Fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom, so is Piety its fruit. True wisdom and strength come from gentleness. Power is made perfect in what the world sees as weakness. We are to be truly wise and strong that we may be truly pious. We are to be wise as serpents and gentle as doves. And it is such piety which is seen as the direct manifestation of holiness.

At the same time, the supernatural Gift of Piety is to be distinguished from piosity - the outward sentiment of piety without the accompanying inner Wisdom , Strength and other gifts.

All the Gifts are encompassed in the fullness of Mary Garden piety, with its love of the rich flower symbols of the Wisdom of the life and mysteries of Our Lady; the Knowledge and Understanding of plant care and garden design and support; the Counsel of adaptation to a particular site and set of circumstances; the Strength of faithful performance of the work of stewardship; and the holy Fear of the awesomeness of creatures and dependence on providence - all of which have their origin in our initial pious desire to have "a pretty garden for Our Holy Mother", as one correspondent put it, and at the same time manifest fullness of this piety.

A primary purpose of the Pentacostal Gifts was the strengthening of believers in the work of building God's Church and kingdom, and this is how we employ them to these ends in our Mary Gardening.

And from the exercise of the Gifts comes the manifestation of the twelve Fruits of the Holy Spirit in our lives: peace, love, joy, etc..

In was the love - love for the Father, love for the Sacred Heart of Jesus, love for all her children - of her Immaculate Heart, in the love of the Holy Spirit, which moved Mary to call the world to reparation at Fatima. And it was the undertaking of the duties, tasks and sufferings of our respective states of life as millions of daily acts of interior, loving reparation - inspired by the Message, ceremonies and Pilgrim Virgin statues from Fatima - which have moved the heavenly Father to the munificent providence and graces which are opening up the hearts of Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union, South Africa and Latin America in a way which is incomprehensible to worldly wisdom (and for which we must continue our prayers and reparations, that these openings may be filled with charity and justice, not "seven devils").

Books like The Imitation of Christ and The Way of Divine Love are so beloved because of their pious unction. Some years ago when I was searching the religion and folklore stacks of Harvard's Widener Library in my Mary's Gardens research, I came across an entire aisle of perhaps four hundred different editions of the Imitation, in numerous languages and dialects. I always knew this was a Catholic classic, second only to the Bible, but seeing all these editions these was a most moving encounter with the piety of the Middle Ages.

From this same research I ended up with hundreds of photo-copies of selected pages from some fifty or so books, which I hope to draw upon fully. Most of these were in German - southern Germany having had that wonderful continuity of Catholic culture through the Reformation period - when the continuity and record s of so much popular Catholic culture was lost in northern Europe and England. It was this research which produced, for example, the wonderful quote from Johan ne Nathusius which I included in my AVE article.

Speaking of research, I am not able to answer you off the top of my head about a Mary-name for Rhodadendron. I will look up its common names in the ultimate authority in this matter, Marzell's "Deutches Worterbuch der Pflanzennamen" (see my article on Galega officinalis). My guess is that there might be a name reflecting perceived religious symbolism from its charactetistic of forming its buds in summer and fall to be carried through for bloom the next spring. Maybe you will see something striking yourself. After all, this is a living popular religious tradition. If others think well of your perception, it may "stick". For my own part, the color pink, always brings to mind Mary's Immaculate Heart.

To return to my previous train of thought: it has been my experience that a beautiful, well-tended Mary Garden - especially a private, intimate, "enclosed" Mary Garden - which has no other reason for existing - is a sure sign of a tender, loving, pious, interior devotion to Mary.

I envisage that public Mary Gardens can likewise be motivated and cared for by self-perpetuating societies of equally devoted Mary Gardeners, each of whom has his or her own individual, private, Mary Garden, or beds of Flowers of Our Lady at their home, which are their own intimate gardening expressions of their piety, and from which they bring, or in which they start, plants of Our Lady to be used as additions or replacements in the beds of the public Mary Garden - and also exchange and circulate plants for their own gardens.

At the Woods Hole Garden of Our Lady, for example, one of Jane's sisters and her husband start annual Nigella damascena plants each year indoors for bedding out in the Garden. (Mrs. Lillie, from her and Mrs. Emerson's research, listed "St. Catherine's Flower" as the religious name for this plant, but I think of it according to the fairly prevalent name of "Lady-in-the-Shade" ("Our Lady in the Shade") - from the bracts surrounding each bloom - which I have come to think of as a symbol of ". . . and the Holy Spirit shall overshadow you", of the Annunciation.

At the start of Jane's restoration of the planting of the Garden, according to the final, 1937, plan, in the fall of 1981, Bonnie sent a number of plants for it, and the 3 Madonna Lilies she sent are still growing marvellously 8 years later. In 1951, Ed McTague and I met in the Garden with Dorothea K. Harrison, its professional designer who developed the plan from 1933-1937 with Frances Lillie, and Wilfred Wheeler, its professional planter and nurseryman-custodian; and Dorothea mentioned to me (or maybe it was in a letter) that she had difficulty with Madonna Lillies in the central bed where she had them in the plan for design reasons, due to excessive drying in the hot summer sun, and had to replace them almost yearly. Jane, had already restored the full planting of Madonna Lillies in the central bed (where they are magnificent the first year, and then have to be replaced), so she put Bonnie's plants in the right front corner bed, where they have some shade from the Rosa rugusa shrubbery and have done well year after year. Bonnie used to give the gift of a plant to everyone who visited her.

One of the Garden of Our Lady Committee members, Fred Luts (who built the attractive wooden "wayside Shrine" shelter for the posted plant list and planting plan), mainains a nursery bed of back-up and replacement plants for the Garden at his home. (I hope men will become increasingly active with your Mary Garden Committee.)

No doubt you transplanted some specially loved plants from your own Mary Garden to the Carroll House Mary Garden.

One of the things I have loved about the Mary Gardening is keeping on the lookout for more and more magnificent specimens with which to "upgrade" the garden each year. Thus as I drove along rural highways in late May I would look for large, vigorous rosettes of the biennial, Verbascum thapsus, "Our Lady's Candle" which had developed more fully in the full roadside sun than the specimens in the partial shade of the Mary Garden, etc..

Then, there's keeping an eye on all the local roadside nurseries to see which ones have the most desireable pansies and English daisies for the spring border plantings, or which ones have May-blooming biennial forget-me-nots (Myosotis alpestris) this year.

My son, John, used to say that "Spring is the exciting time of year". I reminded him recently that he used to say this, and he included it in the documentation of a pattern-generating software program, "Expansions", he has recently published for the Macintosh computer.

A unique aspect of Bonnie Roberson's Mary Garden in Hagerman, Idaho, was that it was essentially a private Mary Garden; but being large, highly visible from the highway, and adjacant to her and Ernie's "Garden of Memories" herb nursery to which people came to buy plants and dried culinary and fragrant herbs, it was at the same time a very public Mary Garden. What made it so special, therefore, was that while it was a public Mary Garden, it at the same time had all the devotional quality of a private Mary Garden.

These precious facets of Mary-Gardening I have been ranging over have arisen spontaneously from loving initiative, but I also believe such acts of love can be consciously inspired and cultivated, as well - just as there are spontaneous converts to the Church, but also devout believers who are inspired and nurtured by parents, spouses, friends, schools, hospitals, social workers, missions, etc ..

This is the present challenge of Mary Gardening, and it is your devotion and initiative which have prompted me to articulate these thoughts, just as Knock has prompted a lot of thoughts about the potential for Mary Gardens at major Marian shrines - a thought dear to Bonnie's heart - and the necessary composition or "organization" of faith and loving devotion if they are to endure and flourish . There comes to mind the parable of the sower - and I have such a wonderful sense that in Annapolis the Mary Garden seed has fallen on good ground.

In my ecumenical work one of the things I observed over and over in dialog groups of Catholics and Protestants was that the Protestants were largely unaware of the loving interior piety of Catholics - thinking of us rather in terms of the Pope, dogmatism, rote learning, ethnic cultures, politics, and doctrinaire positions on birth control, abortion and euthanasia, etc..

And this was accompanied, theologically, by a lack of any belief in the existence of sustantive, indwelling grace or holiness. Thus, grace, as in Mary's fullness of grace, was seen as an external or intellectual "relationship" with God rather than as having any indwelling dimension or experience. And this was likewise their view of the sacraments and sacramentals.

From their viewpoint (and I gave the slide lecture to several ecumenical groups) the Flowers of Our Lady and Mary Gardens were seen as curious, interesting and quaint customs and lore, rather than as any sort of expression of interior piety.

From my present perspective I appreciate more fully that the indwelling, interior, holy, pious, loving demension of our faith is of its very essence, and that this is what it behooves us to communicate as the true basis for the building of Church and God's Kingdom. And as we seek means to communicate this more effectively, we find that a Mary Garden, faithfully and prayerfully tended, is perhaps one of the most beautiful and intimate means by which piety can be communicated, - unique even in respect to poety and music. So, our work has an importan t apostolic dimension for the Church, and not just for itself.

Another aspect of all this is that some persons who have a deep inner piety are nevertheless hesitant about starting or participating in the work of a public Mary Garden, or even a private one visible to the neighbors, out of fear of being considered "hypocritical" - even though their interior love of Mary is very real.

Hypoocrisy is of course to be avoided, and is one of the aspects of "false" devotion to Mary identified by St. Louis de Montfort. But he also identifies "scrupulous" and "critical" devotion to Mary as false - the erroneous notion that we are not to practice any external aspects of devotion unless we are somehow p erfect, which is of course impossible.

While those in a state of mortal sin, are, by "definition", devoid of sanctifying grace, one of the mysteries of the "sinning Church" is that we can be, and unavoidably are, in a state of grace, while at the same time we are imperfect, and perhaps unwittingly committing serious offenses against justice and charity . (Hence the need for the sacrament of penance - seen by Protestants of my experience as a conventionalized rationale for Catholics to continue doing wrong.)

We clearly acknowledge this when in the Rosary we pray, "Pray for us sinners. . ." None of us can fully manifest our inner life of grace and holiness and piety in actions and conduct of perfect love and justice, and all of us could no doubt devout more fervor and zeal to this - so that from this viewpoint we are ever open to the accusation of hypocrisy, and it's something we will be faced with at our personal Judgement.

However, reflection seems to indicate that God, in his mercy, is in fact saving the world and building his Kingdom through actions which are evoked by providence, and inspired through actual, gratuitous graces - in imperfect, sinning, believers and devotees.

That is why we treasure even death-bed conversions and repentance. This is the greatness of Evelyn Waugh's " ", so beautifully portrayed recently on PBS, showing, as it does so authentically, that grace can work, in response to prayer, even in the decadence of Catholic affluence, for example, and, by extension, under all adverse worldly circumstances.

So, as St. Louis de Montfort teaches, we are not to "hide our light under a bushel" because our lamps are imperfect - because of scrupulous and critically doubts and apprehensions that we may be accused of hypocrisy - especially when the love in our hearts is so fervent.

We are given sanctifying grace as a "beginning", that we may work both for our spiritual perfection and for the perfection of the world in love and justice . What we celebrate in the Mary Garden, in piety is the gift and promise of gra ce, whereby we, while imperfect and sinning, can grow in sanctfying grace and ca n work to build God's Kingdom as instruments of his actual graces - which is why we pay special homage to Mary, Mediatrix of All Grace, who, in our trinitarian God's established Plan, discerns our needs, and those of Kingdom, and prays for, channels and distributes the flow of these graces to us as God,s beloved, coope rating, Daughter, Spouse and Mother. And the sense of Mary's presence in the world - not just in church - quickened by the Flowers of Our Lady and Mary Gardens, prompts us to have fuller recourse to Mary as Helper, Intercessor and Mediatrix in all situations - as was exemplified by the life of Bishop Carroll.

This is quite an outpouring you have stimulated, Nan. It's pretty heavy cramming forty years of thought all together in a couple of envelopes of article reprints, and then updating it in some long, free-flow letters; but I wanted to e stablish a context for for future "ordinary" communication.

A couple of housekeeping matters: First, the name of the Editor of THE HERBARIST anniversary issue was Sandy Hicks, not Sandy Gilmore, as I erroneously recalled in a previous letter. Maybe you could note this on the margin. Second, we're glad our contribution was helpful. Let me know before you "close", as I might be able to make a second contribution in memorium of Edward A. G. McTague, and Bonnie Roberson.

I'll be travelling a bit, but please address any communications to the same, Boston, address, and they'll reach me in time.

With continuing joy and thanksgiving for your and the Committee's and your supporters' major contribution to and carrying forward of this work so close to our hearts, I remain, your co-worker,



Boston, MA
July 8, 1990

Dear Nan,

Copy of letter to Bro. Seàn Macnamara, C.S.C., Irish Mary's Gardens Associate.

Dear Brother Seàn,

Thank you for your letter of May 2nd - which arrived after I wrote you on May 13th.

Yes, I do hope and pray with you for the revision of the Knock Mary Garden planting according to the full lists and Irish National Mary Garden plans in the booklet, which you developed at the request of the late Msgr. Horan.

In writing to Nan Sears about the completion of the St. Mary's Church and Carroll House Mary Garden in Annapolis I have endeavored to review for her the essential supports for a well-cared-for and enduring public Mary Garden, as we have come to understand them from our forty years of experience.

Among these I included:

Initially at least one dedicated Mary Gardener with a deep inner piety an d love for God, Our Lady, the Church and the building of God's Kingdom - which h e or she wishes to express and share with others in the special way afforded by the Flowers of Our Lady and Mary-Gardening.
A garden site with a prominent focal sculpture, grotto, walled raised bed(s), or other "monumental" object (e.g. a fountain, the Woods Hole Angelus Tower, a "Mass rock", etc.) which gives substance and permanence to the garden site above and beyond its location at Shrine, church, school, hospital, etc.
Freedom (permission of administrative authorities), responsibility, and available time, means and assistance to make the initial garden design, plant selection and procurement, and practical digging, soil preparation and planting according to Mary Garden practice - and to undertake faithful ongoing watering, trimming, edging and other tasks of garden stewardship.
Solicitation of contributions of plants, funds and work materially necess ary for the Garden planting and maintenance, and, for the long run, establishment of some sort of fund or trust to which contributions can be made.
Attractive plant markers; a plant list and plan for the Garden for use by visitors as a guide and a momento; and a supply of leaflets, reprints, booklets , etc. at or nearby the Garden, providing general background information - with address where people can write for information and assistance in starting home Mary Gardens, etc..
Primary responsibility for perfoming and providing for ongoing plant and bed watering, cleaning and other maintenance.
Inspiration and instruction in underlying Marian piety and doctrine, and the fundamentals of gardening.
Founding of a self-perpetuating Mary-Garden Society or Guild of persons to carry on into the immediate and distant future - rather than relying on instit utional grounds care maintenance; and who are present at the garden when visitors are likely to come, to tell them about the Garden personally.
Provision of a visitors' book for names, addresses, comments, requests for information, etc.
Use of the Mary Garden as a setting for special occasions, such as praying the Rosary, flower ceremonies celebrating Marian Feast Days, and visits after weddings and baptisms, etc.
Inclusion of the Mary Garden in garden tours, and in listings of places to visit in visitors guidebooks, etc.
Provisions for a log, journal and archives of notes, plans, articles,book s, photos, tapes, etc. to preserve the details of the founding, care and events of the Mary Garden, for future generations. (Teilhard de Chardin notes how the p recise details of the origins of most things have been lost to this world.)
Even with all the glories of the Knock Mary Garden, the delay in revising the planting according the final plans serves to re-emphasize the importance of having the funding and care of institutional Mary Gardens under the responsibility of a self-sustaining Guild guild which does not have to "compete" for institutional budgeting and scheduling. Is there any sort of Mary Garden Guild, Society or Committee at Knock? I'm sure that with the magnificence of the Garden and the inspiration of the booklet and your personal presence, there must be a number of persons living in the area who would come forward to participate in such a guild. And I'm sure it would be a relief to the Shrine administration and stewards to have this responsibility taken up by others.

The "guidelines" for an institutional Mary Garden are just as important at a world-class shrine as at the smallest parish.

I'll have to write someone in the Philippines to see if any of those 1954 Marian Year Mary Gardens, of which we have such great photos, are still being carried forward 36 years later.

Then, "the other side of the coin", as I've also been writing to Nan, is that of sustaining and deepening the Marian piety and commitment, of which the Mary Garden is an expression.
What has become increasingly clear to me recently, in this respect, is the importance - for the world, first of all - of a full, true devotion to Mary for her divinely ordained and lovingly undertaken role in the carrying forward of the divine plan of Church and Kingdom, through her motherly mediation of all graces etc., as well as for her personal virtues and excellences. And in this we come to see that Mary Gardening is a microcosim of Creation, Salvation and Kingdom.

"What is good for Mary-Gardening is good for the world."
This should not be surprising to me, since, as you know, Mary's Gardens was in fact first conceived and undertaken by Ed McTague and myself, in our discussions after class, at St. Joseph's College Institute of Industrial Relations in Philadelphia, precisely as a microcosim of Church and world.

In fully developed Marian piety - to which we are all called - our initial grace-inspired love of Mary as person is to be culminated with a deep love and appreciation of and recourse to her for her loving acceptance and performance - through her supernaturally endowed prerogatives - of her divinely established role, as motherly Counselor, Consoler, Intercessor, and Mediatrix of all Graces, sa nctifying and actual, in the carring forward of the Divine Plan of Salvation and Kingdom.

While our sense of Mary's presence with us is beautifully heightened - simply and directly - by our work with her Flowers and Garden, it is given further substance by reflection on her association in Tradition with the Created Wisdom, and by consideration of the practical implications of the theology of Heaven, as well as by the fact of her major appearences on earth.

Thus, like the Created Wisdom, we can consider of Mary that, as in the passage from Proverbs incorporated in the Liturgy of the Hours for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception:

"The Lord begot me, the firstborn of his ways . . .
When he established the heavens I was there . . .
When he fixed fast the foundations of the earth . . .
Then was I beside him as his craftsman . . .
And I found delight in the sons of men." (8, 22-31)
Similarly, we have the lesson from the liturgy for the Feast of the Queenship of Our Lady which describes her fervent zeal when in heaven to be with her children on earth, and her equally fervent zeal when on earth to be back with God in heaven, such that she continuously "rushes" back and forth between the two (I don't have the passage immediately at hand).

From these we are better enabled to appreciate practically and logistically how Mary, from the eternity and infinity of heaven, where "a thousand years is but a day", is able to be personally present, instantly and simultaneously, as it were, in limitless numbers of places - to each one of us and to the entire Church - as Mother, Helper, Consoler, Intercessor and Mediatrix.

I recall that in the Summa, St. Thomas examines in detail the attributes of the angels and souls in heaven in terms something like "agility", "alacrity", "passibility", etc.; and these of course apply to Mary's heavenly assumed body as well as to her soul. (The dogma of the Assumption was proclaimed just as Ed and I were in the process of founding Mary's Gardens. How I long for the dogmatic definition of the traditioal doctrine of Mary's Mediation of All Grace, that Mary's role in the Divine Plan may be more fully proclaimed, examined and acted upon!)

And while Mary goes many places because she sees that it is God's directive will, she also goes out of her own loving volition and of her limitless capacity of being present to us, so that she comes to us, and wants to come to us, and does come to us, at the least turning of our hearts towards her in love, spiritual aspiration and supplication. "Never was it known that anyone who fled to (her) protection was left unaided." Out of pious love of Mary comes the fullest recourse to her intercession and mediation for the building of the Church and God's Kingdom. She comes to us as Mother for our salvation and perfection, and as Queen and for God's Kingdom.

In sum, the full expression of our Marian piety, is to proclaim to the world, in love, the indispensability of turning to Mary's mediation of the actual graces needed for the renewal of the face of the earth and the building of the Peaceable Kingdom - for which our natural and scientific knowledge and love are not enough.

This vision was central to Frances Lillie's original Mary Garden motivation, as I have endeavored to point out in my articles about the Woods Hole Garden of Our Lady.

(How vividly I remember my one visit with Mrs. Lillie in, 1954! She had given us her blessing when I spoke to her by phone in 1950 (the call got "past" her sickroom nurses because the long distance call from Philadelphia was assumed to be from one of her daughters, who lived in the Philadelphia area), but I had never been able to visit her when I was in Woods Hole, because of her illness. Then, in late August of 1954, during one of my Woods Hole visits, Father Stapleton, Pastor of St. Joseph's at that time, and most supportive of our work, phoned me and said that the next day was Mrs. Lillie's birthday, and her daughters thought a visit might cheer her up a bit - so, would I be able to join them for tea?

I quoted a few things Mrs. Lillie said, in my article, "Mary's Gardens Research - A Progress Report", but the high point of the afternoon was when I gave her a little birthday gift of a Swiss postcard I had just picked up in a local drugstore with a photograph of a bleeding heart plant, with the european titles of "Coeur de Marie" and "Frauenhertz". In her humility she replied, "This is for me?")

In terms of Mary's universal mediation in the building of God's Kingdom, our plumbing of the depths and ascending to the heights of the meaning and significance of the Flowers of Our Lady and Mary Gardens will never be completed until the end of the world. I recall ten years or so ago running into a family friend I hadn't seen for a number of years - an artist and scholar who had spent much time in the Orient - who asked what I was doing. When I told him I was working on a book on mysticism, he exclaimed, "Mysticim? What more is there to say about that?" I replied, "There is always something more to say until the completion of God's Kingdom, until the mystics complete their work here on earth"; and for that reason I'm thinking of calling it, "Mystics With Hands" (after a line from a Daniel Berrigan poem). And for the same reason I feel there is always something more to be said and done about the Flowers of Our Lady and Mary Gardens. "Of Mary there is never enough." To Mary there is never recourse enough.

Practicing what I was preaching, I resumed my full commitment to Mary's Gardens around that time (1980), as you know - working closely with Bonnie again, with you, and then with Jane. As a matter of fact this was necessary to the (hoped for) completion of the book.

Brother, I hope you are having a relaxed and regenerative summer after your year's hard work at school. The reinterpretation of our faith, espcially for the young, is such a task in this rapidly changing world.

I hope you can give me more particulars about the Ballintrope Abbey Mary Garden, as this sounds like perhaps the first Mary Garden of enduring substance at a major monastery, at least to my knowledge. Obviously the summation I have made, above, of the necessary supports for a continuing Mary Garden would have a different application in monastic circumstances, but from the few historical records we have in any detail of monastic gardens and gardening (Strabo, St. Gall, etc.) there's clearly some room for thought and planning here.

We are now into the hot summer period in the northeastern U.S., and as always there is so much to do and seemingly so little time in which to do it. However, my Spring was "made" by Nan's Annapolis Carroll House Mary Garden initiative - which I consider very special to the whole sweep of our work, so with that and the Ballintubber Abbey, I have much to rejoice.

And, as ever, I rejoice at our special communion and friendship, remaining,

Sincerely yours in Our Lady,

P.S. Much that I have written here distills what I wrote in more emerging and rambling fashion to Nan, so I am taking the liberty of sending her a copy of this letter. J.

Could you send me a copy of the 1990 "Knock Shrine Annual"?


Boston, MA
July 25 1990

Dear Nan,

What a joy to receive the casting of the sculpture model from you today! A work truly worthy of your Mary Garden opportunity, initiative and potential.

I was immediately struck - especially from the frontal view - by how the grace of the boy, Jesus, appears to flow upwards through his eyes and hand to Mary , from whom it then circulates, through her mind and heart, down her left side and mantle, until it flows out to the Garden and to the whole World through the fountain petals or leaves at her feet.

Mary, full of and mediatrix of all grace, nurturingly mediated grace to the boy Jesus, who, as he "grew in wisdom and grace before God and man", in turn ma tured as the now divine/human source of grace as it continued and continues to flow out to the whole world through Mary.

While we think of this in its fullness as Mary stood at the foot of the Cross, the Irrera sculpture captures it in its beginnings, as it were, in Nazareth.

And as grace flows out through Mary to the world, we, in the Mary Garden, think of this as it is extended everywhere and in all ages, sacramentally, through the leaves and petals of the blest Flowers of Our Lady - "through Mary, throug h her flowers" - envisaging these flowers first of all as they grew in Nazareth.

You, your Pastor, the Committee, your supporters, St. Mary's, Annapolis and the whole world are truly blest, providentially, by this graceful sculpture. Your Mary Garden will be a truly holy place.

Thanks again for the casting of the model, immediately (re)blest, through which we, too, are blest.



Boston, MA
November 4, 1990

Dear Nan,

I am mindful that today is the day of the Rosemary Fisher benefit concert for Mary's Garden, and am praying for its spiritual and material fruitfulness.

I assume that the sculpture of Mary of Nazareth will arrive momentarily. I'm sure that you are prepared that there will be differences of scale, material and detail from the model and from your expectations - as I know from my own experience in producing the Ade Bethune "Mary, Seat of Wisdom" and "St. Joseph, Garden Workman" figures. I do hope you will be pleased with it, but if you have any reservations I know that you can take them in mortificational and reparational stride, as you did the dalays in finding the proper granite block, etc.. As a minimum, it's an adjustment from the more intimate model; and now you have both. I am reminded of Bonnie's development of the dish Mary's Garden, so she could have it indoors, and at hand 24 hours a day.

With a view to the forthcoming installation, dedication and blessing of the sculpture in Mary's Garden, I'm writing to pass on a few more thoughts from my experience and ruminations, which may have some merit for you and the Committee - now and as you continue to live and work with the Garden.

First, I trust you will select an appropriate liturgical date for the ceremony. We elected to formally inaugurate Mary's Gardens of Philadelphia on the (old) Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas; and Our Lady's Solar Greenhouse on the Feast of the Annunciation, etc.

As I wrote earlier, I hope your bishop will perform the blessing rite for you, as a much deserved added dignity and grace.

Also, I've written about making the most of available channels for publicity, that the Garden be fully recognized, honored and visited.

I don't know whether your Committee has considered a specific dedication intention, but mindful of Mary of Nazareth a first thought that occurred to me was something like a dedication to peace and justice in the Holy Land, the United States and the whole world. A bit wordy, but a spontaneous thought. It should be broad and applicable through the centuries, and not just current issues - which can be focused on, as desired, in the smaller enclosures, such as the "Garden of the Holy Innocents".

And now for a "final" rounding out of the theological background I have been writing about - that in due time gardeners, parishionners and visitors may spiritually avail themselves fully of the blest Garden's vast riches of nature, culture and grace.

I've been at it for forty years, and am still learning every day.

These are some clarifications that came to me on the Feast of All Saints:

While we grow day by day in interior deepening of sanctifying grace as we live our spiritual lives of the sacraments and prayer and spiritual acts and works; our growth in actual graces and glories is in more discreet steps - advancing, as St. Louis de Montfort teaches, "from virtue to virtue, from grace to grace, from light to light", as "grace perfects nature, and glory perfects grace" (27).
In this respect I have shared with you my growing understanding of how the actual grace of sacramental piety received through the cooperative opening of ourselves to the sufficient grace of blest flowers can be the basis for our opening of ourselves further to gratuitous actual graces of Kingdom, etc..

In this I have spoken mostly of grace, but I want now also speak of glory - since the resplendance of flowers and gardens is one of the most direct created mirrorings of heavenly glory.

We have all come to use the angelic words and the concept of the Gloria - "Glory to God in the highest" - so figuratively that glorification of God has almost become divorced from its original and essential meaning of adding "concretely" and eternally to the actual light of God's heavenly resplendence.

The secular reductionism involved is demonstrated in the course of the various dictionary meanings which have developed for "glorify", such as in the OED (their parentheses):

"to render glorious, to invest with glory or radiance"
"to advance the glory of (God, His name) by faithful action or suffering"
"to ascribe glory in adoration to (God)"
"to extol, honor, magnify with praise"
"to make one's own boast, exult"
What is to be re-understood and re-actualized is that just as received grace wells back up to God from the rejoicing of our hearts, augmented by our acts, "in leaves of praise", so also are the rays of divine glory received by us mirrored and radiated back to God, as in our soul we "open up (our) petals like roses" and "break forth in blossoms like the lily".

This this not a simple reflection or mirroring. God, in his desire that we are to participate and share in the showing forth of the glory of his goodness, enables us actively to diffract and articulate the rays of his subtle spiritual light in the "loop" of mirroring them back to him, and thus to augment his glory in heaven through our transfiguration by it through creatures and through our spiritual acts and sufferings - which transfigurations we incorporate in our participatory mirrorings.

Gerald Manley Hopkins addresses this in his lines, "Give beauty back, give beauty back to God".

Once we are enabled in Mary's Garden, to open ourselves to and to cooperate with the sufficient actual graces of blest flowers, in sacramental piety, our souls are opened to receive, through Mary's mediation, not only sanctifying and actual graces, but also rays of heavenly light ("glory builds on grace") - which our soul diffracts and illuminatively projects onto the flowers so that we see them and mirror them back to God, gloriously transfigured, in augmentation of his heavenly glory.

"The Light of the body is the eye."
Just as the leaves or pneuma of grace are welled up heavenward to the Book of Life through our souls, through our words of spiritual aspiration, ejaculation and praise ("grace is poured forth from thy lips") - so are the earthly glories lighted up by the diffracted rays of divine light, as perceived by the eye of our soul, mirrored and radiated upwards as flowering "lucencies" ( as Francis Thompson describes them) in augmentation of God's heavenly glory.

Glorified action, suffering and praise advance the glory of God by generating rays, petals, leaves, sheathes, gardens, ways and countrysides, buildings and cities of heavenly lucencies. The offering of blest Assumption Bundles of grains, herbs and flowers at the altar becomes more meaningful here as a ceremonial symbolizing of this.

And as we more habitually live the life of grace and glory, rather than of circumstances and events, the goal of our lives, with St. Ignatius of Loyola, becomes "All to the greater glory of God".

In this we have as our model Mary, whose soul magnifies the glory of the Lord, just as her heart rejoices in the grace of God her Savior. (For me something is lost in the New American Bible's rendering of Luke 1-46 as "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord", as opposed to the Douay's more specifically glorifying, "My soul doth magnify the Lord" - after all these centuries of the Magnificat!).

Likewise - per Alphonsus Ligouri's "The Glories of Mary" - God's glorification is increased through the glorification of Mary - as a sublime showing forth and sharing of his glorious goodness. We glorify God through the glorification of all creation, and most sublimely through the glorification of Mary.

As a corroboration that glorification is properly a soul diffraction, ramification, gathering and return of divine light, I recall reading a book, "Cathedral", which documents - I believe from the writings of le Gros and Sugar relative to the innovative choir of St. Vincent's Abbey, north of Paris, around 1140 - how the slender columns, ribbed vaulting, pointed arches, stained glass windows, sculptural articulation and general geometry of plan and elevation of the flying-buttressed Gothic cathedrals were all conceived to enhance the architectural light, seen illuminatively as a diffraction of the divine light.

Clearly the sacramental blessing of cathedrals, as of churches, imbues the buildings with sufficient actual graces which can open our souls to the divine light so that we may see the divine resplendence mirrored in them by the architects, stonemasons, glass-makers and sculptors - just as the blessing of gardens opens us to a view of garden aura and resplendence. As in churches, the Sacrament was reserved in Cathedrals, but there was also the blest sacramentality of the cathedrals themselves. I recall reading some contemporary "instructions" on how to visit a cathedral - first considering the space and light; then looking at the stained glass windows and sculpture; then proceding to the altar and Sacrament, etc.

As we learn to reappreciate sacramental piety, the question necessarily arises: how did sacramental blessings fall into such disuse after the medieval period?

Or, how is it, as the introduction to "The Rural Life Prayer Book" puts it, that sacramental blessings are "riches of the Church which have been long unknown and unused like a treasure hidden under our very doorstep?"

The answer, I believe is that priestly blessings of objects was so abused during the late medieval period by the widespread simony of their sale for money - especially those which had indulgences attached to them, for reduction of thy number of days to be be spent in purgatory - that in the counter-reformation generally, and at the Council of Trent in particularly, the Church deemed it necessary to offset this abuse through a focus on the seven sacraments as the primary practical source of grace, almost to the exclusion of the sacramental blessing of Creation generally.

From the subsequent secularization of society it can be seen, however, that the sacraments and "Church on Sunday" were not enough. There evidently must be also an acknowledgement, appreciation and practical recourse to the redeemed holiness of Creation. It is not enough to frequent the sacraments, and to pray, mortify and sacrifice, and then attempt to apply religious principles to secular society in matters of social justice, professional ethics, pro-life morality, etc..

Rather the sacramental blessing of secular places, objects, tools, etc., and the transforming cooperation of souls with the consequent sufficient uplifting grace infused in them, is required in the divine plan to produce an overall religious melieu and environment necessary for the full extension and application of the life of the sacraments and religious principles.

What is needed is - through the blessing of places, objects, tools, etc. - an all-pervasive sacramental piety which leads us to hold all persons and things in an awe and reverence from which justice, ethics, morality and respect for life naturally flow and within which we act by the promptings of the Spirit, rather than by our natural, discursive, reason alone.

In addition to living "conservatively" in the world by the sacraments and virtues, and attempting "liberally" to change it according to principles of morality nd justice, we are "radically" to sanctify and scramentalize it so as to generate the atmosphere of piety, reverence and awe necessary for the sacraments to be spread and principles to be accepted as a basis for action.

Mary's Garden is a microcosm where we can learn to do this with God's purist creatures, and through the simplest work of stewardship, as a school for learning this perspective, as a basis for extending it to the entire face of the earth.

" . . . Send forth your Spirit, and they shall be created, and you will renew the face of the earth."
o O o

Hoping this finds all of you well, and with prayerful best wishes to all associated with Mary's Garden for a holy Advent and new liturgical year, I remain, as always,



Boston, MA
November 15, 1990

Dear Nan,

Here some "pro forma" paragraphs I have drafted with a view to your press release for the Mary of Nazareth, Mary's Garden, dedication - for your reference when you compose your own from your exact knowledge of the facts and circumstances, and in your own form, style and sense of appropriateness.

As with everything else I send, it is for you to use freely: none, or as little or as much as you might wish. At this stage of life (I recently celebrated my "big 7-0") I have no interest in "credit" - considering that like the medieval craftsmen and sculptors I am drawing from and contributing to a living popular tradition in the public domain.

In general, in justice to tradition, I would like - as Winifred Jelliffe Emerson's husband said when he gave us her research into the Flowers of Our Lady, undertaken for Frances Lillie - to see any information I provide "presented in its proper historical perspective". Of course, any articles you might want to reproduce (for which we have systematically obtained permission, which we extend to you as our co-workers) should of course give credit to the magazine originally publishing them. (Some of our reprints don't display such credits because the magazines themselves did the reprinting for us and left them off).

I was delightfully reminded of the Garden of the Holy Innocents the other day while watching the superb animated puppets version of "The Wind and The Willows" on PBS. This particular episode (Toad gets lost in the garden maze at Toad Hall) began with its placement in the context of the round of the seasons: "at the time after the brighter flower colors of early summer have gone, and ox- eyed daisies begin to fill the fields" (or something like that).

Then, just today, in another episode (Mole eats poisoned toadstool), wise old Badger sent everyone out to gather medicinal herbs for the antidote - including Feverfew and Matricary; two more of the daisy flowers (or two names for one)

The British have such a great sense of the sequence of flower bloom in the countrysides through the year, and it gives me a sense of how in popular religious tradition people must have lived by "The Mary Calendar".

In the rural home where I grew up, with a stream, ponds, meadow and woods, I was raised on Thornton Burgess' Laughing Brook, Smiling Pool, Billy Mink, Little Joe Otter, etc.; and immediately took to the Wind and the Willows. There is a Thornton Burgess

o O o


(Parish or Mary's Garden Society letterhead)



The granite sculpture, "Mary of Nazareth", a major work by renowned Washington sculptor, Leo Irrera, is to be formally dedicated and blessed by Archbishop William D. Borders (?) of Baltimore in Mary's Garden at historic Carroll House, St. Mary's Parish, Annapolis on __________.

The outdoor sculpture, portraying Mary and the boy Jesus, standing lovingly hand in hand, has been especially commissioned and designed as a focal figure for the __ ft. x __ ft. Mary's Garden established at the Carroll House historic landmark by St. Mary's Pastor, Father John Francis Xavier Murray, and parishioners.

Mary's Garden, established three years ago under the initiative of the parish Mary's Garden Society, was inspired by the Garden of Our Lady at St. Joseph's Church, Woods Hole, on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, planted in 1932 and mother garden for the contemporary world-wide Mary's Gardens movement.

A Mary's Garden is composed of flowers associated with Our Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary, by name and symbolism from medieval popular rural traditions of Ireland, England, France, German, Spain and other countries - as documented by extensive research. Some flowers are still commonly known by these old symbolical names today, such as the Madonna Lily, Marigold (Mary's Gold), Lady Slipper, Lady's Tresses, Lady's Mantle and others.

For visitors to the Carroll House Mary's Garden the old religious names of the 100 or so plant varieties honoring Mary are displayed on attractively crafted plant markers. Plant lists and background information are also available at the garden.

Among the Mary's Gardens established world-wide - in countries including the Philippines, Australia and Japan, as well as throughout the united States and Canada - one of the most renowned is the National Irish Mary's Garden established at Our Lady's Shrine at Knock, County Mayo, Ireland, in 1983 by Monsignor James Horan, late shrine Director, with assistance from Woods Hole, and including numerous plants bearing the Gaelic name for Mary, "Mhuire", in old Irish rural traditions.

The Mary's Garden Society of St. Mary's Parish is headed up by Mrs. Nanette P. Sears, who has had over 30 years experience in Mary Gardening since she first learned of the custom from members of The Herb Society of America.

The Garden, still in development, will include a Rosary Way, on which visitors may make the round of the stations of the Rosary following a spaced sequence of 15 Rose plantings in the encompassing border beds; or the Rosary mysteries may be meditated on more informally - as they were in the medieval countryside - while contemplating flowers from three special beds comprised respectively of flowers of the joyful, sorrowful and glorious Mysteries.

Other flowers throughout the garden are ancient symbols, variously, of Mary's virtues, excellences, glories and prerogatives; and also of her Nazareth life, household articles, garments and of biblical events, such as the Flight into Egypt.

These blest flower symbols of Mary's life and mysteries assist visitors in entering into the meditative piety of medieval Christians, whose thoughts were never far from Mary. Now, the blest Mary of Nazareth sculpture will assist them, further, in envisaging and praying to Mary and Jesus as they actually lived with flowers in the Holy Land.

The monumental Carroll House Mary's Garden is a fitting tribute to the profound prayerful recourse to Mary by John Carroll, first U.S. Catholic bishop, in his founding work for the American Church, and is thus coming to be viewed as a National U.S. Mary's Garden.

Further information about the Annapolis Mary's Garden - including 8x10 glossy photos of the Irrera sculpture - and about Mary's Gardens generally can be obtained at the above address.


Boston, MA
January 1, 1991

Mary, Mother of God

Dear Brother Sean; Jane; Nan:

All best wishes for a happy and holy New Year!

Three Christmas midnight Masses, shown on TV (as the earth turns):

Baghdad (Iraq 10% Christians):
Beautiful pure white standing figure of Mary (Lourdes, Fatima?) in Bagdhad Cathedral, with large single vase of Crimson roses.
Very few pilgrims in attendance, due to threat of war; but lots of flowers.
Offertory procession of the "Children of the Nations", bringing flowers to the Nativity creche at the altar of St. Peter's.
Our Lady, Queen of Peace, pray for us!

Sincerely, in Our Lady,



Boston, MA
March 17, 1991

St. Patrick

Dear Nan,

Thanks for your letter of February 2nd, and the enclosed copy of Father Jim Duffy's letter to you of January 12th.

Father's letter was a joy to read with its evident appreciation of the Mary's Garden idea, which he mirrored back, enhanced, enriching us all - in the highest tradition of the Communion of Saints.

The priests who have supported our work spiritually through the years, have mostly passed or are infirm, so Father Duffy's interest, appreciation and input mean a lot to me. Our main priestly supporter for the idea in the past few years has been Father Roger Charest, S.M.M. - Editor of QUEEN Magazine, which was started in the early 50's around the same time as Mary's Gardens of Philadelphia.

Also, I am glad you and Ann have the reassurance of a "second opinion" about the apostolic dimensions of Mary Gardening. Thanks to you and Ann for introducing Father Duffy into the sphere of our work. I enclose a copy of my letter to him, and will send him the copy of Catherine Doherty's letter in due time, and will let you know.

The completion of the full scale Mary of Nazareth sculpture is a major event. I am reassured that you are prepared spiritually for the differences there will be from the model - which you have embraced so intimately. I pray that these will bring joy.

I recall how I agonized over the differences between the original, and the fired stoneware ceramic version which we arranged for at a workshop in Trenton, of the Seat of Wisdom sculpture Adé Bethune did for us. First there was a shrinking in size through the cooling after casting, and then there was a slight forward "caving" of the Madonna's head at the neck which bothered me. However, the inclination of the head actually introduced some contemporary feeling into the figure, as a slight softening of the Auvergne-like austere frontality of the original - which I ended up regarding as a "plus". Then, Adé seemed pleased with it and, in fact, installed one of the cast figures, and, later, one of her companion St. Joseph, Garden Workman, in her lovely garden in Newport, Rhode Island.

Adé and I worked very closely together, as you are working with Leo Irrera. We couldn't come up with a concept for the St. Joseph figure for some time, and then one day I found myself kneeling on one knee, and balancing myself, as it were with my garden trowel, as I paused in my Mary-Gardening for the evening praying of the Angelus - which position I then suggested to her for the figure, and she then proceeded to execute, to our mutual satisfaction. She and I spent a delightful week together one year exhibiting our St. Leo Shop and Mary's Gardens wares, including a number of dish Mary Gardens, in adjacent booths at a Catholic Liturgical Conference convention in Cincinnati.

I have marvelled at how well the V.M.S. Hannel cast concrete figure has stood up for over fifty years in the Cape Cod Garden of Our Lady. Ed McTague pointed out how it was designed "like an airplane wing" to withstand the freezing rains of the salt seaside winter. With this in mind, we asked Ade to be sure not to have any water-retaining pockets in her figures. Despite this some of the stoneware castings have cracked with spring freezing and thawing - so when we gave a casting of St. Joseph figure for the Angelus Tower west garden, Jane arranged with one of the parishioners to construct a beautiful housing, with a door, which is set in place each winter. Perhaps the Vermont workshop could do granite versions of the Seat of Wisdom and St. Joseph figures for us.

So, Nan, you and we have shared in the birth pangs of creating Mary's Garden statuary.

Do send me a photo of the completed stone carving of Mary of Nazareth. Incidentally, the Hannel Madonna in the Garden of Our Lady has a large pipe inserted in a vertical drilled hole in the base, which extends 3 or 4 ft. into the ground, for stability.

And I hope you can have some reproduction-quality 8 x 10 glossy photos taken of the dedication ceremenony, and also some of Mary of Nazareth in Mary's Garden, with people and with flowers, and of Mary's Garden generally, for newspaper and magazine article illustration.

With all prayerful best wishes for the installation, dedication and blessing, and for a spiritually fruitful Mary's Garden year generally, I remain,



Boston, MA
May 1, 1991

St. Joseph, Workman

Dear Nan,

In reflecting today on St. Joseph I realize that in my letters to you last year sharing some insights regarding Mary's Gardens and the spirituality of Nazareth, not included in my articles, I made little mention of some accompanying insights about St. Joseph, who has always been central to our work.

The bronze bas relief of the Angelus Tower door in Woods Hole depicts the major events of the life of St. Joseph: the angel's appearance to him in a dream regarding Mary's being with child through the Holy Spirit; the marriage of Joseph and Mary; the birth of Jesus; the Flight into Egypt; and the Nazareth carpenter shop.

Sister Margaret Rose, S.S.J., who was one of our earliest "soul-mates" in our work was a Sister of St. Joseph, as is Ed McTague's younger daughter, Kay (Sister Edward Angela, S.S.J.), and we learned from them of their personal dedication, as religious, to St. Joseph. (I once spoke on ecumenical matters to 500 sisters of St. Joseph at a convention.)

My 1960 article, "St. Joseph, Patron of Mary's Gardeners", sets forth St. Joseph's virtues and attitudes as I perceived them, with particular reference to Nazareth and gardening. And in the Mary Garden Prayer we invoke St. Joseph as "Patron of all who labor for the building of God's Kingdom" - reflecting the extension by the Church of St. Joseph's patronship of carpenters and craftsmen to that of all workmen, and the establishment of the Feast of St. Joseph, Workman (sometime in the early 1950's, if I remember correctly); and, also, the ultimate purpose of all earthly work, namely the building of God's Kingdom.

But I have always felt there is much more to appreciate about St. Joseph, with special pertinency to our present day; and now from some contemporary insights from the psychological field I have come to understand more fully in human terms the striking qualities St. Joseph must have had to be spouse of Mary and foster father of Jesus.

In this we start with the teaching of the Church that Jesus, through the hypostatic union of natures, was at once "true God and true man"; from which we derive that his truly human nature and therefore his truly human faculties, nurturing, growth, learning and maturation must have had the same psychological responsiveness and been potentially subject to the same influences from the childhood environment as do and are other true humans, such as ourselves and our own children.

The fact that we are not taught Jesus was preserved from sin through some kind of direct providential intervention as he grew - as was Mary, through the prerogatives of her Immaculate Conception, etc. - leads to the conclusion that the initial goodness of his human nature was thus preserved through Mary's and Joseph's immaculate nurturing.

These considerations presuppose that human nature is essentially good - in ourselves as well as in Jesus - and that the damaging effects of original and subsequent sin come, when they do, "accidentally" from the parental and social environment. (We don't assume that Mary and Jesus' true human natures were essentially good, and that everyone else's true human natures are essentially bad.)

We are all indeed "born in sin", viz. in an environment of sin, but not with a sinful nature. Mary was born "free from sin from the moment of her conception" in the sense that she was divinely protected by angelic providence and grace from the contageon of sin into which she was born; whereas Jesus was divinely protected from this contageon by his conception by the Holy Spirit and, as I have said, by the providential immaculateness of Mary's and Joseph's nurturing of him.

This is a rather intricate theological point, which is dealt with in detail, for example, in Mother Agreda's "The Mystical City of God", but the essence of it is that original sin is introduced into our essential sin-free human nature through external "accidental imperfections" - which is why these imperfections could be providentially intervened against in the case of Mary and Jesus.

Joachim and Anna were not themselves free from the effects of sin; but through exemplary virtue, angelic providential intervention and anticipatory grace they were enabled to conceive, give birth to, and rear Mary free of sin.

Since it was necessary for Jesus' perfect nurturing that no even casual psychological trauma should be introduced in his childhood experience from either of his parents, St. Joseph, too, in some way also have been providentally prepared and protected in order that he might also be an immaculately nurturing parent of Jesus, along with Mary. Clearly the foundation of this was his initial holiness as the "just man" of the Psalms (as symbolized in apocryphal tradition and, in Mary's Gardens, through "St. Joseph's Staff"); which holiness was then augmented through his loving spiritual espousal, companionship and communion with all-wise, good-counseling, and grace-filled and -mediating, immaculate Mary, whose virtues and graces he came to mirror (as symbolized by "St. Joseph's Lily" - mirroring "Mary's Lily").

It is therefore to Joachim and Anna, and especially to St. Joseph, that we look to as parents for example, hope and intercession as we raise our own children. The important thing is that in redeemed humanity, starting with Joachim, Anna, Mary and Joseph, sinful effects were overcome through providence and grace-infused guidance and not coercive discipline.

This is of course the lesson of flowers, that they all start out essentially "good", unless the seed is externally damaged; and that if the proper environment and stewardship are provided they mature in the goodness of their fullness of endowed potential. This quality of flowers, and the relevance of this quality for humans is the essence of Jesus' exhortation in the Sermon on the Mount to "Consider the lilies; see how they grow . . .", and also of the adoption of flowers as symbols for the spirituality of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

What is new here to my reflection is an appreciation of the necessary role which Mary must have played in the lovingly nurturing of St. Joseph's spirituality to the utter immaculateness required for their mutual nurturing of the infant and child Jesus.

What immediately led to my wonder and awe in this are the current psychological insights as to how the teaching of even the most sublime moral principles can, if coercively imposed, however gently - rather than internally nurtured, in grace - induce or provoke resentment which, due to the defenselessness and inarticulativeness of the infant or small child, is repressed into the unconscious, from which it emerges years as rebellion against parents or as hostility extended to self or others - as is increasingly being discovered to be at the roots of much crime, dug addiction, child abuse and sexual promiscuity etc., so endemic in our culture. Theologically, we can see that parentally provoked hostility which is repressed into the unconscious can result generally in the darkness of the intellect, weakness of the will and disorderly concupiscence which many have seen erroneously as having become inherent in human nature, along with destructive drives, as a consequence of original sin, no matter how loving, wise and grace-infused parents may be. It was this error which led many in the past to justify breakig and bending children's wills through harsh discipline; but "Spare the rod, spoil the child", like "An eye for an eye . . ." are pre-redemptive Old Testament precepts which do not speak to the hope of nurturing bodies and souls and building of God's Kingdom in love.

If the child, Jesus, was truly human, these psychological principles were as applicable to him then as they are to infants and children in the present day, so that from our own experience we ever more fully appreciate the "accomplishment" of the immaculate nurturing of Jesus by Mary and Joseph.

In the light of all this the question arises as to how, especially in our time and circumstances, can we ever raise our own children in religious faith and practice, and in this I recall an old 1950's Catholic pamphlet entitled "Can't Imitate That (Holy) Family".

The answer is through acts of faith, with constant recourse in prayer to Mary and Joseph regarding particular decisions. Since Mary is present to us as spiritual Mother, as she was to Joseph as spouse, we can turn to her, as he did, as all-wise counsellor and Mediatrix of All Grace, as we walk the unending tightrope of parental nurturing between the harmful alternatives of resented coercive discipline on the one hand, and permissiveness regarding response to ever-present destructive environmental influences on the other - while nurturing morally and socially constructive behavior through the application, in love, of sweet, right, instructive, non-coercive, reason to life, growth, love, necessities, circumstances, consequences, responsibility, self-reliance, learning, skills, creativity, craftsmanship, enterprise, social interest and general well-being, etc..

We turn especially to St. Joseph, because he is our model and intercessor for the acquisition of the needed parental dispositions and graces through Mary's companionship and mediation. In turning to the intercession of St. Joseph we are also to be mindful that in so far as we ourselves are called, as St. Paul says, to be "other Christs", he is our foster father also.

While we may not be able perfectly to "imitate that family", if we are aware of the various coercions - however refined - through which, even in momentary impatience, fatigue or spiritual "ambush", we can provoke resentment and anger, e.g slaps, harsh words, arbitrary or unreasonable restraints or confinements, untrusting suspicion or interrogation, rash judgement or imputation of motives, or even disapproving glances, tone of voice, or force of reason, etc., etc. - which are now understood to be so much more harmful to children, through repression of invoked resentment, than previously was understood - we can catch ouselves when we are in fact coercive so that we can be immediately alert to the resulting potential engendering of hurt or resentment, and in love be open and receptive to, and bringing forth of, the expression of it, acknowledge our provocation, say we are sorry, and ask forgiveness - so that no unexpressed hurt will be repressed into their unconscious as they strive accomodatively to maintain good immediate relations, even though hurt, with the parents whom they love and on whom they are dependent: "the only parents they've got".

We have an example of Mary's words of parental nurturing in Luke's report of the Finding of the Boy Jesus in the Temple after three days of searching - "Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety." - which Dante discerns as a legitimate expression of parental concern graced with a love and sweetness of manner which are without any trace of coercion or pre-judgement. (Dante envisages souls who are in purgtory because of their irritation and harshness of speech while they were on earth as required to hear over and over again Mary's sweet, loving tone of voice as she said these words to the boy Jesus - as the means whereby they may be purged of their own soul-inhering acqired harshness and replace it with loving sweetness of expression in preparation for all eternity in heaven.

So, Nan, the daisies of innocence, and the envisaged "Garden of the Holy Innocents", along with the flowers of St. Joseph, have come to have a further import for me - as reminders of the inherent innocent goodness of all new-born children, and especially of those placed in our care, and as a call to the proper, sensitive, non-coercive, non-injuring, loving nurturing of their bodies and souls - that we may work to overcome violence to mind as well as violence to body. I see all this, too, in the loving exchange of glances between Mary and Jesus as represened in "Mary of Nazareth".

I will be catching up with my Boston Mary's Gardens mail in several weeks, and will hope to find some word from you regarding the arrival and installation of the full scale Mary of Nazareth statue.

As I enjoy the beauty of spring blooms, I think of the joy you all must have at St. Mary's with this new season.

With all prayerful best wishes, I remain, as always,



Boston, MA
May 25, 1991

Venerable Bede

Dear Nan,

Not having heard from you since your letter of February 2nd, I hope that word from you was not lost in the mail. I trust you are well, and will assume I am called to join with you in further patient waiting for the arrival of "Mary of Nazareth" from Vermont.

In the meanwhile the miracle of the Mary's Garden movement continues to unfold: most recently in an article, "Meditation Garden at Akita Shrine", in the March-April '91 issue of QUEEN magazine, by Reverend Stanley Smolenski - a photo copy of which I enclose, in case you have not seen it. This is the second part of his larger article, as submitted, the first part of which was published as "Weeping Madonna of Japan" in the January-February issue, which I do not have at hand and did not read all that carefully, as I was unaware of the contents relevant to Mary's Gardens of the second part, to follow.

This article describes the Akita Shrine four acre Mary Garden with sculptured tree, shrub and rock tableaux of Gospel scenes in a setting of walks and a reflexion pool with a statue of "Our Lady of Akita" as Mediatrix, etc., and which appears to have taken on the character of a "Japanese National Mary Garden".

You will note there are five distinct Garden areas, reflecting Bethlehem, Nazareth, the Mount of Beatitudes, Calvary and the Resurrection.

I thought of you immediately when I read of the Nazareth section that, "One interesting depiction is an umbrella tree under which grows a small bush with white blossoms. The little bush represents the infant Jesus and the hovering tree represents his Mother Mary."

The use of sculpured shrub and tree tableaux represents for me a whole new Mary's Garden dimension, which brings much joy.

And, as Father Stanley's article relates:

"The community gives credit to St. Joseph for (the) garden. On May 1, 1974 the chaplain offered that day's Mass in honor of St. Joseph the Worker for the intention of that Saint's assistance in the garden project. Sr. Agnes (Sasagawa's) guardian angel told her that it was pleasing to Jesus and Mary that St. Joseph was invoked and requested that an image of him be included in the chapel. The community had one carved to match that of Mary. . . . From that day on gifts of money and materials arrived from various parts of Japan, including sculptured trees over 100 years old."
I especially appreciated the emphasis on St. Joseph, upon whom I have been reflecting much recently, and I am reminded Bonnie used to say that whenever we concentrated on some particular aspect of Mary's Gardens intensely, this always seems turn up mirrored somehow in providence.

Bonnie may have known of this garden, as she corresponded extensively (in the 1968-1979 period when I was "out of the loop") with a sister at a convent or school in Nagasaki which had a Mary's Garden.

I phoned the author of the present article, Father Smolenski, in Connecticut, to obtain an address for the Akita Shrine to which I could direct an inquiry for further information, and for the name of an appropriate person there who can correspond in English.

He gave me the following further information:

The shrine is a diocesan shrine, founded by Bishop John S. Ito, and is in Yuzawadai, a suburb of Akita.
The Japanese Christians they met were "kind, gracious and contemplative".
They spent four days there on a pilgrimage tour, which also included four days in Tokyo and, optionally, another four in Nagasaki.
On arrival they were given a garden plan or map, with annotations in Japanese. There were other printed materials, but none in English.
They did not meet Bishop John S. Ito, or Father Teiji Yasuda, Shrine Chaplain and designer of the Mary's Garden, who was away in Brazil at the time of their visit. (The photos of Bishop Ito and Father Yasuda, included in the article, were provided by the pilgrimage travel agency, as were some of the others.)
They met Sister Agnes Sasagawa, receiver of private revelations regarding Our Lady and the Garden, only briefly - as she remains largely withdrawn in her residence (for retired religious), except for attendance at Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours.
I'm sure, Nan, you and your Committee workers will find this article and the knowledge of the Akita Mary's Garden as edifying as I have. I am especially impressed at this garden as an instructive example of how each nation and culture can bring its own particular qualities to a Mary's Garden.

I will send the Akita Shrine library a binder of information about our work with the more intimate flower symbols of Our Lady and the smaller enclosed Mary's Gardens, of Western tradition.

With all prayerful best wishes, and hoping to hear from you soon, I remain,



Boston, MA
May 31, 1991


Dear Nan,

Your letter of May 20th was a true joy!

It is indeed new to our Mary's Gardens annals to have a statue of such heroic size and weight that the crane needed to install it would, without special support, crush the surface of the parking lot where it must be positioned to operate.

When the 30 ft. or so Ramases II statue (also in two pieces) was installed in front of the Boston Museum of Science several years ago for the Ramases II Exhibit an engineer was especially retained by the Egyptian government and flown over from France to organize and supervise the rigging. The actual installation was a big item in the Boston newspapers and TV, and did much to publicize the exhibit. (I recall, when we saw the exhibit later, that Hollyhock was represented in one of the heiroglyphic panels). Mary of Nazareth deserves no less.

I'm sure that with all the heavy statuary installed at the various government buildings in Washington there must be some specialists at whom hand Leo Irera would have access to, with the help of our prayers.

Do, by all means, Nan, for this once in a lifetime event, have a battery of TV, movie and still cameras present under the direction of your Committee, and get all the little human interest details and comments, etc.. I would like to see this myself.

This rigging operation (in association with the dedication and blessing) is a providential "news opportunity" - viz. that people care enough about this Garden, and Carroll House, to undertake a statue of this magnitude - for making Mary, Carroll House, the diocese, the parish, Mary's Gardens and the Flowers of Our Lady better known. Be sure the local TV people are notified, and also CNN, and the national Catholic newspapers. I believe the National Catholic Welfare Conference in Washington has a press department and news service. Also, your diocesan chancery office and the local Catholic weeklies must have people who could help. I'm sure you have someone on your Committee or in your parish, or that someone can be retained, who can do justice to the PR dimensions of this event - with a press release, and also background information, available.

Of course, maybe it won't "grab" people, but it's worth a try.

Yes, we will prepare a leaflet for distribution at the dedication - and for continuing use. We'll work up and send a draft to you, which we can discuss by phone to be sure it's OK with you, Father Murray, etc.. We can always be reached - directly, or by message, at (617) 353-0703 in Boston.

In addition to the special design, execution and installation of the Mary of Nazareth statue, the Mary's Garden is of special importance and prominence, ( from a public relations viewpoint) because of its location at historic Carroll House, in the oldest U. S. diocese, and also, importantly, from a world viewpoint, because it can be seen historically as a uniquely American Mary's Garden - thus extending special honor to Our Lady in sacred history.

Part of this uniqueness lies in the native American plants which were named for Mary by early Christian missionaries and settlers, (especially appreciated by Ed McTague), as mentioned in Bonnie's and my Herbarist article about Mary's Gardens.

Outstanding among these, known to everyone, and much featured by W. Atlee Burpee Seed Company, is the Marigold (Marygold), a native American plant genus which was given this common name signifying the symbolism or reflection of Mary's heavenly glory - of "The Woman Clothed with the Sun" - of Revelations, which surrounds Mary in her appearances, by Spanish missionaries. The two most commonly cultivated species, or their hybrids, are Tagetes erecta, Tall or "African" Marigold and Tagetes patula, Dwarf or "French" Marigold, as they came to be known in Europe - although they are all American in origin.. There are numerous other varieties, such as Tagetes lucida or Sweet Marigold, etc.

There are many yellow and golden european flowers which were given the name MaryGold in English, French, German, Spanish, etc., before the colonization of America, and no doubt the naming of the American "Marigold" was a transferrence of symbolism from a Spanish variety known to the missionaries at home.

The oldest record known to me of a plant specifically named for Mary is of the MaryGold: that of 'seint mary gouldes' for what is known today as Pot Marigold (Calendula officinalis), in a 1373 recipe for an anti-pestilence potion, per "An English Florilegium," London, 1987.

Another widely known American flower given a religious name by missionaries is the Passion Flower, of the species Passiflora. I suggest, incidentally, for these reasons, that the Passion Flower should be included in your Mary's Garden. The usual variety sold by florists is not winter hardy, but there is a variety available from nurseries, Passiflora incarnata, "Wild Passion Flower", which is found naturally as far north as Virginia, and was winter hardy for us in Philadelphia.

When drawings of the Passion Flower were brought back to Europe from America it was first accused of being a "Jesuit hoax" - until actual plant specimens were produced, exhibiting all the uniquely shaped parts which were seen symbolically as representing the Cross, Lash, World, Spear, Apostles, etc.

Also of note, in this connection, is the Poinsettea, which, because of its red coloring (actually of the terminal leaves) in winter was named in its native Mexico by missionaries as "Natividad" or "Christmas Flower" - and then (if a remember correctly) was "discovered" by botanists after some specimens were brought back to the U.S. by Poinsett, the U.S. ambassador to Mexico, and botanically named after him (not extending the historical "grass roots" courtesy of the european botanists who gave the plant commonly known as "Mary's Milk Thistle" the botanical naming reflecting this, "Silybum Marianum"; or of those who assigned the botanical name, Passiflora, to the Passion Flower). Poinsetteas can be set out in the garden in the summer. I just saw one on Marlboro street in Boston, with the red leaves beginning to form - evidently someone's Christmas poinsettea plant kept alive and then set out.

Other well known native North Amarican plants given religious names transferred from Europe, as mentioned in the Herbarist article, are the Lady Slipper and Ladies Tresses orchids, each of which has numerous varieties, but not very well suited to ordinary garden cultivation, as the Marigold and Passion Flower (P. incarnata) are.

The 1965 list of Tropicals and Semi-Tropicals with Religious Names which I sent you contain many more indiginous American plants given religious names by missionaries, although this list is world-wide. The important historical circumstance is that the Central and South American tropics were the first major tropical areas to which Christian missionaries went, extending to them the popular tradition of Marian flower symbolism of the temperate and Mediterranean climates of Europe and the Holy Land - perhaps used for teaching, in the absence of literacy, or of printed catechisms in native tongues etc.

So, this is an important aspect of your Mary's Garden, which I now propose to refer to as "of national and American significance and importance", rather than proposing the specific designation of a "U. S. national Mary Garden".

The giving of Marian names to indiginous American plants has the same sort of significance as the giving of Gaelic "Mhuire" names to indiginous Irish plants (also found growing in other European countries); as the incorporation of sculptured trees and shrubs in the landscape tableaux of the Japanese Akito Shrine Mary's Garden, which is a de facto Japanese National Mary Garden; and as the special collection of native English Flowers of the Virgin Mary at Lincoln Cathedral in England.

The many flowers of the Garden which were not native to the Americas or originally named for Mary here, but were introduced from numerous european countries and their religious traditions are also appropriate for a Mary's Garden of the United States - many of whose people came from origins in these same countries. In addition to this there are plants from all over the globe - Africa, Asia, Australia, etc. - which were given Marian names after botanical introduction to Europe, and then introduced to the U.S..

Another thing to be kept in mind at this time, for instructional apostolic publicity, is that the Our Lady of Nazareth statue is to be liturgically blest with the rite of the Roman Rite, and thus, like other blest objects, will be a holy object which is a vehicle, especially for those so disposed, of actual graces opening minds and elevating thoughts, along with the symbolical flowers, to religious reflection - as I wrote at some length last year, with supporting quotes from the Catholic Encyclopedia.

I am happy you are receptive to my continuing insights regarding the importance, especially to our times, of devotion to St. Joseph. The intimate sense of the details of Nazareth life contributed by the numerous flower symbols of the Nazareth household articles, etc., surrounding the central figure of Mary of Nazareth, are helpful to our meditation on the human significances of Jesus, Mary and Joseph - so important to us in our duties as parents, grandparents, neighbors and friends, and as adults, generally, in relation to children.

In terms of press relations, I suggest that someone have all the articles I have sent in one binder, with a list of pertinent points you would like to make, and a copying machine at hand so you can make background material copies for anyone who might want them. Also, keep in mind that the Mary's Garden has strong tap roots in secular gardening traditions, of the Herb Society of America etc., as you know from your own experience, and is not just some sort of gardening pious overlay or sentimental fancy.

I enclose a copy of an article, "Our Lady of the Countryside" from the Christmastide 1990 AVE, of the Anglican Society of Mary - by Horace Keast, "Guru" of the Society. You will recall my article, "Flowers of the Virgin Mary" published by AVE in 1983. I continue in my prayerful hope for a "English National Mary Garden", say, at Walsingham (although the Lincoln Cathedral "collection" is a start), and I regard this as a hopeful sign. I will now take steps to correspond directly with Horace Keast.

I'll close now, Nan. Actually this captures some of my spontaneous thoughts from your request re. the leaflet - in which those used will of course be condensed, etc..

With an outpouring of thoughts and prayers at this significant time, thanks to you, I remain,


Boston, MA
June 11, 1991

Dear Nan,

It was a pleasure talking with you by phone on the 4th. I hope all went well with the trip and graduation exercises.

It was a joy to hear you shared my appreciation of the Akito concept of Mary's Gardens sculptured shrub tableaux, and immediately "discovered" the boxwood circle "womb" in your Mary's Garden. I now appreciate in retospect the (pre-existing) boxwood cross bordering the walks between four rectangular beds of my first Mary's Garden in Philadelphia (which also had a circular pool).

Also, I'm glad I had the opportunity to elaborate on the appreciation I have come to have of the uniquely American Flowers of Our Lady, and of their highlighting in the Carroll House Mary's Garden - both as an augmentation of Mary's honor, and as a historical element enhancing the importance and dignity of the garden.

Here is the revised and final draft for the dedication leaflet, which I understand you may edit for a different heading and possible addition of names of Committee members, etc..

I also enclose some "clip art" drawings of Our Lady's Flowers in case you might want to use them. To this end, we enclose a contribution towards the cost of producing the leaflet - for quality layout, paper and printing; and for 500 copies for our archives and our distribution to some special people.

I of course understand the reasons you mentioned for keeping a low profile in the local secular media, and will constrain my enthusiasm for proclaiming the garden accordingly.

Since it will be a signed leaflet, as you suggested, I would like to proof- read the layed out article before final printing. It can be sent to me overnight by Federal Express (not U.P.S.) to a pick-up address where I can receive it at the time, which I will supply by phone, if you will call me when it is ready.

With joy over this occasion, and all prayerful best wishes for the installation of "Mary of Nazareth", I remain,




Boston, MA
June 17, 1991

Dear Nan,

Here are the additional "clip-art" drawings of some of the native American Flowers of Our Lady I mention in the dedication garden leaflet text.

Taking them all together, with those I sent previously, I prefer the Marigold, Passion Flower, Caladium, Poinsettea, Calceolaria (Slippers), Morning Glory, of the American Flowers, and the Daisy, Madonna Lily, Rose, Forget-me- not, Bluebells (Thimble), Primrose (Keys), Lily-of-the-Valley (Tears) and Day Lily (St. Joseph's). The number to be used to depend on the artistry of the person doing the layout.

I will await your letter with the changes to be made, and then incorporate them in a revised draft. (Please phone me, (617)-353-0703, before mailing, as I may be moving about and not receive Boston mail promptly, although phone calls are referred. (Keep trying if you don't get an answer.)

If your printer or other layout person has Macintosh computer "desktop publishing" capability (which many people do these days), I could also send the text in electronic form on a computer disk, so it could be used directly for layout.

The additional time gained from moving the dedication back from June 25th to the feast of the Assumption, August 15th should provide an opportunity for some photos of Mary of Nazareth - both for the sculpture leaflet and for the garden leaflet. The latter could include some people, and there could be several photos: maybe one in the garden setting for the cover, and perhaps a close-up of the upper part.

As mentioned over the phone, I urge you to obtain a copy of the Rural Life Prayerbook, published by The National Catholic Rural Life Conference, whose current address, I find from the Catholic Almanac, is 4625 Beaver Ave., Des Moines, Iowa 50310. They might also have a leaflet for just the feast of the Assumption. This book contains, in English translation, all the blessings of the Roman Rite for crops, gardens, etc., including those for the ancient blessing of "Assumption bundles" of grains, herbs, etc. placed on or at altar by parishioners on the feast of the Assumption, and then taken home for reservation as religious objects, as with palms on Palm Sunday. From our research files I will attempt to find some of the old lists of the plants which were customarily included, a number of which I recall were Flowers of Our Lady - although this custom goes back at least to the 9th century, pre-dating the popular naming of Marian flower symbols. In any case, you have selected perhaps the most revered liturgical time for a garden blessing.

As I mentioned, the time between the blessing of the harvest plants on the Assumption, and the blessing of seeds for the new growing cycle, on the feast of the Nativity of Mary, September 8th, were known as the "Lady-Days". And now the establishment of the date for the feast of the Queenship of Mary on August 22nd, adds additional richness to this period.

I'll also try to locate my old copy of the Prayerbook and make a photo-copy for you of the Assumption pages. I had it at hand when I wrote you about blessings last year, but can't seem to put mu hand on it just now. As I mentioned, there are also some wonderful poems etc. in the book, including "The Breastplate of St. Patrick".

On a more contemporary note, the Daisy for Innocence continues to provide me with rich veins for reflection - as a constant reminder of how we as parents and adults are called, in terms of the Parable of the Sower, to provide the "good ground" for the safeguarding and nurturing of the "seed" our children as they enter life in their edenic goodness and innocence, which once were ours also - that they may grow like "lilies among the thorns" of the world - with recourse to the expiation and healing of the sacrament of penance/ reconciliation, when needed. (I believe there is a flower named "Lily Among the Thorns", which would also be appropriate here). It is always an appalling thought that all of us, including those most involved in the conflict, pain and violence of the world, all started out as innocent new-born infants. As I wrote previously, reflection on this produces ever more appreciation of the nurturing of the child and boy Jesus by Mary and Joseph - to which we are called to emulate, with the help of God's grace, by Mary of Nazareth and the Nazareth flower symbols.

I hope and pray that the final stages of the statue transportation and installation proceed o.k. now.



Boston, MA
July 3, 1991

Dear Nan,

Since writing you on June 17th, I've had a few more thoughts I want to share with you.

First, Wisteria should also be included with the native temperate zone American Flowers of Our Lady - as our own Virgin's Bower. Also, many of the Begonias named for Our Lady are probably uniquely indiginous to the American tropics, and were so named there, although there are 100's world-wide and many are found in the African and Asian tropics as well. I haven't attempted to sort these out.

Logee's Greenhouse in Danielson, Connecticut, incidentally, who sent you the Passion Flowers, are renowned specialists in begonias, and I assume they sent you one of their beautiful catalogs (note the herbs section in the rear). Joy Logee Martin, daughter of the founder, is, with her brother, still active there in her 80's, and was a great friend of Bonnie Robersons's through the Herb Society of America. Her son, now Manager, is carrying on for the third generation. I gave Joy my order and told her about the Carroll House Mary's Garden.

The Marian names recorded for most tropical and sub-tropical plants, including the Begonias, were no doubt given to them by Spanish and Portugese explorers, missionaries, converts and colonists of the American tropics, as there was no comparable all-pervasive Catholic colonial presence in tropical and sub-tropical Africa and Asia.

Many Asian plants were named for Mary, but in Europe after they were brought back by horticulturalists to England, France, Belgium, Germany, etc. in the world-wide search for additional garden subjects. Many of these were therefore from African and Asian temperate zones, as well as the tropics. It is possible some were so named by missionaries where they were found indiginously, but I suspect not. I'll have to check some of the Indian, Chinese, etc. "floras", as we checked those from Central and South America.

Thus, we can envisage, by the origins of their names, at least four broad groups of Flowers, herbs, shrubs and trees of Our Lady: (1) those named in the Holy Land through local association; (2) those named in Europe following the return of the Crusaders; (3) those in the Americas through missionaries; and, (4 ) those from Asia and Africa named in Europe after their importation by horticulturalists. (You will note the brief indications of plant origins in Mariana I).

An example of the fourth group (tying in with your new date for the Mary of Nazareth dedication and blessing) is the Assumption Lily - White Funkia or Hosta, Hosta plantaginea, sometimes also called White Day Lily - which is a native Chinese and Japanese plant, and I would judge was given its religious name after horticultural importation to Europe.

The source for this name for us is very special, as our documentation for it is a letter in our files from Dorothea K. Harrison - landscape architect retained by Frances Lillie to develop the design of the Woods Hole Garden of Our Lady from 1933 through 1937 - who, as I believe I mentioned in my article MS, "Medieval Landscape in a Garden", of which I sent you a copy, added a few Marian plants of her own research to the Garden.

Interestingly, this plant, in my own experience through the years, first bloomed twice exactly to the day on the feast of the Assumption: once in my second Philadelphia home Mary's Garden, and once in Woods Hole. No doubt the mid-August bloom is "heliotropic" (rather than "thermotropic"), and also first blooms very close to August 15th in Annapolis and on the East Coast generally. I also saw, and photographed, large beddings blooming around that time in a Paris botanical garden some years ago. (The blue Funkia, Hosta caerulea, also in the Woods Hole Garden, and very widely grown, blooms much earlier, starting in mid-June, and has smaller, less "lily-like" flowers. There is also a white variety - Hosta caerulea alba (?) - which is smaller and blooms early, and is not to be confused with the larger white Hosta plantaginea.)

o O o

In further respect, to the Holy Family in Nazareth, the loving glance between Mary and Jesus, of "Mary of Nazareth" has come to have an ever-deepening significance for me.

I wrote earlier of the qualities we can infer for the immaculate nurturing of the infant and boy, Jesus, by Mary and Joseph; and of the corresponding nurturing to which we ourselves are called by the original innocence of all new- born infants as they are placed in our care. An understanding of this is especially pertinent for our times of massive alienation between parents and their adolescent or grown sons and daughters, and of deep conscious or unconscious resentments originating in the home years which are then extended to life generally, sometimes even criminally.

We understand theologically (and again I have checked my understanding and thoughts with the Catholic Encyclopedia) that as a consequence of original sin, Adam and his descendants, the whole human family, were subjected to death - both of body, physically; and, of soul, spiritually, through the loss of sanctifying grace.

A third loss was that of the Original Integrity of Creation - of nature generally, and also, psychologically, of individuals - wherein the original proportion, balance and harmony preserved by God's governance and by human stewardship was also ruptured, so that human passions, no longer governed by right reason, served inadvertantly to introduce disharmony, conflict and destructiveness into human lives and in the world generally.

While we commonly understand that the death of soul and body, from original sin, are overcome by the saving grace and bodily resurrection of Christ's redemptive sacrifice, we have less appreciation that we are also called to overcome the loss of Original Integrity - in nature, in society and psychologically in our own persons - through sanctifying and actual grace, as well.

This is particularly pertinent to the nurturing and raising of children, who, although they are born in original innocence, are not divinely preserved in it, even with the grace of Baptism. Therefore in following their natural desires and passions they come into conflict with right reason. And, since any parental attempts at offsetting guidance, correction or discipline - even the most thoughtful, considerate and conscientious - are prone, through the same general condition of disharmony, to lead to reaction, resentment and rebellion - inclining them to responsiveness to the ever-present anti-parental influences of peers and the media - we, as parents, seem, on the natural level, caught up in the dilemna between permissiveness and resentment-engendering strictness.

Happily, the redemptive answer, in grace, is found in parental love: the love of soul which engenders a mirrored love in response (again, a replication of the Trinity in Creation) in the child, in which there is a true communion among spiritual equals - wherein the parents may be spiritually wiser, in respect to redemptve mortification, and reconciliation, etc., but the child has the spiritual purity and innocence of having come more recently from God. "The child is parent of the father and mother". (There is an early spring-blooming English wildflower I have grown which symbolizes this: Coltsfoot, Tussilago ferfare, "Child Before Father" - with specific reference to St.Joseph - named because the flowers appear before the leaves).

It is thus, in our fallen world, in which the original integrity has been lost, spiritual love which is the redemptive basis in grace for the proper guidance of the child, and for true responsiveness by the child to this guidance - in a mirroring of the boy Jesus who, after his Finding in the Temple by Mary and Joseph, "went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them . . . and advanced in wisdom and age and grace before God and man."

It was manifestly clear to Mary and Joseph, through revelation and Jesus' conceptiom by the Holy Spirit, that what was primary for the Child Jesus, as God's Chosen, was his life of soul, of "(his) father's business", under providence, so that Mary and Joseph clearly would not presume to attempt to influence him, according to the pride of the world, as a hoped for "early talker and walker", or as "bright", "well disciplined", a sports star, a future professional or person of wealth or social prominence, or even as a great humanitarian, etc. - whether for his own benefit, or to impress friends and neighbors. Rather, in faith they lovingly nurtured him, in soul and body, as a flower in God's garden of souls, discovering what he was was, as in the Finding in the Temple, by watching him grow - as we should of all our children, created in God's image and likeness.

It is coming to be understood increasingly in the field of child psychology that it isn't only parental abuses, anger, beatings, etc. which engender repressed hurt, resentment, anger and rage in children, but, also pedagogical manipulation, however subtle well intentioned, towards "acceptable" behavior or a particular career, etc., which is in the minds of the parents, rather than a nurturing in faith of the endowed inherent potentialities and vocation of the child, as they unfold. These superimposed manipulations are sensed and rebelled against by sons and daughters - in their own innate intuition that they are divinely called to flower according to their own particular providential endowments - for the greater glory of God, eternal life with him in heaven, and the building of God's Kingdom.

It is this pure mirroring back-and forth of loving communion of soul between Mary and Jesus that I increasingly see in the sculpture of Mary of Nazareth.

And while we cannot attain to the perfection of parental love of Mary and Josph, God has mercifully given us recourse to the sacrament of penance and reconciliation when we fall.

With this in mind, I envision also in the Garden of the Innocents the crocus, "Penitant's Rose" - the purple blooms symbolizing our remorse and penitance, and the white our return thereby to our original state of purity and innocence.

We get so wrapped up in the problems of our lives and of the world that we lose sight of the original innocence from which we come, and to which we are called to return; and flowers are unique examples, symbols and reminders for us of this innocence once we learn to see them this way.

Teilhard de Chardin points out in one of his books that every time the Church proclaims a new refinement in the definition of our Faith it formulates a new prayer articulating this. I look to the ever-growing Mary's Garden Prayer in this light, and now, in accordance with the developing insights about which I have been writing you, Nan, I propose to add the word "pure" to it:

" . . . as our hearts are raised to you in love by these pure, blessed, transfigured, Flowers of Our Lady . . .".
o O o

I hope and pray daily, Nan, for the successful transportation and installation of Mary of Nazareth, and will await your amendments to my leaflet draft per our previous discussions.



Boston, MA
July 16, 1991

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel

Dear Nan,

To round out the article reprints I have sent you, I am enclosing a copy of my original "Mary Garden Jubilee" article, which was printed in two installments in the May-June and July-August 1982 issues of QUEEN - concurrently with the Woods Hole Garden of Our Lady 50th Jubilee celebration. Also attached is a another copy of my second "Jubilee" article, from the May-June '83 issue, which describes the actual Jubilee, and which I think I sent you before.

I didn't send you Jubilee '82 initially because it is not so much inspirational but a sort of Woods Hole Garden of Our Lady historical account and "apologia" 50 years later, directed to secular humanists, scientists and environmentalists, and to "conventional" Catholics - as a sort of restatement for today of Frances Lillie's founding apostolic intentions and perceptions, as I perceived them, (as of ten years ago). At the original (1931?) dedication and blessing of the Angelus Tower, with vested choir and procession etc., the Bishop of Fall River, according to the press report, gave a short homily on the relationship between religion and science (the text of which to my knowledge was not preserved for posterity).

However, Jubilee '82 also has some key content for the overall Mary's Gardens picture, which should be part of your files (if Jane has not already sent you a copy, along with Mariana I and the Herbarist reprint, which you mentioned receiving from her).

The first part of the article is an update of my overall view of the Woods Hole Garden of Our Lady after some twelve years "away" from it concentrating on my ecumenical and TV work; but the second part represents a bringing forward of my thoughts at that time with regard to: the redemption of nature generally; the profound ontological and anagogical basis, inherent in Creation and Redemption, for the referral of nature symbolism primarily to Mary; and the importance of the sacramental blessing of flowers and gardens by the Church - which thought is further developed a year later in Jubilee '83 and also in "Herb O' Grace".

My current reflections continue to be focused on the daisies of innocence - for which providential mirrorings keep showing up. For example, the other night on TV a prominent discussion panelist used the phrase, "innocent as a new-born babe" - reflecting the common recognition of this innocence, as juxtaposed to later life where the effects of sin have entered in. Thus, as I have said, the "Garden of the Holy Innocents" signifies for me the innocence of the new-born, as well as that of the lamented still-born or aborted - just as I see the "pro-life" summons as applying to our obligation to overall justice for all living persons, and not just to those who might be aborted.

You will recall that the Angelus Bells inscriptions at Woods Hole, as reproduced in the bronze placque by the Tower door, read:

"I will teach you of life, and of life eternal"

"Thanks be to God"
In essence, what I am saying is that the Mary's Garden is coming to be for me an effective continuous reminder of the Eden of our innocence, as a vantage point from which we are to see the rest of our lives, and all life; and which summons us to return to this innocence - per the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes - through the New Adam and New Eve, Jesus and Mary, Redeemer of the World, and Mediatrix of All Grace - symbolized for us in the Garden by the flowers, and depicted by the sculpture of Mary of Nazareth.

Mary and Jesus lived in the "garden" of the Nazareth countryside as Adam and Eve were to have lived in the Garden of Eden, and in a way we can consider the ontological discernment and naming of the inherent religious symbolism of plants in the popular rural traditions of the medieval Church as a sort of redemptive extension of Adam's original call from the Creator to name the plants, along with all creatures.

Through redemptive grace and its universal distribution, Jesus and Mary have re-opened for us the Garden of Eden, which we can now effectively re-enter, spiritually, in our own yards and grounds.

o O o

Looking forward to hearing from you about the progress of events, Nan, I remain, as ever,



Boston, MA
August 15, 1991


Dear Nan,

What follows, after this inserted paragraph, was written early this morning - before receiving the FedEx'd photos, and then your evening phone call. I'll leave them just as the are, and then FedEx you the shorter leaflet text for arrival not later than Tusday morning, and which may reach you before this letter.

o O o

It was true joy to recive your phone call Sunday telling of the safe arrival and installation of Mary of Nazareth on August 1st. "Let us lift up our hearts and give thanks and praise . . ."

The "little things" of initial positive acceptance you mentioned are most significant - people kneeling before the figure in prayer and blessing themselves with water from the fountain; and the on-location gift check of $500 from a woman for a new bench so she could sit closer to it when praying the her Rosary beads.

Some criticisms of details - such as those you mentioned of the color variations of the granite, and carving proportions of some elements - were to be expected, as I alerted you. (Did you ever live through the redecoration and refurnishing of a parish church?.) I hope these initial critical reactions are soon lost - as people are assisted by the statue in envisaging Mary and Jesus as they were in the Nazareth countryside, and as they learn to appreciate the unique purity and beauty of God's direct creations, the flowers, as reminders, reflections and symbols of Jesus and Mary, as I point out in the conclusion of my color slide lecture narration text. Every statue is imperfect and no one statue, however perfect, can please everyone, but all flowers have a certain purity, beauty and perfection.

I am instructed how Divine Providence has led to the selection of the Feast of the Birth of Mary, September 8th, as the actual date for the dedication and blessing. The Feast of the Assumption, previously planned for, had its traditional appropriateness, as I reviewed for you, (and these ceremonies can be used in future years), but the Feast of the Birth Mary has its special significance which I see as particularly appropriate and "prophetic" for this Mary Garden.

Also, the initial blessing of the Mary Garden was on August 14, 1988, the Vigil of the Assumption, so you already have this "covered" liturgically.

In certain European rural popular religious traditions the days from the Assumption to the Birth of Mary were viewed together as the "Lady Days", as I mentioned in my 1983 AVE "Flowers of the Virgin Mary" article - a three weeks period of thanksgiving and celebration of the harvest.

As can be seen from the words of their respective liturgies: the Assumption includes a certain focus on the overflowing heavenly joy over and thanksgiving over the fruits of the harvest - representative bundles of which were blest at the altar during the Assumption Mass and then taken home and reserved as religious objects; whereas the Birth of Mary focuses more on recourse in faith and hope in God's protection and nurturing of the fields (gardens), crops (flowers) and seeds and on their spiritual and material support towards the building of the earthly Peaceable Kingdom of God - "on earth as it is in heaven" ("on earth (Birth of Mary) as it is in Heaven (Assumption").

I enclose a copy of the first two pages of a letter of September 8, 1986 to Brother Sean, in which I set forth more details on this - part of a "series" I wrote to him over a period of a year about the significance of the various Marian feasts as I had come to see them with the help of the Flowers of Our Lady.

Also enclosed is a photocopy from the Rural Life Prayerbook of the rite for blessing crops, fields and seeds on the Feast of Mary's Birth. This is more significant for its existence and for its focus than for its form, and we gain our speciaol insights for the feast from the Mass and from Liturgy of the Hours.

We have had our heavenly joys over the Carroll House Mary Garden, and now our thoughts are directed towards its earthly continuance and significance.

Just as (per St. Bernard's homily for the Liturgy of the Hours for Wednesday of the 1st week of Advent) we can consider Christ as having three comings - the First Coming (in Bethlehem), the Middle Coming (to souls) and the Final Coming (at the end of the world) - so, too, can we consider Mary, "the dawn (of) Christ the Perfect Day", as having three comings, preceding each of Christ's: at her birth; to souls, as ever-present Mother, Counselor, Intercessor and Mediatrix; and in her public appearances in preparation for Christ's Final Coming at the end of time.

Liturgically, we receive our vision of the world transfigured at the Feast of the Transfiguration on August 1 (when goldenrod so appropriately begins to bloom, in our clime), but the concrete beginnings of transfiguration come with the Birth of Mary:

"When the most Holy Virgin was born, the whole world was made radiant".

- Morning Prayer, Ant. 2

"Her glorious life has shone upon the world."

- Responsory, First Reading

These passages support the seeing of flowers (and all Nature) as symbolically illumined, and in this their special association with Mary, "the Flower of flowers".


"May this celebration of her birthday bring us closer to lasting peace."

- Prayer

which envisions this feast as a beginning for the Peaceable Kingdom (mindful of the dedication of the Garden to peace).

And all of this is summed up in "Our Lady's Birthday Flower" - itself partaking of some of Our Lady's radiance. Pertinent, also, are the symbolisms of the various "Mary's Golds", and of the "Mary's Radiance" plants, such as goldenrod and buttercups; whereas the symbolism of "Our Lady's Bedstraw", especially Yellow Bedstraw, "Galium verus" refer to the radiance imparted when the Christ Child was laid upon it in the Manger. Mary's radiance is not only one of her glories, but a glory "mediated" initially through her, as divinely elected channel, to the entire world, starting with her birth.

The "Our Lady's Birthday Flower" of the Woods Hole Mary Garden is an early blooming aster, Italian Aster, Aster amellus - as distinct from the later blooming Michaelmas Daisies, such as Aster novo-anglii. If it isn't in your Mary Garden - and I don't see it on the planting plan you sent - any potted asters, obtainable from a nursery or florist, in bloom around September 8th would be appropriate.

Parhaps you will have some little beds, or some tubs - sunken or (partially) elevated, as at Knock, by the statue in which certain seasonal plants, such as "Our Lady's Birthday Flower" can be rotated.

o O o

With respect to the leaflet for the dedication, it occurs to me that a one page sheet, similar to those you have prepared for other occasions, could be be used as an announcement and hand-out; and the copy I have sent, with revisions such as you have suggested, could be kept available - for the dedication and also continuingly - as background information about the garden for those who wish to learn more, along with a reproduction of a current planting plan and plant list - with common, botanical and religious names - and with the leaflet you envisage for Mary of Nazareth.

Also, the handout could be produced at the "eleventh hour", with specific reference to who is performing the ceremony, etc. and any other late-breaking details, so the production of the leaflet wouldn't be held up. I hope there will be a suitable photograph of Mary of Nazareth in the Garden setting, and also perhaps a close-up of the facial features, for use in the leaflet. There can always be a second printing.

In any case, Nan, I enclose a revised draft, presuming such changes. Please feel free to do the final editing to suit your decision.

o O o


You will note, Nan, how my thoughts about the leaflet closely paralled yours, as I said over the phone just now.

I also enclose another photo-copy, of the Blessing for Statues, etc..

Of course, nothing needs to be done with the enclosed phamphlet revised draft just now.



Boston, MA
August 19, 1991

John Eudes

Dear Nan,

Here is the Dedication Leaflet, as discussed.

The individual pages are "first generation" hard copy from the computer, and the assembled leaflets are "second generation" - photocopied from individual pages trimmed and pasted onto 2 blank 8-1/2 x 11 sheets.

Don't hesitate to let me know of any changes or deletions you would like to make, as this can easily be done, and FedEx'd to you.

Your printer can typeset these pages and add the photo and donor names. Or, if you are really pressed, you can let me have the names so I can type them up in matching typeface for pasting on with the photo, and then you can have a print negative made photographically from the final paste-up.

I am happy to be able to assist you with these printed materials, while you are giving attention to the need for background trees and other plantings to help Mary of Nazareth blend in with the Garden and site.

I will also put the longer text in 8 page form, similar to this 4 page leaflet, so that you can make a few copies for special people. There just may be someone there who wants the further information, and you will have this pre- publication version to give.

o O o

I appreciated hearing about the visiting Sisters of St. Joseph who knew of Mary's Gardens of Philadelphia. Sr. Margaret Rose, SSJ, was one of our earliest collaborators. She had done a lot of research into the "Jesse Tree", and her 9th (?) Grade class at St. Hubert's Girls' High School in N.E. Phila. planted a Mary Garden in a border bed outside their classroom window. We shared some good humor over the ingenous desire of one of the ("citified") students who wanted to dig all the worms out of the soil because she thought they were inappropriate for a Mary Garden. Ed McTague's younger daughter, Kay, entered the St. Joseph's order shortly after we started Mary's Gardens, becoming Sister Edward Angela, SSJ. My pastor for many years, in Chestnut Hill, Phila., and founder of the OMC Parish Mary Garden is now in residence as Chaplain at St. Joseph's Villa retirement home. The OMC Mary Garden plot was in a corner formed by the front of the school and the convent of the St. Joseph's teaching sisters, to whom I presented a Mary Garden slide lecture in their parlor. Then there were several sisters of the order I worked with on the advisory committee at Ravenhill Academy, of the Sisters of the Assumption, in connection with the Montessori School there, one of the first in Philadelphia. Also, two of my sons went through the 8th grade at a private school of the Sisters.

One of my favorite Mary Gardens was a little planting of one plant each of six or so favorite Flowers of Our Lady in a little corner at the rear of St. Helena's Church in N.E. Philadelphia. I used to stop off there sometimes for morning Mass while driving past on the way to work. I wasn't alert enough to take a photo of it, but I did write to the convent later (after it disappeared) to see if I could found out who the Mary Gardener was, and was told it was a Sister of St. Joseph, and exchanged several letters with her. By that time she had been transferred to a school in New Jersey.

I mention all this, Nan, because you no doubt have a stream of visiting St. Joseph nuns, due to the large number in Philadelphia. This is all twenty or thirty years ago, so I've frgotten most of the names etc. But it is nice they remember. I certainly remember there interest and support.

o O o

Nan, please feel completely free to write or phone at any time about changes, or about other ways in which I might be helpful with all that has to be done between now ant September 8th.


Boston, MA
September 15, 1991

Our Lady of Sorrows

Dear Nan,

On this day each year I think especially, with the greatest love and gratitude, of Father James M. Keane, S.M., who did so much for Mary's Gardens with the extensive articles he published on Mary's Gardens in Queen of the Missions (QM) magazine in 1955.

His letter of inquiry was one of thousands, but we endeavored to follow up every one, and when I was in Chicago on business several months later I looked him up personally, along with Pat and Pattie Crowley, prime movers of the Christian an Family Movement.

Father Jim was the Chicago "TV Priest" of that period, and my first meeting with him was, on invitation, at the TV studio where he taped his weekly program - that week on the Rosary - after which I met with him several times at his office, and at his sister's home.

When I showed him the MS of my first Wood Hole article, which I had just written (having finally been able to meet with Frances Lillie two months before, i n August), he wanted to see everything I had which had not been published, and i mmediately asked if he could publish our research as of that time, which he did; and after that, I corresponded with him extensively and met several times with his fervent Marian society members, the "Ambasadors of Mary"..

Along with Father Galvin, C.SS.R, of Perpetual Help, Father Matuzewski, MM, of Our Lady's Digest, and Father Charest, MMS, of Queen of All Hearts he was one of the priest-editors who gave us (as Father Charest continues to give us) such total support - personal, as well as editorial.

o O o

Confirming what we said over the phone, we would like you to keep the unused portion of our recent contribution as a beginning for your Carroll House Mary Garden literature fund.

An important part of having the Mary Garden properly appreciated by first-time visitors is to have a conveniently available garden plan and plant list - which I presumed in the Dedication and History leaflets.

As you know, the plan and list for the Woods Hole Garden of Our Lady is posted (literally), behind glass, in the little wayside shrine type shelter, with twining rose climber entwining the post, and then is reproduced in miniature in the "take one" Herbarist article leaflet with the sketch of the statue and flower son the cover, which is available free, along with other article reprints in the Angelus Tower room.

There the garden is small enough so that visitors can check the posted plan to see what's where in the garden; but at your larger Carroll House Mary Garden it seems important to me that there be something that can be carried in hand and referred to as one walks through the garden. Accordingly, I have designed such a piece, per the enclosed draft. It can be included loosely as an insert with the "History", or can be a stand-alone. A supply could be kept at the St. Mary's Church and Carroll House literature racks. Perhaps it could also be displayed in a Woods Hole type special shelter, with a small "Take One" supply in a little rustic weather-protected shelf or enclosue underneath the display housing. Possibly you have a wood-working craftsman in the parish who might undertake such a project - as special shelters were constructed for the Woods Hole plan and St. Joseph, Garden Workman, statue winter protection.

It might be desireable to develop in time a larger booklet, which would be sold, as at Knock, but I believe the basic plan and list should be a "give-away", supported by contributions.

As with the Dedication and History Leaflets, we favor something for the Plan and List which is attractive, yet inexpensive and easily reproducible by photo-copier. As you can see, the enclosed Guide can easily be reproduced on a single sheet of legal size 14 x 8-1/2 paper, which could be white, or some light pastel color stock. Getting it all on one sheet, with the two folds so you can look at the list panels, on the reverse side, while also looking at the plan, makes it very convenient for the visitor to refer to while walking through the Garden.

Yet, it does take the cost of the paper, and possibly of photo-copying to keep it in supply - so this, together with the reproduction of the History and Dedication leaflets, is what we would like to have our recent contribution applied to.

Perhaps someone on your Mary Garden Committee, or another parishioner, could develop a larger, Knock-type, booklet in time. With the three pieces I have produced, I now have to turn to various other pressing matters, and must decline your kind suggestion about designing a booklet, but I would be glad to proof-read anything which might be developed. Please feel free to use any quotes or excerpts from the articles I have sent (with an indication of source, for proper historical perspective, and credit to the various magazines, etc.).

I have enjoyed developing the present List and Plan. As you can see, it is an adaptation Laura VanGeffen's list and plan of August, 1990, which you sent me. I had it photo-copy reduced from the original 11 x 17 to 8-1/2 x 11 size, and then made a computer scan of this. I over-wrote her hand numbering with typed numbers for better legibility in this reduced size, and also eliminated most of the plant and bed artwork, which got too cramped in the smaller size. Also, I added Mary of Nazareth and the Crepe Myrtle to its left. I hope all this is OK with Laura, and I have left her "lvg 8-31-90" signature, as the plan and its attractiveness are essentially hers. I especially liked her concept of numbering the plants in the sequence in which you come to them. Is this essentially Tony Dove's original design, or was it substantially modified by 1990?

I regard the enclosed enlosed Plan and List as a working copy, with space for you to list the plants which have been added since Laura's plan, and which I suggest you identify, on both the list and plan, by letters ("A", "B", etc.)- possibly following the same clockwise sequential arrangement. I realize you may not want to have large wooden markers for every variety, and would use some smaller markers also; so the plan would be especially helpful in finding these smaller clumps. You have specifically mentioned all the spring bulbs, and then others - such as the Marigolds, Passion Flowers and Asters (early and late). Also, I note that two of the herbs are not identified (between 8 and 9, and 9 and 6) and I wasn't able to make them out from the photo you sent of the lovely Santolina herb wheel. If you or Laura could find time, at your convenience, to note all these on one of the "blow up" copies of the Plan I have also enclosed, and then return it to me, the entire list could then be renumbered (easily on computer), for a fall, 1991, or Spring, 1992, update, of which a quantity could be made for the literature racks. For the immediate present (since I do mention the avilability of a list and plan in the other two pieces), photo-copies of this draft could be used - whiteing out the list of possible additions I have added after #58. Perhaps a permanant larger, poster-size, copy could be put up somewhere, and new additions kept current with little round removable lable numbers, etc. .

If Laura would like to create an updated plan, that would be wonderful, and it could of course also be reproduced; and what I have suggested, as added to, can be a sort of stop-gap to have something immediately available, if you find it satisfactory.

After working with Laura's plan, and with the original and recent photos you sent, I feel as though I have already been to the Garden - much as I guess you felt when you visited Woods Hole last year. As I wrote you initially, I appr eciate the special quality given your Garden by the inclusion of some of the hor ticulturally rarer plants. I think visitors like to see both the familiar plant s which have Mary-names, and also some plants which are new too them.

One other thought, which I might have suggested last year, and which perhaps you already do. In noting the mention on Laura's plan of the use of annuals throughout the Garden for color, I wonder if you make similar use of Pansies and English Daisies for April to June spring color. Along with the flowering spring bulbs, these really brighten up the Mary Garden for Easter.

I will look forward to reciving the video-tape (if it came out OK), and also further photos, of the Dedication, and copies of the various church bulletin a nnouncements, and any clippings of newspaper reports, etc.. We do try to archive everything - for the Woods Hole Historical Society, and (eventually) for the M arian Library in Dayton, and also for inclusion in the eventual books and CD-Rom s we hope to produce, God willing.

With these beautiful still, sunny days of "September's Bright Blue Weather" , the Mary Garden must be especially lovely, Nan. You've been working so hard at it, I hope you now have had an opportunity just to be in it and to savor the quality of it.

Sincerely,in Our Lady,


Boston, MA
February 2, 1992


Dear Nan,

Many thanks for your letter of December 16th which I belatedly caught up with a just few days ago.

Yes, the period of the past three or four months has definitely not been one of letter-writing or Mary's Gardens work for me. We have two family birthdays and an anniversary in Thanksgiving week, and then with Christmas and New Year's activities we never seem to catch our breath until mid January.

(As a matter of fact, I do have a half-written letter to you of December 8th (I think) on a little correspondence computer elsewhere, which I will "retrieve" and send to you at some point, for continuity.)

This mid-January period, then, becomes the start of each new Mary's Gardens season for me, as I recollect myself and then watch the weather and weather reports to see what the prospects are for snow drops blooms for Candlemas - which, in Boston or eastern Pennsylvania require a protected southern exposure, a full day's sun, plenty of moisture plus a late January thaw - about which I think wrote around this time last year.

In each location where I spend time I have been able to find a special little protected garden with southern exposure I can watch, in which snowdrops are most likely to so bloom. In central Philadelphia, for example, such a garden is the "cottage garden" in front of St. Mark's Episcopal Church, which has low buildings across the street to the south so that even on the shortest day of the year there are several hours of sun to warm the bed of snowdrops. Regrettably there aren't quite enough hours of sun each day. However, moisture and temperature were favorable this year, and at least some foliage "swords" were up for today, and might have just opened if a cold front hadn't come in two days ago.

Jane McLaughlin recently mentioned to me (by phone - I haven't been to Woods Hole for some time) that one of the supplementary plants in the recently opened up east garden, "behind" Our Lady's Garden - Erica, Winter Heath, "Our Lady's Help" - was, due to the warm winter, in bloom on New Year's Day. What a delight for the feast of Mary, Mother of God! So Jane's bloom year now begins with the calendar year. This happens to be a plant that Bonnie's sister, Faye Coates, brought (from a florist) as a present for the blessing and dedication of Our Lady's Solar Greenhouse on the feast of the Annunciation, 1981.

I enclose my article about "Our Lady's Solar Greenhouse", which I don't think I sent you before.

The name, "Our Lady's Help" of course recalls Our Lady of Perpetual Help, and would be appropriate for your Cistercian parish Mary Garden - although I haven't read of or discerned the physical basis of the symbolism. I am reminded that the name, "Mother Love", was given to Impatiens in Germany, according to Marzell, because of its constancy of bloom. Until I come across some documentation, I will think of Heather as called Mary's Help because it's early winter bloom serves to make the the bloom sequence of our Lady's Flowers through the year "perpetual".

Jane also mentioned to me that an article on the St. Joseph's Church Garden of Our Lady she wrote on request for publication in the semi-annual journal of the Woods Hole Historical Collection (Society) has been accepted and will be published this year. An important archival event for the Garden and its place in history.

Your buoyant letter of December 16th, read just now, has provided the catalyst in Spirit I need at this period. Your loving appreciation of the Mary Garden is a real joy to me, and while you are very generous in your mention of my contribution to this, it is ever your love, insight, receptivity and "ears to hear" which are the special key to it. There are plenty of words being broadcast, but who will give them concrete expression? I'm sure you appreciate this when you look for additional parishioners to carry on your work. And as we rejoice when the love and devotion we attempt to communicate are responded to, we gain some insight into the joy God must have experienced on Mary's receptivity to his word at the Annunciation - paid tribute so beautifully by the symbolical adornment of her ears with her "Our Lady's Eardrops". "Blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it."

Your mention of the focus of your dreams on fostering the healing properties that can spring from your garden of love prompts me to review for you (and myself) the overview of this I have come to have through the years of our work.

As I see it, the special healing unction of the Mary Garden lies in the fact that the spiritually elevating actual graces that flow from it, as blest sacramental, from the reservoir of the merits of the Church, flow through objects and symbols which show forth so directly and beautifully the truths upon which this grace can build.

And this is true whether we are "doubters", discouraged, uncertain, luke warm believers, seekers of sanctification and wisdom, or seekers of spiritual guidance as we undertake works of justice, mercy, apostolate and Kingdom.

And as guides for visitors to the Mary Garden, we can share with them the love and truth with which it is filled, and offer our prayers and mortifications that they will be receptive to them.

In doing this we draw very simply from our faith, but always solidly grounded in the teaching and tradition of the the Church.

While we speak very immediately and directly, we are at the same time able to stand back, so to speak, and look at the Garden from the viewpoint of the entire sweep of Sacred History. From this viewpoint we better appreciate, first of all, that gardens, and particularly flowers, are true vestiges of the original purity of all Creation, as found in the Garden of Eden - vestiges which impell one (the first step of the healing process) to rise, according to the "necessity" of the clock/clock-maker analogy, to faith in an infinitely perfect and powerful God as loving Creator of the Garden. Or more intuitively, affectively and ascetically, we may rise, with St. Agustine, without having to go through any elaborate reasoning process, to faith in "the Eternal Beauty, ever ancient, ever new".

From this follows the the necessity that an infinitely perfect God must have created a world which was originally perfect, but, now being flawed, must have been flawed by the first humans, who - created in the image and likeness of God - were endowed with perfectly free wills that they might have the free choice necessary for the true sharing of God's goodness shown forth in Creation, which was the purpose of Creation; but who misused this freedom to choose the enjoyment of creatures before love of God, and as a result ate the forbidden fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of "Good and Bad" - upsetting the original integrity and harmony of Creation and closing over their original openness to the grace bestowed to enable them to live according to that harmony and, and to enable them as endowed co-creators to build the earthly/heavenly Kingdom and City which were to be their eternal home, with God.

Before our first parents, Adam and Eve, fell from their original state of integrity and purity in which they were created, they were able to see all things and to elect all actions according to the illumination of divine light and the movement of divine grace, and had no need to rely on the natural reason's judgements of good and bad. "To the pure, all things are pure". Thus the first consequence of their fall from grace was a resort to necessarily limited attempted natural discrimination between good and bad - beginning with the judgement that nakedness was bad.

This began the whole train of separative discriminatory judgements and actions of superiority and inferiority which, augmented by the dispersal of the Tower of Babel, are generic to so many of our ills today: bigotry, racism, nationalism, war, slavery, exploitation, manipulation, subordination, deception, oppression, genocide, etc., etc. - notwithstanding the offsetting Eighth Mosaic Commandment against false witness, and Jesus' commandmement and teaching for the redemptive life of restored grace of "love thy neighbor" and "judge not".

In the Mary Garden all this is brought to mind by the symbolism of "Adam's Leaf", "Adam's Flannel", etc.

Flowers, as vestiges of the purity of original Creation, are also a concrete witness of the purity to which the world has been restored by Christ - awaiting only our consolidation of this restoration through conversion to sanctity so we can be instruments of the world healing and renewing action of the Holy Spirit.

But an understanding of this requires the further faith in God as a Trinity of three Persons - three Persons in one God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. From the viewpoint of reason, we see that an infinite, loving, all- perfect, creating, God would not permit the world's wounds to last for all eternity; but would take steps to correct this in a way so that free human beings could choose to join in its redemption and renewal; and would make this known through an announced truth source which humans could seek, find and turn to - which through seeking and finding we discover to be the Revelation of the Chosen People, Christ, the Bible and the Church, and from which we learn of God as Trinity.

From this we find that the ultimate source of our healing love and joy lies in the realization of faith that when God created us that he might show forth and share with us his goodness, this sharing was not just to be an external sharing through the showing forth of his goodness in creatures, but was to be a full sharing through which we would rise spiritually from the experience and consideration of creatures to a full participation in the firey furnace and laser of love of the interior of the uncreated heaven of the Trinity.

It is our understanding, in faith, of God as Trinity that enables us to envisage the infinite communication and mirroring back and forth between the divine Father and Son, in the union of the Holy Spirit, from which we understand why and how the Redemption of the world as accomplished - which in turn enables us to more fully understand, appreciate and love the Trinity.

The older monotheistic religions attempted to appease or atone for sin through sacrifices, but our true, full, trinitarian religion effectively expiates it into nothingness and reopens the life of grace and the means of re-creating a new heaven and new earth of eternal life.

Perhaps one of the most difficult truths of Christianity fully to comprehend and embrace has been that of the Wisdom of the Cross, of Jesus' redemption of the world through his Passion and Death - which the world considers as folly and weakness. It is in the Cross that true healing lies; and the healing potential of the Garden lies in its creature contribution to our understanding of the redemptive love of Jesus which led to the Cross.

The key to this understanding is the consideration that God the Son in his mirroring back in love, within the interior of the Trinity of the Father's Attributes - procreatively shared and communicated with, him back to the Father - found the failure of the created world likewise to mirror back and communicate these attributes shared with it externally was unbearable.

It is unthinkable that God would create a world that could be injured by the free will of those with whom he wished to share his shown forth goodness, without having a plan, also consistent with that freedom, for redeeming it; and we have the revelation that God so loved the world that he sent his only- begotten Son to redeem it, etc. But my sense of justice and love is only fully satisfied by the consideration that the Son so loved the Father that he wished to initiate a means for the repair of the world by which humans could freely unite with him to re-create it and give it back perfect, and glorified, once again to the Father.

In her private revelations recorded in "The Way of Divine Love", Sr. Josepha Mendenez is instructed by Jesus as to how he, on the Cross, in his infinite vision and his utter divine omniscience and incarnational union with humanity, clothed and identified himself experientially with every human suffering and torture from the banishment from Eden to the end of the world, and expiated them, through the death of his body, for the creating Father in the full redemptive atonement of infinite love, that he, as loving Divine Son, might repair, in divine justice and love, for all offenses to his beloved Father, and thus win, in love, for the entire human race the restoration of the eternal life of grace bestowed by the loving, just Father at Creation, and lost through the human turning away from God in Eden.

Above and beyond the "divine arithmetic" of justice was the action of Jesus, as divine Scapegoat, to destroy all sin by clothing his body with it so it would be expiated and disappear into nothingness at the time of the death of his body - thus dying to moral determinism and "karma" - so that through our freely chosen union with him we can confirm and actualize the death of sin in ourselves through mortification and a life of responsiveness to Spirit.

Thus, our ultimate healing lies in that all our sufferings have already been given a redemptive meaning and efficacy in Christ, which are there for all to discover, embrace and join in, through faith - which I perceive to be what St. Paul signified when he spoke of "making up what is wanting in the sufferings of Christ".

This embrace of the meaning of suffering is given all the more significance when our lives are at the same time dedicated to the fullest participation in and instrumentation of the Divine Plan of Creation, Redemption, Justice, Love, Mercy and Kingdom - rather than only to secular ends, no matter how exalted, with which injustice, suffering and death can only be seen to interfere. And ever, at the same time, the supernatural view, which gives meaning to suffering, in union with the Passion of Christ, drives us utterly, naturally and supernaturally, in our desire and striving to overcome the ills and injustices which cause this suffering.

We seek peace, but also "the peace which surpasses human understanding". As St. Augustine points out in "The City of God", our quest for this peace is in no way to diminish our quest for earthly peace, justice and well-being, but rather to heighten it, to support it, and to build upon it, as grace builds on nature.

I have previously shared with you some thoughts on how the purity of flowers - direct creations of God - deepens and quickens our appreciation of the innocence of new-born children, whose souls are so recently from God; and on how this summons us as parents and teachers to protect and to nurture this purity as children grow in nature, grace and wisdom - with recourse to Mary and Joseph as our inspiration, and for their intercession and mediation of grace, from their care and instruction of the child Jesus, in the preservation of his innocence.

The purity of flowers likewise denotes the same preserved innnocence of Jesus as he grew to adulthood - most dramatically, perhaps, on the occasion of his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemani.

When in the course of our work I came upon the the miniature paintings in French and Flemish Books of Hours, with their use of symbolical flowers of innocence in depictions of the Annunciation and Nativity, I at first wondered why they also used many of these same flower symbols in depictions of the Sorrowful Mysteries. I especially wondered about this in looking on one miniature painting of the Arrest of Christ (subsequently included in our 1962 scripted color slide lecture - slide #32), and then the flowers instilled in me a striking sense of the contrast between the menacing arresting soldiers, with their spears and torches, and the innocence of Jesus whom they were arresting.

Previously to this I had employed symbolical flowers, and the annual cycle of plant death and rebirth, as reminders and quickeners for meditation on the Sorrowful Mysteries, but now, in respect to the Arrest of Christ, the purity of flowers imparted for me, by contrast, a direct sense of the horror of the injustice and violence of the fallen world in general - by contrast, first of all, to the purity and innocence of Christ, and then, to the purity and innocence of our first parents in Eden before the Fall, to the purity of Mary, and to the pure life of restored grace to which we all are now called following Christ's redemption.

Practically, then, just as the purity of flowers inspires us to thoughts and works of purity, so too, does this purity, in juxtaposition to the sins and violence of the world - as at the Arrest of Christ - instill in us a profound sense of sorrow for sin, and moves us to the the "prayer and fasting", the mortifications, necessary for the supernatural overcoming of the sins and injustices of life which impinge on us so directly and universally, and which we are incapable of overcoming by natural means and action alone, no matter how dedicated, principled and well informed in may be.

Central to our prayer and mortifications is contriteness of heart. "It is not sacrifice I desire, but a contrite heart." While greater commitment to justice and mercy are ever needed, in human terms; sorrow and contrition over the fall of the world from the primordial created integrity, justice and grace, and over the corresponding obstruction to God's creating purpose of showing forth and sharing his goodness, are to be the ultimate quality and motivation for our actions.

We are instructed in this by Jesus' words, while he was carrying the Cross, to the women of Jerusalem, who mourned and lamented him: "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep instead for yourselves and for your children . . . ." By this we can understand that as merciful, and striving for justice, as we may be in respect to immediate sufferings, we are at the same time ever to be sorrowful over the profounder causes of sin, suffering and death, deriving from the fall from grace and the upsetting of the natural created order through this Fall.

In this, we are to understand the sorrows of Mary at the Passion and Death of Jesus as embracing, together with the sorrows of Jesus, the fullness of sorrow for the sins of the entire human race, and of the disobedient angels - for their offense to the Father, and their resulting marring of the showing forth and sharing of his creating goodness - and all the consequent suffering: thus uniting her oblation as Mother with that of Jesus her Son - giving her Son for the redemption of the world, as did the Father.

Unlike Peter, who attempted to deter Jesus from going up to Jerusalem for his Passion and Death - eliciting Jesus' rebuke, "Get thee behind me Satan" - Mary joined utterly in Jesus' oblation, realizing that this was not only to accomplish the redemption of all Creation, for the greater glory of the Father, but was to show forth through the Incarnation, even in the fallen world, the trinitatian love of the Son for the Father and for his Creation and desire to share his goodness, in the Union of the Holy Spirit.

A deep sorrow of Mary, as she has communicated to us during her appearances in our era, was and is for those who did not and do not embrace the redeeming grace of her Son. The "Queen's Tears". Thus, both Jesus and Mary, in their subsequent private revelations to the saints, mystics and other chosen persons have stressed the need for the further human reparation required and "wanting" for the conversion necessary for all to repent of the sins already forgiven and expiated, and to open themselves to the grace already bestowed and mediated. Jesus invited Sr. Josepha not only to join her sufferings with is, but, further, to assume some of his specific sufferings as hers, in a mirroring back of his love, to direct graces, in love, for the repentance of specific persons.

So, Nan, this is a long way of saying that the beauty and purity of flowers are outward tangible signs and evidence of the utter purity of original Creation as it first came from God; of each new born child; of Jesus and Mary; and also of the beauty and purity of the holiness that is accessible to us through the graces of redemption, the sacraments and sacramentals and Mary's mediation; of the moral goodness, the sense of right and wrong, which is implanted deep in each person's heart no matter addicted we may have become to self-gratification or violence; and of the truth that for all its depletion and pollution "Nature is never spent; there lives the dearest freshness deep down things, (from which regeneration can come) because the Holy Ghost over the bent world broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings", as Gerald Manley Hopkins puts it so beautifully in his poem, "God's Grandeur" (included in the Appendix of the Liturgy of the Hours).

We all receive the seeds of holiness in the sacraments, but in the fallen world its growth is possible only through the life of the Faith, which enables us to love our enemies, turn the other cheek, go the second mile, return good for evil, endure wrongs patiently, pray for those who persecute us, and to believe all things and endure all things, and to judge not, etc. - all the things that are considered folly and weakness by the world, but which all are indispensible to avoid becoming caught up in and hardened to the judgemental alienations, deceptions, manipulations, attempted control, exploitations, coercions, violences and addictions of this world, with the resulting closing out of the grace received through the sacraments.

Turning the other cheek, etc. is part of our Cross.

I recall so vividly the many dialogs I participated in with Protestant Christians in the course of my ecumenical center work in the 60's, where the concepts of holiness ("The...Holy Catholic Church", "Holy Mary"), and of indwelling grace were incomprehensible to them, and actually not even a subject of dialog - "grace" being considered a "relationship" with God. I'm not too happy with the New American Bible's version of the Angel Gabriel's words to Mary at the Annunciation: "Hail, favored one". This doesn't exclude the concept of indwelling grace, but it doesn't affirm it, or its fullness in Mary.

I fully anticipate a renewal of Marian faith and devotion, but their "downplaying" after Vatican II (although they were not downplayed in the V II documents) reduced the number of Marian magazines, for example, from 20 or so to about 5, and that great row of religious statuary shops in lower Manhattan ( I've forgotten the name of the street - Berkeley Street?) completely disappeared. A priest in Canada wrote an article in the 70's about how unique Bonnie was in carrying forward a public Marian apostolate in this period.

I recall how concerned Bonnie became when her own diocesan newspaper began carrying a number of articles downplaying the Rosary and Marian devotion generally (while very supportive of the Charismatic movement), and she became very upset that her Bishop permitted this in his diocesan newspaper, and spoke to him about this. Even though he had visited her in her Mary Garden in the early 60's (I have a beautiful tape of their conversation), she felt quite alienated from him for a number of years. There was a happy ending however. Shortly before she died, one of those little miracles of providence and grace occurred. She received a knock on her back door one afternoon, and there was her Bishop in his boots from a fishing trip he was taking down the Snake River, which passes through Hagerman (population then something like 500 Mormons and 30 Catholics). He asked her for the key to the Hagerman Chapel so he could say Mass, which Bonnie and her sister then attended. At Communion, he looked her in the eye and said, "Body of Christ, Bonnie", and suddenly Bonnie felt reconciled and at peace, without it having to be spelled out. I sent the Bishop a copy of the enclosed second article about Bonnie which I wrote for which he thanked me, with warm comments about Bonnie.

What I have been elaborating on above can be summed up by saying that the purity of flowers or of a garden of flowers, as such, reminds us and gives us an intuitive sense of the beauty and purity of original Creation; the beauty and purity of the glorious Heavenly paradise and City in whose restoration and building we are called to participate; and the beauty of the holiness and spiritual love to which we are called here and now in our relations to one another.

Then we build on this with the Mary Garden symbolism of the specifics of Scripture, the teaching of the Church, and the richness of popular religious tradition, as distilled in the Flowers of Our Lady. The love comes from the flower symbols themselves, the design and care of the Garden, and the personal interpretation and joy of the Mary Gardeners and parishioners as they show the Garden to visitors.

With respect to the "doubters" you refer to, it has always puzzled me why so many people are unable to accept and embrace the traditional Christian faith in the truths of God, Trinity, Creation, Heaven, Earth, Eden, Fall, Incarnation, Redemption, Church, Sanctification, Kingdom and Eternal Life. I know we are told of "invincible ignorance" and "the mystery of iniquity", and then there have been all the seeming or actual inconsistencies and sins of church members and leaders which turn people off. But all considered, it's still a puzzle to me.

A consequence of such doubt is an inability to give meaning to or make redemptive use of disappointments, obstacles, injustices, attacks, sickness, suffering and death. I recently read a magazine cover story on rage - on the widespread feelings of rage so many people have today about one thing or another in their lives. Yet, the inability to make meaningful, redemptive use of injustices and sufferings implicitly signifies an inability to see meaning or efficacy in the sufferings, passion an death of Christ - an inability to discern the Wisdom of the Cross.

Yes, I truly believe that through our love of the Flowers of Our Lady and Mary Gardens we can contribute in a special way to the healing of others

o O o

A few practical matters:

I'll replace "Carroll House" with "Anapolis" in the Dedication and History leaflets, and then in the Plan leaflet when you and Laura have the updated arrangement and list; but I want to check with you first on what wording uou prefer now. I assume we'll retain "Annapolis Mary Garden" in the titles, but it ccurred to me we might want to speak of the "Annapolis Parish Mary Garden" some place to help give a sense of location, and also of parishioner participation. Then we'll need an appropriate phrase such as "by","next to", "at","near" Carroll House. So let me know your preferences, Nan, so I can start working on the revisions.

Tell me more about your spiritual advisor, Father Tom.

Finally, I will pray for the inclusion you envisage of the Mary Garden in the parish liturgies and school programs. There is so much nature symbolism in the liturgy, and the beauty and purity of flowers gives both concreteness and imaginativeness to moral beauty, purity and holiness, to popular religious traditions, and to the Rosary.

With all spiritual best wishes to you for a holy Lent, I remain, as always,



Boston, MA
March 10, 1992

Dear Nan,

I'd like to share with you some more thoughts on the Garden as seen from the sweep of Sacred History - thoughts with a view to heightening appreciation of the Flowers of Our Lady and the healing potential of the Mary Garden.

Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats and the other English romantic poets believed there was an inherent religious meaning contained in nature, which could be discovered through poetic imagery. This produced a sublime body of poetry, but as this movement culminated Colerige concluded that ultimately we find in nature what we put into it. (I touched on this in my second QUEEN Jubilee article of 1982, in respect to how one views a Mary Garden.)

Before the historical revelation of the Trinity to the human race, through the angelic Annunciation of the proposed Incarnation to Mary, nature was viewed by believers, in each religious tradition, as reflecting the attributes of the God or gods they believed in - as in India, Egypt and Greece. In the Near Eastern, Judiac, tradition Genesis set forth the account of Creation; the Psalms the manifestation and mirroring of the divine attributes in nature; and Canticles, Wisdom, Proverbs and Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) the love between the soul and God, mirrored in human love and in nature - as a progressive revelation of God and the divine purpose of Creation.

Then, with the further New Testament revelation of the one true God as a Trinity of persons, nature - viewed from a deepened appreciation of the Old Testament, from the writings of the Apostles and Church fathers, from the liturgy, and from inspirations of the saints and mystics - was seen to mirror the three Persons of the Trinity, and also Mary, through whom and in relation to whom, the Trinity was revealed - as divine Father, Spouse and Son.

Thus, the flower symbols of Mary are not just a optional cultural overlay of popular religious tradition, but a continuation of the age-old, universal, perception and discovery of the truths and attributes of God as mirrored in nature.

While nature is discovered to reflect whatever values are projected into it, the original insight of the Romantics was correct in the ultimate sense that nature was created (through the matrixing of the Divine Word and the fashioning of the Holy Spirit) with the potential of showing forth the fullness of the divine goodness, and therefore contains within it symbolic or ontological and anagogical correspondences capable of mirroring the totality of the divine revelation - such that "All nature groans within itself, awaiting the fullness of the revelation of the sons of God" (Romans).

Seeing that it was through Mary, and her fiat, that the Trinitarian revelation, giving the fullness of meaning to nature was received - liberating it, so to speak, from prior errors and partial truths - St. Anselm discerned that Mary was fittingly to be perceived as nature's Queen.

Thus, the flower symbolism of Mary is to be understood, more profoundly, as not so much of Mary herself, but of her life, virtues, mysteries and prerogatives in her relationship with the Trinity and with the divine plan of incarnational redemption and the resumption of divine/human cooperation in the building of the eternal Kingdom of God.

Presuming, then, to discern the viewpoint of the Trinity in its action of showing forth and sharing its divine goodness, attributes, life and love through Creation, we see that it first revealed itself (partially) as personal, all-powerful, Creator, Governor and Guider of the world, although using even at that time (without further explanation) the divine "We", of the Elohim.

And in creating humans as male and female, in the divine image, God clearly chose the sexual union and procreative human generation as the created means both by which the human race would be perpetuated and increased, and by which the eternal Trinity would be mirrored - as the first step from which humans were, in wisdom and grace, to rise spiritually to contemplation of and participation in the uncreated, eternal supernatural divine life of the Trinity itself.

Physical, sexual, human love and procreation of man and woman were to provide the natural, created basis for gaining an understanding and appreciation of spiritual human love - as with David and Jonathan, Mary and Elizabeth, and Cosmas and Damien - and then an understanding and attainment of human participation and sharing in the eternal divine uncreated love of giving and reciprocal mirroring and interpenetration between the First and Second Persons of the Trinity, and the resulting generation of the Third as the dynamic spirating, precessing, personal embodiment of this love.

And the human model for the highest potential of human love - of and with the divine - was Mary's fiat acceptance of and responsiveness to the proposal of divine espousal and incarnational generation on earth of the Trinity.

After the original fall from grace, the revelation of the Divine Trinity of Love - that "God is love", a Trinity of Love - took, historically, the circuitous route (instead of the direct route it could have taken in Eden) beginning with a belief in multiple lesser gods, as in India, Egypt and Greece, etc.; but also with the belief, in the Middle East, supported by monotheistic elements of Egyptian religion, in the tradition of the revealed monotheistic God of Noah, Abraham and Moses - within which tradition the culminating Trinitarian revelation was given.

(Teilhard de Chardin views Islam as a subsequent monotheistic "retreat" or "retrogression" from the Christian Trinitarian revelation of the three Divine Persons to a Divinity who was affirmed to be one person; but from another viewpoint it can be seen as a reaffirmation of the unity of the one God, which was perceived as in practice diminished through Christian "over-preoccupation" with the Trinity of Persons, and from which we can benefit much, as did Medieval Christendom following the Crusades, in our appreciation of the Divinity).

Also, human love - whether physical or spiritual, inside or outside marriage, or between the same or opposite sexes; not to mention sex changes, etc. - has become so impaired - psychologically, socially and by disease - that the divinely intended rising from human love to the divine love has been widely blocked or diverted.

It isn't that sexual sins are worse than others, that violations of the Sixth Commandment are worse that violations of the other nine, but that they directly block the human rising to the love of God; just as sins against justice block the building of God's earthly/heavenly Kingdom.

Lust and injustice are not just violations or disobedience of some authoritarian moral commands, but concrete obstacles to human participation in the divine Love and Kingdom.

In accordance with the imageru - largely drawn from nature and the garden - of the biblical Song of Songs (Canticles) and of the commentaries on it of St. Bernard (Sermons on the Song of Songs) and St. John of the Cross (Spiritual Canticle), etc., the beauty and purity of flowers, especially in the Mary Garden, can be seen as most sublimely symbolizing for us and inspiring us to the beauty of pure human love, from which we can and are to rise to and to participate in the divine love, which they reflect. "We are created to know and love God . . . "

To this end you, your Committee, and your co-parishioners are blessed in Annapolis by the focal Garden figure of Mary of Nazareth, which so uniquely and beautifully shows the love between Mary and Jesus, of which the flowers then show forth the attributes. Jesus mirrors and returns the love of his generating Mother on earth - just as in the interior of the Trinity and as creating Word (and on earth) he mirrors and returns the love of his generating heavenly Father.

A major regenerative facet of the Mary Garden and Mary of Nazareth, then, is their inspirational and blest call to an ever more pure and intense life of human and divine love.

The wild pansy, Viola tricolor, "Our Lady's Delight", is considered to have been named "Trinity Flower", also, because of its three basic colors - white, yellow and violet - which even in strains and hybrids, are always retained in the three colors in the very center of its blooms.

As with the three-lobed leaves of the Shamrock - emblematic symbol associated with St. Patrick, who, according to legend, employed it to teach the unity of the three Persons in one Divinity - three distinct elements are seen as the basis of the three-in-one symbolism of the pansy. However, the resplendence of its blooms also suggests, as we view them, the interior illuminative resplendence of Mary's soul, from her spiritual embrace of the Trinity in love - "My soul doth magnify the Lord" (as Trinity as well as Divinity).

From this perspective of the divine purpose of Creation - as a showing forth and sharing of the divine goodness, and in particular a showing forth of the divine love through human love as a basis for appreciating and participating in it - we are able to grasp the pattern of the secular conspiracy, as it were, against this in the prevalent notions (starting with Adam and Eve) that sex is essentially lustful; that parental discipline and pedagogy of small children makes spiritual love between parents and grown children almost impossible; that there can't be any spiritual friendship apart from sex; that celibacy cannot be a wholesome and spiritual way of life; that sexual abstinance for teenagers is an unrealistic expectation, so that all must be instructed in "safe sex"; that sexual preferences and behavior are genetically determined beyond any moral choice of the individual; etc., etc.

Only the Spirit can lead us, step by step, out of this morass of conspiracy against spiritual and divine love; and it almost seems as though a massive conversion to an effective belief in the Divine Love may be what is needed, and to be sacrificed and prayed for. To this end we have the pure love of flowers, of Canticles, and of Mary and Jesus as "saving remnants", which, through grace, can show us the way.

One hardly hears of the Beatitudes these days:

"Blessed are the pure of heart, For they shall see God."
Through her overshadowing by the Holy Spirit ("Our Lady-in-the Shade"), Mary is our model for living according to the promptings and consolations of the Holy Spirit - in our loving spiritual works of Church, Kingdom and mercy, for the greater glory of God.

This, incidentally, gives us a further insight into the importance of the "moral virtues" of justice, prudence, temperance and fortitude. In our work for God's Kingdom, under the promptings and elective consolations of the Holy Spirit (per St. Ignatius) we need not only the basic virtue of Justice, but also the Prudence to infuse this sense effectively into our actions within circumstances (rather than simply confronting circumstances head on with religious principles and ideals, so often leading to "the heresy of good works" - inspiration-blocking action-reaction; the Temperance to retain gentleness, tranquility and sweetness so that we be ever attuned to spiritual promptings and consolations in the midst of stress; and the Fortitude to continue in spiritul mode, notwithstanding efforts to involve us in the strategy, tactics, timing, deceptions, power struggles, defenses and violences of this world.

o O o

I continue in standby mode for your 1992 Mary Garden lists and plans, Nan, so I can make the necessary updates in the literature pieces. I ask that you phone before sending them (617-353-0703), as some times there is a delay in Boston mail getting to me in my travels, and I wouldn't want the information sitting unattended to as the season unfolds. (The most recent letter I have from you at hand is that of December.)

Hoping this finds you well, Nan, and with all prayerful best wishes for an especially fruitful year with the Mary Garden, I am, as always,


P.S. Joy of the Week: The blooms of the florist's cyclamen always turn upwards regardless of their stem orientation; and in the low light of our kitchen some of the stems have gotten so "leggy" that they are hanging down below the shelf and their ends, too, are turning upwards, like curved handles, so that for the first time I am really struck by their symbolism of "Our Lady's Little Ladles". J.


Boston, MA
April 20, 1992

Dear Nan,

On Saturday I sent you reproduction proofs of the revised History, with "Annapolis" substituted for each occurence of "Carroll House" (except the first sentence), as we discussed by phone - which you will have received by the time this reached you. Also a copy of A revised Plan (updated to 1991), since it is referred to in the History as available. A new update can be made (by me, if you wish) when the 1992 Plan is finalized, and drawn up by Laura.

I am pleased that the History has been well-received. On re-reading it for the first time in four months or so I see that it represents a definitive distillation of all my writings on the Flowers of Our Lady and Mary Gardens.

For this reason I am pleased that it will have continuing distribution at the Garden and through your Committee, and consider the completion of the on-location "Wayside" shelter, for the posted Plan and small leaflet supply, in time for the Annapolis Garden Tour next week, quite providential.

One suggestion: a little literature "Take One" notice at the shelter would be helpful; and also some other little notices several places letting visitors know of the Plan and leaflets at the shelter. Also, you will recall that at Woods Hole there is a climbing rose around the shelter mounting post.

You have probably typed up the list for the shelter, but since I have it on computer, I enclose a page-size copy, which can be used on the right, with the plan on the left (per the reduced Plan I have made, with the typed numbers) as at Woods Hole, if you so choose.

I assume that at the time of the tour visits you will have some kind of table, with guest book, on which some copies of the History and Plan could be made available for the taking - and also receptionists or guides from the Committee, who can give out leaflets and Plans. The guest book should have a little space for comments. While you do not have a protected place right at the Garden for a permanent guest book, perhaps something could be worked out here, or it could be taken out from time to time. A record of visitors from all over, with their comments, is a treasure to have, as Jane has found at Woods Hole

I have some more general thoughts to share when I find time.

Be sure to keep taking photos and videotapes.

Thanks, as always, for everything.



Boston, MA
May 10, 1992

Dear Nan,

The recent jury verdict and civil disturbance in Los Angeles make me realize that there is another aspect of the Mary Garden overview that I should have shared more fully with you.

Through the years we have received letters from time to time from persons who say, in effect, "With all the social needs, injustice and violence facing us, how can you devote so much time and energy to Mary's Gardens?" Perhaps people have asked you the same kind of thing, or think it.

I believe I mentioned to you a while back that, on the contary, the concept of Mary's Gardens and the idea of undertaking it arose in the very context of addressing social and economic issues in 1950, when Ed McTague and I developed our teacher-student friendship at evening courses of the Jesuit, St. Joseph's College (now University) Institute of Industrial Relations in Philadelphia, where he, a graduate of the Wharton Business College of the University of Pennsylvania was teaching a course in The Postulates of Economics. Ed had just retired from a wartime position as Executive Director of the Society for the Advancement of Management (SAM) in Washington - successor to the Taylor and Galbraith Societies of scientific management; and I was a junior executive with a Fortune 500 company machinery manufacturing division in Philadelphia.

Our mutual interest was - he from his experience, and myself as an industrial engineering professional and recent convert - in the application of the Catholic social principles of the Encyclicals to the current political- economic scene.

Our initial specific interest, in addition to economics and business, was in the analysis of social issues behind the news, as he had worked for a period for one of the Philadelphia daily newspapers, and I was, avocationally, a director and officer of the U.S. branch, in New York, of the Catholic Intercontintal Press (CIP) founded by the Belgian Dominican, Father Felix Morlion, O.P., author of "The Apostolate of Public Opinion", who later founded the Pro Deo University in Rome.

I don't have my notes from Ed's course at hand, but I recall that he began his presentation of the Postulates of Economics with the propositions that 1) God is love, and 2) God created the world out of love . . . , and in general we shared the perception that for the fullest understanding and most effective social action, it was necessary for us to start with the fundamental perspective of God's creation of the world, and of what went wrong at the earliest beginnings of human society - as the essence of what must be overcome, and what is to be restored and carried forward.

More specifically, in taking ourselves back, in faith, to the original perfection and integrity of the Creation of an infinitely perfect, powerful and loving Creator, we then had to deal with the upsetting of the harmony of Creation through original sin, and this took us back to the setting in which this occurred - to God, our first parents, and nature (plants, animals, earth); and to the means by which it was repaired - the incarnation, teaching and sacrifice of Christ, continued through the Church.

To this end, and with getting a closer experience of Eden in mind, Ed, who had just moved from our common neighborhood in Chestnut Hill to west central Philadelphia, decided to plant his first garden ever in some backyard beds; and it was on visiting him in his new home that I mentioned to him the religious origin of the name of the marigolds he was growing - about which I had learned of a year or two before after reading Father Galvin's "Lillie Tower".

From some other social-psychological studies I had previously undertaken, as a Quaker pacifist, before my conversion to Catholicism in 1946, my own focus of examination was on the psychological mechanism of the separative judgements or identifications in value, which are clearly common to and underlie all personal and social divisiveness.

I then discerned that this appeared to be what was signified by the symbolism of Adam's and Eve's "eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (bad)". I haven't checked out the etymology for the use of the term "knowledge" in the derived English translations of the Bible, and it may be a good literal translation; but I am convinced that what is meant by the scriptural account of the Original Sin is a fall from grace to total dependence on natural judgement, wherein our finite, limited, intellect and reason cannot - without the guidance of the necessary actual graces - harmonize and integrate all the diversity of creation, as we "dress and keep (and develop) it" in carrying out God's plan for us to "increase and multiply and fill the earth"; and as a result they fall into separation, divisiveness, antagonism and violence - starting with Adam's blaming of Eve, and Cain's sibling rivalry with and murder of Abel.

Thus, this "judgement of good and bad" underlies our entire array of ills: pride, envy, irritation, impatience, unpleasantless, meanness, anger, destructive criticism, slurs, sarcasim, gossip, imputations, accusations, distrust, deception, betrayal, manipulation, exploitation, subordination, oppression, contempt, coercion, harrassment, abuse, threats, violence, chauvenism, racism, sexism, war, conquest, domination, torture, terrorism, genocide, etc . . . "you name it".

I have made this extensive listing to underscore my point that all this diversity of ills nevertheless has a common origin in the fall from unifying actual grace to separative grace-unaugmented natural judgement of good and bad; and correspondingly their only ultimate cure in grace-inspired reunifying love. "Charity covers a multitude of sins" - not by offsetting them or making up for them, but by overcoming and healing them. Thus, Jesus "came not to judge the world but to save it"; and taught us to "judge not", but to "love God and Neighbor" as the greatest of all the divine Commandments.

The listing of all these faults from the view of their common origin in the separative judgement deriving from original sin, and of their common healing in love, also instructs us that if we are truly formed in love we will be pleasant, kind and merciful in our personal relations as well as concerned with social truth, justice, equality and peace. "If our truth is not charitable, our charity is not true", etc.

Whenever some disaster occurs there is an outpouring of idealistic, altruistic, humanistic love and work of aid and reconstruction, including attempts to offset and correct the ills seen to have caused it. But secondary causes, rather than the more deep-seated causitive separative judgement of good and bad underlying social disasters are typically dealt with, such that the primary cause then breaks out subsequently in other disasters in other areas.

What is ultimately required is an engendering and exercise of grace- inspired habitual love through which all actions, in every area, domestic as well as social, can be undertaken - which is the work of the Church. And this requires more than being in a state of sanctifying grace; it requires also a nurturing and growth in the actual grace that sustains us in a constant, conscious state and practice of love.

Just as St. Ignatius of Loyola discovered, taught and built the entire Jesuit Order on, the practical means whereby we can turn with assurance to the prompting, illumination, counsel, and "consolation", of the actual graces, ever available to us (through Mary's mediation, as we now more fully understand), if we petition and open ourselves to them, to guide us in electing the actions we are to take at each juncture for the healing and building of God's Kingdom; so, too, does the Church teach and make available to us through the sacraments the means of undertaking all our actions in love - namely by maintaining constant custody of heart, supported by a vigilant and continual examination of conscience whereby we can immediately discern, confess, receive the grace of the sacrament of absolution, and do penance for, each and every uncharitable thought and act of our lives. We all - in our weakess and imperfection - fall from love under temptation, stress or spiritual ambush, as things assimilated all through life well up from our unconscious; but God in mercy and forgiveness has provided for this in the sacraments of the Church.

To practice this successfully and effectively to the full extent required for the building of God's Kingdom, we are to heal ourselves, through self-examenation and sacrament, not only of our own personal falls from love, but also of the practical attitudes, prejudices, antagonisms and emnities - contrary to love - drawn from our family, neighborhood, social, political, economic, religious and cultural groups; the media; and other melieux - viz. the passing on of the effects of Original Sin.

And as we experience the specific prejudices, antagonisms and violences of others toward us, we are to compose ourselves to reach out to them in love, to turn the other cheek, to return good for evil, to pray for those who persecute us, etc., and if necessary, to lay down our lives for our friends - as we have learned from the examples of Ghandi and Martin Luther King and others in our time, as well as from the teachings, life, passion and death of Jesus.

This, of course is regarded by the "world" as at best folly, and at worst weakness, hypocrisy, or a "nice-guy" way of deceiving and manipulating people. Therefore, we don't announce it; we just do it - listening to criticisms as part of our examination of conscience.

Also, the world considers anger as a virtue through which feelings are "honestly" to be "expressed" in daily life, rather than "repressed", regardless of how much this hurts or alienates people - rather than as one of the Capital Sins, to be expiated by self-examination, sacramental confession and absolution. We are to continue examination and expiation of all facets of the capital sins.

All this is reviewed not to be sanctimonious or preaching, or as lofty idealism, but as a simple analysis of what I see from the faith and teaching of the Church to be the only true cure for the ills of our, or any, times, and which we can practice if we really want to. We can't approach social problems as though they can be solved apart from the way we live our lives; but we can't rest, either, with a focus, either, on the way we live our lives without dealing with social problems in their own right.

Also, we can't just go out and presume to convert others to supernatural love (and there are many who can more fully convert us who don't spend much time in churches), or propose this as an immediate cure for specific practical social problems at hand; but we can endeavor to conform our own lives and work to it, in the faith and hope that "love will beget love".

In saying this I look back, in the social field, for example, to the black-white tensions of the 60's of which those of today are so vividly reminiscent.

In 1964-65, after devoting the better part of a sabbatical year almost full time to Mary's Gardens (producing Mariana I, the OMC Parish Mary Garden, the Galega study, etc.) I responded to a call to take up the position of founding Executive Director of the Wellsprings Ecumenical Center in Philadelphia. In the ensuing 6 years I, and an inter-religious, cross- cultural, Board, staff and other associates, initiated or enabled diverse meetings and conferences in the areas of inter-faith and inter-group confrontation and dialogue. These started out with a focus on Catholic- Protestant and Jewish-Christian dialogues. but with the pressure of events in the late 60's developed a major focus on black-white relations. They encompassed over thirty 5-or-6-meeting series involving some 200 churches and synagogues and 3000 people - and also over 60 1-hr TV programs on the Phila. CBS TV affiliate station - out of which developed numerous cooperative social programs and projects in the areas of jobs, businesses, housing, health-services, education, community organization, urban renewal, peace, etc.

As I look back on all this, I have faith, and believe I see, that it bore some continuing fruits. However, while I was motivated in a general way by love, as well as by human respect and justice, and sought to sustain it through the sacraments, I can see in retrospect that my practical focus and preoccupation were more with truth, justice, respect and equality, and that I overly succummed to dialectics, factions and strategies in these matters, and became spiritually exhausted.

After several years, I got my focus back on the root causes of things, and on Mary's Gardens, and then, in 1980 I rejoined Bonnie in carrying forward the active phase of our work. And now, in re-addressing myself more fully to the social area, and focusing more fully again on race relations, for example, so pressing today, with all the injustice, pain and destructive violence in Los Angeles (short, I believe, for City of Our Lady of the Angels), that I see more clearly how love is "the one thing necessary", as the basis for all work for justice and equality etc..

In the 60's, there was much emphasis on the distinction between "attitudinal" and "institutional" racism, with the general thought that if exclusionary and discriminatory laws were changed, and affirmative action was taken to correct imbalances - in regard to voting, housing, public accomodations, education, equal opportunity employment, etc., and funds were made available, and staffed government social programs set-up, there would be significant movement toward social justice, particularly with respect to the inner cities.

What is being demonstrated now, in the 90's, is that this has not come about, despite all the new laws and social programs; but, to my observation, there has been little change in the more fundamental area of "attitudinal" racism, so that even in areas where some measure of equal access and opportunity has been established, all sorts of subtle discriminatory attitudes, barriers and "glass ceilings" etc. continue which largely prevent a basic change towards social justice from coming about, notwithstanding the changes on the legal, institutional level. To attempt to deal with attitudinal racism without dealing with institutional racism is socially inadequate, but to deal with institutional racism without an equal continuing focus on attitudinal racism is similarly inadequate.

On the attitudinal level, we are dealing precisely with the separations in judgement, resulting from original sin, which I detailed above.

I mentioned the means made available through the Church and the Sacrament of Reconciliaton for the overcoming of separative judgemental attitudes in love - through practicing custody of heart, and rooting out, with the help of grace, all residual uncharitable, unloving thoughts and tendencies as we discover them in ourselves.

It is in this redemptive and healing formation and action, together with forgiveness of trespasses, that the true hope for overcoming the deeper attitudinal causes of racism, sexism and other social ills lies - as they infuse and permeate our unrelenting continuing work for laws (and their full application), and the money and programs ever necessary to implement justice. "Love expresses itself in concrete acts").

The relevance of the Mary Garden to all this, along with all its other contributions to devotion, Salvation, Kingdom, spiritual communion and the greater glory of God is that it is one of the best likeness we have of Eden and Paradise, yet also a part of the fallen world - such that it represents and affords a concrete first step we can take from the Communion Rail and Confessional into the world, in love rather than judgement. We seek integrity, proportion and harmony in its design, and we do not discriminate judgementally between the flowers on the basis of their colors. Nor are we preoccupied with criticisms of, unpleasantnesses to, or antagonisms with, our fellow gardeners or visitors.

In accordance with the Psalm and the Lavabo of the Mass, we "wash our hands among the innocent; hear the voice of the Lord; and tell all God's wondrous deeds." And through the flower symbols we are ever reminded of, reflect on, and turn to, the saving mysteries of Christ, and Mary's merciful mediation of all the graces of love, justice and mercy so needed for our work of repairing and building earth and Kingdom.

Like Adam and Eve, we are schooled in the Garden, that we may go forth, as they were to have, to the whole world, in love - but now we proceed from the New Eden of Nazareth and Gethsemani. Or looked at another way, we turn to the Mary Garden as one aid to moving from the altar rail and confessional to our work for the Kingdom of Love in the fallen world.

So, Nan, I hope this review of our Faith, and its practical relevance to the social need and ills of the world, in the context of the Mary Garden will be helpful to you in presenting the garden to those who may not see its relevance to them.

o O o

When I wrote previously about God's creation of us as male and female to show forth ad extra in Creation the love ad intra of the persons of the Trinity, and to enable us to rise to participate in it, I neglected to mention that this, of course, is also extnded to the animal and plant kingdoms. It is commonplace to refer to "the birds and the bees" (and flowers) in instructing young children about sexual love; but in the Mary Garden we see these first of all as showing forth in beautiful variety the delicacy of the love within the Trinity.

In recent years programs such as the PBS "Nature" series have shown the most marvellous "design" through which many particular flower species are uniquely fertilized. I recall one instance in which the fertilization period of a certain tropical flower corresponds to the mating time of a certain bird. Just at that time the flower sends forth special leaf resembling the size and coloring of the female bird, so as to attract the male. As the male bird approaches it and before he discovers it is just a leaf he picks up pollen on his body, which is then transferred to the next plant as he is attracted in turn to it. And there are many other equally delicate expressions in nature of the love of the Persons of the Trinity and the interchanges between them.

As the circulation of pollen in the plant world requires both giving and receiving, so does the circulation of love in the Communion of Saints. If we have a judgemental attitude towards others, not only may we be deficient in our acts of love towards them, but we may be so critical about what is wrong or inferior about them that we do not accept or even recognize their acts of love to us - because they do not fit our judgemental definitions of how love is to be expressed.

o O o

A couple of details. I hope someone can take some photos/videos of the Garden from the upper windows of the priests' residence. Also, can you send me a photo of the donors' notice when it is installed?

I hope this finds you and all your co-workers well, Nan, and look forward to reciving the revised 1992 plant list and plan.



Boston, MA
May 22, 1992, 1992

Dear Nan,

I finally caught up with your letter of March 6th - for which I thank you - in which you tell me of the information, shrine, donors' plaque, Father Tom and other matters we discussed by phone after your return from your trip to Morraco and Spain.

In further reference to the History leaflet, is there a possibility now that the name of the Garden has been changed to "Annapolis Mary Garden" that copies could be made available, together with the Visitors' Guide leaflet, at Carroll House?

Also, I "retrieved" a letter I had started to you, and then left on an alternate correspondence computer when a trip suddenly came up.

November 21, 1991
Presentation of Mary

Dear Nan,

While walking, again, down the Boston townhouse street I mentioned in my last letter, I noticed that most of the front plot garden blooms had been frost-killed and the beds covered with fallen leaves - but one garden stood out in striking manner.

A widely adoped practice in these gardens is to place a very small tree - say a dogwood or magnolia - in the center of the front plot, with a surrounding circular planting, filled or outlined, of just one flower variety at its foot. What stood out on this occasion was a tree-base planting of red-pink impatiens, which had not yet been much touched by the frost (southern exposure with wind- protecting shrubs and walls on the sides), and I was immediately quickened to a sense of the Mother-love of Mary (impatiens) at the foot of the Cross (bare tree).

I have always been impressed by late November and December as the saggitarian time of the "naked truth" of the tree trunks and branches become fully visible after the falling of the leaves, but this combination with late- lasting "constancy" of impatiens mother-love bloom added a special meditative dimension. It was especially striking because except for a few lingering blooms the rest of the block was largely bare of flowers.

o O o

As I have written, I think daily of the relevance of the Mary Garden to the major news and issues of current events (as the world moves from Garden to City, from Eden to Kingdom, from "circle to square"). While I was thinking about the deliberations of the U.S. bishops at their annual November meeting on the question of AIDS, and their restatement of the Church's position re. the counseling of teen-agers on the "abstenance vs. safe sex" issue, I was reminded - by a snatch of conversation, which jumped out at me from the "TV Nun's" program as we were scanning the cable channels for something else - that the only ultimate "answer" to all secular matters is to be found in the transcendent call - to all of us - to the love of God "with our whole minds, our whole hearts an our whole souls", and not in the dialectics of choosing liberal or conservative, right or left, or one side or the other.

The point was made by a guest priest on the program that SS "Teresa and John" constantly point out we are all "called to be mystics", and the only thing which blocks this natural development is the division of heart whereby we cling to some mundane creature(s) - with the result that our hearts are therefore not fully opened to and filled with the love of God which transcends creatures and enables us to be "in the world but not of it" and thus make spiritual input to the world's movement towards Kingom, instead of perpetuating the dialectics of its secularity - in the separation in judgement which comes from the fruit of "the knowledge of good and evil". We are not to attempt to "separate the wheat from the tares", but to live among them, between them, and passing through their insterstices, by every word and prompting of God - until the Harvest.

How to inspire the whole-hearted openess and responsiveness to God which transcends, and frees us from enslavement all other desires - good or bad? How to restore the Original Integrity lost at the Fall?

And for our help in making recourse not only to Mary's immaculateness, but also to the consequence of that immaculateness - her crushing of the head of the evil one who tempted Adam and Eve ("deliver us from evil") - we have in the Garden such plants as "Devil-Away" (Dill) and "Mary's adversary", whom she conquers, (Echium), etc., to keep us from becoming forgetful of or complacent about the Devil and his fallen angels. Father's incensing of Mary of Nazareth and the garden, after the sprinkling of holy water, was an appropriate reminder to this end (the first time I've seen a garden incensed).

The whole-hearted love of God and openness to the spiritual Devil-Away of grace, combined with an alertness to avoid the attempted surprises and ambushings of the evil one, we learn in the Mary Garden is something, then, which we take with us as we go out into the world. Mass -> Mary Garden -> World ->New Heaven and New Earth - as I wrote in "Paradise of Our Lady".

But the Mary Garden, as well, must always be kept in perspective as "means", and never stand in the way of other promptings of the Spirit or duties of our state of life (How I would like to spend more time in Woods Hole!).

When Ed and I were getting started with Mary's Gardens of Philadelphia in 1950-51 we spent an afternoon at the library of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. It was here that we found "We wish you unto daily prayer" 16th century garden book dedication; the prayer on our first Our Lady's Garden seed kit prayer card; and the illustration of the Divine Heart used on some of our early article reprints. (The illustration of Our Lady used for our letterhead was the gift of one of Ed's students at St. Joseph's Institute of Industrial Relations - a drawing of her father's, to which, at Ed's request, he added the floral wreath.) During this same library visit, I also noted an old gardening book with an illustration of a monk kneeling in prayer, but described as unable to open his heart totally to the love of God and the promptings of his Spirit because of one remaining interior attachment: to the beauty of the rose, keeping him earth-bound.

But to repeat: it is only through a heightend love of God that the addiction to sex, drugs, fortune, power and fame of our culture - of "the world" - can ultimately be transcended, for Salvation and Kingdom. To paraphrase, "It is not that a mystic is a special kind of person, but that every person is called to be a special kind of mystic."


o O o

I send you this fragment, Nan, because - for continuity - it shows the focus my thoughts which led to my subsequent letters this year.

I hope the Garden tour and your lecture in Connecticut, etc. went well. If you have some announcement for the tour, like the one last year, I'd appreciate having a copy.

Hoping this finds you well, I remain,



Boston, MA
May 31, 1992


Dear Nan,

I was highly pleased when the Feast of the Visitation was moved in the new Liturgical Calendar from July to May 31st, following on the Annunciation so to speak, in place of the Feast of Mary's Queenship in turn moved August 22nd, following on the Assumption. Also the re-designation of January 1 as the Feast of Mary, Mother of God, was a big "plus". But I wasn't too happy that the Feast of Mary Mediatrix got "lost in the shuffle", so to speak.

The liturgy generally is overflowing with Mary's Mediation, and I guess it was decided not to add another Marian feastday to the total. But I am so personally committed to the doctrine of Mary's Mediation - celebrated on May 31st for the first twenty years of Mary's Gardens, and which Pope Pius XII anticipated would be dogmatically defined "when it became ripe in the mind of the Church", that - especially on May 31st - I do miss the specific celebration of it in the primary Liturgical Calendar. (I don't have my old liturgy with me, so I hope I have all these dates right.)

We do have, however, the high visibility of the Miraculous Medal, and of the generic visual figure of Our Lady of Grace, both proclaiming Mary's Universal Mediation, and also many official prayers, such as that of the Rosary and the Legion of Mary.

o O o

Your focus on the healing quality and potential of the Mary Garden has become mine, too, for this year, and I thank you for it.

I have written how Ed and I went back to the Garden of Eden to get an overview of the sweep of Sacred History, as a perspective from which to approach contemporary social and psychological matters, and whenever something new comes up I repeat this exercise.

Currently there has been the public "political" assertion that a restoration, especially in TV sitcoms, of "family values" is especially needed as a basic contribution to overcoming the social ills of the inner city, etc. (with specific reference to values such as marital stability, personal virtue, concern of both parents for the nurturing and education of children, contribution of all to family work and support, saving for home ownership and the starting family businesses, etc.).

Important as these are, and as is the obligation of society to see that there is, in social justice, the means and arrangements to provide "a sufficiency of material goods", as St. Thomas Aquinas puts it, for all; I propose that we are not to rest with the various secondary causes of social ills, but to go back to the primary cause in original sin and its effects, and to focus on the primary corrective of redemptive love - mindful, with St. Paul that "the greatest of love" and that "without love all else is as nothing".

The elimination of many of the past institutional injustices of our society, essential and as important as this has been, has not overcome the continued existence and deeper effects of attitudinal prejudice - as we know through a comparison of 1965 and 1992 - and prejudice is not adequately to be overcome by the restoration of the family values currently being enumerated, alone, any more than it was by institutional change.. All these are necessary, but the only true and adequate antidote to prejudice is love - the ultimate family value; "the one thing necessary."

St. Paul describes very specifically many aspects of love (charity), and in the social domain those we are to develop and practice include those that engender respect, communion, understanding, temperance, kindness, graciousness, cooperation, equality, justice, mutual assistance, clemency, the fruits of the Holy Spirit and the spiritual and corporal acts of mercy - all of which serve to overcome the judgemental separation, divisivenes injustice, exploitation, suppression, hatred and violence underlying so many social ills, as I wrote at length previously

But the various needed dimensions of love all flow spontaneously from its "ingenuity", so I propose that we should place our focus on the family value of love, and that we should look first of all to the Holy Family, the font of this love.

As represented by the exchanged communion of glances of Mary and the boy Jesus in the Mary of Nazareth sculpture, the love of Mary and Jesus, reflecting that of the interior of the Trinity, is a mutual giving, receiving and mirroring back of love, which then proceeds and spirates from Mary and from Jesus to believers, and thence from person to person, throughout the world, in the Communion of Saints.

Through the Flowers of Our Lady we experience not only Mary's presence with us but, more, her loving presence with us through her many-faceted acts of grace and protection for us, as symbolized by the flowers. And we in turn mirror this love back to her in acts of thanksgiving and praise for her immaculate purity; for her fiat of acceptance of God's call to her; for her spiritual motherhood, queenship, intercession and mediation for us - at the same time extending this love to others, in imitation of Mary.

We receive and learn love from Mary, our spiritual mother, just as did the boy Jesus - whose spiritual mother she was also, and preeminently, as well as physical mother in the flesh.

While it is not specifically reported in the Gospels, we can be certain from Jesus' forgiveness of sins, from the words of the Lord's Prayer, and from Jesus' words of forgiveness from the Cross - and there are many private revelations to the saints and mystics to this effect - that during his nurturing in the Holy Family Jesus learned, from Mary and Joseph, the loving forgiveness of others (outside the Holy Family) for their daily trespasses.

Forgiveness is intrinsic to love, for if we do not forgive we then fall into judgement, separation, divisiveness, prejudice, discrimination, etc.. And our families are to be the school of forgiveness, because unlike the Holy Family, with its special freedom from sin, we have our own share of the effects of original sin within our families to deal with.

It is through our own sorrow for sins - through self-examination, observance of the hurt and expressions of hurt of others - and through forgiveness, and the sacramental grace of absolution, and reparation that we strengthen our love, practically, in daily life, which we then take with us outside the family, in the world, continuing to strengthen it by the same means, and at the same time working for equality and justice and mercy.

An especially important aspect of this is that as we advance in knowledge, understanding amd wisdom, we in time become aware, in retrospect, of any unwitting trespasses against us by our own parents and family, due to "inherited" cultural limitations, injustices and prejudices, or to prevailing customs etc.. We are to make acts of forgiveness in our hearts, and person-to-person if possible, for these (and hope our children will do the same for us, and for those they encounter in the world).

This retroactive forgiveness of parents prepares us to forgive all personal and social offenses of others in the world, who "know not what they do"

It seems to me that the direct contact with God's creatures in the Garden and with its beautiful, pure, flower symbols of love distilled through the centuries, and our regular meditative presence with them, gives a reality to all this beyond what we get from catechism, religion class and sermons - which is the essence of what I see, Nan, to be the healing quality of the Mary Garden.

o O o

Hoping this finds you well, and with all prayerful best wishes for the month of the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts, and for the summer, I remain,



Boston, MA
June 20, 1992

Immaculate Heart of Mary

Dear Nan,

Here is a more suscinct summary of some insights of this Spring about the general healing potential of the Flowers of Our Lady and Mary Gardens:

The more we come to understand that acts of love towards others, prompted and sustained by the Holy Spirit, are the indispensible means to the effective healing and bridging of the alienations, injustices, emnities and conflicts of our times, and, in general, to the building of God's Kingdom; and that we must have purity of heart if we are to be open, receptive and responsive to these subtle promptings of the Spirit; then the original purity of flowers, as God's direct creations, ever renewed even in the fallen world, becomes - especially in the religious context of the Mary Garden - a most beautiful, profound, and ever-present reminder and inducement to us, with recourse to the sacraments, for restoring and sustaining purity of heart as, with Mary's mediation, we seek and pray for God's loving guidance for the circumstances, tasks and opportunities of our daily lives.


Boston, MA
August 15, 1992


Dear Nan,

This is in reply to your letter of June 12, for which I thank you.

I was saddened to learn of your sister's stroke and I add my prayers to the chorus of Rosary prayers for her recovery you have inspired.

Our knowledge (from the Catholic Encyclopedia) that the name Rosary has its origins in the observed rising of our breathed Aves to heaven as subtle flower pneums, which Our Lady then receives into her hands, and adds to her Crown, gives our praying of these Aves in the Mary Garden, or before flowers of Our Lady anywhere, a heightened fervency and efficacy - symbolizing how, as St. Louis de Montfort teaches, Our Lady adopts, adorns, enhances and embellishes our prayers so that as our heavenly intercessor she can present them to God as both ours and hers, in response to our petition, "Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ."

Thanks for telling me of the installation of the Mary of Nazareth donors' plaque on the brick wall behind the statue. The rendering of the names in artistic composition instead of the usual linear columns sounds most attractive. I hope you can send me a photo at some point.

I had not previously seen the beautifully illustrated Mary Garden article you thoughtfully sent me from Our Sunday Visitor, and for which I thank you. (I used to read "everything" and now I read "nothing" - fortunately having much in my memory from lifetime readings of Scripture, the liturgy and the saints.) I am more forgetful now of recent input, but my recall of earlier input seems better as time goes on. I recall St. John of the Cross teaches that the highest use of memory is to remember the teachings and Passion of Christ.

Actually I do read some, but mostly for prudence and "adjournamento" - for bringing the application of the enduring principles of a lifetime up to date for the most effective action in present day circumstances.

I have no previous knowledge of the author of the OSV article. I am reminded that in 1951, before many articles were written - and then through '53 or '54 - Ed and I ran little 1" ads in this national paper each spring, and also in the Denver Register, which brought us hundreds of inquiries at the start of our work. Actually this, forty years later, is the first Mary Garden article of which I know in OSV. This kind of article brings much joy because it evidences that we are arriving at a period where the Mary Garden is a living part of Catholic culture, rather than being dependent on particular initiatives - in which mode we pray it will continue to gain depth and momentum until the end of the world.

Of continuing importance to this end is the focal continuity of the Mother Mary Garden at Woods Hole, and of other solidly established public Mary Gardens - as at Annapolis and Knock - as perpetual concrete centers for visits and information, supported and spiritually vitalized by parish or shrine life.

Another important facet of our work which I have been working through and attempting to clarify this year is an adequate articulation of the deeper, intrinsic, contributing, relevancy of our recourse to nature and nature symbols, and in particular the Flowers of Our Lady and Mary Gardens, to the social issues of our times.

I recall reading a while ago that in the older Hebrew version of the Bible there is just one word which denotes both justice and righteousness - signifying that there is an inherent and inseparable unity between the two, even though two different words are used for it in English translation, depending on the context. A corollary of this is the teaching of ascetical theology that we cannot perfect one virtue unless we perfect them all.

I have alluded before to the interrelation between the institutional and attitudinal alienations of our times - as manifested in sexism, racism, bigotry, oppression and violence, etc. - such that ultimately we cannot be truly charitable unless we are truly just; or truly just unless we are truly charitable.

Thus, it is questionable how socially just we can be in the deeper sense if we are unpleasant, nasty, sarcastic, fault-finding, manipulative or otherwise uncharitable in our personal relationships, for example, (because the original sin, judgemental, basis for these will surface eventually in social prejudices also). Likewise, no matter how loving, considerate, charitable and sweet we may be in our immediate personal lives, there is something lacking to our charity if we are indifferent to or take no steps to correct and overcome the social injustices which surround us.

As we become concerned with particular areas of social injustice, such as sexism or racism or abortion, we can address obvious immediate injustices with criticism, protest and demonstration, with initial successes; but if we are not personally mortified and universally loving we eventually become enmeshed in action-reaction, dialectics, backlash and personal conflicts which obstruct full resolution of the injustices, for true peace.

In our Mary's Gardens work we have always endeavored to focus on openness and responsiveness to the promptings of the Spirit as the key to more profound and enduring resolutions of conflicts and injustices, rather than "taking sides"; and this ultimately requires acts of faith, since, as Jesus teaches, we can never be sure we have been instruments of the Spirit until the fruits of the Spirit eventually appear.

There is much belittling these days of "niceness" - "nice guys" etc.; and also of the importance of "gentleness" and "graciousness" generally. What is called for in this regard is not denigration of the nice and gentle as socially hypocritical, but a rediscovery and reappreciation that true social justice have niceness and gentleness as their full culmination and fruit.

In this, I treasure Liam Brophy's lines:

"Each garden gives her glory, chants her praise Even in harsh and hostile places where Men have forgotten gentleness and prayer . . . ."
Thus the loving gentleness characteristic of life in the Mary Garden, is indeed pertinent to the perfection of our action for justice of the Kingdom of God. At the same time a true understanding of the need for our fullest and most effective action for justice brings us to a profounder appreciation of and recourse to the values expressed in and nurtured by the Mary Garden. The First Psalm compares the just man to a lily planted by the waters. And we gain new appreciation of St. Joseph the Just. Mrs. Lillie, a life-time worker for social justice clearly saw the relationship between the two in establishing the Woods Hole Angelus Tower and Mary Garden.
The unity between intimate devotion and social action for justice is also found in the fact that ultimately all our actions, personal and social, are, as I have just mentioned, to be informed by infused promptings of the Spirit, to which we become attuned initially, and in which we are refreshed, in the quiet ascetical growth of prayer, meditation, confessional, and while contemplating God's direct creations in the garden.

If we are not sufficiently mortified in our personal lives, there will be alienations in areas of our public life, no matter how sweet and loving we may be to members of particular groups. Ed used to make a distinction between the 'transition' of new acceptance of members of some group previously rejected, and 'conversion' to a universal love for all people, of all groups.

Love meets every individual with openness as an individual; gives every person the benefit of the doubt; and sees everyone as desiring the good, no matter how much prejudgements, or even statistical projections from past behavior of other members of their group may suggest that a person may be devious, deceitful, manipulative, stealing or violent, etc..

We of course are always to be "wise as serpents" as well as "gentle as doves," but this is a matter of our general obligation to security and survival, and not of predjudice and discrimination towards particular individuals or groups.

And if love does this for strangers, how much more should it do likewise in our relationships to family members and others close to us? Unpleasantness, harshness and anger towards individuals as individuals are as much based on judgemental stereotypes, as are prejudice and discrimination directed towards members of groups. Charity and justice begin at home.

The social justice dimensions of our Mary's Gardens work were emphasized for us early on when one of the very first responses to our little ads - this one in the Sunday gardening section of the now defunct NY Herald Tribune, (also responded to by Dan Foley of Horticulture Magazine) - was from an inmate of a New York state prison, asking for assistance in lining up a job for him, in the Philadelphia area, as qualification for parole.

We were able to line up such a job with a Catholic contractor with the help of the Phila. Catholic Interracial Council (the prisoner was a person of color), and this in turn led to our first request for a speaking engagement, at a meeting of this society, from the notes for which I developed my first published article, Mary Gardens, in a 1952 issue of America magazine.

Father Galvin, in his 1952 article about Mary's Gardens, "My Garden Prays", imaginatively suggested that the NY State prisoner, about whom we had told him, had planted a Mary Garden at the prison. This proved to be a self-fulfilling prophecy, per the enclosed 1982 clipping from the Idaho Register about a Mary Garden in another prison - probably inspired by Bonnie's writings.

Actually, I think the NY prisoner intuitively sensed that our special love of flowers might extend to a love of people, in terms of the deeper connnection I have proposed.

Another pertinent point here is that "the children of this world are more knowledgeable in the ways of the world than are the children of the light". When we take up action in a particular area of injustice out of general spiritual love, formation and commitment, we typicallally - because of our universal preoccupation - lack the particular, insights and practical wisdom of those who are immediately involved in the struggle as subjects of the injustices.

I quickly learned this in my ecumenical work, where I became involved in various areas out of general religious commitment, but always relying on the immediate insights and counsel of those situationally involved. On the other hand, I was sometimes able to contribute a universal love and human respect which made it possible to bridge dialectical and personal alienations blocking the progress of those immediately involved towards justice. Sort of a microcosm of the coopertion between Church and State.

A further means for the perpetuation of Mary-Gardening, is the development of reference literature integrally associated with enduring Gardens. My general articles developing the Mary Garden idea, have largely been relegated to shelves or archives, except for our distribution of reprints, whereas my articles about Woods Hole, Knock and Annapolis have a better chance of continuing availability, through those visiting the gardens.

In this a massive contribution has been made by Jane McLaughlin in her 1982 centennial "St. Joseph's Church, Woods Hole" history, her chapters in the 1983 "Woods Hole Reflections" and 1986 "The Book of Falmouth", and now especially, this year, in her generously illustrated and thoroughly annotated 18 page article, or monograph, "The Angelus Bell Tower and Mary Garden in Woods Hole", in the 1992 issue of "SpritSail" of the Wood Hole Historical Collection (Woods Hole historical society), of which she will be sending you a copy shortly. ("SpritSail", as you may know, is the name of a small class of sailboats unique to Woods Hole, designed with collapsing masts so they could pass underneath the former stationary bridge, now a drawbridge, which blocked entrance of boats with fixed masts into the Eel Pond mooring area, which the Tower and Garden border.) These integrally tie in the Angelus Tower and Mary Garden with St. Joseph's, Woods Hole and the Falmouth area.

It continues to be my hope that the Annapolis Mary Garden will come to have some sort of enduring public association with Carroll House. Also, Mary of Nazareth deserves to have a lasting recognition as a major work of art, as with the art associated with the Woods Hole Tower and Garden - which also will help to perpetuate the appreciation of the Annapolis Mary Garden.

I have written before of my hope, from the long term view, that some sort of special trust fund could be set up to provide income for the maintenance of the Annapolis Mary Garden, similar to the trust fund Mrs. Lillie set up for Woods Hole at a Chicago bank. The initial contribution (in which we would be willing to participate) could be modest, and then added to later, but the necessary legal documents could be developed and registered. The St. Joseph's trust was set up independenly of other church funds, but its management was eventually transferred from Mrs. Lillie, and then members of the Lille family, to the present administration by Father Norton, Pastor ("Administrator" according to the conventions of the Diocese of Fall River) of St.Joseph's. Mrs. Gigger, Mrs. Lillie's cousin and administrator of the trust in the 60's, drew on these funds for the repointing of the Angelus Tower, and there have been repairs to the bells etc..

Possibly Father Norton was able to draw on the funds for installation of the new automatic watering system, which Jane tells me is working marvellously this dry year. A timer automatically turns it on each morning for sequential watering, of adjustable duration, of different sections of the Angelus Tower gardens.

A new, young, Bishop of the Fall River Diocese has just been installed., to which Jane alerted me, and as I saw on Boston TV a few days ago. Pray that he may note, and spread appreciation of, the Woods Hole Garden of Our Lady.

To me the new watering system symbolizes the renewed flowing of grace through and from the Garden - through Jane's historical monograph, Father Norton's arrival, and hopefully the installation of the new Bishop.

I recall vividly the overwhelming sense of the flow of grace I received from the giant Idaho rotating field watering rigs on either side of the highway (bordered with continuous colonies of "Heavenly Way" chicory), as I drove back to Wyoming after my visit with Bonnie and Ernie Roberson in Hagerman in the summer of 1968.

It is not clear to me how solidly integral the Mary Garden is to the Knock Shrine of our Lady, but I hope and pray it is, or will become so in an enduring way. There has certainly been no lack of effort of Brother Seán to this end, but the fundamental elements must be in place for full support of its perpetuation.

Continuing with the overall view, I still have, for my own part, the task of pulling together all the materials from our articles and archives in hard cover form, and in the now available electronic forms of the new technologies - electronic books, CD-Roms, etc. in which Marion has such superb and current expertise - such that they will get onto the reference shelves of libraries and horticultural societies. Again I solicit your prayers to this end.

Last week we spent three days in attendance at the annual Macintosh Computer MacWorld Expo trade show in Boston, where we saw a demonstration version of a delightful new software program, TREE, which "generates highly convincing images of... a variety of tree types, slightly different trees, trees in different growth stages and in different seasons." I mentioned to the program demonstrator one of our favorite books, "Trees in the Winter Landscape" (with which he was not familiar), and asked him whether he had considered doing one for flowers. This program was designed for architects, so their drawings can have some relief from the usual stereotyped trees used. I will get a copy as soon as they are commercially available.

This reminded me of my "accidental" creation three years ago of a fuchia-like pattern, generated from a randomly entered bent-V module on a Macintosh pattern generating software program, EXPANSIONS, designed by our son, John, a computer programmer and executive. I have placed this pattern at the header of this letter. (You can see the bent-V from which it was generated at the base.)

This is very primative (compared to the branches and leaves of TREES), but it does suggest the mathematical basis for plant forms (and cathedrals), and suggests the exciting possibility of a computer program to generate illustrations of the Flowers of Our Lady in infinite variation - to augment our photographs and clip-art.

The meetings of parish family members for Rosary prayers in the Mary Garden you mention are a joy, especially in light of your observation of the number of Catholic children these days who do not know how to pray the Rosary. I hope that the teaching, in the garden, midst the flowers, of the derivation of the name of the Rosary from the rising subtle flower-pneum vehicles of our prayers can serve as a means for imparting to children (and enhancing for adults) a sense of the spiritual concreteness of our rising prayers, and of Our Lady's reception, acceptance and enhancing of them, and her making of them her own, in her divinly established role as our spiritual Mother, Intercessor and Mediatrix with God - all in the context of our need for spiritual guidance and strength in meeting the needs of our time: personal, family and social.

Another motivation for praying the Rosary, which can be presented to children in a simple way, is to impart a deeper appreciation of the sequence of the Rosary mysteries: not just in themselves, or as a summation of the life of Christ, but as a recapitulation of steps or stages through which our souls are to grow as instruments of the Spirit in the renewal of the face of the earth and build the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven.

Just as the envisaging of the rising or transporting of our breathed prayers heavenwards through the vehicles of generated subtle flower pneums gives a "spiritual concreteness" to our prayers, their heavenly reception and the divine response to them; so does the envisaging of the descent of the Spirit to us, through Our Lady's hands (as in the private revelation of Our Lady of Grace or of the Miraculous Medal, in Paris) - in the subtle forms or modes of spiritual rivers of grace, rays of light, pneuma of wisdom, and plasma of power - gives us a spiritually concrete sense of how we can indeed open ourselves to, receive, respond to and instrument the bestowed movements and promptings of Spirit on earth for our purification, our perfection and our instrumentation of the building of God's heavenly Kingdom.

In this Mary is not only our Intercessor and Mediatrix, but also our Model, so that in reflecting on the Mysteries of the Rosary, children can be taught to envisage and emulate Mary's pure opening of herself to grace at the Annunciation; her responsiveness to the promptings of grace in the journey of the Visitation; her experience of the descent of the divine light at the Nativity ("and the glory of the Lord shone around them", as mirrored in the resplendance of Our Lady's Bedstraw in the Manger); her reflection or diffraction of the divine light "that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed", as revealed at the Presentation and included in the symbolism of the candles of Candlemas; and her discernment of the descent of the heavenly wisdom in the boy, Jesus, teaching the elders in the Temple, at the Finding in the Temple.

Similarly, reflection on the sorrowful mysteries of the Rosary brings to mind the mortifications or purifications we are to undertake that we may act in the Wisdom of the Cross: of will at the Agony in the Garden ("not my will, but thine, be done"); of the body at the Scourging; of the intellect at the humiliation and mocking of the Crowning with Thorns; of the emotions at the voluntary embrace of our Cross; and of the very attachment of the soul to the physical body, at the Crucifixion ("into Thy hands I commend my spirit") - preparing ourselves for spiritual Resurrection and Ascension.

Finally, we prepare ourselves for our filling with spiritual power, through Mary, if God so wills, in emulation of Peter and the Apostles at Pentacost; for our mystical rising to heaven in that power, through the Assumption, that we may have a better overview for heavenly action on earth; and for our instrumenting of that power for Apostolate and Kingdom, through Christ the King, as responsive children of Mary in her Queenship of Heaven and Earth - all for the partipative magnification of God's Glory.

In mystical theology these are elaborated on in detail as grace, light, wisdom and power descents/ascents; but as St.Louis de Montfort teaches us, Mary (through the Rosary) is the simple, "easy", way to God and to participation in God's work.

I am not personally in regular immediate contact with young children at this period of my life, and I wish I had a better understanding of these things when I was in such contact; but I am convinced that in the ingenuity of love it is possible to effectively instruct children simply in these matters as we pray the Rosary with them - rather than simply repeating a series of Paters and Aves in the names of certain Mysteries. Always, the praying of the Rosary in the presence of liturgically blest beads, statuary and flowers of Our Lady provides the immediacy of sacramental instruments of the grace to respond to these instructions.

And always, in the Garden: rain symbolizes the descent of grace (and watering our instrumentive mediation of it); sunlight the descent of the divine light; the breeze the blowing of the pneums of Wisdom ("which blows where no one knows"); and the soil the power for spiritual growth.

I have written before of how in meditation and contemplation we can rise directly from the beauty of God's creation - of flowers, leaves, countryside - to awe of God' beauty. From this we then perceive the light of God's aura as inhering in the light of creatures - as "lucencies", as Francis Thompson terms them - which we can then follow back to their source in contemplation of the very luminous interior of God. Re-emerging, we see all nature as a manifestation and mirroring of God's radiance, such that it becomes God's face - the created interface through which we are assisted in coming to know God's munificence and diversity ever more fully, imparting to nature its ultimate quality of divine resplendance.

This is a sort of recapitulation of the path St. Augustine followed in his path of conversion, in grace, from the goodness and beauty of nature to a belief in the "eternal beauty, ever ancient, ever new" - simply and directly, with no apologetics and no symbolism. This is a path up which, in the Garden, we can help lead those without faith - only later giving consideration to finding the truth source a loving God would provide for the meaning and purpose of Creation, which we find in the Bible and Church; from which we then move on to the Trinity, the original integrity of Creation, the Fall, the Incarnation, and Immaculate Mary's appointed, accepted, role in the Divine Plan of Redemption and Kingdom.

We live in such a secular, sensate, age that it is an overwhelming challenge as to how to instrument conversion to the supernatural life in the Spirit. To the extent that we are lacking in this, we cannot impart it to our children; and on top of this there are all the contrary influences to which they are subjected in the environment, peer groups, TV and the print media, etc.. But these considerations in the Garden are one approach which we can follow,

Family social gatherings of the type you are promoting to pray the Rosary in the Mary Garden could be a very effective means towards heightening an effective life of the Spirit in the world. Knowing of your successful initiave in this is a joy to me. One hopes and prays that the children who learn of God, Mary, the Rosary and Mary's Flowers at the St. Mary's family Mary Garden Rosary meetings will plant Mary Gardens and pray the Garden Rosary with their children in the parishes they make their homes as adults.

Father Dalzell made a Sunday Mass announcement of weekly parish Garden Rosary prayers at Woods Hole in the summer of 1982, or -83, when we were there, but very few showed up. I was able to be present the second week and recall that three persons were there: Fr. Dalzell, Jane and myself. I'm sure the occasion was as moving to Jane as it was to me, mindful of how much we had both put into the Garden, and with our shared vision of how meaningful a larger parish participation could be, as with the meetings you have started in Annapolis.

(Interesting how things work out. In looking through my file of correspondence with Bonnie just now for the article about the 1982 Idaho prison Mary Garden, to copy as an enclosure with this letter, I noted in an adjacent letter to Bonnie that I wrote to her about the Woods Hole Garden Rosary, and mentioned the date, September 13, 1982. Also with it was a copy of Fr. Galvin's "My Garden Prays", which I also wanted to copy. I wonder how to share all the love in these 100's of pages of correspondence for others who may be interested. Bonnie and I decided to bequeath the originals to the Marian Library in Dayton for archiving, for which I have made arrangements; and her sister, Faye Coates, shipped me all Bonnie's corresponsence files, including also copies of her 100 or so taped letters to me, of which I have the originals. Most of the material is in longhand, or on tape, although I made time-indexed notes for each of Bonnie's tapes to me. Ed and I exhanged very little in writing, but I have copies of a number of conversations and meetings we taped.) I am pleased you find my letters to you of use for sharing with others.

Nan, this letter has sort of overflowed, but it's the first time in a while I've managed to let things flow. Our Lady's feasts provide an extra incentive for this.

I hope that this finds you well, and that your sister has found some relief and healing. I look forward to hearing from you when you can find time, as your reports of the various activities bring me joy and are much treasured.



Boston, MA
August 22, 1992


Dear Nan,

Copy of letter to Brother Sean MacNamara, S.C.S.

Dear Brother Seàn,

Thank you for your letter of July 27th.

I was pleased to learn that will be able to complete the planting of your Mary Garden at Artane this Fall.

Since I last wrote you on June 30th, I have continued in my focus on rounding out my understanding of the elements necessary to support the custom of planting Mary Gardens through the years and centuries - until the end of the world.

In this I have learned much from Jane McLaughlin and Nan Sears.

Jane will be sending you a copy of her illustrated 18 page monograph "The Angelus Bell Tower and Mary Garden in Woods Hole", from the 1992 "Spritsail", publication of the Woods Hole Contributorship (Historical Society), when a second printing for larger distribution to non-members is made available.

This in an exhaustive account and documentation of the Woods Hole Tower and Garden, and represents the "official" public historical record of this to be preserved for future years - paralleling Jane's 1982 centennial "History of St.Joseph's Church", your Irish review of which inspired Msgr. Horan to proceed with the establishment of the Knock Mary Garden.

Woods Hole is unique in that the prominent and permanent visibility of the Angelus Tower causes it to stand out in a very special way. And added to this is the social and professional prominence of its donor, Frances Crane Lillie and her husband, as distinguished residents and in connection with the world renowned Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratories,

Further, anyone who visits the Tower whether or not they have any previous knowledge of it is made immediately aware of the adjacent Garden of Our Lady. And the clearly visible "wayside shrine² wooden shelter displaying the plant list and planting plan at the entrance to the Garden, and the table of literature about the Garden placed where you see it right away on entering the door of the Tower both call attention to the Flowers of Our Lady. And all of this is maintained by a special trust fund, which makes possible the engagement a landscaper or gardener to take care of the Garden professionally, independently of inspired parishioner commitment to its care out of religious motivation.

During the 1940's, when Mrs. Lllie was invalided, it was possible for the maintenance of the plants called for in the planting plan to lapse because the wooden shelter for the Planting Plan and List were washed away by a hurricane, and there was insufficient public knowledge of the Plan, or dedicated individual interest, to insure its restoration. This was the situation when we first visited the Garden in 1949 or 1950.

In retrospect I can see that while our various attempts, as "outsiders", to have the Garden restored from 1952 to 1981 met with a measure of success, they were ultimately unsatisfactory because we were in the position of attempting to "pursuade" someone else - our desires vs theirs - to restore certain plants etc..

It was Jane who in 1981-82 saw that the local discovery of the original planting plans plus the occasion of the 1982 St.Joseph's Centennial/Mary Garden Jubilee, and her willingness to do the work, provided the necessary weight of persuasion to make a full historical restoration according to the original "final² 1937 plan - as opposed to the previous landscape caretaker's or trust administrator's ideas of what would be a pretty or minimum maintenance garden.

Now the Plan and List have been re-published in the official local historical magazine, serving to establish them for all time; and at the same time, new garden beds have been established at the East and West ends of the Tower grounds, permitting freedom to make and revise plantings of additionally researched Flowers of Our Lady.

While all this may sound like an interesting narrative, actually it contains the discovery of necessary elements for the perpetual survival and continity of a Mary Garden.

Likewise at Annapolis there are present and being developed another combination of survival elements: a historical and vital parish, St. Marys's, in the oldest U.S. Diocese of Baltimore; adjacency to Carroll House of the first U.S. Bishop, and a Catholic signer of the U.S. Declaration of Independence; a college town of the U.S. Naval Academy and St. John's College or University; an outstanding original focal sculpture, which already has local prominence and may achieve widespread acclaim; an initial garden design by a renowned horticulturalist; an active Mary Garden Committee, headed up by Nan Sears, a veteran Mary Gardener of some 35 years; and active integration of the Garden into Parish, School and Family life.

It hasn't been clear to me whether their is an equivalent combination of necessary survival elements for the Knock Mary Garden. Knock is of course a renowned setting, and the new Blessed Sacrament Chapel around which the planting has been made is very special; the stone of which the Mary Garden Grotto and elevated bed retaining walls are constructed has a particular significance and permanence; that Msgr. Horan established it is important; your renown as a leading contemporary Irish horticulturalist and botanist is a noteworthy component; the designation of National Irish Mary Garden, supported by Msgr. Horan, incorporating Flowers of Our Lady from every county and featuring the Mhuire Flowers is unique; your Booklet, edited by Tom Neary and available at the Shrine gift shops, is a valuable ingredient; and the exhibit and information at the Knock Folklore Museum you arranged for gives a historical dimension. Also, there was the hope of the institution of special liturgical celebrations at the Mary Garden, such as May and October crownings of the focal Garden sculpture of Mary.

Certainly these all constitute a beautiful support for the Garden continuity; but I would appreciate your giving me your perception of the extent to which they have all come together vitally so far. It took 50 years before there was a true appreciation of the Woods Hole Garden of Our Lady, even though it was there in everyone's view for all that time; but I hope a proper appreciation and support of the Knock Mary Garden is gaining momentum each year. There has certainly been heroic input on your part, which I'm sure will bear enduring fruit - even though without Msgr, Horan, and notwithstanding your Mary-Gardening and historical expertise, you are in the position of having to pursuade others in a politic manner.

Also, could you arrange for someone to send me a copy of the Knock Shrine Annual published this year? I recall reading in last tear's Annual of Anne's extensuve planting of flower colonies throughout the grounds, I hope there is some mention of the Mary Garden this year - such as completing the "nationsl" planting according to your plan, or perhaps a Mhuire bed. It must be a joy to develop the Mary Garden behind the Oratory at Artane, where I assume you have the freedom to incorporate the plants you wish, in accordance with the design and attention to details of your choosing. I hope the circumstances at Artane are such that this Garden has the potential of permanance. Is there another member of your Community, or someone else, who takes care of the grounds? Are there others working with you in establishing the Garden? Or is it a personal project, so to speak?

I am spiritually "keen" about your Artane Mary Garden because I know it is infused with your lifetime of personal devotion, and study of botany and horticulture, as well as your personal design and artistry.

One of the circumstances I encountered at my parish of many years in Philadelphia, Our Mother of Consolation, was that because of my prominence in the Mary Garden movement, and my personal making of the garden design and selection and procurment of the statue and plants, the Mary Garden established at the school in 1965 was effectively regarded as "my² garden, even though it was planted at the request of my pastor, in honor of the deceased beloved nun-principal of the school for many years, with the intention of forming a Committee; and though most of the digging was done by the school children, and most of the actual planting and maintenance was undertaken by the paid groundskeeper. Within a year or two of my moving from the parish in the fall of 1972, the garden beds were planted over with grass, leaving only the statue and shrubs (boxwood), which are what you see today, with one or two rose bushes.

If there is a prospect of permanance for your Artane Mary Garden, I hope you will be able to develop the elements to sustain this under your particular circumstances - especially as this Garden will incorporate all the love, experience and wisdom of your lifetime of gardening and research, and this will constitute a most special tribute to Our Lady. Part of this would be a published plan and plant list, the availability of backround literature and books on Mary-Gardening and the Mary Garden Movement at the Artane library, and hopefully a community or society of persons, lay and religious, familiar with your work and its importance who would sustain the garden as a vehicle of religious devotion.

So, at your convenience, Brother, do let me know what the situation is in this regard, and in any case, do send me a copy of the Plant List and Plan, and some photographs, at some point.

All our work is, of course, preserved for all eternity in the heavenly Book of Life; but I see the vital temporal preservation of devotional continuity at important contemporary Mary Gardens as fundamental to the unique contribution the Mary Garden tradition and movement have made and can increasingly continue to make to sanctification, Kingdom and the greater glory of God.

In thinking about some recent suggestions I made to Nan Sears regarding the praying of the Rosary by parish and family groups at the Annapolis Mary Garden, I am coming to see some aspects of the tradition of the Rosary which I believe the Mary Garden has a potential for revitalizing.

In our Mary's Gardens work we could be said to be participating in what has been called "the apostolate of the restoration of tradition² - which seeks to rediscover and revitalize the roots of popular, cultural, religious traditions of which we still participate in the forms, so that we can once again participate in these with the full vitality of their origins. St Louis de Montfort of course calls for this in Marian devotion when he speaks of true devotion to Mary as being interior and not exterior.

With respect to the praying of the Rosary, I had always treasured it as part of the liturgy, and without giving its origins much thought, was satisfied with explanations of it such as that of Pope Pius XII in his 1955 address to rose growers that "The Rosary represents primarily a garden of roses offered to Mary; an adornment of her image; and a symbol of her graces.² Also, I was aware that while the impetus for its widespread adoption - in popular devotion, and then in the Liturgy - was commonly attributed to St. Dominic, there was no documented contemporary historical evidence for this.

What is definitely documented is that the praying of Aves - adding to the earlier practice of praying Pater Nosters, and as a substitution for the earlier praying of the 150 Psalms - did appear as a popular devotion in the 12th Century; and that it was widely spread as a praying of the "Rosary² in the 15th by the Dominican, Alan de Rupe (de la Roche), who formalized the meditation on the fifteen mysteries, and attributed the origin of the Rosary to a private revelation to St. Dominic by Our Lady that it should spread as a popular focus for prayers for overcoming the Albeginsian heresy. Then in the 16th century, the Feast of the Rosary was officially established in the liturgical cycle, and the salutation, "Queen of the Most Holy Rosary² was added to the Litany of Loreto - following on the praying of the Rosary for the victory of Christians at the battle of Lepanto.

However, it has seemed to me that notwithstanding the questions about the origins of the Rosary, its universal spread must have been because it was perceived as containing some special, unique, intrinsic element filling a deep human and religious need.

It was only in the past year or so that I identified such an element from an article on the Rosary in the 16 volume 1912 Catholic Encyclopedia. considered to be of the highest scholarship. In speaking of the origins of the Rosary the article states:

"As regards the origin of the name, the word rosarius means a garland or bouquet of roses, and was not infrequently used in a figurative sense - e.g. as in the title of a book, to denote an anthology or collection of extracts. An early legend which after travelling all over Europe penetrated even to Abysinnia connected the name with a story of Our Lady, who was seen to take rosebuds from the lips of a young monk when he was reciting Hail Mary's and to weave them into a garland which she placed on her head. A German metrical version of this story is still extant dating from the thirteenth century.²

I had read of this legend and seen it as part of the richness of mediaval piety, but had not appreciated it as testimony to the fact that the prayers from our lips form a flow of flower-like subtle prayer vehicles rising to heaven. Likewise I was familiar with the term, "Spiritual Bouquet², but had regarded this as a poetic figure of a group of prayers offered together, and not as an actual subtle form taken by prayers as they rise to heaven.

The fact of these subtle flower-vehicles of our prayers gives a new, "tangible", dimension to spiritual reality, in keeping with medieval spiritual "realism", and also enables us to form a spiritually concrete image of how Mary receives and makes our prayers her own, through incorporation in her crown, from which she can then adorn them, embellish them and enhgance them, as St. Louis de Montfort tells us, for the offering of them, as our Intercessor, to the Trinity.

In our sensate, secular, age we have come to regard prayers as pious thoughts and words existing existing only in our hearts and heads; butm I had often wondered why we are taught that even when we pray silently we should always pray with ourlips - which I now see is to form he subtle flower vehicles which csrry our prayers heavenward.

The observed spiritual fact (by "those who have eyes to see" of these rising flower pneums as vehicles of our prayed Paters and Aves imparts to us such a heightened sense of the reality of the entire spiritual world that this provides an adequate explanation - especially with its authoritative citing in the Catholic Encyclopedia - for the widespread praying of the Rosary throughout Church; even if this reason has been widely lost, although the name, Rosary, persists, with figurative understanding.

For our Mary Garden work and prayer this presents us with the beautiful created ontological correspondence between flowers - nature's most delicate creatures - and the breathed flower-pneums transporting our prayers. Flowers can thus be said to be "Earth's Prayers" - the earth praying always - and we are reminded of Father Galvin's treasured phrase, "My garden prays . . ." And as we are moved to prayer by the flower symbols of Our Lady's life and mysteries our breathed pneums are, as it were, (platonic) flower souls spiritually peeled off from the flowers.

In this regard it is noteworthy and edifying that at Lourdes Our Lady appeared to Bernadette beside the "speckled rose bush" with a string of Rosary beads in her hands and with a heavenly rose on each of her feet, proclaiming, as it were, the relationship between the spiritual roses of our prayers and of heaven, and the roses of nature. At La Salette she appeared adorned with three rose garlands, and at Guadalupe she bestowed upon Juan Diego heavnly roses empowered to impress her image on his cloak.

One of my treasures is a string of Rosary beeads Bonnie gave me made of compressed rose petals and scented with rose oil.

While the Catholic Encyclopedia finds no corroborating contemporary evidence in support of Alan de Rupe's preaching that the Rosary was revealed by Our Lady to St. Dominic - implying that it was of "human" origin, as a development of the previous practice of praying Paters on beads - this is now academic since Our Lady herself appeared at Lourde and Fatima, etc. with the Rosary in her hands, and encouraged the practice of praying it. I'm not sure whether it is adequately appreciated - in light of the scholarly doubts raised about St.Dominic - that Lourdes and Fatima indeed constitute a corroborating revelation, as it were, of the Rosary.

For my part I am disposed to perpetuate the pious tradition (accepted by many popes, etc.) that the Rosary ws indeed reveale to St. Dominin; and have accordingly incorporated the petition in the Mary Garden Prayer, to "St. Dominic, Missionary of the Power of the Rosary".

Also, the demise of Communism following upon Our Lady's request at Fatima that rosaries of reparation be prayed for this intention, with devotion to her Immaculate Heart. - as was practiced extensively at Fatima itself and through the travels of the devotional Pilgrim Virgins - provides contemporary evidence of the social fruits of praying the Rosary, far surpassing in magnitude the defeat of Albigensianism and the military victory at Lepanto. The fruits of the Rosary are indeed social as well as personal. In fact, the integrality of the subtly breathed rising flower prayer pneums to our appreciation of the efficacy of the Rosary, together with the historical revelation and demonstration of the social im portance of Rosary prayers to Our Lady, demonstrateds the relevance of our Mary Garden prayers, so interlinked with the Rosary, to the building of God's earthly social Kingdom. Interesting that flower symbols of Our Lady and the praying of the Rosary both appeared at about the same time.

The spiritual reality of the rising of our prayed Aves and Paters heavenward as subtle rose pneums also suggests to me a conjecture regarding the large rose observed at the forehead of Our Lady when she appeared at Knock. As a corollary of the envisioning of Our Lady's receiving our Rosary Rose-bud prayer pneums and placing them on her crown, we can envision, in terms of the millions of Rosaries prayed, that this rose at her forehead, immediately beneath her crown, is a sort of repository into which she guides the rising rose prayers with her hands, and in which she retains them for a while as she embellishing them for their enhanced offering to the Trinity as both ours and hers. It seems to me that such considertions might serve to incorporate the Mary Garden more integrally in the devotions at Knock.

In addition to the elements for the perpetuation of Mary Gardens and the Mary Garden movement and custom which I mentioned at the beginning of this letter out of prudence (which I understand as the application of spiritual principles to circumstances; the response to providential opportunities; and the instrumentation of spiritual grace, light wisdom and power in this world, towards conversion, sanctification, reparation and kingdom), the "one thing necessary² ultimately for this perpetuation is the establishment at each public Mary Garden of vital, self-perpetuating, Mary Garden committee, society or guild which keep alive the interior dimensions of Mary-Gardening, the Mary Gardens of the heart.

This reminds me to inquire of you also as to the progress in the formation of a Mary Garden Guild at Knock, as we discussed last year.

Since a number of the thoughts developed in writing this letter have pertinence for Woods Hole and Annapolis, I am sending copies to Jane and Nan.

Brother, I hope this finds you well, and I offer you all my special prayerful best wishes during this period when we are bringing our work to cumination.

As always I remain most sincerely yours in Our Lady,

Cc Jane McLaughlin
Nan Sears


Boston, MA
September 8, 1992

Nativity of Mary

Dear Nan,

Happy anniversary!

So much has happened during the past year that the dedication and blessing of Mary of Nazareth seems ages ago, yet at the same time it seems only yesterday. In any case it has been a year filled with blessings for our Mary's Gardens work, especially in Annapolis and Woods Hole, for which I am most thankful, especially to you and to your Committee.

On the other hand, I remain aware that it has been a difficult year for you personally, with your sister's stroke, but I rejoice that the Mary Garden provided a special setting for Rosary prayers for her comfort and healing.

Your mention in your letter of June 12th of your finding, during gatherings of parish families in the Mary Garden, that "many children have never said the Rosary" makes me realize that the Mary Garden can have an important role in the restoration of the Rosary, and I realize I have been remiss in writing to you previously about the Rosary, from the Mary Garden perspective.

It is generally recognized that there has been a marked falling off of Marian devotion, including the praying of the Rosary, in the younger generation of Catholics since the Second Vatican Council; and I wrote you of Bonnie's pain over the downplaying of Marian devotion in her Boise, Idaho, diocese, and of her confrontation of her bishop about this.

While the special piety of particular popular devotional practices, such as the praying of the Rosary, can be lost for a time with the passing of generations, the meditative flower names of the popular devotional tradition of the Flowers of Our Lady - uniquely preserved through the recording of them by botanical scientists to enable other botanists to find colonies of given plants reported in a given local by inquiring of them of natives of the area by their local common names - can be helpful to recovering this piety, as we reconstruct the rich devotional content of these flowers in the aggregate, and revitalize it through the prayerful, meditative, planting of Mary Gardens.

Interestingly, there are close parallels between the Mary-Flower popular tradition and the praying of the Rosary; and in fact the beginnings of both date back to the 13th Century, although the association of flowers as such with our Lady goes back to the Church Fathers, and was continued up through "the last of the Fathers", St. Bernard, in the 12th, with eventual incorporation in the liturgy.

According to St. Louis de Montfort (True Devotion, par. 249), the Rosary was first privately revealed by Our Lady to St. Dominic in 1214; and then to the Franciscan, St. John Capistran, (1385-1456); and to the French Dominican, Blessed Alan de la Roche, (c. 1428-1475), to whose preaching the widespread adoption of the Rosary is generally attributed. Subsequently it has been revealed to others - most notably at Lourdes and Fatima, which revelations have been verified through extensive ecclesiastical inquiries, as distinct from the earlier more private revelations, which are brought into question by some.

Two elements of the Mary Garden - the offering of flowers to Our Lady at her statue, and meditation on Our Lady's life and mysteries - are also integral to the Rosary, and both have their basis in the profound inherent correspondence between flowers and the spiritual flowering of the soul.

I have alluded before to the adoption of the name, "Rosary", from the widespread medieval legends that subtle spiritual roses, or rose pneums, were observed to rise to Our Lady from the lips of persons praying the Aves - paralleling our offering of flowers before her statues on earth.

St. Louis de Montfort writes of these legends in "The Secret of The Rosary":

"Ever since Blessed Alan de la Roche re-established this devotion the voice of the people...called it the Rosary. The word Rosary means ''. . .

"Our Lady has shown her thorough approval of the name Rosary; she has revealed to several people that each time they say a Hail Mary they are giving her a beautiful rose and that each complete Rosary makes her a crown of roses . . .

"The well-known Jesuit, Brother Alphonsus Rodriguez, used to say his Rosary with such fervor that he often saw a red rose come out of his mouth at each Our Father and a white rose at each Hail Mary . . .

"The chronicles of St.Francis tell of a young friar who (said) the Crown of Our Lady (the Rosary) every day. . . . One day (he was found)...bathed in a heavenly light facing Our Lady who had two angels with her. Beautiful roses kept issuing from his mouth at each Hail Mary; the angels took them one by one, placing them on Our Lady's head, and she smilingly accepted them. . . . Our Lady did not go away until the whole Rosary had been said. . . .

"Being heavenly flowers these roses will never fade or lose their exquisite beauty. . . ." - p. 32

And in keeping with this he wrote for those to whom he introduced the Rosary - recalling the scriptural passage from Wisdom applied to Mary, "I have taken root in an honorable people" - that:

"(I give you) this little mystical rose tree which comes straight from heaven and which is to be planted in the garden of your soul. It cannot possibly harm the sweet smelling flowers of your of your contemplations; for it is a heavenly tree and its scent is beautiful. It will not in the least interfere with your carefully planned flower beds; for, being itself all pure and well-ordered, it inclines to all order and purity. If it is carefully watered and properly attended to each day it will grow to such a marvellous height and its branches will have such a wide span that, far from hindering your other devotions, it will maintain and perfect them . . . .

"This mystical rose tree is Jesus and Mary in life, death and eternity; its green leaves are the Joyous Mysteries, the thorns the Sorrowful ones and the flowers the Glorious Mysteries oof Jesus and Mary. The buds are the childhood of Jesus and Mary, and the open blooms show us both of them in their sufferings, and the full blown roses symbolize Jesus and Mary in their triumph and glory.

"A rose delights us because of its beauty - so here we have Jesus and Mary in the Joyous Mysteries. It's thorns are sharp, and prick, which makes us think of them in the Sorrowful Mysteries, and last of all its perfume is so sweet that everyone loves it, and this fragrance symbolized their Glorious Mysteries . . ." pp 12,13

Further, these rising spiritual roses are seen as bearing the content of our prayerful love, intentions, meditations, contemplations, petitions and intercessions, which they carry to heaven with them - imparting a sense of concreteness and reality to our prayers, and to Mary's reception of them, and to her further enhancement and embellishment of them as she presents them, as both ours and hers, to the Trinity, as our heavenly Intercessor and Mediatrix.

One of my beloved heavenly images is that frequently portrayed in religious art of Mary with the Child Jesus on her lap, seated in an enclosed garden, in which she is giving a flower to the Jesus. I envisage the flower as an Ave or other flower prayer she has just received, and that Holy Child, after in turn receiving it from her, places it on her crown, from which she subsequently takes it and "plants" it in the garden for all eternity. The stone wall of the enclosed garden, together with the building turrets frequently present in such paintings, represents the Heavenly City which is being built up around the central Paradise.

With respect to the flower symbolism of the Rosary Mysteries, St. Louis de Montfort continues:

"The works of Jesus and Mary can also be called wonderful flowers; but their perfume can only be appreciated by those who study them carefully - and who open them and drink in their scent by diligent and sincere meditation.

"St. Dominic has divided up the lives of Our Lord and Our Lady into fifteen mysteries which stand for their virtues and their most important actions. These are fifteen tableaux or pictures whose every detail must rule and inspire our lives. They are fifteen flaming torches to guide our steps throughout this earthly life.

"They are fifteen shining mirrors which help us to know Jesus and Mary and to know ourselves as well. They will also help to light the fire of their love in our hearts."

"They are fifteen fiery furnaces which can consume us completely in their heavenly flames. . . .

"These are the fifteen fragrant flowers of the Mystical Rose Tree; devout souls fly to them like wise bees, so as to gather their nectar and make the honey of solid devotion." pp 78 - 80

Some years ago, when I wrote my first article on Mary Garden mysticism, "In Mary's Garden" in 1962 (enclosed), I regarded such writings, as well as the scriptural exhortation to "bud forth as the lily", etc. as poetically figurative and fanciful; but I now have come to accept them more literally as descriptions of the actual subtle spiritual world of our souls and heaven. Further, I have come to recognize that this spiritual "realism", this making of the spiritual world tangible, as it were, has much to do with the widespread of Rosary devotion to Our Lady.

Interestingly, the contemporary study of the subtle, spiritual world in parapsychology and in the writings of the traditional Eastern religions support the existence of the flowering of the soul on which the Rosary is based.

Carl Jung, for example, was led to conclude from the introspective dream sequences of some of his psychiatric clients that there was an interior flowering of their psyches, which, as he describes in his "Secret of the Golden Flower", led him to seek out parallels in eastern religions, where there are, as in Kundalini Yoga for example, introspective meditational disciplines in which it is discoverable that there are interior flowerings and petals in the soul which correspond to each of the virtues and other spiritual growth stages, etc. . . . potentials inherent to the soul no matter what our beliefs are.

The scriptural key to this is Jesus' teaching that "The Kingdom of Heaven is within you" - from which we are to understand that the landscape, trees, flowers and buildings of heaven are contained within our souls spiritually , or "subtly", in microcosm, or seed, so that we can indeed, through our prayerful intentions and acts, build heaven. Thus teachings such as "Bud forth as the lily" and "Wisdom hath builded herself a house" are to be taken very literally of what goes on in our souls in the spiritual sense.

Hence, when we learn of the widespread medieval legend that rosebuds were seen to rise from the lips of a young monk praying the Rosary, we can take this very literally in the spiritual sense.

The importance of all this is that it calls us to take the life of the spirit very concretely, in accordance with medieval philosophical "Realism", so that we can consider seriously reports of the observed issuance of rose buds with the praying of Aves.

It is all too easy to dismiss the medieval accounts of the Rosary as merely fanciful piety, but in doing so we may overlook the important truths underlying them, which are pertinent to a proper restoration of the Rosary today.

The rising rose-bud prayer-pneums of our vocal praying of the Rosary, can be seen as opening up, through Mary's reception and enhancement of them as our Intercessor and Mediatrix, subtle spiritual channels of connection and communication between earth and heaven, through which the "graphics" and "architecture" of the spacial images, tableaux, visions and other forms generated in our interior "House of Wisdom" by our mental prayers, as well as the grace of our affective prayers of love, can rise; and through which in return we can receive bestowed rivers of infusing divine grace, beams of illuminating divine light; locutions of the divine word, truth and wisdom; and the divine power - as at Pentacost, after the nine days of the Apostles' prayers with Mary in the Upper Room, in which no doubt the Mysteries of Jesus' life, death, resurrection and ascension were vividly recalled and intensively pondered, in a sort of historical prototype of the Rosary Mysteries.

Since I read Teilhard de Chardin's concept some years ago that we build the Kingdom of Heaven as we build God's Kingdom on earth, I have pondered extensively how this specifically may take place.

In general I envisage that our earthly actions undertaken with the intention of Kingdom must in some way generate their subtle, spiritual, heavenly counterparts.

In medieval times the building of the Cathedrals was envisaged in this way, and I was edified to hear Raymond Lau (?) architectural designer of renowned contemporary structures such as the Hancock Tower in Boston, and the new glass pyramid at the Louvre, state in a TV interview a few years back that he envisaged his work as building heaven on earth.

This meant a great deal to me at the time, as I had intuitively embraced the Hancock Tower as a visual mystical Ladder to Heaven.

Just as the generation of spacial arts, crafts and architectural artifacts by our hand- and tool-implemented envisioning and design has an infinite scope and variety - from the tiniest electronic component to the largest city or dam - so do we as Mary-Gardeners generate a variety of flower artifacts. In addition to the individual flower-pneums of our breathed Aves, the artistry of our flower-arranging can generate and offer to Mary a crown, bouquet, nosegay or garland of our fashioning (as symbolized, for example, by the floral wreath of our Mary's Gardens stationary letterhead); or our garden craftsmanship and tending can generate an entire Mary Garden for her.

The flower names of the research, such as Mary's Flower, Nosegay, Bouquet, etc., as well as Mary's Garden can be seen to signify and symbolize our flower and garden offerings as they have risen to and been received by Mary in heaven. Thus the term Mary's Gardens encompasses the envisaged gardens of the heart; our Mary Gardens on earth; and the Mary Gardens of the Heavenly Paradise, as pictured in the medieval drawings, wood-cuts and paintings.

The spiritual channels to heaven opened up as we pray the Rosary give special importance to the group praying of the Rosary, because the channels opened up by one are opened up for all present, as also the sacramental merits gained by one are gained by all (cf p. 151). One thing I like personally about praying the group Rosary in the Mary Garden, as you have been doing, is that when I find myself distracted from my meditations on the Mysteries by sounds or movements of others, I have the sense, in the garden, that my meditations continue to be sustained by the flower symbols of them with which I am surrounded.

I mentioned to you last year my thought that it might be useful to have some sort of plants or markers at the Annapolis Mary Garden such that visitors, especially those who are not yet familiar enough with the flower symbols to use them for prayer and meditation, could make the "stations" of the Rosary. Thus, for example, one could pray the Joyful Mysteries at 5 stations proceeding clockwise from Mary of Nazareth down past the boxwood circle; the Sorrowful Mysteries while moving through the lower parking lot bed from the Linden to the lower entrance; and the Glorious Mysteries while proceeding up the walk - culminating at the marvellous huge rose bush to the left as one returns to Mary of Nazareth.

There are several well known Rosary Gardens which are much visited - for example one at Benet Lake Wisconsin, where the "beads" are bowling balls mounted on pipes and connected by chains, set in a huge rose garden (a little "heavy" for me); and the prize winning 1954 Marian Year Mary Garden in the Philippines laid out as a Rosary with rose plants for each of the Ave beads, etc.. Also the Akita Mary Garden has a sort of tour procedure by which pilgrim visitor walk through the garden.

In my own experience as Mary-Gardening parent, I found the Mary Garden, with its focal figure of the Virgin and Child, a beautiful school for teaching and motivating the offering of flowers, thoughts, feelings and prayers to Our Lady generally and teaching the praying of the Rosary in particular - as chronicled in my 1955 article, "In Mary's Garden" (enclosed). The Mary Garden is a marvellous starting point for learning the Rosary in the simple, direct state of childhood love, innocence and baptismal grace; but in our secular, intellectually critical, multi-cultural, multi-religious, multi-media age we may have to be prepared to make a thoroughgoing presentation of the theological basis for praying it - so that when it is questioned, young adults and adults may continue in their openness to and strengthening of the graces, illuminations, wisdom and power of the Rosary, as the revealed instrument of Mary's divinely ordained heavenly mediation.

I consider that the key to continued appreciation the Rosary as an adult, after exposure to our present world, is to be found in an informed understanding of the general characteristics of the spiritual domain, as learned from the study of comparative religions and secular investigations of the subtle, parapsychological world, evaluated from the viewpoint of Catholic tradition, theology and teaching. Without such a perspective, studies in these areas, or encounters with people with some knowledge of these matters, all too frequently suggest that Catholic teaching and practice are superstitious, unscientific, sentimental, etc., and therefore should be discontinued.

Whether we pray the Rosary as a continuation of the simple, pure faith and love of God and Mary of our childhood; or out of a schooled theological embrace of the Church tradition of Mary's Universal Mediation, and of the Rosary as the primary instrument of that mediation; or because from the viewpoint of comparative religions and psychologies we realize it is a simple, direct, safe, blest way of the Church through the preternatural spirit world between heaven and earth - to which others rush with impunity from their out-of-body and near-death experiences, or through their gurus, mediums, channels, cults and studiers of eastern religions - the ultimate test, the "bottom line" is that we, and our religious practices, are to be known by our fruits.

If we believe in the Rosary as the best means, in augmentation of the Sacraments, for perfecting our instrumentation, through Mary's Universal Mediation, of the divine grace, light, wisdom and power - for love, mercy, truth, justice, peace and Kingdom; then we should strive to perfect ourselves, our praying of it, and in particular our application, in prudence, of its spiritual outpouring to the circumstances of our private and social lives - looking for divine assistance in accordance with the teaching that "man (woman) proposes and God disposes".

As the Mass and Sacraments are the continuation and instruments of Christ's redemptive sacrifice and pentacostal restoration of sanctifying and actual grace; so is the Rosary Mary's instrument of her divinely ordained mediation of these graces as we work in the world towards perfection and Kingdom.

Engaging our love and our imagination, all flower symbols beautifully teach us meditation on and contemplation of Our Lady's life and mysteries; while their purity teaches us at the same time of Mary's immaculate purity permeating her every act - which is our model for imitation in everything we do.

Always, it is we who are to seek and to open ourselves up to Mary's mediation. She cannot mediate if we are not desirous and disposed to receive. This was made clear to Catherine Laboure at the Our Lady of Grace and Miraculous Medal appearance of Mary in Paris in 1830:

"Her hands were raised...and if offering it to God, a golden ball surmounted with a little golden cross, which represented the world . . .

"All at once I saw rings on her fingers. . . Each ring was set with gems. . . The larger gems emitted greater rays and the smaller gems smaller rays. . . .

"'They are the symbols of the graces I shed upon those who ask for them. . . The gems from which rays do not fall are the graces for which souls forget to ask.'

"(Then) the golden ball disappeared in the brilliance of the sheaves of light bursting from all sides; the hands turned out and the arms were bent down under the treasures of grace obtained (in the attitude of Our Lady of Grace)."

- Delanay, Ed., A Woman Clothed with the Sun, Doubleday, New York, 1959, pp 68-70.

As St. John of the Cross teaches, we are not to dwell on the particular personal graces and illuminations received for our spiritual growth and development from grace to grace and glory to glory as we are conducted on our path to union with God, but rather to see them as temporary stepping stones to that union and the building of the divine Kingdom within that union. We are to dwell, rather, on sharing, showing forth and magnifying God's goodness and glory; on sharing in the life of the Trinity; on furthering the divine plan of creation, redemption and Kingdom; and on contemplating and participating in the Mysteries of Christ and Mary to this end.

While other religions may make much of various subtle spiritual illuminations and states, we simply pass through them as necessary links and growth stages between the gross material world, heaven and the uncreated supernatural interior of the Trinity. And in this, we seek the simplest, most direct path to union with God and God's work, which we find to be through Mary.

Even "legitimate" mystical flights are to be avoided if they do not directly contribute to sanctification, union with God, Kingdom, or mercy - in accordance with St. Paul's teaching that when he was transported mystically to the "third heaven", he was divinely deterred, with the instruction, "My grace is sufficient for you, since power is perfected in in weakness" (2 Cor.12, 1-10).

As St. Louis de Montfort says in True Devotion (par 152):

"(Devotion to Mary) is an easy, short, perfect and secure way of attaining union with Our Lord, in which union the perfection of a Chritian consists. . . .

"It is true that we can attain divine union by other roads; but it is by many more crosses and strange deaths, and with many more difficulties, which we shall find it hard to overcome. We must pass through obscure nights, through combats, through strange agonies. over craggy mountains, through cruel thorns and frightful deserts. But by the path of Mary we pass more gently and more tranquilly.

"We do find, it is true, great battles to fight, and great hardships to master; but that good Mother makes herself so present and so near to her faithful servants, to enlighten them in their darknesses and their doubts, to strengthen them in their fears, and to sustain them in their struggles and their difficulties, that in truth this virginal path to find Jesus Christ is a path of roses and honey compared with other paths."

Lastly, the simplicity of the Aves and Meditations is such that all, young and old, can say the prayers of the Rosary; and each person can recall, and reflect or meditate on, the basic events of the life and mysteries of Jesus and Mary. Thus, the youngest children. once the necessary motivation is provided by loving parents or other adults, can pray their Paters and Aves with meditations suitable to their understanding.

For pure, simple souls who have grown continuously in the Rosary graces of union with and service of God and Kingdom, and of love of Neighbor, from childhood to adulthood, none of the facts and reasons in support of the Rosary I have mentioned and quoted from above from comparative religions and parapsychology, etc. are necessary, and would only be boring or confusing. We, however, must be "wise as serpents" as well as "gentle as doves" - as were Joseph and Mary in making the Flight Into Egypt with the Divine Child.

For all of us the basic motivation for praying the mysteries of the Rosary is contained in the concluding prayer, "Grant we beseech thee that while meditating on these mysteries of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain" (Mary's spiritual purity, humility, openness, filling, responsiveness, fruitfulness and constancy), "and obtain what they promise" (the fullness of divine love, grace, light, wisdom and power - for sanctification, glorification, union, mercy, imitate, kingdom, heaven and eternity, in an ever greater sharing in and magnification of God's goodness and glory).

My own particular intention in praying the Rosary is for the grace, light, wisdom and power to help overcome the all-pervasive prejudice, discrimination, exclusion, injustice and conflict of our times - the separation from others in judgement which is the effect of the disobedience of the Original Sin of the eating of the forbidden fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Bad - that all may be united in love, cooperation, justice and mercy in the Communion of Saints for the building of the Peaceable Kingdom on Earth, as the doorway to all eternity.

Nan, thanks so much for your Mary Garden Rosary initiative, and for telling me about the unfamiliarity of some with the Rosary, which prompted me to share with you my love of the Rosary, which has been enriched so much by the Flowers of Our Lady and Mary Gardens.



Boston, MA
October 4, 1992

Francis of Assisi

Dear Nan,

Thanks for your letter of September 3rd.

The cherry trees you are planting and the new landscaped parking facility are clearly important improvements to the Mary Garden site to be thankful for. I will look forward to Laura's updated plan, in due time, when the additions to the Garden planting are complete. There was some coreopsis at Woods Hole when I first visited there, I think, and it seems to me I did run into a religious name some years later, but I don't recall exactly and I don't have my research files or Marzell at hand at the moment to check. I'll let you know if I find anything.

My thought about a maintenance trust fund for the Mary Garden was that at this time it could be set up legally, with the future in mind, for anyone who might wish to contribute, but with no public fund raising campaign right now. It was a blessing that you were permitted to go ahead with the fund raising for Mary of Nazareth. I recall your writing me that permission was granted for the Mary Garden in the church quadrangle on the condition the church would not be required to pick up any of the cost, and the fund would guarantee this for the future.

I'll look forward to a photo of the bronze plaque when it arrives, and I plan sending copies to the McTague family and Bonnie's sister. Your envisaged generic Mary Garden "Logo" plaque would be an innovative Garden adjunct, and would indeed add an important historic dimension. I hope you can "go with it", getting Jane's ideas etc. I appreciate your telling me of the family sociability and praying of the Rosary in the Mary Garden, and also of your hope for the inclusion of the Garden in parish liturgical celebrations. An annual floral crowning of Mary of Nazareth, with an appropriate homily on the revealed origins of the Rosary, on the basis for its name, and on its significance for our times, would be appropriate on the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.

A review of the Flowers of Our Lady and Mary Gardens from the viewpoint of ascetical and mystical theology is helpful when introducing them to religious - whose lives of poverty, chastity and obedience are grounded in self-examens and spiritual direction in the purgative-illuminative-unitive path of spiritual growth.

I have written of how, beginning with an affective love of the beauty and purity of flowers, we come in time to see them as illuminated, showing forth flashes of God's heavenly aura, and then as exemplars of the splendor of "Thy Kingdom come", of the building of the Peaceable Kingdom on earth to meet the descending Heavenly City and Paradise, for which we are to work in union with God.

In the Mary Garden the splendor of Gaillardia, "Heavenly Jerusalem", reminds us of this affective-illuminative-unitive symbolism of all flowers.

We see the flower symbols of Our Lady similarly, first as creatures showing forth God's beauty, aura, radiance and splendor; and then as symbols of Our Lady's virtues, excellences, privileges and prerogatives - just as we are to see Mary first as sharing, rejoicing in, proclaiming, and magnifying God's attributes, and then as "possessing" them in her person.

As immaculate, luminous, resplendant symbols of Mary's person, virtues, life and mysteries, the Flowers of Our Lady present to us, with intuitive directness, Mary's affective fullness of grace, her soul's luminous magnification of the Lord, and her spirit's rejoicing in union with God her Savior, who has "done great things" to her - as she carries out his will.

The "way" of Our Lady's Flowers is a distillation of Marian ascetical and mystical theology - a Ladder to Heaven - illustrating St. Louis de Montfort's observation (TD par.152) that devotion to Mary is "an easy, short, perfect and secure way of attaining union with Our Lord, in which union the perfection of a Chritian consists. . . ."

Whether our belief in Mary has a simple basis in the articles of faith and creedal belief that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary of Nazareth and Bethlehem, of the Annunciation and Nativity; or whether we require a more elaborate theological exposition of it; our devotion to Mary characteristically begins with an affective turning to her as our tender, sweet, loving, spiritual Mother and Intercessor with God - Our Mother of Consolation, Our Mother of Perpetual Help; Our Lady of Guadalupe, Paris, Lourdes and Fatima.

As we first pray the Rosary, with meditation on its Mysteries, we grow from grace to grace in imitation of Mary - praying the Litany of Loreto and perhaps the Little Office. As we continue, we find our souls are drawn by the glories of Mary, and turn to texts such as St. Alphonsus de Liguori's "The Glories of Mary" and St.Louis de Montfort's "True Devotion to the Virgin Mary," as we grow from glory to glory in emulation of her.

In time, as we grow into closer union with Mary, and therefore with her union with Jesus - our spirit rejoices with hers in God her Savior; and ascends eventually with her spirit to the mystical ecstasy of union with the fiery furnace of the interior of the Trinity.

Then, going forth in union with Mary and the Trinity - ever praying our Paters and Aves, meditating on the Mysteries, and looking to Mary as our Model - we come back down from the mountain top to undertake our tasks of Apostolate, Reparation, Sanctification, Love, Mercy and Kingdom, with constant recourse to Mary's mediation of God's grace, light, word and power for the elections, promptings, conduitings and instrumentations needed for these tasks - that our work, like hers, may be God's work.

Having venerated Mary, and conformed ourselves to her through grace, glory and union while meditating on her mysteries in love, we now, in union with her, and therefore in union with the Lord who is with her, transfer our focus from "The Lord is with thee" of the Aves to the "Thy kingdom come" of the Paters - under the guidance Mary, now, as House of Gold, City of God and Queen of Heaven and Earth.

In my own experience, when I first read of the Flowers of Our Lady, deep feelings of love and awe welled up in me; but they were still just a discursive idea. But, when I subsequently actually beheld these flowers in the garden as pure, luminous symbols of Marys' life, mysteries and person, I had an overwelming intuitive spiritual experience of the awesomeness of Mary's position in the Divine Plan. I realize in retrospect, that at that moment I received and responded to the gift of a call to a lifetime spiritual vocation.

The sense of Mary's profound and awesome place in Sacred History, quickened in me by her medieval flower symbols, has never left me, and the attempt fully to comprehend it, live by it, and articulate it for others has been a passion of my life ever since.

In 1951, when Ed and I introduced Mary's Gardens project publically, we found ourselves almost immediately called upon to document and to interpret to others the popular Marian rural medieval traditions on which the Flowers of Our Lady was based - to a range of people, including family, friends, neighbors, business asociates . . . and also to the Chancery Office. And this in turn, together with my personal desire to penetrate to the fullest the meanings and significance of the symbols, caused me to to study and ponder Mary and Marian devotion as such.

I began with the conviction that the flower symbols of Our Lady - still readily available all about us in flower gardens, waysides and the countrysides - represented unique, enduring, concrete evidence and reminders to us of a deeper faith from medieval times, largely lost to us today midst the rush of life and our constant inundation by the ever-changing and ephemeral electronic and print media.

As Robert Ostermann wrote in his 1953 Irish Ecclesiastical Record article, "Mary's Gardens", interpreting our work to Irish audiances:

"Now we can only have an idea of what we lost, when Christian unity was destroyed, through knowing how spontaneous and common was formerly the expression of it in men's affairs.

"It is always in the trivial, the commonplace, that our habits and convictions can be measured (as we are startled to learn from flowers that were) once called Our Lady's Keys, Our Lady's Thimble, Mary's Candle, Our Lady's Cushion.

"Suddenly like a dream ending, we begin to appreciate how terrible, how unbridged, is the distance separating us from medival piety."

From my own experience with these beautiful, precious, symbolical vestiges, these "saving remnants", of medieval faith, the Flowers of Our Lady and Mary Gardens, I perceived that they evidenced a much more profound sense of Mary's presence in lives than I had previously understood or encountered. From this I became convinced that they contained a key to a renewal of Marian spirituality which could contribute to the general renewal of the Church - in our contemporary period of a falling off of church attendance, of conversions and of priestly and religious vocations.

Newspapers and magazines are quickly out of date, library books crumble, and electronic data has to be retrieved; but the flowers endure for our beholding through the centuries. The symbolism of Mary is carved as surely in the forms and colors of the ever-reproducing flowers of the countrysides as it is in the carved Madonnas in Majesty of the stone tympanna of the Gothic cathedrals.

In formulating a theological presentation of Mary's role in the medieval Church, as suggested by the flower symbols, I began with the tenent, as set forth in the catechisms, that God created the world to show forth and share his goodness with creatures.

From this I concluded that he wanted not only to show forth his splendor in the physical creation of the universe, but also wanted to share with us - wanted us to share with him - as fully as possible the goodness of the very spiritual work of developing and fashioning the original Paradise of Creation into the splendor of the Earthly/Heavenly City and Kingdom.

And, to this end, with the fall of our first parents, of Adam and Eve, from original grace and integrity, I concluded that he now additionally wants to share with us, and wants us to share with him in, to the fullest, the goodness of his work of Redemption, Salvation, and Sanctification necessary for resumption of the work of Kingdom.

Consequently, I came to understand and believe that our all-good, all-loving, all-just, all-wise all-peaceful and all-powerful trinitarian God would provide for us, in the Church, not only an infallible truth source, and a sacramental source of sanctifying grace, but also, from his desire to share his goodness with us to the fullest, as sharers in the work of building of his Kingdom, a divinely established means of access to the actual grace, light, wisdom and power needed to fully share and cooperate with him in this work

More specifically, for God to have the desired full, receptive, responsive, cooperative sharing with us of his grace, light, wisdom and power in the prevailing fallen circumstances of the world, there would be required a human person (in place of immaculately created Adam and Eve, who fell from integrity and grace through original sin) with utter, immaculate, purity of human body and soul; of will, intellect and heart; for total, willing acceptance of, attunement to, and entering into, mirroring, defracting, showing forth, magnifying, transmitting, conduiting and instrumenting of the divine, grace, light, wisdom and power, God wished to bestow on the world.

In particular, to accomplish the Incarnation and birth of the Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, into the world - to undertake the work of Redemption and Salvation in accordance with the Divine Plan - it was necessary that there be an immaculate human Mother attuned and freely disposed to conceive the Savior by the Holy Spirit and to give him birth and pure, wise, nurturing and education; a Woman of immaculate purity who could show forth, magnify and share, in full cooperative union, in the goodness, life and work of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, as Daughter, Mother and Spouse.

Through her Immaculate Conception, through her growth to a fullness of grace in fidelity to that immaculateness, and through her freely given fiat or "yes" to the Angel Gabriel's Annnunciational proposal of the spiritual espousal and divine motherhood, Mary accepted the endowment and calling to be that awaited, prophecied person.

Since the Son and the Holy Spirit were not yet revealed prior to the Annunciation, Mary's initial immaculate union with God was with the Father. In this Mary was so immaculately pure, and free from sin and all its effects that her wisdom of intellect was consequently so total and so sublime that it was as though she retroactively shared with the Father in the very creation of the world - as celebrated in the Little Chapter of Vespers of the liturgy for the feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Roman Rite, from Proverbs 8, from which I quote a little more fully (22-31):

"The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his ways, before he made anything from the beginning. I was set up from eternity, and of old before the earth was made. . . .

When he prepared the heavens , I was present; when with a certain law and compass he enclosed the depths . . .

I was with him forming all things: and was delighted every day, playing before him at all times; Playing in the world: and my delights were to be with the children of men . . ."

Her more ordinary union with the Father was through the work of stewardship for nature - "to dress and keep it" - and especially through continuous acts of personal abandonment to divine providence - to it's opportunities and its adversities - and to its ministering angels.

Mary's union with the Father enables us to appreciate that her immaculate purity was such that, as Sorrowful Mother, she likewise was able to unite herself with and to participate in spirit, with utter fullness of compassion, in the redeeming Passion and death of Christ, so that, through her consequent Transfixion, she shared with him, as co-redeemer, in the redemption of the world.

This close cooperation and bond between between Mary and Jesus is reiterated for our times in the documents of the Second Vatican Council:

"(Mary is seen) as used by God not merely in a passive way, but as cooperating in the work of human salvation through free faith and obedience."

(Church: Par. 56)


"Holy Church honors with special love the Blessed Mary, Mother of God, who is joined by an inseparable bond to the saving work of her Son. In her the Church . . . joyfully contemplates, as in a faultless model, that which she herself wholly desires and hopes to be."

(Liturgy: Par 103)

Likewise Mary's immaculate love was so vast that she was espoused by the overshadowing and indwelling Holy Spirit, conceiving of him and giving birth to the Son of God, the divine-human God-Man, Jesus Christ, and sharing in all the sanctifying and renewing action of the Holy Spirit throughout Creation.

Through her immaculate purity, Mary, in her humble, immaculate responsiveness to, embrace of, and filling with the Holy Spirit, was able to act with complete freedom, yet at the same time, in perfect conformity with the will of the Father, the mind of Christ and the movements of the Holy Spirit, in which she rejoiced. Her immaculate purity of intellect and will were such that in her Yes" freedom of choice and obediance to God were one.

In her freedom Mary shared fully in and showed forth the very divine freedom, such that her every intercession with the Father, her every mediation with the Son, and her every desired distribution of grace, light, word and power through the Holy Spirit, in love - for the needs of all her spiritual children - were acceptable and esteemed collaborations with, and implementations and magnifications of, the Divine purpose in Creation ("Never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided.")

Our prayers to God - whether to the Father, or through the Son - are ever answered through Mary's mediation and distribution - whether or not our prayers to God are offered specifically through her intercession.

Thus, when we venerate, praise, honor and invoke Mary for this spiritual intercession, mediation, and distribution, we are honoring first of all God's sublime sharing and showing forth of his goodness in Mary, and then Mary as the immaculately perfect, loving, assenting, and cooperating instrument of that sharing and showing forth.

When we pray to Mary in this way for her motherly help, counsel, guidance, mercy, consolation and healing, and for her intercession, mediation and distribution of divine grace, light,

wisdom and power for our advancement of the coming of God's Kingdom, we are providing opportunities for God to further share his goodness the way he wants to - according to and in the manner of the Divine Plan and Purpose of Creation - and thus are honoring and glorifying both him and his privileging of Mary to this end.

And we are ever reminded of all this as in the Mary Garden we meditate on the flower symbols of Mary's person, virtues, life and mysteries.

Thus, when teaching the "Hail Mary" to children, or singing of Shubert's "Ave Maria", etc. we should do always do so with the intention first of all that the Lord be praised because he is with her and shown forth in her, and then that Mary be praised because her immaculate fullness of grace makes this possible. We do not hail Mary as "full of grace", and then as a parallel praise say "The Lord is with thee".

When the Angel Gabriel greeted Mary he did not do so to praise her as full of grace, and then go on to say "the Lord is with thee" as a supporting parallel statement. Rather, he greeted her as "full of grace", and then announced to her "The Lord is with thee" as the focus of his message.

Similarly he did not attribute blessedness to her, as such, but said, rather, "Blessed art thou among women", to denote that she was the virgin chosen to bear the Messiah, as prophecied by Isaiah.

And when Mary appeared to Benadette at Lourdes she did not identify herself as the Virgin Mary; saying, rather, "I am the Immaculate Conception".

In the Gospel, when someone praised Mary to Jesus, "Blessed is the womb that bore thee and the breasts that gave thee suck", Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Rather, blessed are those who do the will of the heavenly Father" . . . and on another occasion said, "Blessed are those who hear the word of God, and keep it." Even of himself, when someone greeted Jesus as "Good Master", he rebuked him, saying, "Only my heavenly Father is good". We are not to be "respecters of persons".

One of the effects of eating of the fruit of the tree of the judgement of good and evil is the tendency to preoccupation with the good as we see it, or with good works as we see them, rather than with doing will of God in this world of "wheat and tares".

This distinction is suscinctly set forth and placed in proper perspective in the Catechism of the Council of Trent, 1566 (Part IV; The Lord's Prayer; Prayer in General):

"(In the words of the Hail Mary) we render to God the highest praise and return him most gracious thanks, because he has bestowed all his heavenly gifts on the most holy Virgin; and at the same time we congratulate the Virgin herself on her singular privileges."
Thus, in sum, our praise and veneration of Mary are not for her elevation to her sublime prerogatives and privileges as some sort of "reward" for her immaculate purity and virtues, which gives her special leverage in interceding for us with God; but rather for God's sublime embodiment in her of his purpose of showing forth and sharing his goodness in Creation and in his action for Redemption, Sanctification and Kingdom - in fulfillment and celebration of which he wishes us to act by, with, in and for her.

In praying the Rosary our emphasis is ever to be on the Mysteries - imitating what they contain and obtaining what they promise - rather than on Mary's person.

Hoping this reaches you in time for the Feast of Mary's Rosary, Nan, I remain, as ever,

Sincerely yours, in Our Lady,


Boston, MA
April 4, 1993

Palm Sunday

Dear Nan,

From my refections this past year on the spiritual roses generated by our Rosary prayers I find I have a deeper appreciation this Lent of the legends of the Flowers at the foot of the Cross - springing there from the blood drops of Christ and the teardrops of Mary - and of the flowers thus used as embellishments in miniature paintings of the Crucifixion and Cross.

They represent the spiritual roses generated by Jesus' and Mary's mortified sufferings, aggravations and diminishments, and thus those generated by our own mortifications undertaken in emulation of and in union with Jesus and Mary, in love.

Reflection on the spiritual flowers issuing from our mortifications and rising to heaven serve to give us a further sense of the efficacy and concreteness of our offered up spiritual acts and prayers - as they are received by Mary and Jesus; offered by them, with us, as theirs also, to the Father; filled with heavenly graces and power; and then showered back to earth as supernatural guidance and support for our acts and works of sanctification, mission and Kingdom.

With prayerful best wishes for a holy Good Friday and a Joyous Easter; hoping this finds you well; and looking forward to hearing from you, I remain,



Boston, MA
May 1, 1993

St. Joseph, Workman

Dear Nan,

Due to the late March and early April cold spell, Spring in the garden was about two weeks late for us this year in Pennsylvania/Massachusetts. It's the first time I recall the forsythia bloom being as late as mid-April. At the city flower stands it's been a poor spring for "Flowers of the Field" anemones, one of our favorites, which we look forward too each April. On the other hand, "heliotripic" plants more dependent on hours of daylight than on temperature, such as tulips, seem to be blooming "on schedule". With the tulips blooming by themselves this year in one of the city gardens (daffodils, "Our Lady looking down from Heaven", having faded), I was especially impressed by their symbolic cup-like reception of heavenly grace, as it were, into the entire garden; and then, with their flower cups facing horizontally in the wind or bent by rain, by their distribution of it to passers by.

Also, in April there were further surprises in the new city bed of snowdrops I discovered in Philadelphia this winter - some accompanying Christmas and Lenten Roses, (blooming together).

Perhaps, with the weather modified by the Chesapeake, Spring has been more usual in Annapolis. On this feast day, "St. Joseph's Bells" are often in bloom in the Joseph Garden at Woods Hole. In any case, as they say in England, "In the garden everything catches up by June". The Azaleas are beginning to bloom on time.

Like the flowers of the garden, my Mary's Gardens work, too, after an early start, has been delayed this Spring. I hope it, too, will catch up by June, or sooner. Actually the only time I've had for any extended reflection so far was several weeks ago when I was delayed by a seven hour wait at the Boston airport. Happily I had a copy of Jane's Spritsail historical monograph with me, and I spent an hour savoring ever word and reading every footnote as I came to it in the text.

How blest we are in having Jane's restorative work at the Woods Hole Garden of Our Lady and her scholarly research and documentation, now preserved in four publications: pulling together and adding to what was buried in the Historical Collection (Society) and Mary's Gardens archives. Importantly, also, her work has served to heighten immeasurably appreciation of the Angelus tower and Mary Garden by present-day Woods Hole residents. (I felt for so many years like "a voice crying in the wilderness", and almost like an outside intruder, in this respect, when I visited Woods Hole.)

Once again I have my seasonal spring hope of spending some summer time in Woods Hole myself this year.

Tell Anne, I have literally not had access to our Mary's Gardens archives there since I promised her brother to send him in Combermere a copy of Catherine Doherty's 1951 letter to us. I expect to be able to do this soon.

When I observe the personal intensity associated with the religious cults so much in the news, tragically, these days I am moved to renew my hope and prayers for a heightened intensity of true zeal and renewal within our own Catholic community. In this I appreciate ever more the zeal of Dorothy Day, Catherine Dougherty, Thomas Merton and others, who were so inspiring to our generation. From this viewpoint the cause of Catherine Doherty's beatification is even more important for our times.

While it is often true that "the zeal of their house has eaten them up", as with the French Worker Priests and some of the "liberation theologians" - for whom concern for social justice lead to a departure from the movements of grace and providence into self-defeating secular dialectics and conflict - we are always called to greater personal sanctificaton that we may be more zealous instruments of the spiritual renewal to which we are called for the building of God's earthly Kingdom of peace and justice. In all this we better appreciate the primary importance St. Catherine of Siena attributed to the virtue of discretion, that we not be carried away by an excess of the other virtues, such as justice or knowledge - since we may embrace only the virtue of love without limit. And, As Ed McTague used to say, "there is no Right or Left with the Holy Spirit". Sometimes we move with one and sometimes with the other, but inspirationally rather than with "knee jerk" political dialectics.

I am saddened that "cults", which originally signified constructive focuses within the unity of Catholicism, in accordance with the precepts of love, peace, justice and morality, as with the cults of Mary and the Saints, now seem to be vehicles of alienation and violence, as with Apocalyse cults.

It is paradoxical, as Msgr. Knox points out in his book, "Enthusiasms", how zeal may lead away from the Church, instead of more deeply into it. Yet, as he also points out (as I recall from my last reading of this book some 40 years ago), every heresy contains within it a grain of neglected truth, which needs greater emphasis within the Church.

I'm sure your true zeal and that of the Mary Garden Committee, are doing much, especially in respect to the revitalization of the Rosary, in cooperation with the clergy and religious, to heighten the living faith at St. Mary's. I trust that the Mary Garden will be included again in this spring's Annapolis garden tours, extending its graces the general community.

In addition to a deepened appreciation this Lent of "Christ's Blood Drops" and "Mary's Tears" as flower symbols of the prayer pneums generated and rising heavenwards from Jesus'and Mary's sorrows and mortifications - in which we are called to join - I have been struck this spring generally with how the purity and beauty we behold in flowers, animals, landscapes and the sky, and in children, infallibly bear witness to the beauty, purity and holiness of God - both as Creator of the world, and as its redeeming rescuer, with which we are called to join. Nature directly quickens us in what we have learned of Eden, Calvary, Pentacost, Kingdom and Heaven from the Bible and Church. The Mary Garden Prayer continues to be a distillation of my faith.

Further, just as reflection on the full significance of Mary's divine prerogative of mediating all grace quickens our sense of her personal mediating presence ever with us wherever grace is received, so does reflection on Jesus' taking away of all the sins of the world by his personal clothing of himself with them as divine Lamb and Scapegoat - so that they might die and be dissipated into nothingness through his Passion and Death on the Cross - quicken our sense that he is present and united with each and every one of us in love as he clothes himself with, takes up and bears all our sins and sufferings - so that, seeing him in others. we are ever prompted to acts of mercy to them, and to him in them, in the sure knowledge that "whatever you did to the least of my brethren you did to me".

We are also quickened in our sense that Jesus so directly and fully unites himself with each of us, ourself, in order to bear our particular sufferings, with all others, as part of his universal expiating and redemptive sacrifice of the Cross, that he therefore dwells within us, too, and we in him, in such a real manner that we can unite ourselvs in turn with him, in love, in the carrying of his Cross - for his comfort, and for the salvation of others. Our cross becomes his and his ours.

This is especially pertinent for our response to wrongs perpetrated against us and others, for while we are always to work correctively for justice, and to practice the spiritual mercies of instructing the ignorant and rebuking the wrongdoer, we, while striving to correct them, are at the same time to embrace wrongs against us patiently, in union with Jesus, who has taken them up for us as part of his Cross - as a means for joining with him in the taking up of his Cross as well as our own. In taking up our Cross we join with Jesus, who has already taken it up for us, and as we become more closely united with him, in love, we join him in the taking up of his Cross - "making up what is wanting in the sufferings of Christ".

Our union with Jesus, dwelling within us in love, is nurtured by our reception of the species of his sacrificial Body and Blood at the Communion of Mass, and is acted on through our taking up of our own sufferings redemptively with and for him, as his members, and through acts of compassion and mercy for others and for him as he is present with them taking up their sufferings.

Through Jesus' closest of unions with Mary in filial love and in his sustaining and comforting of her in her motherly suffering for him, she in turn, through her love for him, and in her immaculate purity, was so totally united with him that in her Transfixion, which we commemorate and emulate in the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary, she shared with him so utterly in embracing his Passion and Death as to be the effective Co-Redemptrix of the world.

This, for our veneration, emulation and participation, is another manifestation of the accomplishment in and through Mary of God's desire as Father, Son and Holy Spirit for the fullest showing forth and sharing of the Divine creative, redemptive, sanctifying and renewing goodness and action in and through creatures..

Through nature, suffering, grace, acts and works, we - with the simpliity and directness of Brother Lawrence - ceasely experience, have recourse to, unite ourselves with, and "practice" the presence of God and of Mary.

The quest for religious truth, and participitation, in love and joy, in the grace and work of Creation, Redemption, Sanctification, Mercy, Renewal and Kingdom, in magnification of God's glory, are so compelling that all else seems like illusion.

Thus, Nan, my reflections this past Lent and Holy Week on "Jesus' Blood Drops" and "Mary's Tears" in the Garden.

I appreciate the sense of freedom I feel to share my Mary's Gardens thoughts with you, and look forward to experiencing this year with you in the Garden.

Hoping this finds you well, I remain,



Boston, MA
August 15, 1993


Dear Jane and Nan,

Last month our daughter, Mary Elizabeth, was able visit Lincoln Cathedral in Lincolnshire, England - during a vacation tour of the nearby Yorkshire countryside - to check out the status of the Flowers of the Virgin collection there, as described in the beautiful The Flower Grower leaflet with numerically coded plant list and composite painting.

I have just received a preliminary phone report from Mizzy which I would like to share with you on this feast day.

On entering the Cathedral cloister garden, they found no notice of the Plants of the Virgin Mary collection, but did see that the plants in a row of beds comprising one side of the garden had markers with numbers, but no names. On examining these they found that they indeed corresponded to the numbered plants of the leaflet. The beds were well maintained. Mizzy took some photos, of which she will send copies when they are developed.

They then inquired about the Plants of the Virgin of the person on duty at the gift shop, but were told by her that she knew nothing about any such plants. However, another Cathedral employee or volunteer came by just then and was able to provide the basic information. After rummaging around a bit she also found a copy of a numbered list of plant descriptions at the back of one of the tables - which was evidently the original list, from which the illustrated list of The Flower Grower was developed.

She said the planting was made some years ago by the Lincoln Herb Society, under the initiative of a particular individual who has since died. The Society continues to maintain the planting, markers and supply of leaflets, and their principal public project is the maintenance of a town "Roman Herb Garden". She was able to provide an address for the Herb Society and suggested writing to them for fuller information, which I will of course do.

This is welcome news, since a number of inquiries I directed to Lincoln Cathedral some years back had remained unanswered, and The Flower Grower told me they had worked from a copy of the plant list they had come upon, rather than from any first-hand knowledge of the cathedral planting itself.

It's good to known that the planting is faithfully maintained, and I will write to the Lincoln Herb Society requesting full information. I will send them copies for their library of the two Herbarist articles (Dan Foley's, and Bonnie's and mine), of Jane's Spritsail monograph on the Woods Hole Angelus Tower and Mary Garden, of my English AVE article, and of the Annapolis Mary Garden historical leaflet.

I will suggest they erect some sort of information shelter, with posted copy of The Flower Grower leaflet, and "take one" supplies of the leaflet, which I would offer to arrange to provide - so visitors would be immediately informed about the Plants of the Virgin and their history. Jane, could I offer to make available to them, through you, copies of Fred's plans for the Annapolis shelter?

The ultimate hope, of course, is for the emergence of some especially committed person who out of love for Our Lady and her flowers would spread knowledge of them, organize a supportive committee within the Lincoln Herb Society, and inspire the planting of other Mary Gardens.

Hoping you are both well; with prayerful best wishes; and with rejoicing over this development in the overall spread of our work, I remain, as always,



Boston, MA
October 8, 1993

Rosary of Our Lady

Dear Nan,

The recent Israel/Palestine peace agreement is an occasion of special joy for us who have been working and praying with the Annapolis Mary Garden and Mary of Nazareth dedication intention of "peace in the Holy Land, and all the world".

I noted that a key part of the agreement - the mutual recognition of Israel and the PLO - came in the season of the feast of the Nativity of Our Lady, and the second anniversary of the dedication of Mary of Nazareth.

I hope this Providential concurrence will quicken all Annapolis Mary Gardeners to heightened work and prayers for universal peace.

Rose of Jericho pray for us.

From the viewpoint of the sweep of world history from Eden to the Peaceable Kingdom we see that a major contribution to peace in the Holy Land came through the end of the Cold War, and its projection for so many years on the Middle East - deriving from the outpouring of reparational prayers and acts in response to the requests of Our Lady of the Rosary at Fatima.

The events of the past several years have demonstrated the indispensibility of openness to Grace and Providence on the part of national leaders, to meet the complex social, political and economic problems of our times.

It is necessary to be "in" the world to deal with its realities, but also "not of it" to remain open to the movements of Grace.

We can exercise stewardship for the goodness of nature; and act according to virtue, morality, ethics and idealism; but our ultimate contribution to conversion and Kingdom is to act in relation to all persons in all circumstances in such a way as to mediate and infuse grace - in which Francis Xavier was so exemplary

We are not just to be politically conservative, liberal or radical; to apply ideals to circumstances; or to work through historical dialectics - but, always, first of all, to aspire to Mary's purity and humility, and openness and responsiveness to grace that we may be the instruments of God.s bringing forth of good from evil in circumstances.

And each of us, through mortification of our own limitations, imperfections, faults and sins, and through our forgiveness of the tresspasses of others against us, removes these effects of sin from the world chain of cause and effect into nothingness, in union with Jesus' sacrifice on the Cross which takes away the sins of the world - thus serving to lighten the overall weight of sin in the world soul or climate, so as to facilitate a general atmosphere in which world leaders can be more responsive to Grace.

No expression of human empathy can compare with Jesus' redemptive taking upon himself as his own on the Cross all our sins, and all our diminishments, indignities, suffering, loss and sorrows - deriving from all the sins of the world since Adam - that they may be removed from the cause and effect and karma of the world, and dissipated into nothingness, with the sacrificial death of his body on the Cross.

In the infinity of his divine sonship he becomes personally present, throughout history, to each and every one of us, in love and compassion, in taking up and clothing himself with all our sins, faults, pains and sorrows of each and every one of us, for the sacrifice of the Cross. Jesus is present to and in each person, each one of us, as taking away our sins, as Mary is present to each of us as Mediatrix of all Grace.

Once we grasp the reality of this, and live by it in our lives, each diminishment and 1oss we experience serves to highten our love for Jesus for his taking up of sin and sorrow for us in love as his own.

The more hurt or pain or loss we experience, the more intense our love for him becomes through our heightened appreciation of the reality of his actual bearing them with and for us.

We in turn endeavor to comfort others by our bearing of one another's burdens in compassionate replication of and witness to the loving reality of Jesus' bearing of the sufferings and diminishments of us all.

We are to take up the burdens of others utterly that they may learn through us the love we have learned from Christ.

And for those who do hurt to us, we in turn unite with Jesus in augmentation of his taking up of that hurt and its expiation into nothingness - "making up what is wanting in the sufferings of Christ", that this hurt not be reciprocated or escalated to add weight to the world.

The greater our diminishment, suffering or loss, the greater our appreciation of the love which moved Jesus to take these onto himself . . . that he might "become all in all", per Teilhard's culminating insight, from St. Paul

And this in turn heightens our awesome realization of how Jesus on the Cross indeed bore on his person all the sin and pain of the entire world, throughout all time - past, present and future - for their sacrificial expiation into nothingness, that the world might be renewed and re-created.

This is how we participate with Jesus, as co-redeemers, in the taking away of the sins of the world, that we and our leaders may proceed, with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, in the building of the Peaceable Kingdom of earth and heaven.

The Flowers of the Passion - interspersed with the other flowers of the Mary Garden -

Cross Flower
Crown of Thorns
Jesus' Blood Drops
Christ's Knee
Christ's Back
Tree of the Cross
Passion Flower
Christ's Sweat

serve to instruct us in meditation on the instruments and attributes of Jesus' Passion as implicit to all our flower meditations - as the Sorrowful Mysteries are integral to the Rosary, and as Our Lady appeared at La Salette with representations of the instruments of torture of the Cross (nails, hammer, pliers) displayed on her smock - along with her garlands of roses.

This consciousness of Jesus' Passion everywhere in the Mary Garden helps us, in our daily lives, to see his suffering presence everywhere with and in persons - even when they seem outwardly happy - as he assumes to himself all sins, sufferings and diminishments, that they may be relegated to ultimate nothingness through his death on the Cross.

While we rejoice in God as our Creator, and our Inspiration, as we care for Creation and work towards sanctification and Kingdom, we also, with Mary, learn with each suffering more fully to "rejoice in God (our) Savior".

o O o

This fall has given us a marvellous period of "October's bright blue weather" - for the asters, cyclamen and autumn crocus.

I don't believe I shared with you my insight of several years ago as to a singular quality of cyclamen, which is clearly the basis for its (German) name of "Our Lady's little ladle"; namely the characteristic that no matter what the orientation of the flower stems - vertical, horizontal or drooping - the flower "cups" are always facing upwards. This results in a resemblance of the drooping stems and their flowers to little ladles - evoking an envisaging of the Nazareth kitchen, and a fanciful discernment of Our Lady as ladeling grace into souls.

Also, in the area of our research, I had somehow gained the impression that the hardy, small-flowered, garden fuchsia, Fuchsia magellanica, was indigenous to England where it had been given the name, "Our Lady's Eardrops"; but in a recent re-reading of Bonnie's and my (and Sandy Hicks') Herbarist article I was reminded that it all fuchsias are indigenous to the Americas (and should have been included in the list of such plants in my Annapolis "Historical Note" leaflet.

Actually, it was a post-Reformation horticultural introduction to England, and my intuitive guess is that it received its Mary-name in Catholic southern Germany (Fuchs, after whom it was named, having been a German botanist), which came with it in its introduction into England - in "ladies" mode.

In any case, in keeping with the thoughts of this letter, it is an adornment symbol honoring Mary's hearing of the word of God and keeping it, which we are to emulate in keeping ourselves open to the actual graces needed for our earthly lives.

An event of this summer was my coming upon a cast brass figurine of Mary embracing the boy Jesus as teenager - say 14 or 15 years old - a relationship to which I hadn't given much thought, and another dimension of Nazareth, which I don't recall previously seeing represented in religious art.

Nan, I hope all is well with you, and while I do not know the outcome of your sister's stroke of last year, she, her family and you are constantly in my prayers.

Sincerely, in Our Lady,


Boston, MA
January 1, 1994

Mary, Mother of God

Dear Nan,

Thanks for your Christmas card and your beautiful reflections on Mary's utter trust and belief in the mystery of the Nativity.

Thanks, too, for your letter of October 16th - which arrived together with one from Brother Seán, containing photos and a descriptive leaflet of a new garden he has planted at the Oratory at Artane, his religious community, in Dublin. I enclose copies of a photo and the leaflet.

For perhaps the first time in his (religious) life Brother has been able to undertake, under obedience, full personal responsibility for designing, planting and tending a Garden.

As you can see from the leaflet, he has named it the "Garden of Remembrance" - evidently not being permitted by his superiors to announce it as a Mary Garden, or to install a focal Marian statue or Mary-name plant markers (as at Knock).

However, he has been able to designate those flowers in the garden which are named for Our Lady by the underlining of their common or botanical names in the leaflet, but without giving their religious names.

This is sufficient to enable those who are really interested to seek him out for further information, and this may indeed be a blessing, in disguise as they would learn more about fhe Flowers of Our Lady and Mary's Gardens through conversation with him than they would from a more fully informative leaflet.

Also the garden is a horticultural masterpiece of bloom color and continuity, which of itself will lead persons to seek him out for horticultural details.

I am sure he is mindful of Bonnie Roberson's employment of the horticultural excellence of her "Garden of Memories", as she called her commercial herb garden and nursery, as a means of introducing her Mary Garden to visitors. Many came to visit or purchase herbs from the Garden of Memories, and Bonnie then would show them the Mary Garden and tell them about the Flowers of Our Lady, and give them some literature and a small plant - as I wrote in my two articles about her work and devotion. She and Brother Sean had such a beautiful correspondence all through the 70's!

So, whether by design or by obedience, we have a somewhat unique mode for the presentation of the Flowers of Our Lady to visitors to a religious chapel, which I pray will bear much fruit. While the visit to the Oratory remains primary, the beauty of the garden then attracts visitors to it, from which they then learn, through the leaflet, of the existence of the Flowers of Our Lady. I will inquire of Brother as to whether he is able to have the leaflets readily accessible on a table or in a rack.

Noting your all-out struggle this dry summer to keep the Mary Garden watered, I suggest that you consider going all the way by installing underground metal piping with an adjustably automatic master timer valve, which would both water the garden adequately and last through the years - similar to that installed by Father Norton in Woods Hole 2 or 3 years ago., which Jane tells us has made such a wonderful difference in bloom and foliage the past several aummers. If you can get an estimate for the cost of such a system, which will be considerable, we would be open to making a substantial contribution to this end for matching by local contributors. I will ask Jane to send you the details on the Woods Hole setup.

Yes, I am acquainted with The Marian Movement of Priests, and corresponded some 10 years ago with Fr. Albert G. Roux at their (then) MMP National Headquarters, P.O. Box 8, St. Francis, Maine 04774. My copy of Fr. Gobbi's locutions is the 6th English Edition, 1980, and I would appreciate your sending me their current address, so I can write for the latest update. Bro. Seán wrote me that a group of priests from the Society were conducting a retreat at Knock when he was there several summers ago.

I sent them some Mary's Gardens literature in the hope that with their special Marian devotion some of the members might be moved to take up the custom of growing a Mary Garden. I received a very positive response regarding this suggestion from Father Roux, but have had no subsequent indication that anything concrete was undertaken. When I write to them again I'll send them copies of literature on your Garden and Knock.

I have written you of my heightened appreciation of the Sorrowful Flowers of Our Lady - as symbols in the Garden of how our union with God through the beauty of the Joyful Flowers leads us to union also with God's redemptive work of the Passion and Cross. This has been my focus for the year.

I wish you and Anne well with your undertaking of the Annapolis chapter of the Alliance of Catholic Women.

Now that women are participating increasingly in political and economic life, I consider it important for the Catholic women's apostolate to affirm women's vocation to social, as well as physical and spiritual, nurturing - following the lead of Pope Pius XII in his landmark letter on women in social life in the late 40's to the effect that society needs the nurturing qualities with which women are especially endowed. This provides a basis for perceiving the unity between homemaking and career, rather than seeing them in opposition.

To this end, and to the general end of building the Kingdom of God and his justice, it is accordingly necessary that women have equal opportunity in education, employment, advancement, credit, etc,

In other words, it is important that women's special nurturing endowment be recognized, appreciated and desired not only in family and home, or in special nurturing vocations of teaching and nursing, but as well in all areas of social, political and economic work and professions. And Mary, as Mediatrix of All Grace, is mediatrix of the graces for social as well as personal nurturing.

And, always, the differences between male and female are to be referred back to the divine purposes of Creation (showing forth and affording the opportunity to share in the interior love of the persons of the Trinity) so that our dialogs with others will be on a theological basis - dealing with the truths of our faith. rather than just differences of opinion.

The difficult aspect of the abortion debate is that the divinely endowed human freedom of will, if it is true freedom, includes the right to choose error and evil (as at Eden) as well as good, so that we have to both respect freedom of choice - "error has its rights" - and at the same time present the goodness of truth in a loving and nurturing way in the hope that others will be be moved to freely choose it. As we used to be told in the Catholic Action apostolate, we are to "win the will", not the argument. This is a major challenge of the application of feminine nurturing to the area of social differences.

o O o

Nan, I extend my prayerful best wishes to you, your family and your co-workers for the New Year, and look forward to hearing from you about the details of Garden developments (including the plants put in since the 1990 plan).



Boston, MA
August 22, 1994


Dear Nan,

Thank you for your letter of July 22nd. I always enjoy so much hearing from you; and your Mary Garden is such a joy to me.

I will await with anticipation the edited copy of the video tapes of the over-all garden and of the blessing of the children's garden. I felt so much closer to you all after viewing the Mary of Nazareth tape.

I can readily share in your reflections on the future of your garden and what you can contribute to it, as I am constantly thinking about the hoped for growth of over-all appreciation of the flowers of Our Lady and the planting of more and more Mary Gardens as a prayerful work in Catholic culture generally, and what I can do further to promote this. I am not far behind you in stage of life as I will be 74 in October.

In thinking about what I have written through the years I can see three focuses: (1) a continuing attempt better to communicate and to inspire in others the love of Our Lady which was quickened in my own heart by her flowers, and which moved me to undertake this work; (2) an attempt to discern ever more clearly, to set forth, and to inspire in others the fullest appreciation of the pre-ordained, unique, awsome fulfillment, as our model, in Mary - in her earthly life, and in her heavenly/earthly work since her Assumption - of God's desire for the created world of the fullest showing forth and sharing, as symbolized by her flowers, of the divine life, attributes and action in and with humans, made in the divine image for this purpose; and (3) the undertaking and proposing, to these ends, of practical steps for making information about the Flowers of Our Lady and Mary Gardens universally available in libraries, etc. and for providing for the continuity and perpetuity of existing Mary Gardens.

The first is from the heart; the second from the head; and the third from the practical task incumbent upon us of contributing to the building of God's earthly/heavenly Kingdom.

Reflection on the divine call to each of us to contribute in our own unique Spirit-inspired way, midst all the ills of our times, to the building of God's Kingdom - for which we pray in the Our Father - brings us to see and to love Mary, especially at the Annunciation, as our most perfect human example for this, in her spiritual purity, humility, openness, filling, responsiveness, fruitfulness, and protection.

Ed McTague envisaged that missionaries to the Americas used flower symbols not only for the teaching of the truths of our faith to the illiterate, as with the Passion Flower, used by the Jesuits, but as well for the imparting of a sense of the spiritual qualities of Mary, our spiritual Mother and Queen - as today we learn them from the lily for purity, the violet for humility, the tulip for spiritual openness, the blue periwinkle (Virgin Flower) for filling with grace, the fuchsia (adorning her ears) for the hearing the Word of God and keeping it, the strawberry of spiritual fruitfulness, the columbine (Our Lady's Shoes) of spiritual responsiveness, in doing the will of the Father, and the lady's mantle of spiritual care and protection etc..

He could see how flower symbols might have continued to recall and teach such spiritual truths and values for decades until other missionaries returned to a given area to start schools and give religious instruction with printed catechisms, etc. (It occurs to me that flowers and flower photographs could be used, in addition to the spoken and written word, in teaching the spiritual qualities of Mary in religion classes for young children in our schools today. Not only did flower symbols of Our Lady show forth her spiritual qualities for the illiterate, but they show them forth today in a special way not imparted by words and pictures, for those who do read and have books.)

Mindful of Mary's fullest exemplification of the spiritual attributes, and of her utter fulfillment of God's desire for the highest human sharing in the divine creative, redemptive and kingdomal work, makes us see her, in the meaning of St. Louis de Montfort, as "necessary" to our salvation. This, in addition to love, is the warrant for our daily praying of the Rosary and for special practices of devotion bringing us closer to her, such as the planting of Mary Gardens.

We must always point out to the "critical", "scrupulous" and other minimal devotees of Mary, as identified by St. Louis de Montfort, that true devotion to Mary does not detract from devotion to Jesus or make her "competitive" with devotion to him, but, rather, proclaims, praises, celebrates and inspires our recourse, without limit, to her divinely blest fullest human sharing in the divine attributes, action, and work of the Trinity. Those who diminish the divinity in Christ object to the filling of Mary (full of grace and overshadowed by the Holy Spirit) with it.

The Flowers of Our Lady which refer specifically to Jesus serve to proclaim, for our emulation, as do the Mysteries of the Rosary, which they mirror, her intimate union with his life, Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension. Thus, for example, I have come personally, with the aches and pains of advancing years, to have a heightened appreciation of the plant symbols of Christ's Knee (Tigridia) and Christ's Back (Achellia), as aids - in the Mary Garden, in photographs, and in reflection - to more effective union with and participation in Jesus' pain, as he participates in and takes unto himself ours, in the Carrying the Cross, that he may banish it, along with our repented sins, into nothingness with the death of his body, for our redemption. These plant symbols giving focus to particular aspects of Christ's pain serve to give a heightened directness and immediacy to the overall sense of our union with his Carrying of his Cross which we achieve from general meditation on the Stations of the Cross, etc.

This, then, in overview. would be my "outline" for what you might write, Nan - sharing with others your own religious insights, feelings and experiences in your own mode of expression.

One practical matter, which I mentioned early in our correspondence, would be the establishment of a perpetual trust fund to pay for your Mary Garden maintenance and care above and beyond what would be normally paid by the parish for grounds keeping - such cutting the grass and raking leaves, etc.. This would be consistent with the original stipulation from your Pastor that the the garden not impose any additional expenses on the parish, and would follow on previous approved special fund raising such as for the Mary of Nazareth statue and the automated watering system. It would cover the necessary plant replacements each year and also cultivation, weeding and other garden care if there were periods though the year of decreased voluntary participation of parishioners in the Mary Garden Committee or Society. Such a fund could be set up legally separately from other parish funds, but could in time be administered by the Pastor. It could be small to begin with, and then added to through the years. This follows on the example of the trust fund set up by Frances Lillie in Woods Hole.

Also, from the spiritual viewpoint, the Mary Garden Committee has the potential of being transformed ever more and more fully into a Society focusing on, in addition to the practical side of Garden care, the many-faceted spiritual dimensions of the devotion and consecration to Mary inspiring and implicit in the Flowers of Our Lady and Mary Gardens.

Mindful of the coming anniversary of the dedication of Mary of Nazareth, I renew my spiritual best wishes to you and all the Mary Garden Committee; remaining, as always,



Boston, MA
September 8, 1994

Birth Of Mary

Dear Nan,

Here we are already at the third anniversary of the installation and blessing of Mary of Nazareth. It seems like just yesterday to me, but with all your activities and work on location it probably seems to you as though the sculpture has been there forever.

I've continued in my efforts to come up with a more comprehensive statement of my motivation for Mary Gardening and I'll set down my current expression of it in this letter - in the hope they may be of some help to you in your project of writing something of your own for your Committee and Parish to have for the future.

o O o

The most comprehensive statement of all is, of course: love!

But there is also a place for an apologia.

Starting with the scriptural revelation that Mary is full of grace; that the Lord is with her; that she is overshadowed by, and that she conceived by, the Holy Spirit; and that she gave birth to the Son of God, to the Divine Word Incarnate, to the God-Man, it is clearly revealed that she most completely fulfills, as a person, God's purpose for Creation: of showing forth and sharing the divine goodness with humans.

We therefore rejoice and give thanks and praise that God created us to share in the divine goodness; and that in the fallen world Mary, blessed among women, possessed the immaculate purity, humility, openness and responsiveness to receive, preserve and act upon this shared goodness most fully of all persons, as our beautiful and virtuous example and model. We rejoice also that to share the divine goodness to the utmost with humans, created in the divine image, God bestowed upon Mary, further, the singular prerogative of supplicating, mediating and nurturing grace for us all, as our spiritual Mother - thus elevating her sharing to a cooperative participation in the very divine redemptive and sanctifying action itself.

Accordingly in praying the Litany of Our Lady and the Rosary we proclaim and praise Mary's showing forth of the divine attributes from the Lord's presence with her ("Virgin Most Powerful", etc.); as we praise also her responsiveness to the Holy Spirit; her motherly cooperation with Christ; and her exercise of the divine prerogatives of universal spiritual motherhood. We also proclaim and praise the attributes revealed in scripture as more specifically hers: her virgin immaculateness, her humility "regarded" by the Lord, her magnification of the Lord, her rejoicing in God her Savior, her doing of the will of the Father, and her hearing of the word of God and keeping it.

In the Mary Garden the flower symbols of Mary's divine and human attributes serve in an unique way to make them more tangibile for our greater love, veneration, and emulation. A primary purpose of the Mary Garden, therefore, is to make Mary better known, loved and beseeched for her mediation of grace: both the sanctifying graces for our greater perfection, and the actual graces prompting and guiding our acts of love, teaching, mercy and kingdom.

Moreover, the saints teach us that we are not only to petition Mary's protection, help and intercession; but also in love to participate in her very mediation of graces to others. We are to do this by discerning the moments of love, truth and despair in which seekers of truth, the lukewarm, non-believers or those who suffer may be more open to receive grace; that, as "other Marys", we may through grace-inspired acts of love, mercy and truth, gain their love, trust and openness for reception the graces which Mary, Mediatrix of all Grace, is waiting to distribute to them.

St Louis de Montfort speaks of how our prayers and actions for such further mediation of Mary's graces can be quickened, attuned and enhanced through the practice of special devotions bringing us closer to Mary (in our case by Mary-Gardening), and how we may be moved in time to consecrate all of our life, works, actions and spiritual goods totally to Mary, so that we may undertake everything for God "by, with, in and for Mary," according to the Divine Plan.

While many may discount such a practice as a private pious devotion or enthusiasm, it must nevertheless be looked at from the viewpoint of its solid grounding in Scripture, Tradition, theology and the saints; and also in relation to the all-pervasive emnity and violence in the world today which clearly demonstrate that although Christ has won the victory over the world by breaking the strangle-hold of sin and its effects, and restoring access to the life of grace - now redeeming, sanctifying and renewing, as well as guiding towards Kingdom, as in Eden - there is yet the necessity of consolidating this victory, along the lines of G.K.Chesterton's observation that "Christianity has not failed; it has never been tried."

The task of all times since the Redemption, and especially of our time, is for all to become open to the healing and renewing grace won for us by Christ and made available to us through the sacraments and sacramentals and Mary's mediating and nurturing prerogatives.

While we see that national, ethnic and ideological emnities can be resolved through balance of power and negotiations in good will - as with the cold war, South Africa, and, hopefully, Palestine and Ireland, etc., they are at bottom collective manifestations of ever-present personal emnities which keep on aggregating and surfacing in new situations.

I have alluded before to how I read somewhere that the same word is used in the Hebrew Bible for what has been translated into English, according to context, as either Justice or Righteousness; and I see in this the truth that social manifestations of sin and evil have their roots in personal sin and ignorance and must ultimately be dealt with at this level. In this God's Peaceable Kingdom of Love and Justice will become established as the aggregate of millions of acts personal love and justice.

Happily, despite the evils of our day on the personal level - especially crime - the truth that "where sin abounds, there does grace more abound" still applies, and there are trends that indicate that following the impetus of the civil rights movement in areas of voting rights, public accommodations, and equal educational and employment opportunity, the facing of discrimination, injustice, destructiveness and violence is moving more and more towards the community, workplace and family levels, as we see from the concerns over equal access to health care, and over child abuse and sexual harrassment, and is getting closer to the personal levels, where I foresee that the very subjective judgemental attitudes of superiority, prejudice and discrimination, and even of deception, manipulation and exploitation of individuals, can be transformed in grace to love, respect and mutual support. And there is nothing in this which is essentially contrary to the innovation, industry and commerce which provide the sufficiency of material goods also necessary for the earthly Kingdom.

On the personal level, however, legal remedies are not as applicable as at the social levels, and it is here especially that transformation must be in grace - brought about by the spiritual acts of mercy of personally confronting the wrongdoer and instructing the ignorant in the judgemental, Eighth Commandment, false witness areas of prejudicial stereotypes, detraction, gossip and imputation of motives, etc.

And it is here that I forsee the possibility, in grace, of "turning around" crime on the personal level by the merciful instruction in love of young people faced with all the outrages of adult shortcomings, political hypocrisy and petty affronts in the entry level workplace that there is another alternative besides illicit activities and crime, namely that of widespread collective confrontation of these outrages one by one, person by person - bearing wrongs patiently as encountered but at the same time confronting the wrongdoer face to face in each instance, with the support of concerned church people, political activists and the media. Education, job training, social programs (e.g "midnight basketball"), "family values" and rehabilitation have their place; but without a direct facing of the outrages and petty aggravations of the adult, workplace world they are not adequate to redirecting youthful energies from crime.

The key to this is the understanding that it is indeed a further extension of the civil rights movement to the personal level, but more than this, that it is the means by which God's Peaceable Kingdom of Love and Justice is to be built, which, once understood, can become an overriding motivation.

As a prayerful work and special devotion to Mary, leading to possible total consecration to her, the Mary Garden serves to focus attention, prayers and spiritual actions on accessing the very wellsprings, in the Divine Plan, of the graces so urgently needed in our times to redeem us from our social ills and move towards the building of the earthly/heavenly Kingdom for human happiness and the greater glory of God

o O o

Nan, I hope this overview is helpful to you in writing what you discern as necessary for your parish.

Mary Gardening is always first of all a simple act of love and devotion in itself, but it also has its importance as a means for enhancing the distribution of the graces the world needs, through Mary, Mdiatrix of all Graces.



Boston, MA
October 7, 1994

Rosary of Mary

Dear Nan,

I was delighted to receive the diocesan paper article about the Annapolis Children's Mary Garden, for which I thank you.

Your Committee is blest in having Kahla Lehmann as a member and it seems her work with school children is truly inspired, in the highest sense of the term. As I write "Committee" I am reminded of a thought I had after last writing you that perhaps a fitting name for parish Mary Garden workers would be a "Mary Garden Guild", in keeping with the medieval guilds which formally incorporated various areas of work into the formal life of the Church. Each guild developed ways of giving symbolic religious meanings to the objects of its work, and then there were special masses, processions and celebrations on the days of their patron saints, as well as fraternal charity among members. As apprentices learned the guild craft they learned its religious symbolism at the same time. So, I was struck by the thought that "Guild" would be a better name than "Committee" or "Society" etc..

Also, this letter serves as an introduction to a flood of thoughts I have had and want to share with you and Kayla about the School Children's Mary Garden.

As with other institutional Mary Gardens, we have the task of establishing continuity of interest and work in a school Mary Garden through the years - when the present children will have graduated and new children, parents and teachers form the school community.

I have written you before, I believe, of my own experience with a school Mary Garden at Our Mother of Consolation (OMC) Parish in the suburban Chestnut Hill district of Philadelphia where Ed McTague and I were fellow parishioners when we met at night college (although Ed moved to West Philadelphia by the time we started Mary's Gardens two years later).

When my Pastor asked me to design and supervise the planting of the OMC School Mary Garden in the Spring of 1965, I agreed to do so if he would form a Committee to maintain it; but this did not come about, and while I understood its importance I never pressed him about it. So I worked with the grounds keeper, Bill Morgan, in supervising (and participating in) the digging and planting by the school children, and gave a number of slide lectures to the Convent, to members of the Parish generally and to several religion classes at the school, assuming that people would come forth to care for it. In my general jubilation over the attractiveness of the Garden and all the publicity and the number of distinguished guests who showed up for the dedication from garden clubs and the local Morris Arboretum, I failed to give thought to how continuity of care would be specifically established for the Garden as a continuing part of parish life.

Also, the Garden was so small that the grounds keeper, Bill Morgan, and I, who enjoyed working together, easily could take care of it - especially as I was able to visit it after daily Mass (since my employment at that time didn't start until 10 AM). And every spring I procured annuals, biennials and replacement perennials at local nurseries at the same time I procured them for my own Mary Garden

This went on until I moved out of the parish in the fall of 1972, and Bill retired; and within perhaps a year the garden was converted to a small bed with just a couple of rose bushes and some marigolds around the statue pedestal - the rest of the Garden being grassed over.

What I should have done, of course, was to seek the cooperation of several parents from the school (I had no children of my own in the school at that time), and develop a lot of projects appropriate to the various seasons and liturgical feasts. Instead, I was focused on all the joy the Garden was bringing the students and the parishioners in the present moment, and not on how it could be sustained - with even more joy and meaning - if its care was set up as a parish activity.

On the other hand, I drove by this OMC Mary Garden recently, and I must say the joyful scene I beheld of school children laughing and playing before Our Lady of Grace, surrounded by roses, marigolds, petunias and impatience did my heart good, notwithstanding my disappointment over 3/4 of the Mary Garden beds being grassed over, and the number of plants being reduced from sixty to four or five.

I was struck by the realization that the planting of the Mary Garden in front of the school, regardless of the lack of informed commitment to the full Mary Garden idea, provided a setting for the children to play before a figure of Our Lady of Grace surrounded by flowers, presiding over the scene, where previously there had just been lawn. This is good, and it has survived for 29 years. It is good as a "heavenly" Mary Garden reminding all of the Heavenly Paradise to which we are destined, and from which Our Lady of Grace distributes grace to earth

Destined for heaven, it is well for us to be reminded of this by "a pretty garden for our Holy Mother"; but it is also our task to take up our part in building God's Kingdom on earth, to which we are called in the Lord's Prayer and the Come Holy Spirit; and for this we can benefit as well from all the Mary Garden flower symbols prompting us to seek Mary's queenly, as well as motherly, nurturing, counsel, mediation and other help in this.

I was reminded of this in my ensuing 60 mile drive though the goldenrod-transfigured Pennsylvania countryside - prefiguring our restoraton of the Earthly Paradise. The feast of Transfiguration on August 1, when the goldenrod first begins to bloom, prefigures what is to come later.

In this connection it is instructive to consider - in addition to Mary's general distributive mediation of all graces from heaven - her particular joyful, sorrowful and glorious mediations of graces on earth, as we are taught scripturally: by her mediations at the Visitation (to the unborn John the Baptist), at the Foot of the Cross (to John, and all individuals, as her children), and at the Upper Room of Pentacost (to the Apostles and Church). I am ever mindful of St. Francis Xavier's experience that when he prayed before the Crucifix each evening for the following day's missionary conversions. if he ever neglected to envision Mary, mediating grace, at the foot of the Cross as he prayed, the conversions the following day were less.

o O o

I consider Kayla's work with the fourth graders and the boxwood circle children's Mary Garden to be important pioneering work which, when it becomes known and imitated, at the school level, will make an enduring contribution to the establishment of Mary Gardening as a regular part of Catholic life and culture.

It took us all decades to develop the many dimensions of the Mary Garden basic concept, research, plant sources, garden care and support organization; and we are now at the stage of applying this knowledge and experience to the establishment of enduring Mary Gardens in various appropriate situations - grace building on nature.

Thus, Woods Hole, as well as being the mother Mary Garden of the present-day Mary Garden movement, is a prototype of a Mary Garden incorporated in a religious and community landmark, as set forth in Jane's monograph, and as made possible by Jane's initiative in restoring its planting to its original plan for the St. Joseph'a centennial in 1982.

I see our gardens of Mary's Gardens of Philadelphia - while we were supportive of the planting of Mary Gardens in a wide variety of situations - as being primarily prototypes for home, family, Mary Gardens, as set forth in my 1955 article, "In Mary's Garden" (copy enclosed). Such a simple, child-like, approach to the flower symbols might be useful with first-graders (Is there a kindergarten at St. Mary's?)

The outstanding prototype for a Marian shrine Mary Garden is, of course, Knock, where the original Mary Garden at the Blessed Sacrament Chapel has poured out into a profusion of flowers planted throughout the Shrine grounds, although Brother Seán had prepared plans for development through a more intensive planting at the Chapel. The overall planting is due to the inspiration and hard work of the Shrine Hortaculturalist, Anne Hopkins Lavin, but it is not clear to me how much of this may be sustained through the years, as there is no supportive Guild of parishioners that I know of - although the acclaim has been so great that I suspect the planting will be maintained my the Shrine custodians as an integral part of Shrine grounds maintenance, just as the Woods Hole Garden was maintained for so many years (and continues to be) through a trust fund before Jane's restoration, writings and formation of a Parish Mary Garden Committee. Lincoln Cathedral in England is the prototype for a collection of Flowers of Our Lady incorporated into a cloister garden planting - cared for, I believe, by the local Herb Society, which also maintains a celebrated public Roman Herb Garden in the town of Lincoln.

Then, there was the planting of Mary Gardens at all the Catholic high schools in the Cotabato Diocese in the Philippines in 1954 (per the enclosed QM 1955 article), which I have not followed up and therefore have no knowledge of whether or not they have been sustained through the decades.

And Bonnie Roberson's Mary Garden in Hagerman, Idaho is the prototype of the Mary Garden as adjunct to a herb and plant nursery, where all who come to purchase plants are shown the Mary Garden, told its story, and given gifts of Mary-Plants and literature.

o O o

In the balance of this letter I will set forth some thoughts, from my experience, and also from my ommissions, which I hope may be useful to Kayla in her continuation with the development of the St. Mary's School Mary Garden and its support programs - although with her foundation work so far, and especially her overview, as set forth in the diocesan weekly article (what is the date of this?), I suspect that my thoughts will be more of a checklist than new ideas.

I am enclosing a duplicate of this letter for her, together with a packet of some articles and other materials for her, of which I believe I sent you copies previously. If any of these articles are new to you, please feel free to make photo-copies for your files.

First there comes to mind that the boxwood enclosure of the children's garden recalls the application by the Church Fathers to Mary of the lines from Canticles, "My sister, my spouse, is a fountain sealed up, a garden enclosed."

I recall your mention several years ago that this boxwood circle was seen by you, in a flash of intuition, as a spiritual Marian womb symbol - and see what it has given birth to!

The smaller size of the boxwood Mary Garden plot serves to accentuate several garden design principles or elements which I considered (with thanks to Jacques Maritain) as especially applicable to our replication of the traditional small, cortil, size gardens or paradises which were probably the models for the medieval illustrations of enclosed Mary Gardens. These are Integrity, Proportion and Clarity, as intrinsic to beauty, and in this instance, to garden beauty, as I elaborated on in my 1953 Catholic Art Quarterly article, "Honoring Mary With God's Artistry" (copy enclosed).

In the context of our Mary Garden work, Integrity applies primarily to the garden enclosure, axes, focal point and overall bed pattern, which give it it's unity and identity, as in all gardens - but Proportion and Clarity have special applications in the small Mary Gardens with respect to plant placement, where there is not room for larger beds, sweeps and colonies of flowers. By grouping just one large plant or several small ones together in one area for each species or variety of roughly 2 ft. by 2 ft., with accompanying plant religious name marker, the form of each individual plant, and of its branches, foliage and blooms, stands out with greater clarity - both for showing forth the special characteristics and beauty of each species, and for the intuitive perception of the elements of its form or habit which are the basis of its religious symbolism. Of course several appropriate species can be used as garden border plants, such as, in season, pansies, english daisies, marigolds, petunias and impatiens - accentuating the bed pattrern Integrity of the whole garden.

Importantly, the clarity of the plants - in proportioned placement or grouping - is enhanced by the various tasks of plant and garden care or stewardship - soil cultivation, watering and weeding; bed edging; and plant pinching off of spent blooms or browned foliage; and pruning, division, re-positioning and replacement. The plants look so beautiful against a recently edged, weeded, cultivated and watered soil. It is the special care for these details, contributing to clarity of plant form - not commonly given as much attention in many flower gardens - which leads to the sense by visitors that the Mary Garden is a special kind of place.

And while it is easier to see in relation to the Mary Garden, our work there demonstrates how all work, under the patronage of St. Joseph, Workman, can contribute to the beauty of God's Kingdom which we are to build here on earth.

From the viewpoint of continuity and perpetuation, however, there is the important practical matter of how the work of caring for the school children's Mary Garden is to be organized through the year and years. Everyone is inspired with the original enthusiasm for the Garden now, but this enthusiasm can be extended the work of caring for it - seen in its importance in its details and each day - so there is a continuing motivation for performing it. This intensive care results in lots to watch and do daily, and also keeps a focus on plant symbolism - to which all the work is ultimately directed, rather than being just repetitive, monotonous chores.

Then there is the organizational matter of who of the school students should have particular responsibilities for the Garden each year. One possibility would be to have members of one particular grade bear this responsibility - such as this year the grade (now one grade higher) that planted it last year. Members of the next grade could be made special assistants or observers in preparation for their taking on the responsibilities to following year, etc. In addition to this there could a school Mary Garden Guild open to those from any grade with a special interest in, and undertaking special projects inspired by, the Garden. Thus the Garden would always be cared for, and those with special interests would be free to participate as Guild members.

I would assume that somewhere in the school curriculum there is a science course which includes teaching about plant life and growth. This instruction could make use of examination of Mary Garden specimens, or of dish Mary Gardens. A merit of dish Mary Gardens is the small amount of soil and plant materials required, so there could be one in each classroom.

I enclose some simplified dish garden instructions, including soil building information - developed for the numbers of persons inquiring of us about dish Mary Gardens but mentioning they had no previous gardening experience. The soil information of course applies both to dish and outdoor Mary Gardens.

Once the Garden has been designed and planted, and a plan for its continuing care established, attention can be given to enhancing the richness of living with the Garden through the natural and liturgical years.

With the beginning of the liturgical year on the First Sunday in Advent there is always the hope that there will be a few late roses still blooming for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. You will recall that Mary, appearing to Bernadette as The Immaculate Conception had a rose on each foot, as well as the Rosary beads in her hands.

I have always found a certain providental excitement in watching each year to see if flowers named for a feast day, or normally blooming in a certain liturgical period, bloom for that feast or period that year. Also, there is the symbol of the Burning Bush, "burning but unconsumed", applied to Mary in the liturgy of this feast - a symbolism applied to the holly, which of course has its red berries in winter.

Then, there are all the plants associated with the Nativity and Manger by legend, such as the Star of Bethlehem, Nativity Flower (Poinsettea), Christmas Rose, Our Lady's Bedstraw and Our Lady's Milkdrops. There is an old book called "Plants of the Sacred Nativity", by Dowling, about all these plants. Also the decoration of Christmas Creches with flowers and foliage is very much in keeping with Marian flower and plant symbolism. The making of the creche and manger a physical reality is a sort of prototype of making the life of Nazareth a reality through plant symbols. And the Christmas Tree, with all its lights and ornaments, becomes a very mystical symbol.

For me the beginning of the Mary Garden year has always been Candlemas or the Feast of the Purification, when the question always is (e.g. in Philadelphia or Boston): "will the snowdrops be in bloom this year?", about which I have written you before. Traditionally, Candlemas has always been the pivotal day in Europe regarding what kind of spring will devlop each year, and of course "Groundhog's Day" is a sort of secular adaptation of this in the U.S. for the same date. Father Weiser, S.J. wrote about this rather extensively in one of his books on plant symbolism - "The Christmas Book", "The Easter Book", or "?".

Then, come all the spring bulbs associated with Lent - "Lent Lily", "Penitent's Rose", etc. - and of course the indoor miniature roses which may bloom for Litare Sunday (not to mention the blessing of the golden "Pope's Rose" in Rome on this Sunday). Then the Flowers of the Passion, and Mary's Tears at the foot of the Cross. And, for Easter, the Easter Lily and the Resurrection plants. The spring bulbs also serve as special reminders of the Holy Land since most of them are found there indigenously.

This, or a little earlier, is the time for planting flats of seeds for annuals flowers of Our Lady, for seedlings to be moved to the garden in May. Perhaps some of the children would want to undertake this in sunny classroom windows. Later on seeds for biennials and perennials could be sown in a little nursery bed off to a side of the Garden.

I won't set forth here the Flowers of Our Lady for all the liturgical and Marian feasts through the year's cycle, Nan, but I have noted a few from the top of my head as I write to provide examples for the suggestion that watching for their blooming etc. can be an attraction for students to participate in the life of the Mary Garden through the year. However, special mention should be made of the Feast of the Annunciation and the month of May.

Several of the books of hours depict Mary in a miniature painting as being greeted by the Angel Gabriel at the Annunciation, with an Annunciation Lily in a vase before her, and with a number of individual flowers symbolizing her Annunciation virtues positioned beneath the painting, in place of text, so to speak. Better than words, the flower symbols of Mary's purity, humility and spiritual fruitfulness, of her as Mystical Rose, and of the Holy Spirit and Trinity, provided food for meditation on the Annunciation for those praying the Hours.

As distinct from the flowers of Chrismas and Lent, with their focus on the Nativity and then the Passion, these flowers of the Annunciation, which is the Feast of the Ave Maria, focus on Mary's inner virtues and dispositions which perfected and attuned her for her responsiveness to the Spirit and for her call to the Divine Maternity. The Ave Maria is, next to the Sacraments, so focal for our Catholic faith and piety because the need for all times, and especially for our times, is for all to live the life of the spirit, the life of spiritual leavening within family, society, politics, economics and work - for God's Kingdom - rather than by the competitiveness and conflicts of these, and by personal appetites, and the desire for possessions and power, which are the way of the world and destruction. And Mary, at the Annunciation, is our sublime model for openness and responsiveness to Spirit.

It is this, the call of the Annunciation to the life of the Spirit, which I see, therefore, as one of the most important teachings of the Flowers of Our Lady and the Mary Garden for children (as well as adults) through the liturgical bloom year. I have little contact with school children at this time, and when my own children were of that age I (regrettably) didn't see things this clearly. I hope that those of you, Nan and Kahla, who share this view will find ways of spiritual ingenuity, in love and grace, in communicating it to the school children.

The month of May, which is especially dedicated to Mary, also has its very special quality. Picking up the spiritual commitment of the Annunciation - after the cycle of Lent and Easter - it celebrates the delicacy and beauty of holiness. For our instruction in this we have Canticles (the Song of Songs), St. Bernard's Sermons on the Canticles and St. John of the Cross' Spiritual Canticle setting forth the loving, mystical, interplay of the soul and God, of the Spouse and the Beloved - epitomized by Mary's love of God. Through the Flowers of Our Lady and the Mary Garden the sublime attractiveness of holiness is shown forth and celebrated in a special way which we hope will move children commit their lives to it, perhaps even vocationally - its ecstacies far surpassing sensory gratifications and addictions.

There are of course at least two other cycles overlapping each other in the liturgical year, interweaving with the cycle of the year itself - the cycle of Mary, beginning with the Immaculate Conception, and the Cycle of Jesus, beginning with the Annunciation. These juxtapose and interpenetrate one another, and ultimately converge.

May ends now with the Feast of the Visitation, recalled by Our Lady's Shoes, Slippers, and the thistle seed blowing in the wind ("All her steps were most beauteous", etc.). This serves to bring us from the May transports back down to earth - in Mary's trip to visit Elizabeth, and in her Magnificat words about might and humility, rich and poor, and the place of Abraham, Israel and herself in Sacred History. In the Cycle of Jesus, May ends with flowers of the Ascension and the Descent of the Holy Spirit.

While the school year probably ends in early June, before the feasts of the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts, and roses begin their blooms in late April, maybe the best time to teach and reflect on this symbolism is when the bleeding hearts bloom - drawing from the cycle of nature rather than that of the liturgy.

In June and July we rejoice over the maturation of summer biennials and perennials blooms. And August is a major Marian month in the garden year - the harvest-time days from the Feast of the Assumption to that of the Birth of Mary in September being spoken of as the "Lady-Days". These can be dealt with towards the end of the school year, by teaching of the many plant, herb and flower associations with Mary celebrated at the time of the Assumption, etc., such as the Roses and Lilies found, according to early legend, by the Apostles in Mary's empty tomb; the convention of the Assumption Bundles; and Venerable Bede's Assumption symbolism of the white Lily.

However, seen as the Mary Garden of the parish children through the whole year, and not just the school year, and with a little organization of activities and responsibility, the Garden can be a year round thing (it probably was last summer!), so everyone can share the excitement of the bloom time of Assumption Lilies each summer, and the liturgy from the Roman Rite for the blessing of "Assumption Bundles" can be read and practiced, perhaps with the full ceremony and by the whole parish, young and old. And then the Feast of Mary Queenship, with Centauria, "Mary's Crown", possibly still in bloom (I don't remember), and opportunities for crownings of Mary's statue(s). It is also hoped that some of the children may wish to start Mary Gardens - outdoor or dish - at their own homes.

Swinging around, then to the culmination of the liturgical and garden years with the Birth of Mary (there are rites for the blessing of the new seeds for the next year on this feast - and the collection of seeds could be part of the children's Mary Garden activities); Michaelmas; the Rosary; All Saints and All Souls; and Christ the King - there is the overwhelming sense of endings preparatory to new beginnings and underground germination. Some of my favorite poems speak to this season: Helen Hunt Jackson's "October's Bright Blue Weather"; Francis Thompson's "The Sere of the Leaf"; and Thomas Merton's "Two States of Prayer" (October and December).

I'm sure you and the children are having meaningful garden celebrations of today's feast of the Rosary. You will recall, Nan, that I wrote you extensively a year or two ago about all the Mary Garden ties with the Rosary I had run into, from Alain de Roche and St. Louis de Montfort, etc..

All Saints is the time for special veneration of the Garden Saints, as litanized in "A Mary Garden Prayer". We recall that SS. Phocas and Dorothy, the two martyrs, Roman Martyrs, (in addition to St. Paul) among them, both were sustained in their martyrdom by their visions of the joys of the Heavenly Paradise as they faced their executioners on earth. A number of others instruct us in the flow of graces from heaven and Mary through nature; and still others instruct us in the use of flower imagery as a support for our mystical flights to heaven, in emulation of Mary, the Mystical Rose. Finally, SS Dominic and Theresa instruct us in the flow of heavenly graces through showers of roses for our spiritual growth, for the Missions, and for Kingdom - especially through the praying of the Rosary. At least three, SS Dorothy, Phocas and Fiacre were seen to be patron saints of gardening.

Starting with standard references like Butler's "Lives of the Saints", and the various lives of the saints surely in the school library, students could elect to do research papers on the garden saints - learning the concrete examples they provide for recourse to grace in our gardening work, and in our lives generally.

Another heart-warming heritage of the Flowers of Our Lady is the wealth of legends associated with the flowers - usually distilled in corresponding flower names. I had a number of books of these, but gave most of them to the OMC parish library at the time the Mary Garden was started there (1965) and have forgotten most of the titles. Nathusias speaks beautifully of children's love of Mary-Flower names and legends, in the passage I quoted in my AVE article (enclosed).

The shapes and colorings of flowers are of course highly important to their religious symbolism, and Mary-Gardeners are always on the lookout for particular blooms which show forth their symbolism with a special clarity and beauty. Keeping a camera at hand, with a close-up lens attachment, to capture such blooms in photos can be an exciting ongoing project. Also, photos of flowers can be clipped or, in the school has a color computer scanner, scanned - (always keeping in mind copyright law).

Those of the students who have artistic talents may wish to draw and paint the flowers. I sent Laura several years ago copies of some delightful flower paintings by a nearly sightless young Mary Gardener. And the Flowers of Our Lady can be used to decorate the objects of the various arts and crafts. The large seed's of Jobs Tears (also known as Mary's Tears) can be saved and strung together as Rosary beads.

Then a Mary Garden flower data base could be set up on one of the school computers (or manually) with a card or page for each flower, giving such information as botanical name, common name(s), religious name(s), height, bloom color, bloom period, light and heat preferences and tolerances, and special soil requirements, how propagated, native countries and climatic zones, local nursery and seed company sources. etc., and also information each year from your garden such as first and last bloom, plant replacements, etc. each year. The standard reference, "Hortus III (IV?)", contains all the basic horticultural information for each species.

Another project could be to build up a data base of flower and nature quotations from Scripture (esecially Canticles, Sirach and the Parables of Jesus) and the Marian Feasts in the Liturgy of the Hours; also flower imagery in the writings of the saints and poets. If the school has a library with a reference section, a shelf could be given to Flowers of Our Lady and Mary Gardens books, complemented with various records and studies made by the students through the years, bound in folders for the shelves

Building on the blessings of plants on Palm Sunday and the feast of the Assumption, and the blessing of seeds on the Birth of Mary; and the blessings of the Mary Gardens, the children can be instructed made aware that through such blessings the Mary Gardens and the Flowers of Our Lady are holy places of grace. When particular symbolic flowers are picked they can be blessed with holy water and reserved as sacred objects - thus instructing in the use of sacramentals as extensions of the holiness of the sacraments of Holy Church. Several flower blessings are set forth in the enclosed Mary Garden Jubilee (1983) article.

As Mediatrix of All Grace, Mary is present in the Garden by her mediating action wherever graces are received through blest garden sacramentals . Frances Lillie, creator of the Woods Hole "mother" Mary Garden in 1932 entitled her garden leaflet, "Our Lady in Her Garden". The flower symnbols are helpful in developing this sense of Mary's presence.

o O o

Nan, I think I have hit most of the highpoints here. (Even as I write just now, Flowers of Our Lady designs for needlework come to mind). The idea, of course is not to combine all these possible activities in some sort of program, but rather to have them ready as they may be motivationally appropriate to the interests, inclinations and vocations of individul students, now or in the future.

Hoping this finds you well, and praying for the spiritual enrichment of the children's Mary Garden undertaking, I remain, as always,



Boston, MA
November 1, 1994

All Saints

Dear Nan and Kahla,

My brief mention of the dedication of the month of May to Mary, in my letter of the feast of the Rosary, has stimulated a number of further reflections I want to share with you - which have to do with the St. Mary's school children's Mary Garden.

I mentioned in my previous letter that in the cycle of the liturgical year, May devotions, following on the Annunciation, call us to further reflection on the development and celebration of Mary's qualities which disposed her to say "Yes", at the Annunciation.

Actually the month of May is much more than this. It is in fact the principle and primary celebration in the liturgical year of the flowering of Mary's maidenly spirituality prior to and in preparation for the Annunciation - a flowering which is not otherwise venerated as such in either the Liturgy or the Mysteries of the Rosary. The rather late introduction of this devotion into the liturgical year in the 18th Century is part of the rounding out of the fullness of Marian veneration and devotion in the ripening of the spirituality of the Church - along with the elevation to the dignity of dogmatic definition of the traditional beliefs in Mary's Immaculate Conception and in her Assumption body and soul into heaven, and the recent introduction of the celebration of solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, on January 1st, etc.

The absence of any previous appropriate "stand alone" liturgical celebration of Mary's maidenly spirituality may have been accidental due to the lack of specific scriptural reference to this period in her life. In any case, the introduction of such a celebration awaited the ripened development in popular devotion and in the mind of the Church of the piety, poetry and art of the nature symbolism from the Old Testament applied to Mary by the Church Fathers from the earliest years and incorporated in Liturgy of numerous Marian feasts, even though not previously celebrated in and of itself.

Thus, with the deepened appreciation of the correspondences between the growth of plant life and human spiritual growth, the springtime burgeoning of plants and flowers in nature was turned to, in the absence of specific scriptural mention, as a fitting and insightful figurative or symbolical basis for celebrating the qualities of this important maidenly period in the spiritual growth of Mary, venerated as the Mystical Rose in the Litany of Loreto. The growth and blooming of nature was so sanctified by the application to Mary by the Church Fathers of Old Testament nature figures from Canticles, Wisdom, Sirach and Proverbs, etc. that nature itself, as it were, became liturgical and theological, so that it was fitting to dedicate May's entire month of spring growth and blooms to Mary in celebration of her maidenly spiritual growth and flowering.

On the other hand, we can say that there was indeed an actual historical basis for applying the Old Testament passages to Mary, because these were no doubt the texts she herself "heard and kept" from scripture for her spiritual formation in her hope she might be the Virgin chosen to bear the Messiah, according to the prophecy of Isaias.

In his poem, "The May Magnificat" (which it occurred to me to look up just now as I write), Gerard Manley Hopkins writes:

MAY is Mary's month, and I
Muse at that and wonder why;
Her feasts follow reason,
Dated due to season -

Candlemas, Lady Day;
But the Lady Month, May
Why fasten that upon her,
With a feasting in her honour?
- - - - - - -

Ask of her, that mighty mother:
Her reply puts this other
Question: What is Spring? -
Growth in every thing -
- - - - - - -

All things rising, all things sizing
Mary sees, sympathising
With that world of good,
Nature's motherhood

Their magnifying of each its kind
With delight calls to mind
How she did in her stored
Magnify the Lord.

Well but there was more than this:
Spring's universal bliss
Much, had much to say
To offering Mary May.
- - - - - - -

This ecstacy all through mothering earth
Tells Mary her mirth till Christ's birth
To remember and exultation
In God who was her salvation.

However, since Mary's maidenly spiritual growth was the foundation for all her life and mysteries, I believe this growth merits May celebration of all its aspects, preceeding as well as following, and not primarily its mirroring of Mary's Magnificat joys over the divine child in her womb, as Hopkins proposes - although the Feast of the Visitation, in which we envisage Mary as traveling through the flower-filled countryside, now culminates the May devotions.

In fact, Hopkins' choice of the title, "May Magnificat", turned out to be prophetic in that the Feast of the Visitation (and Magnificat), which was on August 22nd in his time, was changed, after Vatican II, to May 31st - (the feast of Mary's Queenship then, appropriately, being changed from May 31st to August 22nd, following that of the Assumption in the 15th - thus better ordering the sequence of the Marian feasts in the Marian Liturgical Cycle).

At this point I wanted to turn to the book of Marian poems, "I Sing of a Maiden" so that I could select some appropriate selections to illustrate the thought I now wish to develop, but find I have taken my copy somewhere else, probably to Woods Hole. I recall that the title of the book is taken from a poem which begins, "I sing of a maiden, that matchless is", which sets a principal theme for the entire collection of poems - namely of poetically drawing from the imagery of nature to proclaim in a myriad of ways the exquisite beauty of Mary's maidenly spirituality, prior to, and anticipating, her conception at the Annunciation.

Among the poems of this collection are Chaucer's lines speaking of Mary as the "Flower of flowers", and also those from another poet, "Bring flowers to the fairest". And there are numerous others of similar vein. It have noted that the English poets have a special appreciation of both flowers and Mary's Maidenhood.

In relation to the Mary Garden, I was delighted to see in the newspaper article of the interview with Bonnie Roberson in her herb garden, which I enclosed in my last letter, that Bonnie showed the interviewer a "Maiden's Blush" rose - which I learned from Bonnie, from her research, was so named in reference to Mary's imagined blushing in modesty when her conception by the Holy Spirit was revealed to her at the Annunciation. (Perhaps this symbolism is more generally known).

This moment of the incorporation of motherhood in Mary's maidenhood is embodied in the symbolism of the strawberry - from its being in flower and fruit at the same time - as "Fruitful Virgin".

While I had up to now perceived "Maiden" to be of incidental importance among the flower names referring to Mary, I now see that it has its own special significance, as celebrated in the month of May.

In addition to "Maiden's Blush", we also have the May-blooming clove pink, "Maiden Pink", which while illustrating what I have been saying about Maid or Maiden Mary, also contains the interesting juxtaposition with "Maiden" of the symbolism of "Pink", which I recall is derived from the Flemish name of "Pinkster" for the Feast of Pentacost, typically occuring in late May when this plant blooms. Stretching it, perhaps we could say that "Maiden Pink" recalls, in the interweaving of the Annual and Marian liturgical cycles, Mary's private Pentacost, so to speak, at the Annunciation (when she blushed).

As I write, I recall that one of the names for snowdrops is "Fair Maids of February", which suggests that we can start off the Mary Garden bloom year with a tribute to Maid Mary as the Fair Maid of February - thus beginning with this symbol of her maidenly spiritual perfections as the foundation in the bloom cycle of all the flower symbols of her bestowed blessings and prerogatives through the liturgical year. Snowdrops seen in this way, become an anticipation of May, when we celebrate Mary's maidenly spirituality as symbolized by all flowers - a spirituality which flowers continue to have as they are discerned to have other more specific symbolisms of Mary's life and mysteries as the Mother of Jesus, as preserved in the Mary-names.

The word "Virgin" has come to take on such a specifically sexual connotation in our culture that its original meaning, encompassing "Maiden", has been much contracted. This became apparent to me when I first undertook the research of the German language Mary-names of flowers and found that the German equivalent of the English language "Virgin" was "Jungfrau" (young woman). Thus, the original connotation of Isaiah's prophecy "and a Virgin shall conceive" surely suggested all the maidenly qualities, and not just virginity - all the maidenly qualities of "(the) Maiden that matchless is", of which virginity is one.

This reminds me that there is also a German word for "Maid" or "Maiden" which is something like "Magd", as I discovered on reading the original German of the Christmas carol, "Lo, A Rose 'Ere Blooming". In this I was astonished to discover that the lines in German proclaiming that Mary bore the Rose, Christ, are followed by the line, "Und immer bleibt une Magd", which, literally translated is "And ever remained a Maid" (or Virgin) - instead of the (Protestant?) "translation" in the carol books, "And still was the night"!

As suggested by the true translation of this last line, we can consider that the 12th(?) century dogmatic elevation of the doctrine of Mary's Perpetual Virginity - after the birth of Christ, as well as before - encompasses preservation throughout all her life of all her maidenly qualities, and not just her sexual virginity. You make your May-procession crownings of Mary of Nazareth as both Maiden and Mother.

Picking up from my previous letter, then, I propose that the May celebration of Mary's maidenhood in the Mary Garden can be an important opportunity for rounding out the children's instruction in full Marian spirituality. After all, Mary was once their age, and this may be an important basis for relating to her. Perhaps a small (18") statue of Mary as a young maiden of 12 or 13 could be designed, and given an appropriate title, such as "Mystical Rose" or "Flower of flowers" to turn minds to the maidenly period of Mary's life, midst its flower symbols.

There could be projects for the children to collect references of flowers to Mary in poetry, and also to research the origins of May devotions, including the numerous statements of popes, etc. regarding them. All such projects could be open-ended so they may be added to as new materials are found or created through the years.

An understanding of poetry is also important for the children's fuller appreciation of the basis for the very perception and naming of flowers as symbols of Mary and her mysteries, life and attributes.

The basis of poetry lies in the unity and correspondences between the physical world of nature - both in the beauty of its forms, and in its finer scientific structure - with the intellectual, moral and spiritual world of ideas: a unity and correspondence which exist because both worlds were created through the unity of the Eternal Word of God "through whom all things were made". Thus poets turn to the forms, qualities and beauty of nature for similies, metaphors and other figures to elucidate the qualities of the human moral and spiritual world; and scientists turn to the mental world observations, descriptions and measurements of the physical world to form scientific hypotheses, which when successfully tested, give greater understanding and development of the physical world - which is the basis of science, technology, industry and the arts and crafts.

The correspondence between the physical and intellectual worlds is implicit in God's instruction of Adam to give names to all the creatures - signifying this correspondence for each one - such as flowers.

This, then, is the broader basis for discerning flower correspondences with Mary's form, attributes, life and mysteries, and for giving them names based on these correspondences.

As I suggested above, perhaps one of the reasons appreciation of Mary's maidenhood has been somewhat neglected is that this period of her life precedes the mystery with which the Rosary begins, viz. with the Annunciation - which demarks the culmination of her maidenhood as such and the beginning of her maiden motherhood. Properly, this should be a part of our meditations on the mystery of the Annunciation. The employment of Rosary bead "roses" for counting Aves suggests the more comprehensive view: namely that the rose-beads are a constant reminder of the permeation the whole sequence of Mary's Rosary life and mysteries with the rose-like qualities of her Maidenhood, that we may be ever mindful of the continuation of these maidenly qualities throughout all the mysteries. Also, we can be ever mindful of Mary's title of "Mystical Rose", which applies her maidenhood, and also to her blossoming at the birth of the Savior and to all her life, including her heavenly blossoming.

Mindful of the interweaving of the yearly cycle of nature and the liturgical year with the two year Marian liturgical cycle, we can turn to the latter for possible possible parallels which would provide insights regarding our May devitions in the annual cycle. Indeed, in the Marian cycle, starting with the Immaculate Conception in December 8th, and moving on to the Birth of Mary on September 8th, we find there is in fact an implicit reference to Mary's maidenly spiritual growth in the next following Marian feast, that of the Presentation of Mary in the Temple on November 21st.

In the Reading for this feast, selected from the sermons of St. Augustine, we find that in the absence of any specific scriptural references for Mary's Presentation in the Temple and her subsequent spiritual growth to the time of the Annunciation, Augustine applies to it two statements of Jesus' public ministry regarding Mary's spirituality in general, namely:

"Anyone who does the will of my Father who sent me is my brother and my sister and my mother,"

"More blessed (than "the womb that bore thee") are those who hear the word of God and keep it,"
viz. that Mary's growth in spirituality as Mystical Rose was through her seeking to do the will of God, and to hear the word of God and keep it.

And from this he also draws the penetrating spiritual teaching that we are all, as Mary's brothers and sisters in Christ, summoned to emulate this spiritual growth of her maidenhood period.

Pointing out in relation to Mary's spirituality that:

"Mary heard God's word and kept it, and so she is blessed. She kept God's truth in her mind, a nobler thing than carrying his body in her womb. The truth and the body were both Christ: he was kept in Mary's mind insofar as he is truth, he was carried in her womb insofar as he was man; but what is kept in the mind is of a higher order than what is carried in the womb."

Augustine then goes on to draw the conclusion for our own spirituality:

"Now, beloved, give me your whole attention . . . Consider how you yourselves can be among those of whom the Lord said: 'Here are my mother and my brothers'. Do you wonder how you can be the Mother of Christ? He himself said, 'Whoever hears and fulfills the will of my Father i heaven is my brother and my sister and my mother.'" . . .

"Having said that all of you are brothers of Christ, shall I not dare to call you his mother? Much less would I dare to deny his own words. . . . You became sons of this mother at your baptism, you came to birth as members of Christ. Now, you in your turn must draw to the font of baptism as many as you can. You became sons when you were born there yourselves, and now by bringing others to birth in the same way, you have it in your power to become mothers of Christ."

This is an early setting forth of the call for us to be "other Marys", and I would go on to propose that if we are indeed to be other Mary's in this sense, we are to prepare for our becoming mothers of Christ in others by emulating Maid Mary's spiritual growth as Mystical Rose, prior to the Annunciation, through which she merited bearing the Rose, Christ.

The stages of such growth for us - now with the sanctifying graces of Jesus' redemption and Marys' mediation - are set forth in my 1962 article, "Gardening With Mary".

Mary was Mystical Rose before she became Mother; but also, before she became Transfixed, Mediatrix, Assumed and Queen. (You will note that in the latest update of A Mary Garden Prayer "Mystical Rose" has been placed before "Mediatrix of All Grace and Queen of Heaven and Earth" to reflect this.)

Thus, we see that while the celebration of Mary's important Maidenly period of spiritual growth has not been given prominence in the Liturgy and Rosary, this liturgical teaching for the feast of the Presentation of Mary in the Temple does indeed set forth, if we dig and delve a bit, the basis for the purity and beauty of Mary's personal spiritual growth in readiness for her spiritual motherhood, and summons us to its emulation, as well as to the emulation of all her other Mysteries.

Beginning with Augustine's teaching that through emulating Mary's doing of the will of the Father and hearing the word of God and keeping it, we are enabled to emulate her spritual motherhood of Christ, we can say of all of her and mysteries that through the emulation of the spirituality of her maidenhood, "we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise", as well - as we pray in the concluding prayer of the Rosary.

Mary's spiritual growth begun in the maidenly period does not stop with spiritual motherhood, but rather continues as the basis for her and our growth in actual spiritual grace, light, wisdom and power of all the the mysteries of the Rosary - for the Apostolate and Kingdom. Thus, we see our model for the reception and instrumentation of actual grace in the Annunciation and Visitation; of light in the Incarnation and Candlemas; of Wisdom in the Finding in the Temple through the Crucifixion; and of Power in the Resurrection through the Coronation. But always it is the growth in the sanctifying grace of the maidenly period of spiritual growth which prepares us, as it prepared Mary, for the continuation of spiritual growth in the reception and instrumentation of actual spiritual grace, light, wisdom and power. Thus, the celebration of the general Marian flower symbolism of the month of May deepens for us the significance of all the particular flower symbolisms of the rest of the year.

o O o

With respect, also, to my previous letter, of the feast of the Rosary, I note that I omitted mention in the round of the liturgical year the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows on September 15th. The significance of the positioning of this feast after the feast of Mary's Queenship is that it recalls for us Mary's motherly and also queenly sorrow over the delays in the building, in the redeemed world, of her Son's earthly Peaceable Kingdom he so desires to present to the Father, in rectification of the damage through sin to the original integrity of Creation. This queenly sorrow of Our Lady was expressed in her weeping appearance at La Salette, and is venerated in the Mary Garden through the various "Queen's Tears" plants. One of these plants which comes to mind at the moment is the tropical houseplant, Bilbergia nutans, which I have grown, but I believe there are some Queen's Tears annuals which can be kept in bloom for this feast - as distinct from the spring perennial Our Lady's Tears associated by bloom time primarily with the Crucifixion.

Finally, in my 1964 "God's Flowers" article reprint, which I enclosed for Kahla, mention is made of the celebration of the great "O Antiphon" of the Advent liturgy for December 19th, "O Rod of Jesse, come!" (in modern translation, "O Flower of Jesse's Stem, come!") which it was the custom in some medieval monasteries for the gardening monk to intone in choir. This was a high point of the year for monastic gardeners, and it was often commemorated through the whole year through the placement of a circular pool in the center of the cloister garden - symbolizing the "O". I believe there is a small central circular pool of some sort in the school children's Mary Garden, and the reading of the O Antiphon could be celebrated there.

In this connection, I recall that the Rod of Jesse - one of the scriptural titles (from the prophecy of Isaiah) symbolically applied to Mary, as the Rod or Shoot who would bear the Flower of the Savior - was understood to be the symbol of a miraculous birth because in the vineyard the new shoots or stems of the grape vine come from the higher point of pruning, and not from the root, so that a rod from the root would be "miraculous" in the order of nature.

o O o

To sum up the principal thrust of this letter, then, with respect to the children, I think we can say (even though I have no direct first hand knowledge of their home and school religious instruction, and may be wrong about this) that from the liturgy of the masses for sundays and marian feast days; from the mysteries of the Rosary; and from the conventional marian statuary - there is a lack of appropriate emphasis on Mary's childhood and maidenly spirituality, which should be a primary "role model" for the spiritual growth of all young people. And, just as the Church has turned to the month of May to make up for this gap in marian spirituality on an overall basis, I think the May qualities permeating all aspects of the Mary Garden can make it, with grace and ingenuity on the part of parents and teachers, an important means for rounding out this dimension of spirituality for the children of St. Mary's School . . . so that Mary will become their Sister in Christ as well as their Mother ("My Sister . . . is a Garden Enclosed").

I hope this finds you both well, I remain,



Boston, MA
November 19, 1994

Presentation of Mary

Dear Nan and Kahla,

Here we are, in the Marian cycle of the seasons, at the feast of the beginning of the underground germination, as it were, of Mary's maidenly spiritual development - which subsequently comes into view in the Fair Maids of February, and then, in its full purity, beauty and splendor in the blooms of Mary's month of May.

I wrote a while back proposing how the popular focus on Mary as "full of grace", for our supplication, should not be allowed to diminish attention to "the Lord is with thee" and the 15 Rosary Mysteries of the grace, light, wisdom and power of of this "withness", of which we are to "imitate what they contain that we may obtain what they promise".

And recently I have written proposing how we are likewise also to imitate Mary's hidden maidenly spirituality through which she was opened to the fullness of grace, preparing her, and us, for the motherhood of Christ - as St. Augustine exhorts in his lesson in the Liturgy of the Hours for today's feast.

As a means for nurturing children Mary Gardeners in sustaining this fullness and balance in the praying the Rosary, it occurs to me that it might be helpful to suggest the following reflections:

On: For:

Hail, Mary, full of grace - Mary's maidenly
spirituality opening
her to this fullness

The Lord is with thee - The fulfillment in
and by Mary of
Isaiah's prophecy
of the virgin birth
of the Redeemer

Blessed art thou among women - in blessed union with
And blessed is the fruit of the Trinity, of whom
thy womb, Jesus Jesus is the blessed
Divine Son

Holy Mary, Mother of God, - Our prayer that
pray for us sinners . through our imitation
of the content of
the Mysteries we may
obtain the spiritual
grace, light, wisdom
and power they promise.
o O o

(This may cross in the mailsomething you have written or sent me, as I have not caught up with my Boston mail for several weeks).

With all best wishes for a holy advent season, I remain,



Boston, MA
December 8, 1994

Immaculate Conception

Dear Nan and Kahla,

This Advent I've been following the daily readings from Isaias in the Liturgy of the Hours mindful of how Mary would have read them, as a young girl and maiden.

In reading St. Bernard's Lesson for Wednesday of the First Week of Advent, in which he speaks of the Third Coming of Christ, in our hearts, I was reminded of the reading from St. Augustin for the feast of the Presentation of Mary in the Temple, to which I alluded before, in which he spoke of how the coming of Christ to Mary was first of all in her heart and then in her womb.

It is interesting how the liturgical cycles of Christ and Mary converge in Advent such that it serves to remind us of the coming of Christ both in the flesh, as celebrated at Christmas, and in Mary's heart, as celebrated at the Annunciation.

This provides an added significance for Candlemas, as the point at which the Christmas period ends, and we in the Mary Garden pick up the cycle of Mary again, with the Fair Maids of February

In England it was considered "bad iuck" to leave up Christmas greens beyond Candemas; and to avoid bareness they were replaced with boxwood ("Candlemas Greens").

Coming shortly after the feast of Candlemas, the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes gives us a timely reminder perinent to Mary's maidenly spirituality: namely that the Immaculate Conception had two parts: preservation from the effects of sin at the moment of conception, and then the ongoing bestowal of grace to maintain that immaculate purity. throughout life, which we see manifested in Mary's maidenhood, as symbolized by the pure white of the candlemas bells

Through her utter openness, responsiveness and fidelity to the grace of the preservation of her immaculate purity, Mary became so identified with it that she could say to Bernadette at Lourdes, "I am the Immaculate Conception."

Thus, we can include among the elements of Mary"s maidenly spirituality: doing the will of the Heavenly Father; hearing the word of God and keeping it; fidelity to the grace of the Immaculate Conception; utter embrace in her heart of the certainty of the Divine Plan for the birth of the Savior of a virgin; and, finally, the humility of hoping to be that virgin, yet totally as the instrument of God's will, "the handmaid of the Lord", with no trace of ambition or pride - the humility that the Lord "regarded", as she proclaimed in the Magnificat.

For our part, we are to imitate the elements of this spirituality - in respect to the sanctifying grace God sends us, and to the actual graces of our vocations, elections and acts.

This is indeed an intense Marion liturgical period - starting with the Presentation of Mary in the Temple; then Advent and the grace of the Immaculate Conception; the power of O. L. of Guadalupe (7 million converted in a new world Pentacost); the Flower of Jesse "O Come" Antiphon; the glorious light of Christmas (reflected in the golden "Our Lady's Bedstraw" of the Manger); the feasts of Mary, Mother of God; the Ephiphany; and the Holy Family; and the divine wisdom incarnate manifested at the Finding in the Temple.

And then in the still of February, we return to Mary's maidenly spirituality with the Fair Maids of February.

Candlemas (as symbolized by the spearlike foliage of Candlemas Bells) also includes the Prophecy of Simeon - anticipating Lent - of the sword of sorrow which will pierce Mary's soul "that the thouyhts of many hearts will be revealed."

(I had a clearer perception today that the sword of sorrow to pierce Mary's heart was evidently her compassionate union with and support of Jesus in his agony and death on the Cross, when he was abandoned by all the apostles; and that the thoughts of many hearts revealed, and being revealed through the centuries, were those of the many, beglnning with John, who, in love and compassion for Mary, in her faithful and motherly love of Jesus, have joined and are joining with her spiritually at the foot of the Cross, in her compassionate union with Jesus. A further enrichment, also, of the meanlngs of "Our Lady's Tears.)

You have no doubt noticed my special veneration of Mary of Candlemas, and in this I am mindful that this feast is the date of Frances Lillie's heavenly birthday. Snowdrops were included in the earlier planting plans for the Woods Hole Garden of Our Lady, but not in the final 1937 plan - perhaps because she only spent the summers in Woods Hole, and by then even the foliage was gone.

Actually, the intermixing of the feasts of the liturgical cycles of Jesus and of Mary is a precedent. as it were, for the intermixing of the various flower symbols of Mary in the Mary Garden.

And from the viewpoint of heaven, where a thousand years is but a day, they all exist together simultaneously and eternally, as part of the whole.

Thus, In the Liturgical Year we have the seasons of Christmas and Easter when Mary's union and cooperation with Jesus are immediate and direct - as in the Manger and at the foot of the Cross. And then we have those in which she is acting for Jesus more remotely, in fidelity to her endowments, graces and prerogatives - as at Mary's Presention in the Temple; Advent; the Immaculate Conception; Our Lady of Guadalupe; the Flower of Jessee O Antiphon; and then the Annunciaton, Visitation, Assumption, Queenship and Feast of the Rosary.

then there is the "joint" month, as it were, of the sacred and immaculate hearts of June.

From the viewpoint of the Mary Garden we see that there are four seasons of Mary:

The winter of the hidden, underground germination of Mary's immaculate maiden spirituality - making it's floral appearance with the snowdrops and confirmed in it's immaculateness by the mid-February feast of Our Lady of Lourdes
The Spring of the Annunnciation, May and the Visitation.
The Summer of the Assumption. Queenship. and Nativity of Mary,
The Autumn of the feast of the Rosary.
The significance of all this is more than a listing of all these relationships. It serves, rather, to demonstrate the marvelous correspondence between the liturgical year's unfolding of the spirituality of Mary, and the cycle of the seasons in the natural year - such that we who Mary Garden through the year can integrate the meanings of all the individual flower symbolisms into the unfolding of "the seasons' round" - for our fuller imitation of Mary.

With all prayerful best wishes for a joyous Christmas. I remain, as ever,



Boston, MA
January 1, 1995

Mary, Mother of God

Dear Nan,

Thanks for your Christmas Card and enclosed copy of the Cenacles of the Marian Movement of Priests. I see that the MMP has the same Maine U.S. address where I exchanged several letters with them some 10 years ago, so I will write to them to obtain an updated copy of Fr. Gobbi's locutions, which I have treasured along with other Marian locutions, such as Mother Mary Agreda's "Mystical City of God", and Anna Catherina Emmerich's Life of Christ and Bitter Passion of Mary.

I am pleased that you found my last letter helpful input for your Marian group's reflections. Reflection and meditation on Mary's life and mysteries are ever fruitful and never exhausted - especially, in my experience, with the fresh insights continually provided by the Flowers of Our Lady and Mary Gardens. "Of Mary there is never enough" (St. Louis de Montfort). Your parish is blest by your Marian group, with active input from both the Mary Garden and the MMP Cenacle.

Each of us - including each person in your Marian groups - has the endowed potential of unique insights and appreciation of God and of Mary, pertinent to the spiritual moment, to be shared with one another in our common participation in the Communion of Saints. So, while we are to benefit from the insights of extensive private locutions such as those of Mary of Agreda, Anna Catherina Emmerich, Josepha Mendenez ("The Way of Divine Love") and Fr. Groppi, we are not to sit by passively in awe, but to relate them actively to our own vital threads of spiritual reflection - but always consistent with the deposit of faith and the teaching of the Church.

With respect to locutions and illuminations generally, I recall that in one book or booklet on Rose of Lima the inquisitorial examiners of Rose's spirituality were cited as pointing out that authentic private divine illuminations and locutions, such as those they discerned were received by Rose, were always a mixture of the presence of God, or of Holy Mary, with the personal mode of spiritual perception of that presence by the recipient. Thus there are always present personal elements, in no way to be seen as detracting from the authenticity of the illuminations and locutions - such as Rose's playing cards with the boy, Jesus, or her organizing and leading the hummings of insects in choirs and orchestras. And there is also always the filter or limitation inherent in the personal spiritual perception of the recipient, no matter how saintly, such that however exalted and sublime the illuminations and locutions may be, there is ever more of the infinite God, or of Mary's blessed spirituality, to be discovered by us.

In this respect St. John of the Cross points out that we are also not to dwell or linger on particular spiritual insights, including our own, but always to remain spiritually open to the continued growth of our spiritual perception, in grace and light, so that we may likewise be ever more and more open and responsive, also, to the actual graces given each of us for our individual action for Apostolate and Kingdom - which, after all, is to be an outcome of our growth in sanctification; as we pray in the Our Father and Come Holy Spirit. The more we grow in sanctification, the more attuned and responsive we are able to be to gratuitous actual graces of Apostolate and Kingdom - in emulation of Mary.

My last letter did have a certain unction for me, too, as I applied more extensively the recent insights, of which I have written, about making the distinction between ("Holy Mary") Mary's own maidenly spirituality and holiness, and ("Mother of God") the attributes of her divine prerogatives as Mother of the Divine Word Incarnate, and immaculate sharer in and magnifier of God's goodness and Redemptive/Kingdomly actions - in her personal sublime exemplary fulfillment of God's purpose in creating the human family.

I am constantly amazed at difficulties experienced in accepting, venerating and rejoicing over the fullness of Mary's sharing and showing forth of God's goodness - especially through her blessings of the Immaculate Conception, Co-Redemption, Assumption, Queenship, Intercession and Mediatrix of All Grace. In this she is seen as somehow in "competition" with or "displacing" Jesus, rather than as a personal fulfilment of the divine intention for Creation of the greatest possible sharing of the divine attributes and action with humans, created in the divine image for this purpose.

One insight I have had in my constant praying of the Rosary - with my current special attention to the distinction between Mary's personal virtues and holiness, which we are to emulate, and her divine privileges and prerogatives, which we are to petition - was that Mary's participation in the Passion and Death of Jesus, as Co-Redemptrix, was both through her motherly love, empathy and compassion, and, more sublimely, through her pure reception in holiness and love of the bestowed privileged grace of sharing and participating also in the love of the Father for his suffering and dying Son, true God and true man, whom he gave for the salvation of the world - in the union of Father and Son in the Holy Spirit in the interior of the Trinity.

Thus, Mary's Sword of Sorrow, prophesied by Simeon at the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, celebrated at Candlemas, was from her participation in grace - divine Father and human Mother together - in the Father's divine love and spiritual sorrow for the suffering divine Son; as well as from the grace-filled empathy and compassion of her own human motherly love. Our Lady's Tears are so to speak both the tears of Mary and the tears of the Father.

Looking forward to my seasonal hope for the joy of snowdrop blooms for Candlemas, I hope this finds you well, Nan, and look forward to your sharing with me the joys of the new Mary Garden season.


PS: Following the dogmatic definition of Mary's Divine Maternity at the Counsel of Ephesus in 432 the frontal image or icon of the Virgin and Child was adopted to represent this visually, as was the phrase, "Mother of God," to represent it verbally. In plant symbolism this showed up in the name applied in England to the pathe and pistol form of Arum italicum, "Lady-Lords" - still one of its common name, today. I have taken the liberty (following medieval custom) of perceiving the symbolism in the similar popular Peace Lily, at hand for a digital photo, reproduced at the head of this letter. J.


Boston, MA
Febuary 2, 1995


Dear Nan,

On arriving at the neighborhood snowdrop colony this morning I was shocked to find that the whole small garden had been dug up, including the principal snowdrop clumps. However, with all the warm weather and moisture in the past three weeks or so, I was confident that there would be some buds or blooms somewhere, and after a thorough search I found a few small plants which had survived to the rear of the garden, and bore single buds. So this Candlemas I am to reflect on the Immaculate Conception, the Fair Maid of February, in her mode of spiritual budding (as distinct from the spiritual underground germination, or full flowering of other years).

In reviewing my letters to Brother Seán back to 1980, I came upon two letters, copies enclosed, dealing with subjects about which I have recently written you - the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, and Father Groppi.

I enclose them as illustrations of how we come again and again to the same spiritual subject matter with ever fresh insights of grace, illumination or locution - as we continue in our spiritual growth. I am reminded of G. K. Chesterton's observation that being a Catholic is like sitting down to breakfast with Shakespeare each morning.

Father Groppi's current locutions continue to be so fresh year after year because his own spiritual growth enables him to articulate ever more discerningly Mary's communicating presence with him. "The receiver receives according to his mode."

Some years ago I made an index of Father Groppi's locutions so I could follow the development of each thread, and I will extend this when I receive the latest update.

His 1988 retreat at Knock with a group of other priests, encountered by Brother Séan, demonstrates his commitment to spiritual growth - as does the basing of the MMP Cenacles on the traditional Catholic prayers (rather than on selections from his locutions).

Indeed, the traditional prayers provide us with the most ready opportunities for deeper and deeper spiritual insights.

Just the other day, for example, I was reflecting on the generally accepted view that "our daily bread" for which we pray in the Lord's Prayer refers to both our material and our spiritual sustenance needed for us to work for the coming of God's Kingdom. In this, I saw more clearly that for God's will to be done for Kingdom, we are to pray that he give us all our daily bread through Mary's mediation, since she has been divinly ordained as our universal Mediatrix with God the Son - made possible by her uniquely immaculate openness, humility and obedience; and representing the beginning in Sacred History of the realization of God's will for Creation, of the fullest sharing of the divine goodness of attributes and action (creating, sustaining, redeeming, sanctifying and kingdom) with humans, created to this end in the image and likeness of God.

This also serves to provide a closer connection between the Paters and Aves of the Rosary.

In the Our Father we pray for the coming of God's Kingdom, through the divinely willed mediation of Mary generally. Then we pray the Aves for our meditations on the particular Mysteries, beseeching that through our imitation of Mary's immaculate purity, in the mode shown forth in each Mystery, we may obtain the graces of her prerogatives as also shown forth in that Mystery, for our participative moving of the world towards Kingdom, in ever fuller human sharing and showing forth of the divine goodness.

In the Sorrowful Mysteries, for example, Mary, in addition to her union with Jesus as Mother of Sorrows, participated interiorly as Co-Redemptrix with Jesus in his Passion and Death, through her graced prerogative of the fullest human sharing in God's redemptive goodness in Christ of bearing in his person, and expiating in his death, all the sins and effects of sin of the world - in which we, too, in graced imitation of Mary, are to participate to the fullness of our own spiritual capacity.

Another thing I was reminded of in reading my old letters was the medieval view that "after this our exile" Mary first shows us the fruit of her womb, Jesus in the "Third Heaven", or "Heavenly Rose" - described extensively by Dante, and represented by the Rose Windows of the medieval cathedrals - in which Mary is seated at the center of the Rose with Jesus enthroned on her lap.

I see this as the reference for the Mary Garden "Mary's Rose" symbolism of single-flowered Roses, and of the Rose Campion, Lychnis coronaria - recalling the two-dimensional Rose Windows. The double-flowered Mary's Roses on the other hand would refer to the Rose of Christ, born of Mary - as derived from the Root of Jesse prophecy - or to the Heavenly Rose itself.

Subsequently we will see Jesus with Mary in the Heavenly Paradise and in the Heavenly City itself.

I hope this finds you well, Nan.



Boston, MA
March 1, 1995

Ash Wednesday

Dear Nan,

Many thanks for the beautiful videotape of the October Mary Garden, the installation of the watering system, and the students' Mary Garden.

If this is Anne's first experience with the camera, it 's certainly a great start. Also, the professional assistance you mentioned in editing and the adding of narratlon has added a nice smoothness to the fall segment. Good that you now have this resource. I always like to keep videos in their original form, as well as their edited form, so I hope you have kept the original tapes. Perhaps you and your new video helper could edit and narrate your tape of the installation of the Mary of Nazareth statue. I should also mention how beautiful Mary of Nazareth looked in Anne's tape, accompanied by Anne's moving remarks of love.

I enjoyed seeing you, Laura and Kahla all in action, especially in the school children's Mary Garden. I of course heard Anne through her narration of the fall segment, but it would have been nice to see her on camera, too.

Many thanks to you all for the thanks!

The Children's Mary Garden in the boxwood circle is so much larger than I had envisaged! Great to have a record of all the youthful enthusiasm, together with adult guidance.

I was most impressed by the lushness of the Fall garden foliage, along with the chrysanthemum and pansy blooms. In Philadelphia fall planted pansies lose their blooms in October and they don't come back until April , so the usual practice is to fall sow them in cold frames for good bloom for setting out April 1, along with English Daisies, as border plants. But I see that your milder climate makes them ideal for fall bedding in the garden. Will English Dalsies bloom through the wlnter too for you? I have come to associate yellow chrysanthemums with All Saints, and the purple ones with All Souls. How are your marigolds in the Fall? Ed McTague used to speak affectionately of the "Marigold Fall", and Bonnie Roberson's garden was drenched with Fall marigolds.

In reading through my Mary Garden Journal for May of 1962, I noted that Nanette Strayer was one of three Herb Society members who gave Bonnie special assistance, and whom I worked with, in setting up her exhibit Mary Garden at the HSA annual meeting in Washington. So, I definitely did meet her, a few years after you did.

Your idea of using little computer-generated miniature flower photos on garden flower markers is beautlful and I'll start looking for the appropriate materials.

I found the botanical name for the Peace Lily. Its genus is Spathophillium. Apparantly there are a number of species in common cultivation. I see them in all sorts of stores and public buildings. The one I photographed for Jan 1 was at the entrance to a bank in a local mall. Since then - one of those nice little Mary Garden mini-providential touches - I "discovered" one in the atrium hallway right outside the door of our Boston rooms. It had been there all along, but had never bloomed before. The 5-floor 200' x 20' atrium has perhaps a 100 plants and small trees in it, and this is the one Peace Lily - right outsode our door. A neighbor, whom I came upon watering it the other day, gave me the correct name information. It's probably one of those jungle floor plants that blooms without much light, and may not be hardy enough for an outdoor garden in our climatic zone - although this is just a guess as I do not have my horticultural books at hand. It could be set out in spring as a tubbed plant (the ones I have seen are all 4 ft. high or so.)

Thanks for the mention of your wonderful family. You have been blest. I hope you and they all continue in good health and spiritual well-being.

The enclosed article draft, "Mary-Flowers in Ecumenism" is based on a number of insights which were clarified while I have been writing my letters to you. I was prompted to write it by an article in QUEEN Magazine on Catholic/ Protestant ecumenical dialog, which included quotes from a number of prominent Protestants to the effect that if we Catholics want to reach some sort of common ground with them we will have to downplay our Marian beliefs and devotion.

Protestant who object to Mary devotion implicitly reveal something that is incomplete in their belief in the Trinity, Creation, the Incarnation, Grace, and/or human nature, etc. which we should be pointing out to them - asserting that in our devotion to Mary, we are making on affirmation of the fullness of Christian faith; not indulging in a some sort of devotional diversion.

(I am reminded of Ed McTague's observation that if someone says they want compromise for him and them to get along, the first compromise he asks of of them is to Believe!)

I consider this article important to Mary's Gardens in that it views the flower sumbols as a theological whole, as well as individually and in groups. It perhaps contains the xomprehensive answer you were looking for awhile back for "doubters".

I am submitting the article to Father Charest at QUEEN Magazine (in MS format) - although it's twice their usual article length. Whether or not it is published for their audiance, I consider it a most important resource for our work, and will self-publish if necessary, as with your leaflet and the one for Brother Seán's Dublin Mary Garden.

Thanks, again, Nan, to you, Anne, Gretta and Kahla for the beautiful tape capturing you Mary Garden devotion and work.

With the coming of Lent, I once again turn to Sister Josepha Mendenez' "Way of Divine Love", which so beautifully shows forth, in private revelation, Jesus' inmost thoughts during his Passion and Crucifixion; and his summoning of Sister Josepha's participation with him in the carrying of his Cross, for his general and specific intentions - giving us an insight into immaculate Mary's co-redemptive union the Passion and Cross of her divine Son and Lord.

With best wishes to you all for a holy Lent, I remain, as always,



Boston, MA
March 25, 1995


Dear Nan,

In writing my recent article draft, "Mary-Flowers in Ecumenism", I was reminded of a series of letters I taped to Bonnie Roberson in 1965 and 1966 setting forth for her my thoughts on how we should carry the work of Mary's Gardens forward in the post Vatican II period.

Happily these tapes were transcribed at the time, and now are computer-scanned, so I can send you the two enclosed excerpts which I hope will be be helpful to you with your "doubters".

The first offers some suggestions as to how to deal with the voices which rose within Catholicism after Vatican II down-playing Marian devotion; and the second, as to how to deal with the criticism from the contemporary women's equality movement that the Church's veneration of Mary is no balance for its dominant all-male Trinity and heirarchy - which we can see as a call for an "up-play" of Marian devotion in fulfillment of divine and human justice.

We can respond to the first by building on the Council's solid re-affirmation of basic Marion dogma and other traditional Marian doctrines; and to the second by proposing the full development in theology and religious practice of appreciation of and recourse to Mary's Universal Mediation and other divine prerogatives, with consequent promotion of equal social dynamism of the sexes in religious and secular society. (We are to keep in mind that Our Lady of Providence mediates "He hath shown might in his arm; he hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble; he hath filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he hath sent empty away" of the Magnificat.

Mary was the vital factor in the medieval Church and society - with the same male Trinity and heirarchy - and she can and should and will be so again today, with re-appreciation of and full development of recourse to her divine prerogatives in the modern context.

These letters were taped to Bonnle in free-flowing, stream of consciousnes mode as I walked around or rested in the Mary Garden (with a few documents at hand), so they lack the composition of a typed letter or the crafting of an article and are a little heavy and repetitious, such that I wouldn't want to wish the whole 80 pages on you - but I hope these two excerpts will be of help to you in dealing with these two classes of doubters, as you encounter them.

The key insight I received From the Council documents was the need to make a clearer distinction between (1) Mary's own maidenly grace, virtues and excellences, and (2) her divinely bestowed privileges and prerogatives - all of which I had previously lumped together, so to speak.

Thus, we are to limit our praise and veneration of Mary to her fullness of sanctifying grace; to her infused virtues; to her gifts of the Holy Spirit; to her graced acts of mercy - all epitomized in her, especially, in her maidenly, assumptional purity, humility and spiritual openness, responsiveness and fidelity, and in her motherly love, sweetness, tenderness, clemency and mercy - and to her fidelity to the graces of the divine prerogatives with which she has been blessed.

We are then free to praise and glorify God without limit for the fullness of the divine goodness of attributes and action shared with and shown forth, according to the purposes of Creation, in Mary - created in the divine image and likeness; full of grace; and in responsive union with the Lord God indwelling with her - through her Immaculate Conception, Divine Maternity, Perpetual Virginity, Heavenly Assumption, Divine Intercession, Universal Mediation, Spiritual Motherhood and Heavenly Queenship; as co-Creator, co-Redeemer, and co-Sanctifier, and as co-Builder of the Earthly/Heavenly Kingdom .

We are quite correctly accused of superstition, exaggeration, sentimentality, error, idolotry, Mariolotry etc. if we attribute to Mary herself those attributes which in fact have their origin in the divine prerogatives with which she has been blessed through God's will and pleasure - although we can always attribute to Mary and venerate her responsiveness to the graces of fidelity to these prerogatives.

On the other hand, once we attribute to Mary, and praise her for her merited virtues and excellences, there is no limit to the extent to which we can then praise and glorify God for his preogatives gratuitously bestowed upon her, shared with her, and shown forth through her - as enabled by her continued immaculate purity, fullness of grace and fidelity to her privileges.

You may recall that I wrote you (Candlemas '92) about Bonnie's confrontation of her bishop regarding his downplaying of Marion devotion in her Diocese (he had previously visited with her supportively in her Mary Garden, which I have on tape), and about their ultimate reconciliation on the occasion of his asking her to assist him at Mass at the Hagerman chapel when he as passing through on a fishing trip. A Canadian priest wrote an article about Bonnie's keeping of the faith in Mary when everyone around her, and in other places, was losing it. You will recall that she was a member of a small Catholic minority, with no resident priest, in a predominantly Mormon Community.

I like to think that my review of the new devotional situation and my suggested approach to it were helpful to her in all this. And I hope it may be helpful to you also with your doubters. Potentially the Mary Garden, as a restoration of medieval tradition, can play an important part in the full, dynmamic development for our times of Marian devotion and recourse throughout parish life.

I was happy to see, again, Bonnie's name commemorated on the bronze Garden donors' plaque, in Anne's videotape. How overjoyed she must be in heaven over your beautiful, beloved Parish Mary Garden and Mary of Nazareth sculpture!

Prompted by these thoughts I have raisd my heart to Bonnie for some words for you as I write, and the following have come to me:

"Mary is very pleased with Nans Garden and has mediated many graces through it for Peace on Earth."
o O o

In looking at the various Peace Lilies in neighborhood offices and stores, I noticed one species whose blooms are horizontal, so to speak, with the white spathes beneath the extending pistols resting on them - reminding me of the carved depictions of the Nativity in medieval cathedrals in which Mary is in prone position on a crude bed or manger ledge with the new-born Savior in her arms - now superseded by the creche Nativity scenes in the tradition of St. Francis, with the infant Jesus laying glorified in the manger bedstraw, adored by Mary, Joseph, Shepherds and Magi. I will take some digital photos of these.

The Peace Plant outside our door now has three "Lady-Lords" blooms.

Hoping this finds you, Anne, Laura, Kahla and your other Mary Garden co-workers well, I remain,



Boston, MA
July 3, 1995

Dear Nan,

Thanks for the copies of Susan Reimer's marvellous Baltimore Sun article, which brought me such joy.

This is certainly one of the all time great articles of the forty-four years of Mary's Gardens.

Susan so beautifully presents the motivation for the gardening work. You, Anne, Laura, Kahla and your associates must have conveyed this to her with great sensitivity.

I was especially interested in her quotes from Laura as to how she found love for Mary through Mary-gardening, as this is what happened for me when I first read of Our Lady's Flowers back in 1947, and keeps happening for me, and what I hope and pray will happen for others

This is especially on my mind just now, because in seeking a grace-inspired spiritual intention for each day (following the Ignation method of making spiritual elections through opening oneself to consolations and locutions of grace - simply, or then in the consideration of the Divine Plan, or then in consideration of divine love) there have come to me, for many days currently, intentions for greater love of Mary - first for herself, and then for her intercession, mediation and other prerogatives; and for her humility, her eyes of mercy, her hand of pity, her smile, etc.

This has quickened my realization that in considering Mary's intercession and mediation, and her motherly protection, help and nurturing, etc.we are to be ever mindful that these are first of all acts of her love. And as love begets love, our love of Mary is heightened by our consideration of the ways she expresses her love for us - through her eyes, hands, smile, etc., as well as through the exercise of her spiritual prerogatives. Thus, each Mary-flower love-name symbolizes a different facet of Mary's love, re-quickening of our love for her in return as we behold it. Of course these names presume Our Lady's assumption into heaven, so that her hands, etc, are as real now as when she was in Nazareth, etc.

Our desire for and seeking of a spiritually quickened or infused specific intention for our prayers and acts each day - such as those given by Jesus to Sister Josepha each day, as reported in The Way of Divine Love - arises from our yearning for a closer union with and participation in the saving work of Jesus and Mary than we we experience through a general "offering up", or an asking of Mary to pray for us, or a qualifying of our prayers with a "not my will but thine be done", etc.

Once we make the act of faith that our intention received in prayer for the day is encompassed within our union with Jesus and Mary, and after we have prayed the consecration prayers, "Blessed Mother, use me today" and "I am all thine. .. O, most loving Jesus" (or the equivalent), and have made our morning offering, we can then for each act, adversity or diminishment of our day make the aspiration, "All for you my Jesus, through Mary, for (our daily intention)".

And in praying the Rosary, after we have made the intention in the Memorare, we can pray in the "Come Holy Spirit" for the kindling in hearts of the fire of this specific love; pray (or think) in the Creed, "I love God, the Father Almighty, etc.; and then consider how each Rosary Mystery meditated on involves an expression of Mary's love.

With respect to the intentions which came to me through prayer for greater (fuller, universal) love of Mary and her virtues and prerogatives, I was struck by the realization that the graces of these intentions for greater love of Mary we pray for are to be petitioned and mediated through Mary herself, as Mediatrixrix of all grace. If It is God's plan that all graces be mediated through Mary, Mary would of course want herself to be greater loved to this end - for herself, for her virtues and for her prerogatives.

This gives us instructive insight into Mary's humility. I recall the observation, with respect to Mary's reference to her humility in the Magnificat, that "Mary was the most humble of all persons, and in all humility knew this."

The intentions that have come to me for an increase of grace-inspired love: for greater love for Mary, her virtues and her prerogatives - and many others for love of God's will and word, of the Holy Spirit, of the Angelic hierarchies, of the garden saints, of world peace, of the salvation of the world, etc. - indicate to me that what the world needs, and what Jesus and Mary want us to pray and work and sacrifice for are not secular intellectual, discursive, dialectical, political, economic, legal analysis of and solutions to problems, as such, but an increase in love in all our social, political, economic, community, family and personal relationships and involvements. As the song says, "What the world needs now is love sweet love."

This brings to mind Ed McTague's evening course in "The Postulates of Economics" - through which I met him and we started Mary's Gardens. This whole course was based on the approach that God created the world, out of love, to show forth and share his goodness with human beings - through our free will, intellect, affections and senses - and that therefore all persons are to share in the goods of nature, the crafts, science and industry, and to have, as St. Thomas Aquinas expresses it, "a sufficiency of material goods" - rather than living according to an "economics of scarcity."

"The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof." This as opposed to the view that creation is characterized by limitation and scarcity, so that there must be competition for enjoyment of material goods by a minority, and the majority must struggle below the sufficiency level. If there were a conversion of a "critical mass" of the human familty to love of God and effective belief on God's bounty, ways would be found, in love, to work out the balance between freedom of enterprise and support of those in need, etc. (My intention received for today is "love for world justice".)

Getting back to the Mary Garden, I have come to a fuller appreciation of the symbolism of English Daisies as "Mary-Loves". I recall that in the research this name showed up in Marzell's "Deutsches Wörterbuch", and has its origins in a legend that when Mary discovered one day that the child Jesus had cut his hand, white daisies at his feet turned to red - as testimony to the falling of these precious blood drops on them, but also to the welling intensity of Mary's motherly love and concern for Jesus cut hand, and to the quickening in her heart of the prophecy of the blood which was to be shed by Jesus as the Suffering Servant of Israel, and of the accompanying Sword of Sorrow which, according to the prophecy of Simeon, was to pierce her soul. Hence the name, "Mary-loves", as symbols of both Jesus blood drops and Mary's loving concern - then; at the foot of the Cross; at Pentacost; and now in heaven for the whole world which Jesus came to save through his redemptive suffering and sacrifice.

The legendary origin of this symbolism in Nazareth gives English daisies an especial appropriateness for the Annapolis Garden of Mary of Nazareth.

One thing I omitted to mention in my letter of last Nov. 19 regarding the Garden way of the Rosary is that on entering the Mary Garden we can consider first of all the symbolism of the overall colors, before that of the individual flowers - white for the joyful mysteries, red for the sorrowful and yellow for the glorious, just as we say the first three Hail Mary's of the Rosary for these; and then also blue for grace.

But returning from these thoughts inspired by Susan Reimer's quote from Laura to the article itself, I would very much like to reprint it in 8-1/2" x 11" page format and have it available with our other Mary's Gardens reprints - in print media and also electronic form (for future use in distribution of our materials via computer discs, CD-ROMS, the Internet World Wide Web, etc.). Could you, or whoever in your group is in contact with her, ask Susan how we are to proceed to obtain permission for this from her, from Amy Davis for the photographs, and from the Sun? For this we would scan-copy the article text on computer, but would need prints of the original photographs for quality scanning. We would of course pay for the photos (and as many other photos as Amy Davis took that she could provide for our records of your Garden). And we would like to have the exact credits wording to be displayed on the reprint, such as, "reprinted with permission of the author and the Sun. Photos Amy Davis," or whatever they would want. Mary's Gardens, to whom the permission would be granted was registered in 1951 for Edward A. G. McTague and myself to "do business" under the Pennsylvania Fictitious Names Act (although it is in in fact not-for-profit).

Distribution of these reprints would make your Mary Garden better known, and would surely inspire many parishes to start Mary Gardens of their own, and thus to love Mary and to make recourse to her more.

Thanks, Nan, for sending a number of reprints. I will send one to Brother Seán as you request, and also one to Father Charest at QUEEN Magazine who as you known has been our supporter through all the years.

One thing, further. I have been scanning our basic Mary's Gardens articles, texts, lists, garden plans, etc to put them on computer in preparation for making available all our materials "on line" via the Internet. I can appeciate that with all the prioroty work with her family and in the Garden, Laura has probably not had time to update the plan, so I will use the original plan I put on computer for the leaflet until she is able to get around to updating it. However, could you or she send me acomplete list of all the species now in the Garden? Also, any photos (slides or prints0 showing over-all views of the Garden. Did anyone ever get any photos from those upper windows overlooking the Garden?

I am happy to learn of the support you are receiving from your new Pastor. However, I suggest you still keep in mind the possibility of setting up some sort of perpetual trust fund with income to cover the maintenance of the Garden, as at Woods Hole.

Can you tell me of the response you have received from the article, such as increased visits, special comments people have made, other Mary Gardens to be started, etc.? Do you have some sort of visitors' book where people can write their names and comments?

Hoping this finds you all well, and with prayerful best wishes for the summer, I remain, as always,


PS July 4th


In reading over my above recollection and interpretation of the "Mary-Loves" legend, I realized that something was missing, so opened my thoughts to "my person in heaven", Bonnie, and the following more specific understanding came to me: that the red and white English Daisies are called "Mary-Loves" because after some of them turned red when the child Savior's blood drops fell on them from his cut hand, Mary loved them, picked them, preserved them, and subsequently saw them growing in nature, now red and white, as symbols of Jesus' Most Precious Blood, to be shed for the salvation of the world. My prayer intention for today: greater love of Jesus' Most Precious Blood.

This was immediately followed by the further thought that the white and gold daisies, "Mary's Flower of God", were so named because they were seen in the fields by Mary on her trip to visit Elizabeth as symbols of the purity and glory of the Savior she was to bear, according to the flowering Rod of Jesse prophecy of Isaias.

I have written before of how in her spiritual formation Mary surely reflected on the flower symbols of the Sapiential Books, the Song of Songs etc., of the Old Testament; but here we have opened up the suggestion of flower symbols originated by Mary herself. Thus, Mary, in all humility, could have seen flowers as symbols of her eyes and hands etc, and of her Immaculate Conception, Divine Motherhood, Perpetual Virginity, Assumption, Intercession, Mediation, etc. as an expression of her spirit's rejoicing in God her Savior, and in the blessed intimate union and close cooperation with him to which she was called . J


(E-mail message received)

Date: Sat, 10 Aug 1996
From: "Paul Williamson"
Subject: Nan Sears

Dear John,

Nan asked me to e-mail you. I am a parishoner at St. Mary's and was contacted by Nan. She apparently has misplaced your mail address.

Could you please e-mail it to me so that I can pass it on? Also, I am working to get her a computer so that she may visit the Mary's Gardens home page.


Paul Williamson

(address sent)


Philadelphia, PA
May 12, 1997

Dear Nan,

I hope this finds you well and the Mary Garden flourishing.

This spring of 1997 has been one of the most extended bloom periods I can recall - in Philadephia, and I assume also in Annapolis. You have mentioned that pansies bloom all winter for you in Annapolis, but this is the first time, with the mild winter, I can recall that they have done so in Philadelphia. With a warm, moist late January, the snowdrops were in profuse bloom for Candlemas (whereas usually they are only in beginning buds) and then with the continuation of warmth and moisture through February daffodils were in beginning bloom on March 1st. Continuing with a cooler March, the daffodil blooms continued all through the month, and with the continued coo,tulips all through April - instead of the usual brief periods of daffodils and tulips.

I have no personal outdoor Mary Garden now, due to my nomadic existence - which makes even sustained windowsill gardening difficult - but a nearby public square in Phila. has suddenly burgeoned during the past few years. Several neighborhood volunteers have taken initiative in augmenting the basic planting (trees, shrubs, azaleas and bedded impatiens maintained by city parks workers) with a rich variety of perennials, including just a few each of some that are favorites of one or the other of the volunteers - apartment dwellers, who used to have suburban gardens of their own. Thus, last year (I watch the beds rather closely) lungwort (O.L.Milkdrops), Lady¹s Mantle and August Hosta (Assumption Lily) appeared, and then this spring, Lenten Rose, and a number of additional plants such as Virginia Bluebells, Veronica, cushion pinks, etc. - and a dozen additional lungwort. I have never found a specific documented association of Virginia Bluebells with Our Lady, but the ³Mary¹s Bells² association of so many bell-shaped flowers is so generic that I always find myself praying the Angelus each time I pass by them - and with the now cool May, their bloom has been quite extended. At the head of this letter is a computer photo I took of one this morning.

With respect to your Mary Garden, I hope Laura can complete the update of the plant list and planting plan, so I can update the Visitors¹ Leaflet - in ³hard copy² for you, and also for the Internet web site. Do you still have the old leaflets available, for visitors, along with the 12 page one?

Then, I could use some additional photos, showing large sweeps of the Garden better, to illustrate the Internet materials (and my hope continues that someone can take some photos looking down on the whole garden from various windows of the residence building). Also, a number of views of Mary of Nazareth. You have sent me lots of great photos, but mostly of individual beds.

I enclose a copy of an article I put up on the Internet web site as ³NEW² for May, ³Mary Gardener of Love² - a retrospective on Bonnie Roberson. In looking back over the years of our work, I much more appreciate her commitment to spreading personally the custom of growing Mary Gardens - through the visibility of her garden from the highway, attracting visitors; through her herb nursery; through her dish Mary Garden exhibits; through her magazine articles etc. In this she was presenting not so much the idea as she was her personal love of this custom, and her commitment to it - combining her love of herbs and her love of Mary. You will recall the statue contribution in her name, per your garden plaque.

Have there been more articles and tours for your garden this spring? And has Kahla continued her work with the children¹s garden? I¹d appreciate hearing of any anecdotes of events at the garden,

This spring I put up seed and plant source locators on the Web for Flowers of Our Lady, and am pleased that a number of people access them each day. I hope and pray this will lead to the establishment of additional significant Mary Gardens. The Mary Garden at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Portage, Michigan seems to be ³getting up to speed² this Spring, thanks to the Bishop¹s blessing of their new statue last August, and the organizing work of Eileen Guimond, who heads up the garden committee there.

Also, I was able to put up on the Web for this past Lent a copy, with some 10 color flower photos, of ³The Garden Way of the Cross², written by the recently retired Pastor of SCOS Parish, Father Tom Stanley - which has generated a lot of interest in the garden nationally, which in turn serves to inspire the parishioners.

Father Tom established the first diocesan Marian Shrine Mary Garden in Dayton, Ohio in 1954, about which I corresponded with him at length at the time, but which fell into neglect, and I lost touch, when he was transfered away from the shrine the following year. He wasn¹t able to establish another Mary Garden until he was assigned to be Pastor of SCOC some 30 plus years later - where he was ³discovered² by Vincenzina Krymow. He¹s now on a retirement assignment in Hollywood, Florida, where his duties include responsibility for an ³Our Lady of the Smile² shrine, which already has landscaping of its own that doesn¹t suit it for the incorporation of a Mary Garden, but we keep in touch and I have sent him some books on tropicals.

Brother Seán Mac Namara is also in retirement. The marvelous Mary Garden he established at the Oratory of the Resurrection burial plot in Dublin continues to be maintained by others, but he has now been transferred to a small town in central Ireland which has a community residence with garden and greenhouse, where I expect he will do wonderful things.

The present ³managememnt² at the Knock Shrine doesn¹t seem to perpetuate the interest in the Mary Garden there had by Msgr. Horan, the former Shrine Director, who founded it, and they don¹t seem to be reprinting Br. Seán¹s marvellous booklet, although the Mary Garden is maintained, but apparently more as ³landscaping². The marvellous thing is that they have planted the whole grounds with thousands of perennials, which make the whole shrine a Mary Garden, as it were. I plan to put up on the Web site Bro. Seán¹s article on the Gaelic Mary-names of flowers, from the booklet, for June. Pray that someone emerges providentially at Knock who will pour love and expertise into that Garden.

This pretty much hits the high spots, to bring you up to date, Nan. I still have a primary concern about how to perpetuate public parish and shrine Mary Gardens - in a general sort of way without dependence on any particular group of gardeners. How to you see the perpetuation of the Annapolis Mary Garden at this point?

Give my regards to Laura and Kahla, and let me hear from you when you get a chance.

Sincerely, in Our Lady,


(E-mailed to Nan Sears c/o Paul Williamson Dec. 18, 1997)

Merry Christmas

"Lo, How a Rose e'er Blooming"

Prayerful best wishes for 1997, Nan - to you, Anne, Gretta, Kayla and all the the workers in Mary's Garden

(Christmas Card from Nan, December, 1997)

"It's truly joyous to see the interest and pride and love the young children show in their Mary Garden (an enclosed garden within the larger parish Mary Garden). Hopefully they will always savor this memory and pass it on to the next generation.

"The Mary Gardens have brought Mary our Mother closer to thousands of parishioners and school children - in our 10,000 families parish.'"


In the fall of 1968 received a note or phone call from Nan (my last communiction from her) saying she was making a pilgrage trip with her son to the Knock Marian Shrine in Ireland, and asking if I could arrange for our Irish Mary's Garden Associate, Brother Sean MacNamra, C.F.C. (Christian Brothers) to meet her there; and saying she would give me a report after her return. Brother Sean was unable to make the trip to meet her, and never heard from her about the trip of the Knock Mary Garden. J.S.

(End of present correspondence posting, awaiting transcription of Nan's letters, after retrieving from archives not immediately accessible.)

Nan died in 2003, R.I.P.


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 2010. This particular entry is archived content original to Stokes' Mary's Gardens website. It is possible that some text, hyperlinks, etc. are outdated.


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