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John Stokes and Mary's Gardens

Gardening and Spirituality

Our Lady's Garden

– Edward A. G. McTague

Gardening can be a prayerful work. A garden may be made edifying and instructive to children and adults. And now you, your family, and neighbors may honor Mary by prayerfully sowing, tending, harvesting and offering flowers and plants named for her in old popular tradition.

For restoring Christian religious sense and wisdom to gardening, we offer literature which reveals the height and depth of the Mary Garden idea and movement. And, so that there may be fundamental action we list appropriate seeds, bulbs, and plants. These are means whereby family members, those of institutional life, and those in our schools may deepen appreciation and thanksgiving for God's riches and His artistry by close experience of His glory, power, and providence as manifest in plant life; and develop awareness of the dignity of labor and stewardship for God's creatures while practicing, fruitfully, the habit and activity of garden arts and crafts.

Small expense and no organization are required. For instance, seed sowed and tended in a small container at a sunny window of home or classrooms may be started indoors six weeks before outdoor spring planting time in your locality. And, thus, come seedlings about 2" high ready for transplanting outdoors at home, church, school, shrine, or in pots or window boxes for earlier maturity, early bloom.

Start a Mary Garden.... Or, add Mary-named plant life to your present garden.... Have an outdoor shrine. Or be the giver of such means to a person or family, society, school or religious institution. Remember: any place, large or small, will do for a garden.


The Mary Garden is an act of faith. It is first of all an envisioning of the Flowers of Our Lady with which it is to be composed, with loving reflection on their meanings. That garden is an appeal to the heart. May it be that, as you read the names and descriptions of the Flowers of Our Lady, they may bloom spiritually within your interior life. Then, with your garden stewardship, foliage, buds, blooms will come of God's creatures the seeds, in due season and according to his established order.

Profound inspiration for we two who have founded Mary's Gardens has come of the valiant deed of a gentle woman, Frances Crane Lillie, who in the early thirties established a Garden of Our Lady in that "toytown whittled in whalebone and sealed in glass", in that "dimple in the elbow of Cape Cod," Wood Hole, Massachusetts. That garden grows flowers bearing the name of Mary, flowers named of old to recall some attribute of Mary or some mystery of her life.

Two bells of the Garden tower ring out the Angelus, tolling, we believe, to remind all to live to the greater glory of God and, for this, to restore all things in Christ. So be it.

Shrines Outdoors

A statue or wayside shrine of Our Lady, St. Joseph, or of a Saint or a Crucifix: one of these may be the focal point of a garden, or be suitably placed somewhere. Offerings of flowers may be made at the shrine with spiritual intentions. The shrine may remind us to pray when outdoors, and to offer garden labors for a special intention, or in thanksgiving.

Nature by itself and the garden of itself call to the natural in us and invite comparative thought: and, thus, we may fall to pride, idle thoughts or reveries, quiescence, or other "escape' from reality. The mute shrine outdoors may rebuke or remind; may eloquently recall us to humility and awareness of Providence, to thoughts of supernatural life, and to contemplation of incomparable truths: to reality and the Church, to Christ and peace of soul.

Copyright Mary's Gardens 1951, 1996

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


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