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John Stokes and Mary's Gardens

Worldwide Mary Plants

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MARIANA I is a botanical listing of over 600 plants given names or symbolism referring to God, the Virgin Mary, the angels and the saints in popular Christian tradition.

The title MARIANA attests to the general Christian attribution of flowers to Mary, the "Flower of flowers", archetype of the feminine principle in nature and in grace; and also the medieval name, "St. Mary's Garden" or "Mary Garden', given to gardens of symbolical plants cultivated in praise of Mary, the "Garden Enclosed".

The religious plant names and associations listed here have been taken from over 100 general, horticultural, folk-lore and dialect dictionaries, horticultural listings, and books of religious legends and customs. Where two or more religious names have been found for one plant, the one listed has been chosen for its uniqueness or for its special appropriateness to the plant. In MARIANA 2, now in preparation, it is planned to list all the distinct religious names found for each plant, together with their supporting documentations. A portion of this documentation was published in the article, "Mary Garden Research - A Progress Report", by John S. Stokes Jr., Queen of the Missions, Chicago, February, 1955.

A number of the religious plant names in MARIANA 1 were listed in the unpublished paper, "Religious Symbolism in Plants", by Winifred Jelliffe Emerson of Chicago, based on research undertaken by her at the suggestion of Mrs. Lillie in the winter of 1932-1933. This paper and its supporting research notes are now in the files of Mary's Gardens, Philadelphia, a gift from Dr. Alfred Emerson in 1954. Mrs. Lillie's leaflet, "Our Lady in Her Garden", was republished at Woods Hole in 1937, incorporating additional religious plant names from Mrs. Emerson's research.

The Woods Hole Garden of Our Lady was cared for, including complete restoration after three hurricanes, by Mr. Wheeler, with the assistance of Joseph Dias, from 1932 until after the death of Mrs. Lillie in 1958, and is now maintained by Nelson Cahoon under the supervision of Mrs. Lillie's cousin, Mrs. Margaret E. Gigger, through a perpetual trust fund established for this purpose by Mrs. Lillie. An article, "Lillie Tower", by Rev. James J. Galvin, C.SS.R., reprinted in Our Lady's Digest, October, 1946, from Perpetual Help, August, 1946, brought this garden and its accompanying Angelus Tower, also established by Mrs. Lillie, to the attention of John S. Stokes Jr, and Edward A. McTague, who founded the present-day Mary Garden movement in Philadelphia in 1951, with the blessing of Mrs. Lillie. 2.

The botanical listings in MARIANA 1 have been edited where necessary to convert the names in the research to the equivalent names for the identical plants as found in Bailey's Hortus Second (H2) and Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture (CH), Graf's Exotica 3 (E3) and/or Moldenke's Plants of the Bible (PB), in that order. In those instances where only the genus was given in the research, an appropriate species has been indicated in parentheses. Where a number of plants in the genus share the religious name (as with Clematis, Cypriedium and Spiranthes) one or two horticulturally most suitable species have been listed.

All religious names listed are from the research. Symbols, emblems, legends and uses for which no corresponding name has been found are indicated in parentheses. Scriptural, liturgical and poetic figures are given in quotation marks.

Authorities, including The Oxford English Dictionary, are in agreement that the words "Lady", "Lady's" and, "Ladies" in the older English plant names are almost always foreshortenings of "Our Lady". Similarly, "Virgin", "Virgin's" and "Mary's" are considered in most cases as referring to the Virgin Mary. "Maiden" and "Queen" in popular plant names are frequently paralleled by "Lady" and "Mary" in alternate namings, but are listed also in view of the widespread historical transferral of feminine plant symbolism in other traditions to the Virgin Mary in Christian tradition. Included also are plants symbolic of virtues of which Mary is looked to as the model. Named varieties and hybrids of recent origins, however, have generally not been listed unless of specifically religious significance.

In addition to English popular religious names of plants, MARIANA 1 also lists, in English translation, names from the French, German and Spanish. In MARIANA 2 the names will be listed as originally found as well as in translation. Special acknowledgement is made of the many Spanish names, largely from Latin America, contributed by the research of Mrs. Bonnie Roberson of Hagerman, Idaho.

Under "Growth" (G) the following coding is used:

(A) Herbaceous Annual (S) Woody Shrub (B) Herbaceous Biennial (T) Woody Tree (P) Herbaceous Perennial

MARIANA 2 will provide fuller cultural data.

Commercial sources for seeds, bulbs or plants of species marked (G6) are listed in Plant Buyer's Guide, 6th Edition, published by the Massachusetts Horticultural Society. In some lnstances we have located sources for species not listed in the Guide.

A library of color slide photographs of the species listed is being assembled, from which copies will be made available.

It is hoped MARIANA 1 will stimulate the starting of botanical collections of the plants listed, as well as Mary Gardens of the various cultural groupings,. 3.

list of plant names


Copyright Mary's Gardens 1965,1996

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 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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