Since I was born my parents have placed statues of Mary all around the property and house. Around the time I was born my parents bought life-size statues of Our Lady of Fatima and the three shepherd children and placed the set in front of our house facing a large lake. We also have a statue of Mary at the entrance of our long driveway, a statue of Mary in our apple orchard, and I have my own Mary garden located in a little clearing in the woods. I have always been drawn to honoring Mary in this way -- through flowers and plants and gardens. Mary gardens are certainly not a new thing; I've read that they began during the Middle Ages using flowers named by Christian botanists after Mary's life and virtues. This way of honoring Mary using specially named flowers intrigued me.
Dicentra, my favorite flower of any garden is commonly called Bleeding Heart after its uncanny resemblance to a heart - Mary's Heart if planted in a Mary garden.
Of course the rose can't be mistaken for anything but heavenly. Mary has been called the "Mystical Rose" for centuries and the great Dante wrote, "Why are you so enamored of my face that you do not turn your gaze to the beautiful garden which blossoms under the radiance of Christ? There is the Rose in which the Divine word became flesh: here are the lilies whose perfume guides you in the right ways."
Dianthus (ie. Sweet William, Carnation, and Pinks) or whatever you want to call this lovely old fashioned flower graces my garden with its spring perfume. It's often a symbol of love, and as a flower for Mary it symbolizes Mary's ardent love of God.
The first flower I grew in my garden was the purple violet that I transplanted from a wildflower patch - I was happy to find later that it was a symbol of Mary's humility.
I could keep naming flowers like this and I could keep searching to add more flowers to my garden that have a Marian symbol or story attached, but I've found that a Mary garden shouldn't be based only on traditions and stories of the past. Don't get me wrong, traditions are often times helpful and good, but I don't think they should be the reason we plant the flower - to add another Marian specimen to the garden. I think it is the story we add to the plant when we plant it, it is the work and care we take to plant it and help it grow, it is the enjoyment we get when it finally blooms and fruits and we are able to see another of God's works come to life. To sum up my thoughts, I don't think a Mary garden should only be about special flowers that tell millenniums-old story about the most blessed of all women who lived 2,000 years ago. Rather, it should be a garden that is fresh, lively, and growing -- a garden that continues Mary's story through the story of the gardener who wishes to honor Mary and imitate her life and virtues.
Links of interest:
About Mary Gardens:
About Mary Gardens:
http://www.leafletonline.com/Outdoor/products/198/ (I purchased my Mary statue from this company.)
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