There are not many things I’d rather do than spend time writing and working in my garden. I use the term ‘working’ loosely, as I hardly consider anytime spent in my garden as work. After being a mom, chauffeur, laundress, ATM and severe negotiator (I have a teenager), if I can make time in my day for a little gardening and writing, than life is good. I once read a quote by H.E. Bates that went something like this…
“Gardens… should be like lovely, well-shaped girls: all curves, secret corners, unexpected deviations, seductive surprises and then still more curves.”
What a perfect analogy of a garden. I keep that in my mind every time I’m outside and get the urge to change things up a bit in mine. Paths are often given new turns, usually as the result of flowers popping up in the most unexpected of places – one of the many things I love about my garden.
My garden is constantly evolving – a ‘work in progress’ if you will. No matter how much it changes, I have always tried to keep an “English Garden” appearance to it. Currently, I’m working on achieving a “Mary’s Garden”. If you’re Catholic, you know exactly what this means. It is a Catholic tradition to acknowledge and honor the unselfish and holy life of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In the Middle Ages, missionaries and travelers spread stories across Europe about flowers named after Mary during various times of her life. Mary Gardens that featured these flowers became popular there, and later the tradition made its way to America. Around 1932 it is believed that the first Mary Garden in the United States was constructed on the grounds of St. Joseph’s Church in the Woods on Cape Cod.
There isn’t an official list of flowers for a Mary’s Garden, but there are some basic guidelines. The center focus of the garden is a statue of Our Blessed Lady. Currently in my garden, St. Francis of Assisi is standing in for Mary. The garden can be any size and shape. My garden includes the following flowers in honor of Mary…
- Roses~ I have 12 rose bushes and I consider them my other ‘babies’. They are not the “knock-out” roses that any moron can grow. These are authentic award-winning roses. At the risk of sounding like a pretentious gardening snob, they are beautiful. The rose symbolizes Mary as the Queen of Heaven. Roses and lilies were said to have filled Mary’s empty tomb when it was opened by the Apostles. Roses are also associated with SS. Dorothy and Thérèse of Lisieux, who both send roses from Heaven. St. Francis once threw himself on the thorns of a rosebush as penance. Since then, the rose bushes in that garden (near the cloister of Santa Maria degli Angeli in Assisi) have no thorns.
- Impatients~ Our Lady’s Earrings
- Carnations~ Legend says that the carnation bloomed on the night of Jesus’ birth; a sign of Mary’s joy at the Child’s birth.
- Daisy~ To me, daisies are such a happy and friendly looking flower. It is said that when the wise men reached Bethlehem they looked for a further sign to guide them to the new king. King Melchior saw a white and gold flower and knew which building to enter.
- Rosemary~ I have two rosemary bushes and aside from their origins regarding Mary, this is a wonderful addition to my pasta sauce. It is believed that Mary hung the linens of the Holy Child on the rosemary bush to dry. Afterwards, the bush carried a sweet aroma.
- Petunias~ Lady’s Praise
- Ivy~ Where God Has Walked
- Snapdragons~ These represent the Baby Jesus’ shoes
- Marigold~ Early Christians placed marigolds around statues of Mary in place of coins calling them Mary’s gold.
- Chrysanthemums~ These are also called the All Saint’s Flower – This flower is believed to have been present when Christ was laid in the tomb.
There are dozens of other flowers one can plant in their “Mary” garden. I’ve only listed the ones I have. There is also a ‘visitor’ that one can hope will spend some time in their Mary Garden. Once referred to as “Our Lady’s Birds” , they are better known now as ladybugs. They are named for Mary when they miraculously came to save crops from aphids. The red color of the ladybug is symbolic of her red cloak, and the seven black spots represent her seven sorrows. Throughout the world, ladybugs are regarded as “good luck” and a welcome visitor to any garden.
With no rain in the forecast for the next 36 hours, I’m going to spend some time today in my garden. I am almost finished constructing my vegetable bed. It’s the first one I’ve ever built and aside from a sore thumb, a few nails that decided they wanted to be curvy, and one side of the bed being just a touch lop-sided, it doesn’t look half bad. My neighbor just laughs when he sees me covered in dirt as I tackle my latest project, but being outside is my therapy – my little escape from whatever it is I need a respite from. That and writing.
Oh, and a little reminder for those of you struggling with your gardens, a prayer or two to St. Fiacre, patron of gardeners, may bring some much-needed divine intervention!
“Many gardeners will agree that hand-weeding is not the terrible drudgery that it is often made out to be. Some people find in it a kind of soothing monotony. It leaves their minds free to develop the plot for their next novel or to perfect the brilliant repartee with which they should have encountered a relative’s latest example of unreasonableness.” ~Christopher Lloyd
~All Photos Were Taken Yesterday In My Garden~