She’s been hugged and kissed. She’s been hit with soccer balls, footballs, and baseballs. I even found her once with a Disney princess bike helmet perched on her head and two pinwheels by her side. But she’s a mother, too. She’s used to it. And so she still stands, a stoic figure of stone, hands open in a gesture of grace for all who cross her path.
I love how our Mary statue stands in our backyard garden, watching my children as they play. Somehow she and her flowers survive all of their games--and remind my children that she is an important part of their lives.
From a very young age, my children have been naturally drawn to her gentle motherliness. I’ve often caught my little ones talking to her, ending their conversation with a kiss on her stone cheek. Planting a Mary garden has been an effective way to draw our whole family closer to Mary. And as we draw closer to her, I know that she is drawing us closer to her Son.
Mary gardens can be planted outside in a flower bed or container. They can also be created in a small container or terrarium for indoor enjoyment. They can evoke a certain aspect of Mary’s life, or be comprised of a variety of flowers that work well in your particular region. Many, many flowers and plants are named after Mary, the saints, or some other facet of Christianity.
This website has an abundance of information on Mary gardens, but don’t become overwhelmed with the project. Just obtain a statue of Mary and start small. One rosebush (Our Lady’s flower) or a few marigolds (Mary’s Gold) can create a lovely little grotto for Mary. Over the years, our family has added some tiers for annuals and a trellis for morning glories (Our Lady’s mantle). A garden bench provides a place for prayer and meditation.
Some years we have planted bedding plants; other years we’ve planted seeds and watched with delight as the surprises popped up. Involving my children in the process has become more important than a perfectly manicured garden, and as we pull weeds together (along with a few flowers sometimes...oops!), we talk about why we care for this special space.
Every so often, I get to sit in peace on our garden bench by myself. And as I gaze at the beauty of the butterflies and flowers, Rosary beads in hand, I am certain there are times that the scent of roses--stronger than what my rosebushes alone could produce--permeates the air. A sure sign that my mother Mary is close by.
Some common Mary garden plants and what they symbolize:
Foxglove--Our Lady’s Gloves
Pansy--Our Lady’s Delight
Chrysanthemum--All Saints’ Flower
Columbine--Our Lady’s Shoes
Forget-Me-Not--Eyes of Mary
Violet--Our Lady’s Modesty
Cosmos--St. Michael’s Flower
Morning Glory--Our Lady’s Mantle
Petunia--Our Lady’s Praises
Snapdragon--Infant Jesus’ Shoes
Rose--Emblem of Mary
Copyright 2016 Charisse Tierney
Photos copyright 2016 Charisse Tierney. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Charisse Tierney lives in Wichita, Kansas, with her husband Rob and seven children. Charisse is a stay-at-home mom, musician, NFP teacher, and a Catechesis of the Good Shepherd catechist in training. She is also a contributing author to The Catholic Mom's Prayer Companion and Family Foundations magazine. Charisse blogs at Paving the Path to Purity and can be found on Facebook.