By Mary DeTurris Poust
With spring in full swing, it's that time of year when gardeners want to get outside, dig their hands into the earth and begin planting. This year, why not think about creating a Mary Garden, with flowers and a statue to honor the Blessed Mother? That's my Mary Garden in the photo above, although here in upstate New York planting won't begin in earnest until any danger of frost is gone, which is late May. So this photo gives only the slightest hint of what's to come, with a native Bleeding Heart (Mary's Heart) in bloom next to Our Lady of Guadalupe. Those are Hostas (Assumption Lilies) in front. Hyacinth (Lily-among-Thorns) and Lily of the Valley (Our Lady's Tears) are scattered out of view. Petunias (Our Lady's Praises) and Marigolds (Mary's Gold) will be planted later.
If you're interested in linking your praying to your planting, or if you'd like to find other creative ways to expand your spiritual life into the outdoors, there are some great websites to get you started. Click HERE to visit an expansive Mary Garden site with detailed information on flower species, names and symbolism, as well as design ideas and tips for both new and experienced gardeners.
One of my favorite sites on this subject was created by Ann Ball, a beloved and esteemed Catholic author who died in June 2008. Her website, which is still active, has an explanation of the medieval custom of Mary Gardens, which you can view by clicking HERE. And, if you can find a copy through a third-party seller or in your local library, try to pick up Ann's Catholic Traditions in the Garden (1997, Our Sunday Visitor), a great little book on incorporating spiritual elements in your yard and garden plans.