÷ THE PRAYER OF GARDENING ÷
PLANTING A MARY GARDEN AND WATCHING IT GROW IS A SOURCE OF CONTEMPLATION AND BEAUTY FOR THE WHOLE PARISH. YOU CAN ALSO TRY IT AT HOME OR IN PLANTERS ON THE BALCONY OF YOUR APPARTMENT, ADJUSTING THE CHOICE OF FLOWERS TO THE GEOGRAPHIC AREA YOU LIVE IN. TRADITIONALLY, ACCORDING TO MEDIEVAL HISTORIANS, MARIAN GARDENS WERE SMALL ENDEAVOURS. MARIAN GARDENS AND WINDOW BOXES CAN ALSO SUPPLY FLOWERS TO ADORN MARIAN SHRINES AND STATUES.
“As a child I was always encouraged to create a Marian altar in my room during the months of May and October…I thought it time to resurrect this custom on a slightly larger scale. It is the practice within many parishes to create an Easter garden, usually within the body of the church, in order to create a powerful visual image of the new life of the resurrection linked with the blossoms and buds of the burgeoning life of spring. This article aims to extend this liturgical centrepiece in what seems a natural progression, to the grounds of the church itself with the planting of a Mary garden.
The nature of gardening forces a connection with the mud and rain, the stones and the weeds, the spade and the soil and the very activity of cleaning and planting can be part of the prayer of the garden itself. Therefore, the connection with God is not only achieved in the summative achievement of the garden, but also in its formative creation. This enterprise might also provide an opportunity to link parishioners from different aspects and ages of parish life, with silver haired, green-fingered members of the community working alongside members of your First Eucharist or Confirmation groups. Within such collaborations seeds of friendship may be planted which allow the parish garden to flourish in a multitude of ways…”
SOME OF THE FLOWERS ASSOCIATED WITH OUR LADY
• “LILIES – (Easter or Madonna lilies and lilies-of-the-valley): white colour and sweet fragrance symbolise Mary’s purity, humility, loving obedience to God’s will.
• IRIS – (old-fashioned names were ‘flag’ or ‘sword lily’): the deep-blue colour symbolises Mary’s fidelity, and the blade-shaped foliage denotes the sorrows that ‘pierce her heart’.
• GLADIOLUS – (the name comes from the Latin word for sword): sword-shaped leaves also symbolise ‘piercing sorrows’.
• BABY’S BREATH – symbolises innocence and purity; also the breath and power of the Holy Spirit.
• IVY – evergreen stands for eternity, faithfulness.
• VIOLETS – delicacy, colour, sweet scent and heart-shaped leaves refer to Mary’s constancy, humility and innocence.
• BLUE COLUMBINE – (from the Latin word for dove, ‘columba’): a circle of petals thought to resemble doves and is a symbol of fidelity.
• MARIGOLD – (calendula; ‘English’ or ‘pot marigold’ and common garden or ‘French marigold’): named in honour of Mary (‘Mary’s gold’), symbolises her simplicity, domesticity and also, sometimes denoted Mary’s sorrows.
• CARNATIONS – pink or red colour symbolises love, life. The colour and spicy fragrance can also refer to the crucifixion, ‘love unto death’.
• ROSE – regarded as the ‘queen of flowers’, and often symbolises Mary, the Queen of Heaven. Also an almost universal symbol of perfect love, its colour, perfection of form, and fragrance, as well as its thorns signifies Mary’s role in salvation history as the Mother of God the Saviour who was crowned with thorns and shed His blood on the Cross for love of mankind. The rose, arising from a thorny bush, also signifies Mary, the Mystical Rose, ‘our fallen Nature’s solitary boast’, who alone of the human race was conceived without sin. It also may contain a parallel with the fiery thorn bush from which God SPOKE to Moses: Mary, immaculately conceived, was the means through which God BECAME Man, the Word made flesh.”
WEBSITES FOR MORE INFORMATION:
http://www.springfieldop.org (external link): “This is the site of the Dominican sisters in Springfield, Illinois and its focus on ‘Gardening as Prayer’ provides a perfect starting point for the spiritual gardener. ‘In the prayer of gardening we come to know that deep within the soul is an inner garden of great importance. There we discover what it means to be more truly human and to relate to one another and all creation in love.’ The idea of starting off any gardening with this thoughtful reflection places a different hue on the enterprise itself, reminding us all that we are the flowers and fruits of the Ultimate Creator. The site also contains links to other types of prayer such as the contemplative Prayer Walk and Praying the Rosary. There’s not a lot to read, but what is there is intuitive and serene…”
http://www.fisheaters.com (external link): “This well presented site offers an exhaustive list of plants, shrubs and herbs for the Mary Garden. Although it does not have pictures of each plant, it does suggest other plants that can be used to mark the liturgical year and help it to come to life…”
http://campus.udayton.edu (external link): “This site is a comprehensive guide to all things associated with the Mary garden. It is text heavy, which is a shame when we are talking about such visual joys as plants and gardens, however if you negotiate you will find all sorts of interesting bits. I particularly liked the ‘My Garden Prays’ section which details prayers inspired by particular plants and ends with the invocation of the Rev. James J. Galvin, CSSR: ‘Gardens should pray! Gardens should remind children of their Mother. Gardens should be holy places that keep minds fresh and unsullied as Madonna lilies. Gardens should chime with names that ring like the Litany of Loreto. And gardens, if they are truly Mary Gardens, will naturally lead to Christ.'”
– The above are excerpts of an article by Maureen Glackin entitled, “Getting Resourced: The Mary Garden – a garden for the spirit”, published in The Pastoral Review, May/June 2010, Vol. 6, Issue 3