How to Start a Mary Garden in 7 Easy Steps

Mary Garden copyI love gardening. And I have always wanted to have a Mary garden. It just hadn’t happened till now.

What better way to celebrate May than with a Mary garden!

Having a Mary garden is a very simply way to honor the Blessed Mother, it’s easy to do with children and can enhance our own devotion to Mary as well. It’s not difficult to do and pretty self explanatory. The most important part of the Mary garden are the flowers. What legends and stories do they tell us about Our Beautiful Mother? How are flowers themselves symbols for us of her love and her life? What steps should we take as we start a Mary garden?

Start your Mary Garden with these 7 steps:

1. Choose the perfect place for your Mary garden.

Mary gardens can be located anywhere. And they can be any size. There isn’t a right or wrong location as long as it can be a place of prayer, reflection, and enjoyment. You may, however, want to consider if the area is shaded or sunny as it may influence the kinds of plants you will have. I chose a small corner of my back yard. Later I will place a bench for sitting in front of it where I can pray or just take some time out.

The is the way my garden looked just after turning over the soil.

This is the way my garden looked just after turning over the soil.

2. Prepare the soil.

You want to do this to insure the success of your garden. Some places just have terrible soil and even with reasonable care plants just can’t make it. I like to use box gardens which I can fill with my own soil mix. But for my Mary garden this year I decided just to turn my soil over add plenty soil mix.

3. Find a statue of the Blessed Mother or another image to center your garden around.

Keep this simple and inexpensive. I am sure that the Blessed Mother would want it that way. It’s not a Mary garden without some image or reminder of Mary in addition to the flowers themselves. It can be as simple as a laminated holy card. How about painting Mary’s image on a large stone. The possibilities are endless!

I found this statue at a local hardware store very inexpensive.

I found this statue at a local hardware store very inexpensive.

4. Choose plants for your Mary garden.

Several plants have links to Mary by their names or through the history of devotions to Mary and church tradition. There are literally limitless possibilities because Mary gardens are an expression one’s personal devotion to the the Blessed Mother. There really isn’t a right or wrong as long as it is meaningful for you and enhances your prayer life. I have chosen to highlight the flowers that were easiest for me to find and purchase and that suited my location best.

You can make your own list of Mary flowers and take some time to read the legends associated with the different flowers and their meanings! One of my favorites is that when Mary cried at the foot of the cross her tears turned to flowers. Mary’s Tears is the devotional name for Lily of the Valley. Marigold or Mary’s gold was offered by early Christians instead of coins. Other flowers are known as Mary’s praise (petunias), Our Lady’s gloves (foxglove), Our Lady’s shoes (fallen spurs from the columbine are said to look like her shoes) and there are many more.

Roses have long been associated with Mary.

Roses the  “queen of flowers”  have long been associated with Mary.

It's in the name.

Rosemary…It’s in the name.

Means Mary's Gold.

Marigold means Mary’s gold. Early Christians offered Mary these instead of coins.

Sweet Alyssum has a wonderful fragrance.

Sweet Alyssum has a wonderful fragrance. Cross shapes flowers remind of our Lord’s cross.

Lily of the Valley is also known as Our Lady's Tears.

Lily of the Valley is also known as Our Lady’s Tears. This flower has fragrance and tolerates shade.

Impatiens are also called Mother's Love because of their constant blooms.

Impatiens are also called Mother’s Love because of their constant blooms. Also good for some shade.

Bleeding Hearts for Mary's heart which was pierced.

Bleeding Hearts for Mary’s heart which was pierced. Also tolerates shade.

I chose hyacinth for it's color, fragrance and star shaped flower.

I chose hyacinth for it’s color, fragrance and star shaped flower.

5. Plan placement for each plant in the garden.

I chose the flowers above for starting my Mary garden because they are familiar favorites. I also chose them based on the conditions. Shade loving ones for the shaded part of my garden and then I placed those that require full sun in the sunny corner. You should also consider the height that your flowers and herbs will grow.You don’t want some to be in the way of others. Place tallest plants in back and small ones in front.

6. Purchase and begin planting your Mary flowers.

Now that you know what you will by, what they mean for you, and where you should place them you can begin planting. This is the easy and fun part.

7. Add meaningful/prayerful accents.

I plan to add seven stepping stones in my garden, one for each of Mary’s 7 joys as in the Franciscan Crown Rosary. They are the Annunciation, Visitation, Nativity, Adoration of the Magi, Finding our Lord in the Temple, the Resurrection, and The Assumption and Crowning of Our Blessed Mother in Heaven.  But I suggest just adding anything that is meaningful to you. Here are some possibilities:

  • Painted rocks that represent an aspect of faith. For example..the fruits of the spirit.
  • Garden stones, pinwheels, or other item to represent your prayer requests. Add and remove as requested and granted.
  • Add decorative ladybugs to your garden. These are easy to paint from round stones! Or add real ones for that mater. Do you know they get their name because after farmers had prayed for their crops “Our Lady’s Beetles” came and ate all the pests that were destroying the crops. And that’s why we now call them lady bugs having originated from Our Lady’s Bugs.

    Lady bugs get there name from being Mary's help to farmers, once called Our Lady's bugs.

    Lady bugs get their name from being Mary’s help to farmers, once called Our Lady’s bugs.

  • Add items that relate to Mary by her many names. We are adding a large clam shell and other shells because Mary is known as the Star of the Sea. What other names can you and your children thin of for Mary? Have them choose items to adorn the garden to represent those names.
  • Add a bench to sit on for prayer and meditation.

These are just a few of the things you can do with your Mary garden. It’s so very easy to set it up in a way that reflects your own devotion to Mary. May  Our Blessed Mother wrap you in her lovely mantle and bless you through your garden this year!

Stephanie is a military spouse and writes on her personal blog, Harrington Harmonies, where she shares her experiences with homeschooling, faith and military family life. She enjoys cooking, gardening, art and singing with her husband Brian of 21 years. She and Brian also sing together and share their Catholic music on the blog. Follow on Facebook, Pinterest , Twitter, and Google+.

Stephanie Harrington