Plant a Mary Garden!

Thursday, May 31, 2018

My kids love to pick flowers and present the blooms to me. But they also adore presenting those flowers to the Blessed Virgin! Having vases in the house around any Marian statues or paintings is a wonderful way to encourage Marian devotion (after all, what better way to grow closer to Jesus than through His mother?). If you have the outdoor space, creating an entire Mary garden with your family will provide years of memories! Here's how to get started:

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Choose a location: Find a spot in your yard that gets a reasonable amount of sun - full sun (6+ hours of sunlight daily) is wonderful, but partial sunlight (3-6 hours of sunlight daily) can yield good results if you know what to plant (hostas, begonias, bleeding hearts, and impatiens all do well with part shade). A shade garden is a possibility, but can be tricky and you may find you're limited in what you can plant.

Check your zone: The garden zone you're in may help you decide which plants make sense in your area; you don't want to purchase seeds for tropical plants when you live in Maine! Check here by inputting your zip code.

Find your Mary: A large garden statue is a wonderful goal, but can be pricey and it may be hard to find one you're satisfied with. If a large statue isn't in the budget, try a small statue on a table or pedestal, a wooden carving, a waterproof picture... Anything that shows the Blessed Virgin, to whom you're dedicating this particular area. Check your local Catholic bookshop or shrine, a Catholic retailer online. Or... There's always Amazon?

Prepare your soil: Building a raised bed and filling it with topsoil is an easy way to ensure good growth in the first couple of years with minimal weeding. You can also simply place a layer of cardboard over any grass you might not want as part of your garden, then cover with soil and mulch. The cardboard will keep the grass and other weeds from coming through to your new garden bed. 

Choose your plants: One good goal when planting your Mary garden is to eventually have blooms that will overlap so that something is blooming from spring through fall. Plant bulbs and tubers in the fall for early spring blooms (snowdrops, crocuses, daffodils, hyacinths, tulips, irises, lilies), easy annuals (marigolds, zinnias) and perennials (columbine, daisies, goldenrod, yarrow) in the spring for summer and autumn flowers, and more mature plants (rose bushes, lilac bushes) for blooms at different times of the year. It doesn't have to be planted all at once, and buying some blooms from your local nursery will give you some instant gratification while you wait for your seeds to sprout. You'll find that most common garden plants and herbs have liturgical significance! 

Crown the Queen: Once your garden is prepared, have some friends over for a May Crowning Party! Mary won't mind if it's a little late ;)

Flowers mentioned above have associations with the Blessed Virgin. For a more complete list, check this page.

Looking for more resources? We're working through this book and trying to plant most of the flowers associated with each mystery of the rosary (you can see all the flowers here). I think we might need this book as an additional physical resource. And you can find beautiful botanical prints with religious meanings here!

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