Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Gardening With Mary

Master from the Upper Rhine
The Garden of Paradise
c. 1420
Stadelsches Kunstinstitut, 
Frankfurt a.M., Germany
Anyone who knows me well, knows that I grew up on a farm. My kids love to hear stories about my days on the farm. I remember them fondly. I remember hilling row after row of potatoes and picking green beans every second day until they gave no more. I also remember taking every bowl and empty ice cream bucket we own, packing it in the car and driving to the U-Pick strawberry farm. I love to dig in the dirt, plant, water and watch things grow.

When we lived in Germany, we only had a balcony. We planted lots of flowers in containers. I fondly remember planting sunflowers with our oldest who was not even two. The memories that I have made getting dirty and planting flowers are endless.

It comes as no surprise then, that I ripped out the sod from a large part of our suburban backyard in the spring of 2011 to plant a garden. I just wanted a small garden with a few veggies and a few flowers. In 2012, we expanded this little garden and grew a few more things. It is not surprising that this spring, we have plans to expand a little more. We did some spring clean up, moved a few things around and already used some of our bank points to trade in for gift cards for local nurseries. We don't have a lot of money to buy flowers, so the gift cards are great. I also got a great deal from an online catalogue to purchase flowers that are common to the area, but not usually available to purchase locally. I can hardly wait for them to arrive.

Virgin with a Rose Trellis
French School
c. 1470-72
Museé de l'Oeuvre Notre-Dame
Strasbourg, France 
In choosing flowers, we (my daughter and I) selected ones with a distinct purpose, ones that were considered Marian flowers. A few years ago we learned of the idea of growing a Mary Garden. We were intrigued, but didn't exactly know how or where we would plant one. There is a lot of information to be found over the internet about Mary Gardens. I wanted our Mary Garden to honor Our Blessed Mother as well as honor God's beautiful creation.

We bought a statue last spring and gave it a place of honor. We planted a few flowers from seed and purchased a few with gift cards. We learned the meanings of some of the more popular Marian flowers and made a home school worksheet for Maria. Then the baby came in August. We didn't plant any spring bulbs, nor cover our precious tea rose (which died on us as a result). We let nature do it's thing and decided to worry about it in the spring.

Morden Ruby Rose
Spring came and we didn't get any seeds planted until really, really late. When the weather cleared up, we began cleaning up the yard. As we cleaned, I prayed for divine inspiration. I had no idea where to put what and how to plant everything we wanted to and still give Mary a beautiful garden. Somehow as we worked, we found answers. We pruned and hoed, raked and dug. Mother's day weekend was spent in our garden. We planted some flowers around Mary. We bought her a new rose, a hardy rose (Morden Ruby Rose) that will hopefully endure our harsh winters without much extra attention.

Unfortunately, I haven't taken any pictures of the garden since we planted anything. Here is a picture from our garden in July of 2012. It was very fruitful and lush. I am toying with the idea of doing a weekly Marian garden flower post. I would highlight one of Mary's flowers each week and share pictures. I just need to squeeze it in somehow. I am not a very good blogger in that regard. Life happens and I blog less.

I am going to leave you with a really beautiful quote that I found. It is written my Rev. James J. Galvin,
"Gardens should pray! Gardens should remind children of their mother. Gardens should be holy places that keep minds as 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."

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