May is all about our Mother Mary! This month is dedicated to honoring our Mother as Queen of Heaven and Earth. Throughout the month, we celebrate many Marian Feast Days. One of my favorite ways to honor and celebrate Mary this month is by planting a Marian Garden! This special garden can be found in Catholic churches, schools and homes all around the world. The gardens serve as a special opportunity for us to express our devotion to Mary, and the garden in full bloom reminds us of her beauty and love. If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed as to where to begin, or if you are new to gardening, I put together a guide to help!
What is a Marian Garden?
Before you get started on the garden, I thought it would be helpful to explain what a Marian Garden is, and why, as Catholics, we plant these gardens. A Marian Garden is a special way to honor Mother Mary, and reflect on her virtues. This garden is composed of special plants, flowers and/or herbs dedicated to Mary. These plants have specific “Mary names” (aka religious names) that reflect her life. To learn more about the plants and their religious, botanical and common names, check out this helpful guide! The centerpiece in the garden is a statue of Mary, and the array of plants are planted around her.
One of the beautiful things about Marian Gardens is that they are completely unique and take many different forms! I’ve seen some beautiful outdoor gardens, as well as indoor gardens (in the windowsill), herb gardens, patio gardens and more. There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to the garden. Whether you are a homeowner, or live in an apartment with limited space, find a spot that works best for you and run with it!
As Catholics, we plant these gardens as a symbol of our love for Mary. It serves as a reminder of who she is and all the beautiful works she did for us. The blooming flowers and fruitfulness remind us of the fruits of Mary’s womb (Jesus) and how she leads us to Him. Not only are we honoring her, but we are also taking the time to reflect on her and her virtues.
Tip: If you’re a Mama like me, this is a fun project to do with your littles! I was inspired by the idea of the Marian Garden for our Marian Garden Wooden Puzzle for little ones! I encourage you to set aside some time to explain Marian Garden to your children, and ask them to help you select and plant the flowers in the garden. Bonus points if you film the process along the way - I was able to snap some videos while shopping with my daughter and it was so special! Check out the video here.
Marian Gardens date back to the beginning of Medieval Times (as early as the 1300s!). Our fellow priests, brothers and sisters would use flower gardens as a way to teach others about our faith. Flower imagery is also captured in the Scriptures and Liturgy. In response, a number of flowers were named after Mary and her life. These flowers help tell the story of Mary and serve as symbols throughout the church. The University of Dayton has incredible resources that further explain the history about Marian Gardens, which you can read about here, here and here.
Marian Garden theology and flower names
As I mentioned above, Marian Gardens are composed of special flowers that represent Mary. These flowers have “Mary names,” which help serve as symbols of her life. In the bible, Mary is often referred to as plant symbols, which further explain these said “Mary names” for the flowers. Our Church Fathers also used flowers to teach about Mary. The list of “Mary name” is quite long, but I wanted to share a few titles that you may recognize.
For the complete list, please view the Mary’s Gardens website, or click here.
Before you get started on all the gardening fun, take a few minutes to get all the supplies you need to get started! Whether you are planning to plant the garden inside or outside, you will need the following supplies:
- A peaceful, quiet spot (inside or outside)
- Marian Flowers of your choice (I compiled a list of the best flowers for an outdoor Marian garden, indoor Marian garden and herb Marian garden - all listed below. You can also check out these resources for the full flower list and choose your favorites!) LINK
- Mary Garden Statue (If you don’t have a statue, click here to search)
- Other religious symbols: Prayer stones, rocks, shells, crosses, etc.
- Gardening tools: Gloves, rake, shovel, etc. (and maybe a set for kid’s too!)
- Watering Can
- Bonus: Listen to a recording of the rosary while you work or play our Fatima playlist on Spotify
Let’s build a garden!
I wanted to share my top flower picks for outdoor, indoor and herb gardens, along with some helpful tips to care for your garden to help it thrive.
Outdoor Garden: I hand selected five flowers and plants that I think would make a beautiful garden and add a pretty touch to your outdoor space. Rose (Mystical Rose)
- Tulips (Mary’s Prayer)
- Marigold (Mary’s Gold)
- Strawberries (Mary’s Fruitfulness)
- Cornflower (Mary’s Crown)
Once you gather these flowers, it’s time to start planting! Plant each flower and plant one-by-one, making sure to spread out the different flowers to create a vibrant and colorful garden. Don’t forget to leave a spot for the Mary statue!
It’s important to care for your garden daily - Check up on your plants and give them plenty of water so they can continue to blossom and grow.
Indoor Garden: If you are limited on space, or prefer having plants indoors, I recommend using these flowers below for your indoor Marian garden:
- Asparagus Fern (Maiden’s Hair)
- Golden Stars Cactus (Lady’s Finger)
- Slipper Orchids (Our Lady’s Slipper)
- Jasmine (Mary’s Purity)
- Fancy Leaf Caladium (Angel’s Wings/Heart of Jesus)
Spread these Marian plants around your house or prayer space or use a tiered plant stand.
Here are some of my favorite pots to use in my house. Terra Cotta pots How cute would a Strawberry planter be (strawberries symbolize the fruitfulness of Mary!) and this is a cool self watering planter for those of you like me who can’t remember to water plants! I own this, this, and something similar to this.
Herb Garden: Not only are herb gardens beautiful, but they are also a great place to grow herbs that you use on a regular basis (and can add to your recipes when needed!). Some great herbs to begin your Marian herb garden:
- Sage (Mary’s Shawl)
- Parsley (Our Lady’s Little Vine)
- Basil (Holy Communion Plant)
- Rosemary (Mary’s Bouquet)
- Lavender (Mary’s Drying Plant)
So, you’ve planted the garden (yay), but now you might be wondering how to care for it. Don’t worry, I have a few tips that will help you stay on track and make sure your garden thrives!
- Check your plants daily
- Water properly and consistently
- Treat your spoil (when needed)
- Remove weeds (outdoor plants)
- For indoor plants, reposition/find a new spot, if needed
One last piece of advice
Say a prayer over your garden!
“Almighty, everlasting God, sower and nourisher of the heavenly Word, you till the ground of our hearts with spiritual tools. Hear our prayers, please, and pour your blessings upon the fields that have been sown….”
OR Pray the Rosary!
- Make the Sign of the Cross.
- Holding the Crucifix, say the Apostles' Creed
- On the first bead, say an Our Father
- Say one Hail Mary on each of the next three beads
- Say the Glory Be
- For each of the five decades, announce the Mystery (perhaps followed by a brief reading from Scripture) then say the Our Father
While fingering each of the ten beads of the decade, next say ten Hail Marys while meditating on the Mystery. Then say a Glory Be.
(After finishing each decade, some say the following prayer requested by the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima: O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell; lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who have most need of your mercy.)
After saying the five decades, say the Hail, Holy Queen, followed by this dialogue and prayer:
V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray: O God, whose Only Begotten Son, by his life, Death, and Resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life, grant, we beseech thee, that while meditating on these mysteries of the most holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
All in all, creating a Marian Garden is an act of faithfulness and an opportunity to reflect on Mary. This garden serves as a reminder of her beauty and love. With the right combination of sunlight, plants, and love, you have the ability to create a special spot to honor Mary in your own home. Treat your garden with good care and love so it can bring blessings to you and your family.