Mary Gardens

This article originally appeared on Fish Eaters and is being used under Section 107 of the Copyright Act. It is for non-profit use to bring about the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart into the world. If you have any questions please contact

A plant is something most people rarely, if ever, think about, but, like animals, and seen with the eyes of faith, even the lowliest plant invites wonder.

Looked at thoughtfully, plants are transformed into objects of meditation, symbols and signs of our ultimate end. From their complexity and beauty, to their gratitude-inspiring usefulness as food and medicine, they orient us toward the transcendent if we’re mindful enough. So stop and look at the natural world around you, taking it all in and following the lead of St. Basil the Great, who wrote in his fifth homily of “On the Haexemeron”:

I want creation to penetrate you with so much admiration that everywhere, wherever you may be, the least plant may bring to yon the clear remembrance of the Creator. If you see the grass of the fields, think of human nature, and remember the comparison of the wise Isaiah. “All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field.” Truly the rapid flow of life, the short gratification and pleasure that an instant of happiness gives a man, all wonderfully suit the comparison of the prophet. To-day he is vigorous in body, fattened by luxury, and in the prime of life, with complexion fair like the flowers, strong and powerful and of irresistible energy; tomorrow and he will be an object of pity, withered by age or exhausted by sickness…

…”Let the earth bring forth the fruit tree yielding fruit.” Immediately the tops of the mountains were covered with foliage: paradises were artfully laid out, and an infinitude of plants embellished the banks of the rivers. Some were for the adornment of man’s table; some to nourish animals with their fruits and their leaves; some to provide medicinal help by giving us their sap, their juice, their chips, their bark or their fruit. In a word, the experience of ages, profiting from every chance, has not been able to discover anything useful, which the penetrating foresight of the Creator did not first perceive and call into existence. Therefore, when you see the trees in our gardens, or those of the forest, those which love the water or the land, those which bear flowers, or those which do not flower, I should like to see you recognising grandeur even in small objects, adding incessantly to your admiration of, and redoubling your love for the Creator. Ask yourself why He has made some trees evergreen and others deciduous; why, among the first, some lose their leaves, and others always keep them. Thus the olive and the pine shed their leaves, although they renew them insensibly and never appear to be despoiled of their verdure. The palm tree, on the contrary, from its birth to its death, is always adorned with the same foliage. Think again of the double life of the tamarisk; it is an aquatic plant, and yet it covers the desert. Thus, Jeremiah compares it to the worst of characters — the double character.

“Let the earth bring forth.” This short command was in a moment a vast nature, an elaborate system. Swifter than thought it produced the countless qualities of plants. It is this command which, still at this day, is imposed on the earth, and in the course of each year displays all the strength of its power to produce herbs, seeds and trees. Like tops, which after the first impulse, continue their evolutions, turning upon themselves when once fixed in their centre; thus nature, receiving the impulse of this first command, follows without interruption the course of ages, until the consummation of all things. Let us all hasten to attain to it, full of fruit and of good works; and thus, planted in the house of the Lord we shall flourish in the court of our God, in our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.

A Mary Garden the perfect thing to make in order to help you think of plants in this way.

What is a “Mary Garden”?

A Mary Garden is a garden filled with plants, flowers and trees named for Our Lady and Jesus. They are designed to be places of beauty that remind us of our Lord and Lady, allowing us to experience God’s creation, and inviting prayer and contemplation. Because Mary is a type of the Church as Bride, the garden should be enclosed if at all possible, based on the words in the fourth chapter of Solomon’s Canticle of Canticles:

My sister, my spouse, is a garden enclosed, a garden enclosed, a fountain sealed up.

t. Benedict had a rose garden (“rosary”) at his monastery in the 4th c., but the first garden we know of that was specifically dedicated to Mary was one created by the Irish St. Fiacre in the 7th c. The earliest record of a garden explicitly called a “Mary Garden” involves a “fifteenth century monastic accounting record of the purchase of plants “for S. Mary’s garden” by the sacristan of Norwich Priory, in England.”

Before the rise of Christendom, many flowers were associated with pagan deities — Diana, Juno, Venus, etc. — but when the “Age of Faith” ascended and superceded the pagan, these flowers were “christened” and re-dedicated to Christian themes. So many flowers were named for Jesus, Mary, the angels, holy places, etc. — enough such that you can create a garden focused on specific aspects of Mary and Jesus’ lives, such as His Passion or her sorrows. Enchanting names, like “Our Lady’s Tears” (spiderwort), “Christ’s-Cross Flower” (Summer phlox), “Joseph’s Coat” (Amaranthus), “Pentecost Rose” or “Mary’s Rose” (peony), and “Our Lady’s Mantle” (Morning Glory), abounded. Sadly, during the Protestant rebellion and the rise of secularism, many of these flowers were re-named yet again with more wordly names but, of course, these flowers still exist and to many Catholic gardeners, their religious names are still meaningful.

The dedication booklet for Pennsylvania’s St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish’s Mary Garden includes the following, which will give you an idea about how Mary Gardens recall the lives of Mary and Jesus. The booklet asks the reader to visit the garden and think of Mary:

“Picture her eyes (Forget-Me-Nots), her hair (Maidenhair Fem), her five fingers (Potentilla). Think about her apparel: her smock (Morning Glory), her veil (Baby’s Breath), her nightcap (Canterbury Bells), her gloves (Foxglove), and her shoes (Columbine). Remember her attributes: Mary’s humility (Violet), the fruitful virgin (Strawberry), Mary’s queenship (Virgin Lily), Mary’s Flower of God (English Daisy), Mary’s glory (Saint John’s Wort), and Our Lady’s Faith (Veronica).

Think about her life: The Bethlehem Star (Bellflower), the Christmas Flower (Poinsettia), Lady’s Bedstraw (Dianthus – Mary used bedstraw to prepare a bed for Jesus), the Epiphany flower (Chrysanthemum), the Flight into Egypt (Fig Tree – legend says that the Holy Family ate the fruit of this tree during their flight into Egypt), Our Lady’s Tears (Lily of the Valley – tiny white nodding bell-shaped flowers can be likened to a train of tears), Our Lady’s Tresses (Asparagus Fern – legend holds that at the foot of the cross, Mary, in. deep agony, tore out a tress of her hair which Saint John preserved), Mary’s Bitter Sorrow (Dandelion), and the Assumption (Hosta – Plantation Lily blooms at the time of the Feast of the Assumption).”

You can plant flowers whose names and form evoke the Fourteen Stations of the Cross or the Fifteen Mysteries of the Rosary so that by walking through your garden you not only enjoy its natural beauty, but practically “make the Stations” or “walk the Rosary,” turning your backyard , schoolyard, or churchyard into a holy shrine (especially when accented with beautiful statuary).

If you don’t have lots of room, you can make mini-gardens on your patio or apartment’s balcony, or grow miniature plants in dishes or terraria for inside your home (nice gifts for the homebound!). If you do have lots of room, especially if you live in the country, consider setting up a little roadside shrine and garden so people passing by can stop and rest at a beautiful sacred place.

Below is a table of modern common names, scientific names, and medieval, religious names and meanings of flowers, plants, and shrubs, along with a few other plants relevant to our Lord’s life. Separately below in the table, you’ll find the same for herbs. The month associated with those flowers deemed as “birth flowers” have the birth months rendered in (italicized parentheses):



Common NameScientific NameMedieval Name and/or Religious Meaning
AmaryllisAmaryllis belladonnaBeautiful Lady
AmaryllisHippeastrum hybr.St. Joseph’s Lily
Anemone, double-floweredAnemone coronariaSt. Brigid
AsterAster nova-belgiiMichaelmas Daisy (September)
Baby’s BreathGypsophila panicul.Lady’s Veil
Bachelor’s ButtonsCentauria cyannisMary’s Crown
Bean caper plantZygophyllum dumosum? Found on Shroud of Turin. See footnote for more information on the flowers of the Holy Shroud.
BegoniaBegonia fuchsioidesHeart of Jesus
BegoniaBegonia fuch. roseaHeart of Mary
BellflowerAdenopheraLady Bell
Bird of ParadiseStreliztia reginaeBird of Paradise
Black-Eyed SusanRudbeckia hirtaGolden Jerusalem
Bleeding HeartDicentra spectabilisMary’s Heart
Blue PhloxPhlox divaricataLady’s Wedding
BluetsHoustonia caerul.Madonna’s Eyes
BougainvilleaBougainvillea gen.Trinitaria
ButtercupRanunculus acrisLady’s Locks
ButtercupRanunculus sp.Our Lady’s Bowl
CameliaCamellia (japonica)(Purity)
Calla LilyZantedeshia aethiop.St. Joseph’s Staff
CannaCanna generalisRosary Beads
Canterbury BellsCampanula mediumOur Lady’s Nightcap, Mary Bells, Our Lady’s Smock
Caper, Caper bushesCapparis spinosa (var. aegyptia)? Found on Shroud of Turin. See footnote for more information on the flowers of the Holy Shroud.
CarnationDianthus caryophyllusMary’s Love of God. These flowers are said to have bloomed at Christ’s Nativity, according to a German legend. (January)
Castilian roses (Damascus Roses or Damask Rose)Rosa damascenaI am not sure of the medieval name for these native-to-Spain flowers, but these are the variety that St. Juan Diego found after the vision of Our Lady at Guadalupe.
Chrysanthemum (mum)ChrysanthemumAll Saints’ Flower. Chrysanthemums in general are associated with death and are used and funerals and to adorn graves (Chrysanthemum coronarium is believed by scientists to have been present when Christ was laid in the tomb. See footnotes). (November)
ClematisClematis virginianaVirgin’s Bower
ClematisClematis (flammula)Cross
ColumbineAquilegua vulgarisOur Lady’s Shoes, Lady’s Slipper. Said to have sprung up under Our Lady’s feet as she went to visit Elizabeth. The dove-shaped petals of this flower invited — and invites — its use for decoration on the Feast of the Pentecost.
Corn MarigoldChrysanthemum segetumMary’s Gold (November)
CosmosCosmos sp.St. Michael’s Flower (September)
Chrysanthemum bals.Mary’s Leaf
CowslipPrimula verisLady’s Keys
CrocusCrocus vernusPenitent’s Rose
Cross VineBignonia capreolataCross Vine
Crown DaisyChrysanthemum coronarium? I don’t know the medieval name for this flower, but “Crown Daisy” is appropriate: this flower shows up on the Shroud of Turin. See footnote for more information on the flowers of the Holy Shroud.
DaffodilNarcissus pseudo-narc.Mary’s Star
DahliaDahlia (hybrids)Churchyard Flower
Day LilyHemerocallis flavaSt. Joseph’s Lily
DieffenbachiaDieffenbachia sao ant.St. Anthony Dieffenbachia
Dog RoseRosa caninaMary’s Thorn
Dutchman’s BreechesDicentra cucullariaI don’t know the medieval name for this interesting flower, but it has sentimental interest for me so I would love to discover it if anyone happens to know and cares to write.
EdelweissLeontopodium alp.Purity
Easter LilyLilium longiflorumEaster Lily
English DaisyBellis perennisMary-Love
English HollyIlex aquifoliumBurning Bush
Evening PrimoseOenothera bienniaEaster Candle
FernAsplenium ruta-mur.Lady’s Hair
Field BindweedConvolvulus arvensisThis lovely flowering plant — closely related to, resembling, and sometimes called the same name as the Morning Glory — is pervasive once planted and, so, is generally considered a weed. Its old common name according to the Grimm’s short tale of the same name is “Our Lady’s Little Glass.” The story in its entirety: “Once upon a time a waggoner’s cart which was heavily laden with wine had stuck so fast that in spite of all that he could do, he could not get it to move again. Then it chanced that Our Lady just happened to come by that way, and when she perceived the poor man’s distress, she said to him, ‘I am tired and thirsty, give me a glass of wine, and I will set thy cart free for thee.’ ‘Willingly,’ answered the waggoner, ‘but I have no glass in which I can give thee the wine.’ Then Our Lady plucked a little white flower with red stripes, called field bindweed, which looks very like a glass, and gave it to the waggoner. He filled it with wine, and then Our Lady drank it, and in the self-same instant the cart was set free, and the waggoner could drive onwards. The little flower is still always called Our Lady’s Little Glass.”
Forget-me-notMyostis scorpoides, Myostis sylvaticaEyes of Mary
ForsythiaForsythia suspensaEaster Bush
FoxgloveDigitalis purpureaOur Lady’s Gloves
FuchsiaFuchsia speciosaChrist’s Blood Drops or Our Lady’s Eardrops
GeraniumPelargonium (dom)Lady Beautiful
GeraniumPelargonium sp.Heart of Jesus, Gentle Virgin
German Irislris germanicaMary’s Sword of Sorrow
GladiolusGladiolus sp.Twelve Apostles, Ladder to Heaven
Golden RodSolidago canad.Lady’s Plant
Grape HyacinthMuscari (gen)St. Joseph’s Bells
Grape HyacinthMuscari botryoidesChurch Steeples
Ground IvyNepeta hederaceaMadonna’s Herb
HawthornCrataegus monogynaMary’s Mayflower(May)
HawthornCrataegus oxyacanaMary’s Berry (May). The Crataegus Oxyacantha praecox variety is the plant of England’s “Glastonbury Thorn” — a plant of Mediterranean origin but which, in Somerset, blooms twice: at Easter and at Christmas. It, therefore, has become a symbol of Christmas. The Glastonbury Thorn is said to have arisen when St. Joseph of Arimathea thrust his hawthorn staff into the ground in Somersetshire. The original plant was destroyed by Puritans (the soldier who did the chopping is said to have been struck in the eye by a large splinter from the tree), but shoots from it were taken, and England’s Glastonbury Thorn lives. Since 1929, blossoms from the Glastonbury Thorn are sent to England’s Monarchs for their table on Christmas Day.
HeatherCalluna vulgarisLady’s Adversary
Holly (Christmas Holly)>Ilex opaca. var.Christmas Holly (December)
Holly (English Holly)Ilex aquifoliumBurning Bush
HollyhockAlthea roseaSt. Joseph’s Staff
HoneysuckleLonicera caprifol., Lonicera (japonica)Lady’s Fingers (June)
HoneysuckleLonicera xylosteumLady’s Stick (June)
Hosta (Plantain Lily)Hosta plantagineaAssumption Lily
HyacinthHyacinthus oriental.Lily-Among-Thorns, Lily-of-Valley
Hydranga var.Hydranga macro. mar.Ave Maria
ImpatiensImpatiens WalleranaOur Lady’s Earrings, or Mother Love
IvyHedera helixWhere God has Walked
JasmineJasminum officinaleMary
Job’s TearsCoix lachryma-jobiJob’s Tears (Job 16:20). The seeds of this plant are often used for Rosary beads.
JonquilNarcissus jonquilla (December)St. Joseph’s Staff
Judas TreeCercis siliquastrumSaid to be the tree upon which Judas hanged himself after betraying Our Lord. It is a beautiful tree, with lovely pink flowers in the Spring.
LarkspurDelphinium ajacis, Delphinum (grandif.)Mary’s Tears (July)
LavenderLavendula (offic.)Flight into Egypt
LilacSyringa vulgarisAscension Flower
Lily-of-the-ValleyConvallaria majalisOur Lady’s Tears. These flowers are said to have blossomed from Mary’s tears for her Son as she stood at the foot of the Cross. (May)
LungwortPulmonaria officinalisMary’s Milkdrops, Our Lady’s Milk Herb, The Virgin Mary’s Tears
Madonna LilyLilium candidum

Annunciation Lily, Virgin Lily or Mary’s Lily

Note: The Venerable Bede (A.D. 672-735) described the white petals as symbols of Mary’s body, and the golden anthers as symbols of the glory of her soul. Roses and lilies were said to have filled Mary’s empty tomb when it was opened by the Apostles. While lilies’ association with purity cause them to be depicted with many Saints, such as SS. Francis and Claire, they are most strongly associated with St. Joseph, whose rod is said, in the Gospel of the Nativity of Mary, to have blossomed to prove he was worthy to guard Mary and become her spouse; with St. Anthony of Padua, because lilies left in chuches on his Feast Day miraculously remained fresh during the French Revolution; and with the archangel Gabriel, who is depicted as presenting Mary with the lily at the Annunciation (hence the name “Annunciation Lily”). Lilies are also associated with Solomon’s Temple (III Kings 7:19-22), and their beauty is commented on by Christ Himself (Luke 12:27).

Maltese CrossLychnis chalcedonica“Maltese Cross” (or “Jerusalem Cross”). The shape of these flowers’ petals strongly evokes the Maltese Cross, and they are said to have been introduced into Europe, from Russia and Siberia, by the crusading Knights of Malta.
<MarigoldCalendula officin.Mary’s Gold (October)
MeadowsweetFilipendula ulmar.Our Lady’s Belt
MillfoilAchillea millefoliaChrist’s Back, Our Lord’s Back
MistletoeViscum albumCross
MoonflowerCalonyction acul.Lady-of-Night
Morning GloryIpomoea purpureaOur Lady’s Mantle (September)
NasturtiumTropaeolum majusSt. Joseph’s Flower
OrchidOrchis purpureaLady Orchis
OrchidBrassavola nodosaLady-of-Night
OrchidOrchis maculataGethsemani
Oriental PoppyPapaver orientaleChrist’s Blood, Crucifixion Blood-Drops (August)
Ox-Eye DaisyChrysanthemum leucanthemumMary’s Star. The legend told is that the Magi followed the star to Bethlehem but weren’t sure where to go once there. King Melchior then saw the ox-eye daisy growing, which looked very much like the star they’d followed. He picked it, and the door to the stable opened revealing the Holy Family.
PansyViola tricolorTrinity Flower, Our Lady’s Delight
Passion FlowerPassifloraPassion Flower, whose 5 stamens symbolize the Five Wounds of Christ; the outer fringe, the crown of thorns; and stigmas, the nails. See more here.
PeriwinkleVinca roseaVirgin Flower
PetuniaPetunia hybr.Lady’s Praise
PeonyPaeonia officinalisPentecost Rose (does anyone know of any name or meaning associated with Paeonia lactiflora?)
PinkDianthus (gen)Mary’s Pink
Poet’s NarcissusNarcissus poeticusLady’s Rose
PoinsettiaEuphorbia pulcherimaNativity Flower, Christmas Star
Pot MarigoldCalendula officinalisMary’s Gold
PrimrosePrimula elatiorMary’s Candlestick (February)
PrimrosePrimula vulgarisLady’s Frills (February)
Quaking GrassBrizaLady’s Tresses, Our Lady’s Braids
Ranunculus, double-floweredRanunculusI don’t know the medieval name for this flower, but it’s a gorgeous blossom.
RoseRosaWhite: Mary’s Purity
Red: Mary’s Sorrow and the Blood of Christ. Also martyrdom.
Gold: Mary’s Glory
Red and White: Visitation Note: The Rose symbolizes Mary herself (she is known as “The Mystical Rose,” see Litany of Loreto) and is described in Dante’s Paradiso when the guide asks him to contemplate Mary, “Why are you so enamored of my face that you do not turn your gaze to the beautiful garden which blossoms under the radiance of Christ? There is the Rose in which the Divine word became flesh: here are the lilies whose perfume guides you in the right ways.”Roses and lilies were said to have filled Mary’s empty tomb when it was opened by the Apostles.Roses are also associated with SS. Dorothy and Thérèse of Lisieux (who both send roses from Heaven), Elizabeth of Hungary, and Rose of Lima. St. Francis once threw himself on the thorns of a rosebush as penance. Since then, the rosebushes in that garden (near the cloister of Santa Maria degli Angeli in Assisi) have no thorns. See also the entry for Castilian Roses. (June)
Rock RoseCistus (landanif.)Rose of Sharon
Rock RoseCistus creticus? Shows up on Shroud of Turin. See footnote for more information on the flowers of the Holy Shroud.
Rose of Jericho

Selaginella lepidophylla


Anastatica hierochuntica

This desert plant survives in a curled up, dormant, brown, dessicated state for years, and then opens up and turns green with a bit of water. After returning to a lovely green, it goes dormant again when its water source is removed. Because of this fascinating property, it is often kept dormant in the home and brought out at Christmas time to blossom and then close in order to symbolize the opening and closing of Mary’s womb. The plant is also known as the Resurrection Plant, Siempre Viva (“Everlasting”), and Dinosaur Plant. Read more about this plant on the Rose of Jericho page off the Chrismastide Overview page.
Rose of SharonHibiscus syriacusRose of Sharon
ScabiosaScabiosa columbariaMary’s Pincushion
Scotch ThistleOnopardon acanthiumJudas’ Cloak
Sea PinkArmeria maritimaOur Lady’s Cushion. These flowers are said to have made a place for Mary to sit during the Flight into Egypt.
ShamrockTrifolium dubiuma symbol of St. Patrick and his evangelization of Ireland, and of Ireland itself — but St. Patrick used it as a symbol of the Trinity, with each leaf representing a Divine Person while the plant remains one plant.
SnapdragonAntirrhinum majusInfant Jesus’ Shoes
SnowdroGalanthus nivalus“Candlemas Bells” or “Purification Flowers.” These flowers are said to have bloomed on Candlemas, when Mary took Jesus to the Temple for His “redemption.” (January)
Spanish MossMentha requieniiMother-of-Thousands
SpiderwortTradescantia zebrina (Zebrina pendula)Wandering Jew. The name for this plant — often used as a houseplant — derives from an old legend about a Jew who mocked and hit Christ during His Passion and so was condemned by Him to wander the earth until the Last Judgment. Two other species of this plant are also known by this name: Tradescantia fluminensis and Tradescantia pallida (Setcreasea purpurea, Purple Heart).
Star-of-BethlehemOrnithogalum umbellatumsymbol of the star that led the Magi to Christ
StockMathiola incanaOur Lady’s Violet
StrawberryFrageria vesca>Fruitful Virgin
Summor PhloxPhlox paniculataChrist’s-Cross Flower
SunflowerHelianthus annusMary’s Gold
Sweet AlyssumLobularia maritimaBlessed by Mary, Mary’s Little Cross
Sweet PeaLathyrus odoratusOur Lady’s Flower (April)
Sweet PeaLathyrus pratensisMary’s Foot (April)
Sweet WilliamDianthus barbatusLady Tuft
Tournefort’s gundeliaGundelia tournefortii? Found on Shroud of Turin. See footnote for more information on the flowers of the Holy Shroud.
TuberosePolianthes tuberosaSt. Joseph’s Staff
TulipTulipa gesnerianaMary’s Prayer
VioletViola odorataOur Lady’s Modesty (March)
Water LilyNymphaea albaLady-of-the-Lake (July)
Winter Rose (Snow Rose)Helleborus nigerChristmas Rose, or Lent Rose. A German Christmas symbol.
WisteriaWisteria frutescenVirgin’s Bower
Wood AnemoneAnemone nemorosaCandlemas Caps, Lady’s Nightcap
Yellow Flag IrisIris pseudocorusFleur-de-lis of French royalty, Mary as Queen, the Immaculate Conception
>YuccaYucca treculeanaSt. John’s Palm
ZinniaZinia elegansThe Virgin, Church Flower
ZinniaZinnia multifloraLittle Mary, The Virgin


ParsleyPetrosolenium crisp.Our Lady’s Little Vine
SageSalvia officinalisMary’s Shawl
RosemaryRosmarinus officin.Mary’s Nosegay
ThymeThymus vulgarisThe Virgin’s Humility
ChivesAllium schoenopras.Our Lady’s Garleek
TarragonArtemisia dracunculusits botanical name means “Little Dragon” and evokes St. Martha’s slaying of the dragon known as La Tarasque
DillAnethium graveolensDevil-Away
>CorianderCoriandrum sativumSt. John’s Head
Sweet BayLaurus nobilisSt. Bridget’s Flower
BasilOcimum basilicumHoly Communion Plant. Pots of basil are used to decorate homes and to give away as gifts on St. Anthony of Padua’s Day.
MarjoramOriganum vulgareMary’s Bedstraw
CuminCummin cyanumCross-Cummin
FennelFoenlculum vulgareOur Lady’s Fennel
AnisePimpinella anisumOur Lady’s Sprig, Lady’s Tobacco
Spearmint Mary’s Mint
ChicoryCichorlum intybusHeavenly Way
HorehoundMarrubium vulgareMother-of-God’s Tea, Mary’s Nettle
SassafrasSassafras (albidum)Virgin’s Tree
Hyssop (Syrian Oregano)Origanum syriacumI am unable to find a medieval name for this plant, but include it because of its importance in the Passover, Psalms and Passion. The variety of hyssop properly called Hyssopos officinal, and known as St. Joseph’s Plant in the Middle Ages, is not the variety spoken of in the Bible and at the Mass. The Biblical plant is Origanum maru.
RueRuta graveolensRue was once used by priests to sprinkle holy water. Ophelia, in Hamlet, calls the herb “grace o’ Sundays” in the scene in which she hads out flowers. It is a symbol of repentance and regret, the word itself having come to mean “regret” (“you’ll rue the day you do that!”).
CatnipNepeta catariaMary’s Nettle
FeverfewChrysanthemum parth.Mary’s Flower
FeverfewParthenium hystero.Santa Maria
ChamomileAnthemus cotulaMaiden Weed
ChamomileMatricaria chamom.Lady’s Flower
St. John’s WortHypericum perforatmSt. John’s Wort, Fuga Daemon (“Devil’s Flight”), John’s Blood, Jesus’ Blood Drops, Christ’s Sweat, Mary’s Glory
Spikenard (or “Nard”)Nardostachys grandiflora (or Nardostachys jatamansi)The portion of the plant just above the roots has a patchouli-like scent which was used by Mary Magdalen in the ointment she used to annoint Christ.
DandelionTaraxicum officinMary’s Bitter Sorrow
ValerianValeriana officin.Lady’s Needlework
PennyroyalMentha pulegiumLady’s Flavoring

As you plan your garden, consider planting, depending on where you live, the following to help the liturgical year come alive:

  • a cherry tree so you can use some of its branches on St. Barbara’s Day (December 4)
  • Castilian roses for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe (13 December)
  • some rosemary, laurel, holly, ivy, mistletoe, Christmas Roses, poinsettias, fir trees and other evergreens for use during Christmastide until Candlemas (25 January – 2 February)
  • Star-of-Bethlehem and Ox-eye Daisy for Twelfth Night and the Feast of the Epiphany
  • some snowdrops to bring inside on Candlemas (2 February)
  • red roses for St. Valentine’s Day (14 February)
  • some pussy willow for its branches on Ash Wednesday
  • some shamrocks to harvest and wear on St. Patrick’s Day (17 March)
  • Annunciation lilies for the Feast of the Annunciation (25 March)
  • a dogwood tree for Good Friday (3 days before the first Sunday after the first full moon after 21 March)
  • Easter lilies for Easter (the first Sunday after the first full moon after 21 March)
  • some roses to crown and adorn Mary’s statue in the month of May
  • columbine for the Feast of the Pentecost
  • pansies for the Feast of the Trinity (the Sunday after Pentecost)
  • some lilies to have blessed, and some basil to decorate with and give away on the Feast of St. Anthony of Padua (13 June)
  • some strawberries and St. John’s Wort to harvest on the Feast of St. John and its Eve, and flowers that dry well to make wreaths (23 and 24 June)
  • Spikenard in honor of Mary Magdalen (22 July)
  • tarragon in honor of St. Martha (29 July)
  • some herbs and fruit to harvest and have blessed on the Feast of the Assumption (15 August)
  • some asters, an apple tree, and blackberry bush to harvest on the Feast of St. Michael (29 September)
  • some chrysanthemums for All Souls’ Day (2 November)
See the page on the Customs of the Liturgical Year for more information on these practices.

Make your garden a place of peace and beauty. Make it a place where you can rest comfortably, perhaps with windchimes or a fountain to make for a relaxing soundscape, a fire pit so you can enjoy it at night and when things get cooler, etc.
… and when you plant your Mary Garden, let’s hope it comes to be visited by some of “Our Lady’s Birds” — ladybugs, named for Mary when, according to medieval legend, they miraculously came to save crops from aphids. The red color of the “Lady Beetle’s” body is symbolic of her red cloak, and the 7 black spots found on some species in Europe represent her 7 Sorrows. Lady Bugs are almost universally considered symbols of “good luck” because of the benefits they bring to man. You might want to pray to St. Fiacre, patron of gardeners, for God to send some of these critters your way…

See also this site’s Catholic Library to find “The Mystical Flora of St. Francis de Sales,” a collection of the Saint’s musings on plants.


One more tip: you can make flower pots and cement objects, like statues, look more ancient and interesting by inviting moss to grow on them. To do this, mix a quart of buttermilk, a pint of pulverized wood-land moss, a pint of composted manure, and a little Miracle-Grow. Paint onto object with a paintbrush and set the object in a cool, shady place. Keep it moist by spritzing with water or stale beer.


1Some of the information for this page comes from Mary Gardens website. Their site graciously states, “All texts and graphics of web page and site copyright Mary’s Gardens, 1995. All rights reserved. Permission granted to reproduce for promotion of the greater glory of God through knowledge, honor, praise and veneration of, and through devotion and recourse to, the Blessed Virgin Mary.” Thank you! 
2Just for fun: “They say” that the nursery rhyme most in the English-speaking world grew up with (see below) comes from medieval farmers burning their fields to clear them for the next sowing season:

Ladybird, ladybird, fly away home,
Your house is on fire and your children all gone.
All except one whose name is Anne
Who hid herself under the frying pan. 

3The evidence of many plant species have been found, either visibly, in pollen form, or both, on the Shroud of Turin. Five of these are below:



Chrysanthemum coronarium

The “Crown Daisy” was laid on His Body when He was entombed. It’s the most prominent flower seen in the Shroud, and it blooms between March and May when the Crucifixion took place. The flower appears in many Jesus icons (ex. the 6th c. Pantocrator icon at St. Catherine’s Monastery in Egypt and a 7th century solidus coin minted under Justinian II).


Zygophyllum dumosum

Zygophyllum dumosum leaves and flowers are visible in the image, too, and its pollen has been found in the Shroud also. This is the second most prominent flower found in the Shroud’s image.


Capparis aegyptia

Flowers of this plant open up between Noon and sunset. The flowers visible in the Shroud indicate a time of around 4PM.


Cistus creticus

Many pollen grains of this lovely flower, also known as “Rock Rose,” have been found on the Shroud, which support the identification of an unclear image of what appears to be this flower on the Shroud.


Gundelia tournefortii

Gundelia tournefortii pollen is found in abundance on the Holy Shroud. It is believed by some experts to be the plant that, when dried, made up the crown of thorns.