Marian Devotions

Gardening for Mary

Page 23 in "Marian Devotions in the Domestic Church"

Catherine Fournier and Peter Fournier

Besides being planted with "Mary's name" flowers, Mary Gardens contain a small statue of Mary, have flowers or stepping stones laid out in the shape of a rosary, or include a bench for quiet contemplation. 

Marigolds, virgin's bower, lady slippers, morning glory (also known as lady's mantle), bleeding heart, and roses—beautiful, fragrant flowers have been associated with our Blessed Mother for centuries. Many flowers, especially blue flowers, have a "Mary's name". Forget-me-nots (a lovely name to begin with) are also called "Eyes of Mary". Cornflower (or chicory) is also called "Mary's Crown". 

Devotions are activities that, as part of our lives, are intended to affect and improve them. While a Mary Garden is usually only part of a garden, all of our gardening can be a devotional activity, since all of it is devoted to making our surroundings beautiful and is therefore honoring God's creation. Using the produce of your garden to decorate a family altar or prayer corner is an appropriate extension of this idea. 

Gardening is a whole family activity, from planning what to grow, laying out the beds, turning the soil, planting seeds and seedlings, to watering, weeding, trimming, and finally harvesting cut flowers and vegetables. Children thus gain an appreciation for the beauty and bounty of God's creation when they help with the gardening—some even begin to enjoy eating vegetables. 

While children can help with all the gardening, they enjoy having a garden plot of their own. Some children choose to grow only flowers, though most like to try growing vegetables as well. Here are some and easy-to-grow flowers and vegetables for children: 


Marigolds ("Mary's Gold") start easily from seed indoors in the early spring, or by planting seeds directly into the garden. There are hundreds of varieties to choose from. 

Nasturtiums ("Saint Joseph's Flower"): plant the seeds directly into the garden when the soil is warm.

Impatiens (Mary name: Mother Love!) grow to nicely rounded plants covered with flowers. They will tolerate sun but do best in a shady spot.

Sunflowers (Mary name: God's Eye) take a bit of work but are very exciting to watch as they grow.. Feed them well, give them lots of sunlight and water, and before long you may need a six-foot stake to hold them up!


Bush beans produce lots of beans in about two months. Scarlet runner beans will happily climb up a tepee of bamboo stakes (the six-foot ones from the garden store), making a good hide-out!

Cherry tomato plants, either started from seed or purchased at the nursery, will be loaded with small, sweet tomatoes, perfect for eating straight from the plant.

Zucchini is spectacular. Not as fussy as pumpkins and cucumbers, the plants spread amazingly, producing lots of squash—and there will always be at least one giant zucchini discovered at the end of the season.

Onion sets go directly into the soil and put up green sprouts in a few weeks.

Potatoes are also exciting plants to grow, believe it or not. Cut a few grocery-store potatoes into sections, making sure that each section has an "eye". Plant them in sandy, loose soil and leave them alone. In the fall, you will have an amazing "treasure hunt" as you dig up new potatoes with your hands.

Carrots are classic children's vegetables. Though it takes the right kind of soil and growing conditions to get perfect carrots, it is still fun to peek at a carrot in your own garden, to see how big it has grown, or just to pick it, wash it, and eat it.

Mary's Flowers

Ivy Evergreen and vigorous, ivy is a symbol of eternity and faithfulness.


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