Creating an Archangel Garden

Image Michaelmas Daisy by Photographer 93555,

Image Michaelmas Daisy by Photographer 93555, (2011), CC0 Public Domain.

Angels are our invisible companions who, unlike us, are not imprisoned in corruptible bodies. The archangels are a significant part of salvation history as they are in Judaism and Islam as well. They are honored this month (September) in the Catholic tradition with a feast day on the twenty-ninth, also called Michaelmas.

In June did you plant Michaelmas daisies, Aster novae-anglie? This aster flowers when daylight hours shorten. It is associated with the commemoration of St. Michael the Archangel because he is celebrated as a protector from evil and darkness, just as the aster fights against the advancing gloom of winter—with gay color in our otherwise declining gardens.

Traditionally, Michaelmas celebrations were an early harvest festivals that included dancing, costumes, games, and of course lots of food prepared from what grew in the fields and gardens. One of those foods prepared in abundance was anything that included blackberries, which were ripe by the end of September. And every good Christian in Europe knew the berries had to be harvested by this day lest the fiery effects of Lucifer destroyed the fruits sent by God. The story told is that St. Michael cast Lucifer from heaven and during the battle the devil landed on earth where he fell into a brier of blackberry canes. The devil spat on those canes, cursed the fruit, and scorched them with his fiery breath—all before St. Michael could finish the job of sending the devil into hell.

The three archangels we honor as Catholics each have their own symbolism and colors. St. Michael, hero of God, is often symbolized by a spear and the colors gold or orange. St. Gabriel, messenger of God, is depicted with lilies or a scroll, and his colors are often silver or blue. St. Raphael, healer from God, is represented with a fish and the colors yellow or gray.

If you can afford it, purchase three different angel statues (not fairies!) for your garden and then plant flowers of the symbolic color around each statue.

You could also create one large or three individual cement pavers embedded with the angels’ symbols, mosaic wings in each of their colors, or an image of each angel with the tunic painted in the angel’s color.

There is a blessing of our homes that uses the initials of the Magi (C-M-B). We can use the initials of the archangels, M-G-R, in a similar way to adorn our garden. Another way to display their initials is by purchasing wooden letters from a craft store and painting or decorating them in a manner that reminds you of each archangel. It will help if the paint and materials you use are weatherproof.

Copyright 2016 Margaret Rose Realy, Obl. OSB. (Excerpt taken from A Catholic Gardener’s Spiritual Almanac: Cultivating Your Faith throughout the Year, Ave Maria Press, 2015, September: Harvesting.)


About Author

Margaret Rose Realy, Obl. OSB lives an eremitic life and is the author of Cultivating God’s Garden through Lent, A Garden of Visible Prayer: Creating a Personal Sacred Space One Step at a Time, 2nd Edition, and A Catholic Gardener’s Spiritual Almanac. A freelance writer with a Benedictine spirituality, Margaret has a master’s degree in communications and is a Certified Greenhouse Grower, Advanced Master Gardener, liturgical garden consultant, and workshop/retreat leader.

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