A Marian garden is the most popular Catholic garden. At one time a Marian garden was only considered such if it was enclosed by a fence or some other type of delineating structure. This tradition came from Sacred Scripture, Song of Songs 4:12: “You are an enclosed garden, my sister, my promised bride…” The first garden known to be dedicated to Mary was planned by St. Fiacre in Ireland during the seventh century.
Today, this definition has broadened to include any garden dedicated to Mary. It can include a painted image or statue of Mary or even a small shrine to our Holy Mother. It is different from a rosary garden which is structured to reflect the order of pater and mater beads.
If you decide to follow the tradition of “a garden enclosed” a simple wattle fence of woven twigs will look very sweet in a naturalistic setting, as would a low fieldstone wall. A small white picket fence is brighter and would look a bit neater in a suburban yard. In formal gardens an open weave of brickworks could form the walls. Living plants can also provide the enclosure. A line of ornamental grasses of all the same cultivar could provide a structure. For a larger Marian garden an evergreen shrub would form a rich and elegant hedge wall.
Flower mediations for Marian gardens are numerous, culturally-based and overlapping in symbolism. There are several books and web sites dedicated to plants that symbolically represent some aspect of our Holy Mother. Your Marian garden can also be an herb garden or a container garden.
If you are creating a Marian rose garden, there are four colors of roses that are used that match the traditional colors of the mysteries of the rosary. Red roses are used to meditate on her sorrows; white roses for her joys; the yellow roses are for her glories; and roses that are dark burgundy or deep magenta are the purples of the Luminous Mysteries.
Your Marian garden, besides being a retreat space for prayer, can also be used for special days of devotion to Mary. Some of these special days are May Crowning, the Immaculate Conception, Mary’s birthday or dates of her apparitions. The purpose of your garden, however you choose to design it, is to lead you and your family into a deeper appreciation of our Holy Mother.
Copyright 2012 Margaret Rose Realy
Read more reflections and prayers by Margaret Rose Realy, Obl OSB, at Morning Rose Prayer Garden, on Patheos Catholic channel.