Monday, November 11, 2013

Indoor Mary Gardens
The legacy of John Stokes continues to amaze me. Winter is upon us and those of us in the northern part of the U.S. have put our gardens to bed for the winter.  But a quick search of the Mary Gardens web site brought information about “indoor dish Mary Gardens” as well as “windowsill dish Mary Gardens,” two options for those of us who want to continue to honor Mary with her flowers throughout the year.

Stokes recommends indoor Mary Gardens for the home bound and those living in climates which cannot sustain a year-round Mary Garden.  The example below appears on his web site.

Four or five of the plants listed below are suitable for a beginning indoor dish Mary Garden:

Religious Name         Botanical Name              Common Name
"Fair Olive Tree"      Olea Europea                Olive Tree
Trinity                Oxalis braziliensis         "Shamrock"
Star of Bethlehem      Begonia, rhizomatic hybrid  Star of Bethlm
Mary's Sword of Sorrow Iris gen.                   Iris
Crown of Thorns        Euphorbia splendens         Crown of Thorns
Tears of Mary          Cymbalaria muralis          Kenilworth Ivy
Mother-of-Thousands    Menthe Requine              Spanish Moss
Herb of Grace          Ruta graveolens             Rue
Mary's Heart           Begonia fuchsoides          Begonia
Our Lady's Mantle      Alchemilla vulgaris         Ladies Mantle
Rosary Vine            Ceropegia woodii            Heart Vine
Prayer Plant           Moranta Leuonerri Kerchon.  Prayer Plant

Plants are available from mail order greenhouses and some local house plant suppliers and can be ordered by common or botanical names.  Check out local greenhouses for availability. Two of the three that I contacted had herbs and indoor house plants in stock at this time.
Stokes writes that “Mary Gardens Associate, Bonnie Roberson, who assumed primary responsibility for carrying forward the work of Mary’s Gardens from 1968 to 1983, introduced  indoor dish Mary Gardens in order to extend the direct experience of the symbolical Flowers of Our Lady during northern latitude winters.”

First time Mary Gardeners are further encouraged to “plant an Indoor Windowsill Dish Mary Garden with one each of 4 to 6 House Plants of Our Lady, placed around a ceramic or plaster figurine of Mary or of Mary and the Christ Child in a deep dish of drained soil material.”

He writes:
Among the most inspiring Mary Gardens are windowsill Mary Gardens, in which a series of potted single plants are movably arranged around a figurine of Our Lady. The number of plants which can be grouped in a dish Mary Garden is limited, and the plants must be small….But in a windowsill Mary Garden the plants can be larger…and those plants in fullest bloom at any given season can be moved to positions next to the figurine.
The movability of plants also permits their grouping, variously, either in general artistic composition by their forms and colors….or in tableaus of composition by related symbolism, such as the Herbs of Our Lady” shown in the illustration below:  

Rosemary - Rose of Mary, Mary’s Nosegay
Sage - Mary’s Shawl
Lavender - Mary’s Drying Plant
Thyme - Mary’s Bedstraw

During the early darkness and gray of winter, a tiny bit of growth and green surrounding Mary and her Divine Child in our little garden remind us of the beginning of creation when, out of the depths and darkness, life spread over the earth. Maybe our day needs a reminder now and then of the birth of the greatest Light and Love of all, our little Lord Jesus who rests in the arms of his loving mother.


  1. Vincenzina,
    Thanks for resurrecting this practice, it gives me a lot of ideas and ministries.
    Love the Rosemary idea too, saw one once in a topiary of a heart.

  2. Bless you! Happy to know this gives you a lot of ideas and ministries. Please share some of them!

  3. you have a beautiful blog it gives me serenity to gaze upon i enjoy all your ideas i can't wait to try them . Bless you