A Mary Garden is a garden dedicated to Mary, the Mother of God. In a Mary Garden, which can be as small as a clay pot or as large as a city block, a statue of Mary is surrounded by herbs and flowers related to her through legends or naming.

Your personal Mary Garden can grow in a secluded corner of your garden or backyard, or be open to the neighborhood in front of your house. It can be in a pot on your windowsill, on a patio, or on an indoor table.

A Mary Garden can be formal or wild, sunny or shady, and contain annuals and perennials, herbs, ground covers, and shrubs. It can be planted with bulbs to bloom in the early spring, flowering plants that continue into the fall, and evergreens that give color in winter.

Mary's image may be a statue, plaque, holy card, or icon. Ann Duffy of Annapolis, Md., painted the likeness of Mary's face from a holy card onto a piece of wood and waterproofed it for her outdoor garden. A large concrete statue of Mary, found in a garden-ornaments shop, graces my own Mary Garden.

The location, size, and soil of the site will determine what can be planted in an outdoor garden. After that, personal preference, and sometimes Divine Providence, is the guide. Since the Mary names of hundreds of flowers and herbs have survived--Our Lady's Shoes for columbines, Mary's Tears for lilies of the valley, and so forth (see the main story for more)--your garden may contain many of your favorite flowers, planted with the intention of honoring Mary and representing her many attributes. An indoor garden may be planted in a dish, planter, glass, or fishbowl.

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