Flowers Symbolic of the Beatitudes for Catholic Gardens

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Herbaceous plants and hardwoods hold meaning in Christian art. Throughout history flowers have been used to signify personal affections. In the language of flowers there can be more than one connotation for a plant, though usually it holds the same sentiment.

In my book, A Catholic Gardener’s Spiritual Almanac, I share with readers how plant symbolisms relate to our Catholic heritage. I also guide you in how to create spiritually centered gardens.

In the Beatitudes (Mt 5:3-11) we find a guide for our journey to a personal resurrection. There are many plants that can be grown in your garden that relate to the sentiments of the Beatitudes, here are just a few. You can create a garden themed to a specific Beatitude—using trees, shrubs, flowers and herbs symbolizing, let’s say, meekness—or incorporate into an exiting garden just a few plants representing those Bible versus.

You can find out more about plant symbolisms in my book, online, or at the library.

Blessed are the poor in spirit: those who recognize their need for God and his loving grace. They may be economically poor and rich in faith. Unattached to the things of this world, they seek the kingdom of heaven.

file0001405663451 carnationCarnation, poor heart

 

file4731340648180 parsley or corianderCoriander, hidden worth

 

 

 

Blessed are those who mourn: those who lament their present state and weep for their sins, and for the souls in purgatory. They will be comforted by God.

file0001186517680 zinnia and Divine MercyZinnia, thoughts of absent friends

file6971301019924 PansyPansy, clarity of thoughts

 

 

 

Blessed are the meek: those who are far from being week, they possess an inner strength to restrain anger and discouragement in the face of adversity. They will inherit the world to come.

file0001673080711 sweet woodruffSweet woodruff, humility

_MG_6856 fernsFerns, sincerity

 

 

 

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness: those who choose, as their first priority, to live rightly according to God’s will. They will be satisfied by God with eternal rest.

file7651243141762 black eye susanBlack-eye Susan, justice

file7181279389027 poppyRed Poppy, consolation

 

 

 

Blessed are the merciful: they imitate God’s mercy by extending forgiveness to others. They are patient and understanding in bearing others’ faults, in being charitable and compassionate. They will receive God’s mercy in their final judgment.

file0001965829310 chamomileChamomile, patience

file0001389942275 ladys mantleLady’s Mantle, comforting

 

 

 

Blessed are the pure in heart: those who act with integrity in their thoughts, words, and deeds. They intentionally act to keep themselves undefiled by evil and lustful thoughts. They will be united with God, will see the Beatific Vision in eternity as the angels see him now.

file1011261996332 dillDill, powerful against evil

file0001484766303 lavenderLavender, devotion and virtue

 

 

 

Blessed are the peacemakers: those who strive to live in peace with others, and attempt to sow peace in their world through sharing the Gospels. And to share the Word is to be a child, a son of God.

PICT2587 irisIris, a message

DSCN1378 yarrowYarrow, everlasting love

 

 

 

 Blessed are those who are persecuted: those who are abused, slandered, and oppressed for being a public witness to Christianity. They are a target for hatred. Persecuted Christians will receive great rewards in heaven.

IMG_0752 bayBay Laurel, glory

file3021341154406 mossMoss, enduring devotion

 

 

( 2/25/15)

(All images courtesy of morguefile.com)

 

 

A Garden Dedicated to the Precious Blood of Jesus

The month of July is dedicated to the Precious Blood of Jesus and brings home for me, as few other dedications do, the reality of Jesus’ humanity.

I often draw back emotionally when I realize what he endured in offering his very body and blood for my salvation. My tender heart cannot endure the reality of his horrific passion and am often reduced to tears by it all when I try to meditate on this truth. For this reason I am averse to attending Stations of the Cross, and Our Lord understands—after all he formed my inmost being in the womb (Ps 130:13).

Earlier in June I wrote about plants for a Catholic garden dedicated to the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts. For July I’ve selected a few plants that would be symbolic for a garden dedicated to the Precious Blood of Jesus.

Blood Flower, Asclepias curassavica: a shrubby 2-3’ high tender perennial for the warmer climates, USDA Zone 9-11, and grown as an annual elsewhere. It is in the same family of Butterfly Weed and will attract hummingbirds, bees and butterflies. Its red-orange flowers, touched with yellow, grow on the terminus—ends of stalks. To have more blooms, pinch back the stems early-on to encourage branching (more stalks=more terminal ends=more flowering sites). It has a much longer flowering period than Butterfly Weed, blooming from mid-summer to October. This plant requires full sun, evenly moist soil, and will reseed readily (that means it can become weedy!).

Blood Root, Sanguinaria canadensis: a perennial wildflower native to Eastern and North America, in USDA Zones 3-8.  Lovely single palmate leaves with a bit of a blue-green tint that showcases a single 2”, 6-10 white petal flower in early spring (March-April). The flowers are nyctinastic, opening in the sun and closing at night. This plant grows best in evenly moist humus rich soil, in part to full shade; will form large colonies in woodland floors and along shady streams. The leaves will continue to grow until late summer when the plant goes dormant. All parts of the plant will ‘bleed’ a reddish-yellow sap if damaged.

Love Lies Bleeding, Amaranthus caudatus: a tender annual that looks amazing cascading over walls, and is often grown in hanging baskets. It has long lasting 12” red ‘tails’ of tiny blooms, called panicles. It is drought tolerant—but not like a cactus!—growing best in full sun to light afternoon shade in hotter climates. Easy to grow in well drained soil, but roots will rot if overwatered and when stressed attract aphids. So yeah, a good plant for those challenged to be gardeners!

 

Bleeding Heart, Dicentra spectabilis (mentioned in June post and repeated here): Grow in moist, humusy soil in part shade. Beautiful in a border or woodland garden. Spring-early summer interest. Can take full sun in reliably moist soil. Protect from wind. Foliage generally goes dormant in summer’s heat, so be sure to choose companion plants so there isn’t an empty space left in the garden. USDA Zones 3-9.

Images:

Blood Flower: Image by Roland zh, upload on 27. September 2009 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

Blood Root: Image by Spencer [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

Love Lies Bleeding: Image by Wildfeuer [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY 2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], from Wikimedia Commons

Bleeding Heart: Image by Wildfeuer [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], from Wikimedia Commons

Persecution and the Checkered Fritillary Flower

Fritillaria meleagris, Pixabay.com, CCO Creative Commons

We are transformed through Christ’s love and given the opportunity of new life in him. In June we honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus, recognizing his willingness to endure persecution and the passion of the Cross for the sake of all. It is during this month that we give our hearts to him in return.

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus was a localized and private practice when it began in the eleventh century. But after the visions of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in 1675 it became universal. We honor the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the first Friday of June.

In giving our heart to him many were, and are still persecuted. In the initial growth of Christianity the campaign to exterminate followers had an adverse affect. The familiar quote by Tertullian gave words to the heart of Jesus’ followers:

We multiply whenever we are mown down by you; the blood of Christians is seed.

In the language of flowers, the Checkered Fritillary, Fritillaria meleagris, represents persecution, and when you see the nodding dark blood-red flower its moniker seems well suited. A spring flowering bulb, it can represent in your garden the persecution that revealed the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the many men and women martyred for our faith.

Fritillari, Pixabay.com, CCO Creative Commons

CULTURE:

Fritillaria meleagris, aka checkered lily, is a perennial that is native to flood plains in Europe where it is often seen growing in large colonies in early spring. Plants are somewhat dainty in appearance, featuring solitary drooping, 2” long, bell-shaped flowers that are checkered and veined with reddish-brown, solid purple, or white and gray atop slender stems growing 12-15” tall. Linear, lance-shaped, grass-like green leaves are widely spaced on the stems. In the right environment, it will live long and naturalize well.[i]

Easy to grow in organically rich well drained soil, needs average consistent moisture especially during growing season.

Grow in full sun to part shade—though it prefers sun-dappled or high, open shade.

Plant bulbs in clusters by digging an area 3” deep and randomly placing bulbs 3-4” apart.

Foliage should be allowed to die back naturally—usually done by late spring—as the bulbs go dormant. Companion planting is recommended to cover the bare spot left behind. Because of its shallow depth, I recommend leaving the yellowed leaves as markers and planting annuals in between.

It has no serious disease or insect problems.

USDA Hardiness Zone 3-8.

The genus name comes from the Latin word fritillus meaning ‘dice box’, referencing the checkerboard pattern on the petals. It also evokes the Bible verse of dice that were cast for Jesus’ garment.

[i] Missouri Botanical Gardens, Fritillaria meleagris, web accessed 6/9/18.

 

 

 

A Garden of Delight

Pixabay.com, CCO

To renew our wearied heart, we often head outdoors to be in a garden or wander a woodland park. If we are fortunate enough to live near an arboretum or commercial greenhouse, we can experience, literally, a breath of fresh air from the oxygen emitted by the hot-house plants.

I’ve been in love with plants since childhood. My first memory is of lying on the grass nose-to-petal with yellow creeping buttercup. My four-year-old hands were trying to pluck a tiny budding stem when I discovered the ground a few inches away moved. Pulling and crawling along, I dug tiny fingers into the soil until I had several chains of little plants.

Father was not pleased by what my curiosity had done to the yard.

Through the fractured and hormonal times of adolescence, I would run to the quiet of nature. There I could find creation’s orderliness un-constricted. It was comforting to know that the trees would continue to grow and seeds continue to sprout.

The art and beauty of landscape architecture nourished in me a desire to create prayer and memorial gardens, places where drawing closer to God was available beyond the pew and allowed an opening for the Holy Spirit to move in the heart of someone longing for Jesus.

It doesn’t matter the season or the latitude we live in, in God’s creation we find an ever-present way to both refresh and ground our spirit.

Our Lord speaks to us in the Bible with parables of nature. It was in The Four Waters[1] that St. Teresa of Avila used gardening analogies and set forth stages of spiritual development by depicting the different stages or grades of a life in prayer in metaphorical terms taken from watering a garden. Her insightful description of spiritual development is that God plants the garden which is irrigated in different ways through prayer.

Pixabay.com, CCO

A favorite quote by St. Teresa offers a way we can attend to our soul. She wrote “A beginner must think of herself as one setting out to make a garden in which her Beloved Lord is to take his delight…[2]” Her words are the theme of this blog.

We read in Isaiah 66:1-2 the Lord asking, what can you build for me as a resting place—I made all things. We can build for Our Lord one thing, a resting place in our souls—a garden pleasing to the Lord.

In creating a garden of the soul, like earthly gardens, we pull out the weeds, keep things pruned, and remove old seed heads so that new flowers come forth. We remove the debris that makes it hard to know what is truly there, and in so doing we allow new seeds to sprout.

Many of the Bible parables speak of nature. There is a godly reason for that; we were created for a garden, we were created agrarian. The imagery is easy for us to understand; it is an experience of love, a memory of paradise.

There is a sense of homing with nature, a restoration of peace in remembering that first garden, created for our delight. I am refreshed often as I encounter the Holy in all the growing spaces; it is a greening, a growing of the soul.

What is encountered to create a garden in my soul, is what I will offer to you. From the seeds planted in the oratory, to their growth in the Adoration chapel, I pray my musings will bear some small fruit for God’s own profit. Here you will read stories and thoughts of finding the Creator in his creation, plants that can be used for spiritually themed gardens and how to grow them, and like a farmer’s almanac little bits of information unearthed from saints and seasons decades ago…and maybe a recipe or two (I love making soups!)

I hope you will visit again and thank you for stopping by.

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Decompressing; Photos in a Garden

Aleteia pro life gardenIt’s been all too much. We’ve heard, “The gates of hell will not prevail…” but Satan is sure having a go at it during this Year of Mercy! So much hate, intolerance, and violence.

A cartoon making the rounds on social media says, “My desire to be well informed is at odds with my desire to remain sane.” After reading that I stepped away from the computer, took my rosary and camera, and heading into the garden to rest my weary heart in the company of the Creator.

Here are a few of the photos that I took (sorry if they seem a bit grainy). Rest your eyes a moment, take a deep breath and pray, Come Holy Spirit, come now, come as you wish.

Trumpet Vine

Trumpet Vine

asiatic lilies

Asiatic Lily

 

 

 

 

 

Mouse Ears Hosta

Mouse Ears Hosta

Golden Splendor Lily

Golden Splendor Lily

Pansies

Pansies

Annabelle Hydrangea

Annabelle Hydrangea

Daylily

Daylily

I hope these images may have softened the anguish, we’re all feeling it.

A favorite quote from St. Teresa of Avila helps me to realign when my thoughts tip towards despair.

A beginner must think of herself as one setting out to make a garden in which her Beloved Lord is to take his delight…”

Let us all orient ourselves to becoming that garden, striving to bloom among pestilence and weeds.

If you’re inclined, there are some powerful and focused prayers from Elizabeth Scalia here and here.

Images by Margaret Rose Realy, Obl OSB. All rights reserved.

 

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