Assumption Lilies for Your Mary Garden

Assumption Daylily WhiteThe solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary on August 15 commemorates her death and bodily assumption into eternal life. This took place before her physical body could begin to decay.

But did you know that Mary’s tomb was not found empty? In 451 A.D. it was noted by St. Juvenal, Bishop of Jerusalem, at the Council of Chalcedon that the apostle, St. Thomas, was said to have found beautiful roses and lilies where her body once laid.

There are several white daylilies that bloom near this date, and together are known as Assumption Lilies. The late summer blooming varieties to add to your Marian garden are:

HemerocallisSerene Madonna

HemerocallisHeavenly White Lightening

HemerocallisJolly White Giant’

HemerocallisLady Elizabeth

daylily white budDaylilies are one of the easiest plants to grow and maintain, and will grow in most soils though they prefer those high in organic matter. These are sturdy perennials and adapt most any garden. They tolerate a wide range of soil and light conditions, establish themselves quickly, and survive harsh winters. For more information on how to grow these lovely plants, visit the University of Minnesota web site.

The name Hemerocallis is composed of two Greek words, hemera meaning day and kallos meaning beauty. The name is appropriate since each flower lasts only one day, though some of the newer cultivars can last 24 hours—opening in the evening. Each stalk of flowers contains multiple buds developing throughout their specific bloom period. They are not a true lily from the genus Lileaceae, which are the single stemmed Oriental and Asiatic lilies.

This holy feast day is also associated with celebrating the summer’s harvest. The Roman Ritual includes the Assumption Day Blessing of Produce, of fields, gardens, and orchards. It is a beautiful prayer ritual, the whole of it can be found here. There is also a wonderful tradition on this day of giving baskets of fruits and herbs to friends. In this way we can imitate Mother Mary by bringing comfort to others.

For more fun gardening insights for your liturgical gardens, read A Catholic Gardener’s Spiritual Almanac, available from Ave Maria Press.

Images from morguefile.com

Gifts from Mother Mary, the Morning Rose

'Lasting Love' rose, in full bloom perfumes the back yard.

‘Lasting Love’ rose, in full bloom perfumes all of the back yard.

The Marian rose garden was completed a little over three weeks ago. With my arthritis, I thought the days of kneeling on soil were over.  The plan was to be prayerful and attentive to whatever lessons were presented along the way, but at times I fell into an ego centered and willful urgency to complete the garden quickly.

At the beginning of May I blogged about starting a process that was filled with trepidation.

Standing on the drive looking at the outlined garden I am overwhelmed. Part of me does not want to reawaken what I’ve loved and laid to rest—a life of working among gardens. I doubt my ability, stamina, strength. I want to take the roses back to the garden center.

I look to the small statue of Mother Mary at the back of the yard, and whisper “Hail Mary” and know she is near—she always is when we call. I tell her my heart’s still in it even though my spine is not. While waiting for peace to return, I realized that that was exactly what I needed to do—wait.

The first lesson was patience. In learning to be patient with myself in this new-normal way of life, I found an ease in waiting for others—able bodied or not—to accomplish tasks or services that before would have had me clasping my pocket rosary to offer up frustration.

The next lesson was trusting providence. It seemed like a small thing, wanting to use bricks for the border, and ended as a lesson in blessed serendipity. I still smile at the thought that twenty-some years ago bricks had become hidden and, in the economy of God, resurfaced as a gift for his mother.

Working my way through the garden installation was slow and at the same time encouraging in that my experiences as a gardener had come full circle; how to work wisely using less physical effort. In the past few years I had come to see myself with limitations and the lesson that came in the third week was gentleness and letting go of expectations.

And then I faltered, and lost sight of ora et labora, and the offering of myself made in April to an appropriate pace. Instead, and foolishly, one morning…

 …I prayed to persevere and work steady at putting down the ground cloth, bricks, and the next day all of the mulch. Even though it is a small garden, I was laid low for days. That prayer has been acknowledged as pure pridefulness and lack of humility. Like patience, one should pray carefully and specifically about fortitude. The lesson of ignoring moderation cost me time in bed… I encourage others with physical limitations to not be as rash. The gaining of patience is learned through trials. Gaining the grace to persevere is learned by a steady pace through difficulty, not by a bull-headed charge to the other side!

I don’t want to say it was a hard lesson—for there had been others more difficult—but rather an emphatic one. We often practice humility in the acts of knowing what we can do. Humility is also learned in accepting gracefully what cannot be done.

When the location for the garden was selected it was because that was the only place in the yard where it could be situated, and it would be lovely too look at from the back porch. In the past few weeks I’ve discovered the comforting view of the statue from the oratory windows, the kitchen, and even through the stockade fence when I pull in the drive.

I’ve enjoyed how reassuring it is to see the little statue in the sunlight and be reminded that Our Holy Mother is always that close. At times when I’ve walked past I’ve brushed my hand over the top of its head and leaned against it, as if being sweet with a small child.

I had not anticipated the joy I would find after having moved the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary from the shaded back of the yard into the light. So it seems that is the final lesson in creating the Marian garden.

Keep our Holy Mother ever before us and the comfort of her nearness will always bring peace. Lean into her love and the love of her Son will unfold us with no less beauty than the blossom of a rose, and we will become the fragrance of heaven on earth.

Thanks mom.

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Gardening Gift Basket Give-away as Spring Begins

A Catholic Gardner's Spiritual AlmanacIts here! It’s the official first day of spring and the launch of my newest book A Catholic Gardener’s Spiritual Almanac: Cultivating your Faith throughout the Year.

It has been a joy to create this book and work with the folks at Ave Maria Press. I would like to share that joy with you by offering a special gift.

I’ve put together a basket that includes several of my favorite things for the garden—tools, books, seeds, and more! Look below…What do you think? Would you like it?

So let’s get started! Fill out the entries for a chance to win.

Then on social media use #catholicgarden and post a picture of you, kids, or friends in your favorite Catholic garden—home, parish, monastery, etc.—or future site for a prayer/liturgical garden (be sure to tag me!). I’m especially eager to see locations of future prayer gardens and to read about what you have planned.

Spring is here and its time to return to the garden, and to draw closer to the Creator through his creation! I’m looking forward to seeing what you love in the garden.

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