Columbines are another flower that can be planted in Mary gardens. Depending on their color, they can take on different religious meanings.
“Columbines that are red can often be called the Pentecostal Holy Spirit flower because, if you've ever seen them, they kind of point upside down with petals that look like...tongues of fire pointing up. So they look like the Holy Spirit coming down at Pentecost upon the Apostles' heads,” she said.
But if the columbines are white, they are called “Our Lady’s Shoes”
“Another legend associated with the columbine is when Our Lady found out that her cousin Elizabeth was expecting Saint John the Baptist, and she walked to go take care of her,” Harrington said.
Legend has it “that everywhere Our Lady's shoes or her slippers touched, little white columbines sprouted out of the earth marking her path. So, the other name for columbine would be ‘Our Lady's Shoes,’” she explained.
Pansies have been given the Marian name “‘Our Lady's Delight,’ and with that, we can tell our kids to think of how Our Lady delighted in Christ, in having him so close in her life,” Harrington explained.
Sunflowers have also been called “Mary’s Gold,” and can be reminiscent of Mary’s golden crown as Queen of Heaven and Earth, she said.
In her home state of California, bright fuchsia bougainvillea flowers grow abundantly on bushes, and have the religious name of “trinitaria, for Trinity, because in the middle of those flowers are three little white petals, and that's surrounded then by the three pink pedals,” Harrington said.
“So when we walk by, I tell my children, ‘Oh, this is trinitaria. What prayers should we pray?’ And they know that then, we'll pray the Glory Be. That's been really great, to always be pointing my children to the Divine and having fun stories that could help them really lock in that image” and lead them into prayer, she said.
Rosemary and lavender are two herbs that have traditionally been called “Our Lady’s drying plants,” Harrington noted.
“The legend goes that when Our Lady was doing laundry for the Christ child, she laid his swaddling clothes upon the rosemary plant or the lavender bush and that is how they dried. And then that's also how they got their sweet heavenly scents.”
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Harrington paints and sells prints of various Marian flowers, including prints that have specific flowers representing the various mysteries of the rosary.
While her grandmother and parents have been the true gardeners of the family, Harrington said this year, because of the extra time at home due to coronavirus, she was inspired to start planting her own Mary garden.
“I am just very much a novice, but I'm excited to try during this shelter in place, social distancing time. I'm really excited to plant a Mary garden for my kids to help tend to and for us to be inspired by the beauty of God's creation,” she said.
And she’s not the only one. Harrington said this year, she has noticed an uptick in interest in Mary gardens from followers of her social media and art website.
“Since the pandemic and the accompanying shelter in place that has led to an extraordinary amount of time at home, I think people are paying more attention to what surrounds them in their home,” she said.
“They want their home to be a place of refuge, a place of harboring health, and a place that points them to the divine. A Mary garden is a way to tend to beauty and is a perfect conduit to Jesus as the Blessed Mother always leads us to her Son. There have been many questions as to where to purchase a Mary statue for their garden and what flowers to include,” she said.