Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Source

The Conversation


Each spring, some Catholics plant flowers around a statue of the Virgin Mary, reviving a tradition that goes back to medieval England when holy figures were remembered and shared through plant and flower names.

In Mary gardens, plants and flowers have specific Marian names or religious names in addition to their botanical and common names. For example, the plant today known as foxglove or Digitalis purpurea was once known as “Our Lady’s Glove.” Mary gardens also usually include a statue or image of Mary, sometimes holding the infant Jesus, as a focal point for devotion.

As librarians at the University of Dayton’s Marian Library, we curate collections about the Virgin Mary. One collection we study is from John S. Stokes, Jr., an engineer from Philadelphia who made it his life’s work to encourage others to create their own Mary gardens. With business partner Edward McTague, Stokes established the Mary’s Gardens company, which sold seed packets with Marian plant names in the 20th century.

Document Version

Published Version