Mary Garden Flower Symbolism

√ Updated: September 14, 2010

Origin of the Mary Garden

Flower Symbolism, Flower GardenIn the late Middle Ages, depictions of the Virgin Mary in an idealized garden were common in Flemish and German paintings. The flower symbolism in the gardens depicted represented Mary's virtues and significant events in her life. Some churches began creating actual gardens devoted to Mother Mary for worshippers to visit for meditation and prayer. These gardens had both symbolic and spiritual dimensions and would include flowers based on the flower symbolism associated with Mother Mary.

The enclosed garden, or "hortus conclusus," could also represent the human soul enclosed in a body or the faithful enclosed in the body of the church. Flower symbolism relating specifically to Mother Mary that could be included in such gardens are indicated in the list of flower symbolism below. Although there are a few churches that still have Mary Gardens, altars dedicated to Mother Mary are more common now and can also employ flowers and flower paintings involving appropriate flower symbolism.

Flower SymbolismLaying flowers at the feet of religious statues is a traditional practice. In moderns homes, silk flowers or flowers paintings in association with altars have become popular. Altars in honor of saints, religious leaders, angels or other spiritual beings can be created with flower symbolism in mind. See the list below for flower symbolism associated with Mary Gardens.

For identifying photos of flowers and information on their symbolism arranged alphabetically, please see Flower Symbolism Guide. For a quick reference to flowers by meaning (such as hope, love, etc.), please see our article Find Flowers By Meaning. For information on the origin of flower names, please see Meanings of Flower Names. For symbolism related to popular garden flowers, see Garden Flower Symbolism.

For more on flower symbolism, see our recommended books from Amazon below :
Folklore and Symbolism of Flowers, Plants and Trees
The Language of Flowers: Symbols And Myths
The Language of Flowers
The Meaning of Flowers
Forget-Me-Not: A Floral Treasury Sentiments and Plant Lore from the Language of Flowers

Christmas Rose Flower Symbolism

Chrsitmas rose flower symbolismThe flower symbolism associated with the Christmas rose is that it is purported to have flowered on Christmas Day, and is therefore associated with the infant Jesus. The Christmas Rose is a member of the genus Helleborus and is not related to the rose bush. The Christmas Rose is frost-resistant and many species are evergreens. The Christmas Rose of Mary Gardens bears pure white or pink flowers and are sometimes known as the Lenten Rose.

Cowslip Flower Symbolism

In medieval times, Mary was often referred to as "Our Lady." Cowslip was called "Our Lady's Keys." Cowslip is also known as marsh marigold and grows in wet, boggy places, such as marshes, fens, ditches and wet woods. Cowslip is most luxuriant in partial shade.

Daisy Flower Symbolism

daisy floer symbolismThe flower symbolism associated with the daisy is purity, innocence, loyal love, beauty, patience and simplicity. Daisies are often depicted in meadows in Medieval paintings, also known as a "flowery mead." Daisies are believed to be more than 4,000 years old and hairpins decorated with daisies were found during the excavation of the Minoan Palace on the Island of Crete. Even further back, Egyptian ceramics were decorated with daisies. Daisies were used in Mary Gardens.

Forget-Me-Not Flower Symbolism

forget-me-not flower symbolismThe flower symbolism associated with the forget-me-not is true love and memories. It is also told in pious legend that the Christ child was sitting on Mary's lap one day and said that he wished that future generations could see them. He touched her eyes and then waved his hand over the ground and blue forget-me-nots appeared.

Foxglove Flower Symbolism

fosglove floer symbolismThe flower symbolism associated with the foxglove is stateliness and youth. Foxglove flowers have both positive and negative symbolic meanings. They are said to sometimes hurt and sometimes heal. The scientific name is digitalis, a reference to the presence of powerful chemicals that can heal heart conditions if taken correctly but can kill if taken in large amounts. Foxglove are known as "Our Lady's Gloves."

Heartsease (Pansy) Flower Symbolism

The flower symbolism associated with heartsease is due to it's combination of three colors: white, yellow and purple. Heartsease is known as the "Herb Trinity" and was common in medieval paintings of Mother Mary. Heartsease is also known secularly as the pansy or Johnny Jump Up.The flower symbolism associated with the pansy is merriment and you occupy my thoughts. The name pansy is derived from the French word pensée meaning "thought", and was so named because the flower resembles a human face. In August the pansy is thought to nod forward as if deep in thought.

Iris Flower Symbolism

iris flower symbolismThe flower symbolism associated with the iris is faith, wisdom, cherished friendship, hope, valor, my compliments, promise in love, wisdom. Irises were used in Mary Gardens. The blade-shaped foliage denotes the sorrows which 'pierced her heart.' The iris is the emblem of both France and Florence, Italy.

Lady's Mantle Symbolism

lady's mantle symbolismThe symbolism associated with Lady's Mantle is that of a cloak for for the Blessed Virgin. Lady's mantle was grown in Mary Gardens. The name alchemilla ("little magical one") derives from the dew which collects on the lady's mantle. Dew is often associated with magic. The dew was used as a beauty lotion, while pillows stuffed with it were reputed to bring on a good sleep.

Lily Flower Symbolism

lily floer symbolismThe flower symbolism associated with the lily is chastity, virtue, fleur-de-lis, Holy Trinity, faith, wisdom, chivalry, royalty sweetness, virginity, purity and majesty. The flower symbolism of lilies is associated with the annunciation of the birth of Jesus by the angel Gabriel. Lilies were used in the flower symbolism of Mary Gardens. In both Christian and pagan traditions, lilies symbolize fertility. In Greek marriage ceremonies, the bride wears a crown of lilies.

Lily of the Valley Flower Symbolism

The flower symbolism associated with the lily of the valley is "Our Lady's Tears." The lily of the Valley was said to have grown where Mother Mary wept. The lily of the valley was used to decorate churches dedicated to Mother Mary and was shown growing in the grass beneath Mary's feet in paintings by Jan Van Eyck.

Lungwort Flower Symbolism

Like the lily of the valley, the flower symbolism associated with lungwort is also "Mary's Tears." The white spots on the leaves are her tear stains and the changing color of the flowers from pink to red represent her blue eyes reddened with weeping.

arigold Flower Symbolism

marigold flower symbolismThe flower symbolism associated with marigolds is indicated in the name: Mary's Gold. Marigold flowers were "golden gifts" offered to the Virgin by the poor who could not afford to give actual gold. Marigolds were also planted in Mary Gardens. Marigolds are symbolic of passion and creativity.

Peony Flower Symbolism

peony flower symbolismThe flower symbolism associated with the peony is happy marriage and compassion. Peonies are extensively grown as ornamental plants for their large, often scented flowers. Peonies were often featured in medieval paintings and tapestries depicting Mother Mary.

Periwinkle Flower Symbolism

The flower symbolism associated with the periwinkle is related to references to Mother Mary as the "Star of the Sea." This connection extends to the periwinkle flower due to its blue, star-shaped flowers. The periwinkle grows as a small shrub.

Pinks Flower Symbolism

The flower symbolism associated with pinks is that of the Virgin's premonition of Christ's Passion. Also known as the Gilly Flower, they are said to have appeared when Mother Mary wept at the Crucifixion. The Madonna of the Pinks (circa 1506-1507) is an early devotional painting by the Italian Renaissance master Raphael.

Primrose Flower Symbolism

The primrose is associated with the month of May and was used to decorate altars for May Day, a celebration in which statues of Mother Mary are crowned with garlands of flowers. There are approximately two dozen different types of primroses including garden flowers and wild varieties.

Rose Flower Symbolism

The flower symbolism associated with roses is love, remembrance, passion (red); purity (white); happiness (pink); infidelity (yellow); unconscious beauty, I love you. The rose symbolizes the Virgin Mary herself, who was known as the "Mystic Rose."

Rosemary Flower Symbolism

The pale blue flowers of rosemary are said to have taken their color from Mother Mary's veil when she spread it over a rosemary bush. Rosemary has a very old reputation for improving memory, and has been used as a symbol for remembrance (during weddings, war commemorations and funerals).

Snowdrop Flower Symbolism

The snowdrop flower is also known as "Our Lady's Bells" and is used during Candlemas, a celebration of the The Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, also known as The Purification of Saint Mary the Virgin, which is on February 2nd. Snowdrops are among the first bulbs to bloom in spring.

Star of Bethlehem Flower Symbolism

The Star of Bethlehem is a reminder of Jesus' birth at Christmas. The Star of Bethlehem grows from a bulb and is native to southern Europe. The Star of Bethlehem has grass-like basal leaves and a slender stalk, up to 30 cm tall, bearing clusters of star-shaped white flowers striped with green. Find beautiful Christmas Flowers and Gifts at FloristOne.

Violet Flower Symbolism

violet flower symbolismThe flower symbolism associated with violets is modesty, virtue, affection, watchfulness, faithfulness, love and let's take a chance on happiness. The violet's color, delicacy, sweet scent and heart-shaped leaves refer the Mary's constancy, modesty and innocence. The violet is also known as "Our Lady's Modesty."

Wild Strawberry Flower Symbolism

The wild strawberry is designated as the fruit of the Virgin Mary and of blessed souls in heaven. Wild strawberries are depicted growing in the grass beneath the Virgin's feet in paintings by Jan Van Eyck.


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