Window Sill Mary Garden

Rear: Christmas Cactus, Our Lady's Eardrops. Mary's Tresses, Crown of Thorns

Front: Prayer Plant, Rosary Plant, Mother of Thousands; Christ's (Bloody) Sweat

– John S. Stokes Jr.

Mary's Gardens Associate, Bonnie Roberson, who assumed primary responsibility for carrying forward the work of Mary's Gardens from 1968 to 1983, introduced indoor dish Mary Gardens in order to extend the direct experience of the symbolical Flowers of Our Lady during northern latitude winters. She discusses how these gardens were developed in her 1977 article, "Mary Gardens"; and the culmination of her work with indoor Flowers of Our Lady is chronicled in the 1983 article,"Our Lady's Solar Greenhouse". Her initial work with Herbs of Our Lady and outdoor Mary Gardens is described in the 1962 article, "A Garden Full of Aves".

Among the most inspiring Mary Gardens are windowsill Mary Gardens, in which a series of potted single plants are movably arranged around a figurine of Our Lady. The number of plants which can be grouped in a dish Mary Garden is limited, and the plants must be small, so that one must come close to it to distinguish the plants. But in a windowsill Mary Garden the plants can be larger, for recognition from anywhere in the room, such as in school classrooms; and those plants in fullest bloom at any given season can be moved to positions next to the figurine.

The movability of plants also permits their grouping, variously, either in general artistic composition by their forms and colors, as above; or in tableaus of composition by related symbolism, such as the following of Herbs of Our Lady:

Rosemary - Rose of Mary, Mary's Nosegay
Sage - Mary's Shawl
Lavender - Mary's Drying Plant
Thyme - Mary's Bedstraw

The accompanying photographs are of an indoor windowsill Mary Garden assembled by the writer during a period of living away from an outdoor Mary Garden. The plants are from those listed in "Indoor Dish Mary Gardens" which were found to be available from a neighborhood florist selling house plants - with selection of plant sizes appropriate to the size of the windowsill. These were ample to fill the window sill; otherwise we would have obtained plants from a mail order source for house plants, such as those listed in "Dish Mary Gardens for the Blind".

The experience of living with these indoor Flowers of Our Lady at our elbow, so to speak, provided one of the most edifying Mary Garden quickenings of thoughts and prayers to Our Lady of our experience - supplemented with other, larger house plants and with daily walks past plantings at local front yards and patios, shops, and public parks. We highly recommend it to all who are apartment- or house-bound.

Copyright, Mary's Gardens, 1996


The John Stokes and Mary's Garden collection was transferred to the Marian Library in May 2013. In addition to his archives, manuscripts, artwork, and personal library, John S. Stokes also donated his extensive website. It was transferred to the Marian Library in early 2010. This particular entry is archived content original to Stokes' Mary's Gardens website. It is possible that some text, hyperlinks, etc. are outdated.

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