Flowers of the fairest

Here where I live, it’s beastly hot. It’s the kind of heat that makes you turn away from window displays of fall fashion with something like revulsion (they put a wool sweater on that mannequin? What were they thinking?). Earlier today, I administered emergency transfusions of water to my patio pots and flowerbeds, hoping I can extend their lives for another few weeks at least. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

But when these flowers do dry up and die, there’s always next spring. That’s the great thing about gardening: second chances.

Maybe next year will be the year that I actually plant a Mary Garden. I’ve got the Mary statue; she’s currently standing on the patio, next to a pot of orange margiolds which have thus far survived the inferno. And I’ve got a great guide: the book Mary’s Flowers, by Vincenzina Krymow. It’s a wonderful collection of legends about the various flowers that, over the centuries, have been connected in some way to Mary. Who knew that lilies of the valley were called “Mary’s Tears,” or that lavender’s signature scent is said to be the result of Mary using the lavender bush as a drying rack for Jesus’ sweet-smelling clothes? I sure didn’t. The legends are lovely and charming — and yes, some are outlandish — but they’re all fascinating. The book itself has gorgeous color illustrations and well-written meditations on Mary’s character and life.

Oh, and it turns out that the name marigolds comes from “Mary’s Gold.” Apparently, early Christians put the orange blooms around Marian shrines, offering her the flowers instead of coins. I guess that little corner of the patio is a Mary Garden after all.

2 responses to “Flowers of the fairest