Mr. McTague lives in the city, a member of St. Francis de Sales. He cultivates a backyard “clothesline” garden, as he describes it. The bulk of the work is done at Stokes’ 1 ½ -acre suburban home, where visitors are discouraged not through lack of appreciation but through lack of time.
“Our gardens,” they confess, “are more experimental plots than show places.” Stokes admits, “I do have a nice 20×20 garden. I don’t have a greenhouse but I conduct extensive germination tests of over 200 seed varieties on windowsills in the house.”
What does the family think of all this dirt-under-the-nails? The McTague children were grown and flown before it all began. The Stokes have five Stokeslets aged 1 ½ to 13. Remarks Mother Stokes, “People just don’t believe children can have such a sustained interest in gardening until they see it. I can’t believe it in myself. They’re out in the garden before breakfast to see what happened during the night, and they’re out there again last thing before bedtime. The first thing they want to see after they come back from a trip is their gardens, and in the winter they want to start digging the moment the snow is off the ground.” All but the baby have their own gardens, even 5-year-old Mizzie.
Needless to say, the small changes that McTague and Stokes make for their seeds and literature fall far short of paying their costs (it was never planned that they should). Still they carry on for the greater honor and glory of God and His Blessed Mother. Family men both, with their daily jobs, they cannot travel to carry their message. They rely on the mails. To date they have answered more than 12,000 letters. “Our principal work at the moment is helping various people who are working to spread the Mary Garden movement in their own neighborhood.”
The two apostles sum up the effects of caring for a Mary Garden:
- deepens appreciation of God’s riches and artistry
- teaches seasons of nature and seasons of grace
- recalls Our Lady’s immaculate purity and beauty
- deepens our appreciation of plant symbolism in the liturgy
- recalls Our Lady’s life and mysteries
- teaches the dignity of labor
Some Mary Flowers for Late Summer and Fall Planting
- Our Lady’s Tears (Lilly of the Valley)
- Candle Mass Bells (Snowdrop)
- Our Lady’s Ruffles (Double White Daffodil)
- Mary’s Tears (Star of Bethlehem)
- Our Lady’s Fern (Lady-fern)
- Mary’s Heart (Bleeding Heart)
- Our Lady’s Ruffles (Dropwort)
- Our Lady’s Eardrops (Garden Fuchsia)
- Madonna Lily
- Our Lady’s Mantle
- Mary’s Slipper
- Our Lady’s Laurel
- Christ’s Mass Rose
- Our Lady’s Fingers
- Our Lady’s Cushion
- Our Lady’s Modesty
Prayer for All Grafters and Planters
Lord God hear my prayer, and let this my desire of Thee be heard. The holy spirit of God which hath created all things for man and hath given them for our comfort, in Thy name Lord we set, plant, and graft, desiring that by Thy mighty power they may increase and multiply upon the earth, in bearing plenty of fruit, to profit of all Thy faithful, through Christ our Lord. Amen.From the sixteenth century English translation of a gardening book by one of the St. Vincent Abbey, France.
– Catholic Rural Life Magazine, August 1961
Editor’s Note: This article is a part of our “From the Archives” series. This series highlights articles, stories or news snippets from the CRL archives that are still relevant, fun or thought provoking for us today.