Located on a shady hillside on the grounds of the Episcopal Convent of the Transfiguration in suburban Glendale, this Mary Garden surrounds a statue of the Madonna and Child which had been placed there sometime in the 1960s.
Development of the Garden
The idea for the Mary Garden came from Miriam Evans, an avid gardener and
former president of the Civic Garden Center in Cincinnati, who chose to move
to the Johnston House, adjoining the Episcopal Convent of the Transfiguration
in suburban Glendale, in 1980 after her second husband died and she no longer
wanted the responsibility of caring for a home. Behind the convent, the Johnston
House and St. Mary’s Home for assisted living were acres of gardens, neglected
Miriam saw the potential for reviving the gardens and when she saw a sculpture of the Madonna and Child behind St. Mary's Home remembered having heard about a Mary Garden in the East. She began to research plants connected with Mary, learned of the work of John Stokes and obtained some of his plant lists and articles.
Using these materials as guides she designed the garden and in 1981, with the help of two high school students and a horticulturist from the Cincinnati Park Board she established the Mary Garden. Episcopal Sister of the Transfiguration Mary Veronica and Todd Robbins helped carry railroad ties to the garden and assisted with the digging and planting. The statue of Mary, which had been uncovered from overgrown boxwood, is the work of Ivy Starr and was the gift of Kathryn Sawyer, a long-time friend of the sisters from Cleveland, Ohio.
On August 15, 1982, the Feast of St. Mary, the garden was formally dedicated by Father Gareth Jones, a visiting priest from Wales. The Mary Garden was one of nine private gardens toured by members of the American Horticultural Society during its annual convention in Cincinnati that year.
During the following years Mrs. Evans developed other gardens on the twenty-two acre property, including an English formal garden behind the Johnston House. Now 91 years old, she is still active in supervising the care of the gardens. In 1996, Sister Mary Veronica's work schedule changed, making it possible for her to devote more time to the gardens.
Tour of the Garden
About 200 feet in length, this shaded
garden is entered from the parking lot next to the chapel of the Convent of
the Transfiguration. A concrete walkway slopes gently downhill, leading to a
gazebo on the left and a rock garden on the right. Along the path thirteen large
shade trees, mostly sugar maples interspersed among elm, oak, locust, hackberry
and ash, provide shade from the sun. The garden is a cool refuge on a hot summer
Around the gazebo in early spring we are delighted to find Our Lady of the Snow (anemone) and Mary's Star (daffodil). Later we will see Our Lady's Tears (lily of the valley), Our Lady's Slippers (impatiens) and several varieties of the Assumption Lily (hosta). Surveying the garden from the gazebo, we reflect on the Tree of the Cross (yew) which surrounds it.
The walk now becomes a gravel path, and we see the Madonna statue ahead. On our left we find St. Lawrence's Plant and Our Lady's Shoes (columbine); a park bench invites the visitor to sit a while. On the right a larger area contains a small bird bath and a plaque with the inscription:
May we, too, use this
garden to God's praise
Here we find the large leaves of St. John's Flower (hardy begonia) showing their red color on the undersides. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (comfrey), Ladder to Heaven (Jacob's ladder) and St. Lawrence's Plant join them. We see Mary's Heart (bleeding heart) and Lady's Corn (celandine poppy) as we approach a stone bench at the edge of this garden. The bench is placed in front of the area leading to the Mary statue and we rest here and behold the statue.
Approaching a small section to the right, we rejoice with Mary and her flowers - Beautiful Lady (larkspur), Virgin Pink (dianthus), Our Lady's Violet (dame's rocket). We see Our Lady's Earrings (impatiens) and Our Lady's Flannel (brunnera) amidst a background of Lady's Fingers (lambs-ear).
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URL for this page is http://www.udayton.edu/mary/resources/garden.html