Catholic Garden Plans

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hot20spot20garden-2500980A great garden starts with a great plan. 

July 2007 – Most of us aren’t Master Gardeners with an innate notion of what plants will yield an all season display while tolerating a little neglect when summer settles in and the gardeners have gone off to the beach.

We’ve all had our share of garden disasters:

Those delightful little pansies and impatiens get hidden and smothered when a larger plant shoots up to a height of three or four feet and spreads out, blocking the light.

The lilies carefully placed in front of Mary’s shrine completely cover it, so Our Lady is hidden.

Everything blooms at once and then goes to seed leaving behind a mess of dead, dry foliage and not much else.

The weeds take over and when you finally get around to tackling them, the surrounding plants come up with them.

Not to worry. Here is a guide to help you plan ahead. We’re writing this in the end of July, but the garden season is far from over.

Let’s get to work!

On This Page

Sequence Planning – Learn how to plant your garden to ensure continuous blooms from the early spring when the snow is on the ground straight through autumn to the first frost.

Bulbs – Learn the basics for planting clusters of bulbs to ensure blooms that last all year long

Earliest Spring – The Excitement Factor. Snowdrops, Snow Glories, Early Iris, Crocus peek through as the snow begins to melt

Early Spring – Cheerful daffodils, narcissus, crocus, Grecian Windflowers, fragrant hyacinth

Mid-Season Spring – A profusion of tulips and iris

Perennial Gardens – Plant a Garden that will last for decades for just pennies a year

Step by Step Endless Bloom Garden

The Perennial Shade Garden

Butterfly and Hummingbird Garden

Hot Spot Garden

Foolproof Perennial Garden

Garden Archways

Garden Health without Pesticides

Free Stuff



Vines and Fruit


Garden Bells


Planning for Garden Health

Killing bugs and weeds and encouraging super-sized blossoms and yields are always concerns for gardeners. The “easy” solution is to use chemicals – pesticides, herbicides and products like Miracle Gro. While these certainly do the job quite well, when we are addressing the needs of a Catholic garden, whether at home or in a parish setting, it’s not quite so simple. There are issues of morality involved even in the simple act of gardening. We’ve all read the news alerts about links to cancer and marine life as the result of chemical use.

While on vacation, Pope Benedict XVI stated that care for the environment can be a valid way of instructing youth on issues of Christian morality. You should listen to you (Holy) Father. A garden can be beautiful while using organic methods. It just requires a little education and effort.

One of our favorite sources for natural garden assistance is Gardens Alive. Click on the bug to visit them.


Whatever your gardening problem may be, they will have a solution that is environmentally friendly.  A wealth of good information on their site, too.

Diatech is a firm that provides natural insect control – and yes, as awful as it sounds – stuff to kill bedbugs! Ugh! Free shipping and it gets to you fast. We like the diatomaceous earth which does away with a whole host of critters fast.


day20lily-9966132Making a Plan – Sequence Planting

We’ll start with bulbs and tubers first, since they are the “hidden” elements of your garden that will yield the first peek of color through winter’s last bits of snow straight through the end of autumn.

leucocoryne-7778058Start with a piece of graph paper before you purchase bulbs to ensure you get the proper amount for a full, lush bed. Or you can use one of the plans we’ve provided and intersperse your bulbs accordingly. Ideally, you’ll place markers by your bulb plantings so you’ll know what’s there and when it’s expected to appear, but if you don’t when the foliage of spring blooms dies back by early summer, you’ll have an idea of where to place the annuals and perennials that will fill in your border later on.

trumpet20vine-2458418As you develop this plan, keep in mind that bulbs bloom at different times. Some spring bulbs have overlapping bloom periods, but they still maintain the order in which they bloom. Spring bulbs will bloom from early February to mid June. Summer bulbs will bloom from early summer to fall.

Following is a general idea of various flower’s bloom sequence: These bloom cycles are for general reference. The following sequence depends a great deal on the weather in your area as well as the variety of bulbs you plant.

Catholic Home and Garden recommends the bulbs shown

below which come with a full guarantee available from


Easy Garden Plans Using Perennials

As we mentioned before, annuals are the least expensive to buy in flats of multiple plants, but they last only a year.  An investment in a perennial garden, supplemented with bulbs and a few annuals for added color and fragrance will last a lifetime and, in the long run, it will be much less costly.

You can plan your own garden, but often the results are hit or miss. Here are a few plans that can be adapted to just about any setting.

The garden plans listed below are from the Michigan Bulb Company.

Click below for Buy One Get One Free deal.


Endless Bloom Perennial Garden


Non-stop flowers from spring through fall. April brings pretty Primroses, followed all summer by a host of colorful favorites, and ending with cushion mums at frost. A professionally designed garden like this would cost hundreds of dollars at a retail store. This 25′ x 8′ garden includes 54 flowers that take just a few hours to plant and return bigger every year. Prefers sun or partial shade. TIP: Plant in fall so plants are well established for blooms in spring and summer. We’d also add some irises in the background for shape and early color.

Click on the chart to enlarge. The list below are the plants needed for this garden.


A. 6 Snow in Summer

B. 3 Hardy Primrose

C. 3 Cushion Mums

D. 3 Crazy Shasta Daisy

E. 3 Crimson Coral Bells

F. 3 Siberian Iris

G. 3 Purple Coneflower

H. 3 Fiesta Daisy

I. 3 Shasta Daisy

J. 3 Painted Daisy

K. 3 Barlow Columbine Mix

L. 3 Dwarf Daylilies

M. 3 Mixed Lupines

N. 3 Old-Fashioned Hollyhocks

O. 3 Montana Skies Delphinium

P. 3 Mixed Foxglove

Q. 3 Bee Balm Mix

Buy One Get One Free at Michigan Bulb

Other Resources for Planning

Direct Gardening is a a mail order firm that has a wonderful function on its home page – an automated garden planner. Just enter your zip code, the height, colors and season, and voila! An instant array of plants that are right for you. Don’t miss out on their 1 Cent Sale.


FREE STUFF  We found this coupon code, too. Enter #G5666 for 3 free Peacock Orchid Bulbs with any purchase. You might not want them, but they would make a nice gift for indoor gardeners or pair with a nice planter as a church raffle prize.

Shop Around – It’s Garden Sale Time

Before you know it, it will be time to start planting bulbs in your Catholic garden.  There are lots of sales and deals available at this time of year. Shop around for the best deals. We’ll list coupon codes and links to sales as we find them.

Here are a few:

Blooming Bulbs Offers a wide variety of products all with a money back guarantee. Currently they are offering 20% off.


One of their products that we like very much is the butterfly and hummingbird mix.  If you g4500671-303have a larger area that doesn’t need to be too tidy – or an area of a Church field – this is a beautiful solution. A mix of annual and perennial seeds – that are actually self sowing for the next year if you leave them alone – that will add color and natural beauty to any garden. Sow in fall for an early start next year.

Windowbox is another company that we like very much – particularly since they support a whole host of community based programs like the American Community Gardening Association (we were an award winner a few years ago) and the Horticultural Therapy Association (we are a member). Click on Do Some Good tab on their site.

You’ll also find links to helping kids learn about gardening and the black thumb society. A warm-hearted site with a sense of humor. Don’t miss them.


crocus20in20snow-5076196Very Early Spring

The Excitement Factor

When the snow is still on the ground and just beginning to fade, these early blooming plants are the first to peek through. While the blossoms are not necessarily the most spectacular you’ll see in the garden throughout the year, they serve the purpose of lightening weary winter hearts and turning minds to God’s goodness. And, they get gardening volunteers excited. Plant these in the fall. A cluster of these around the base of a statue of Mary or at the foot of a wayside Crucifix shrine bring hope.


early20snowdrops-6150750 early20snowglories-2904880
Early Snowdrops are a captivating treat to behold in rock gardens, under trees, along paths. They  multiply rapidly so you’ll have an abundance before you know it.  Hardy. 4-6″ tall Snow Glories produce a profusion of sky blue flowers, often bloom in the snow. At our home, we always get excited at the sight of the first Mary-blue snow glories Multiply rapidly. 4-6″ tall.
early20dwarf20iris-2912927 winter20aconite-6132551
Dwarf Iris plants light up the snow with jewel-tone blossoms of dark purple, blue, light-blue and yellow. Drifts of color expand yearly to create generous displays in borders, rock gardens and naturalized plantings. 5″ tall. Winter Aconite are honey-scented flowers to cover the ground like a golden carpet, adding color in rock gardens, under trees. Multiply annually so you’ll have more and more each year. 3-4″ tall


Perennial Shade Garden


Our parish has a meditation garden which is primarily in the shade. A wonderful respite from the hot summer seaside sun, but tough for growing flowering plants. This 18′ x 6′ garden can be planted even by beginners and takes less than two hours once you’ve prepared your soil. It will bloom all summer long. Add some bulbs for springtime color.

Plants needed:

A. 3 Fern Leaf Bleeding Heart

B. 3 Lady Fern

C. 10 Hardy Perennial Lilies

D. 3 Widow’s Tears

E. 6 Lily of the Valley


We especially like this garden as it includes several classics from the Mary Garden and if you supply plant identification plaques, it will serve as an aid in meditating upon Our Lady’s Sorrows – a help to those who may be mourning.


widows20tears-3467665 bleeding20heart-4382413
Widow’s Tears Bleeding Heart
lily20of20the20valley-6918146 lady20fern-4089249
Lily of the Valley Lady Fern


Buy One Get One Free at Michigan Bulb


Many homes and parishes also display flags of various sorts in the garden. Our home parish, like many, has an American flag and, unfortunately, below it an odd rainbow flag.

We found a resource that has the sort of flag you, as a Catholic, might really want to fly.

In an era when it seems that just about everyone wants to remove God from the equation, we like this one:


And of course, if you really want to state where your loyalties reside, there’s the Papal flag – every parish should have one.


Please note, these are not our products, but if you click on the link below, they’ll know we sent you there and might earn about 14 cents. Hey, it all adds up.


Garden Gadget is another company that has a host of great products for the home and parish garden – especially useful when volunteers get a little weary in the hot summer sun. We like the no crank hose holder, a small hedge-trimmer that anyone can handle safely, and if your grounds keeper is really tuckered out in the heat – a robotic lawn mower!


Early Spring – As winter finally begins to fade and we begin to draw closer to Easter, these standards make their way fragrantly into the garden. Still among the shorter growing bulbs, they provide the next stage of color.

fragrant20giant20hyacinth-2189286 giant20crocus-3790185
Giant Hyacinth are a source of delight for all the senses that give thanks to God. 8-10″ stems are covered with fragrant florets that are excellent for cutting, too, One stem perfumes a whole room! Return annually for renewed beauty Giant Crocus produce big, bright, long-lasting flowers early in the season weeks before other blooms arrive on the scene. We think they are perfect for a Mary garden and excellent for planting throughout a lawn.
Grecian Windflowers have daisy-shaped flowers up to 2″ across bloom before many crocuses and continue their delightful color show for weeks and they increase annually. 3-4″ tall. Trumpet Daffodils – Narcissus. Large, sunny yellow blooms announce the arrival of spring. They multiply annually. 16-18″ tall. These are lovely cut flowers, but frankly, the scent is not terrific.


Butterfly and Hummingbird Garden

Place a statue of Our Lord with His arms outstretched, Our Lady or your favorite saint in the center of this colorful perennial garden design and watch the graceful dance of  butterflies and hummingbirds. Blooms begin in late spring and continue A giant-flowering, Orange Trumpet Vine is one of their all-time favorites. From late spring to frost, the pink spires of Charming Pink Butterfly Bush tempt these garden visitors with their sweet nectar. Other butterfly- and hummingbird-friendly perennials complement this vine and shrub combination to create a haven of beauty in your yard or parish garden. Contains 31 plants and is only $29.99.


A. 1 Charming Pink Butterfly Bush

B. 1 Orange Trumpet Vine

C. 10 Hardy Perennial Lilies

D. 3 Ever-blooming Purple Coneflower

E. 10 Blazing Star Liatris

F. 3 Blue Columbine

G. 3 Dwarf Daylilies

mantis-9319856Composting is a basic starting point, and it doesn’t have to be messy or back breaking work. Visit the link below to learn more. Mantis also makes the best rototillers around. They last forever. And the shipping is free.

Mantis® – We Make Gardening Easier ® Take advantage of our best offer ever. Free shipping and a Free Border Edger Attachment.

Vines and Shrubs with Fruit

Nearly every garden has shrubs and vines. Why not consider some that actually bear fruit? Not only does it add to the food resources for your family or parish food bank, but the gleanings feed the birds. And you DO want birds. We can attest that there is nothing more delicious than a homegrown strawberry. And who knows, you might even want to make your own wine!


Gurney’s has a large selection and generally run special sales. Right now there is a $20 discount. Check back often for additional seasonal deals.


Mid-Season Spring. We’re now entering the period of spring that is full of riotous colors from tulips, daffodils and narcissus. All are wonderful for cutting – except for the narcissus which are best left outdoors. Really. Trust us. They stink awfully. One important tip about these bulbs. Don’t skimp. They look best planted in generous clusters.

apple20blossom20tulip-7394799 monet20tulip-9544127
Apple Blossom Tulip Mixture. These are so beautiful in clusters and make a fabulous cut bouquet. 18″-20″ tall. Monet Tulip Collection. Waves of spring pastels  4″ blooms are beautiful in the front of borders and cutting gardens. 18-20″ tall.
christo20tulip-3240048 crown20imperial-5636582
Christo Tulip. Breathtaking, 10 cm double blooms of blended pink and green are supported by a bowl-shaped green base. Strong stems show a display of pink and green petals. Large double flowers open to 10 cm spring blooms. Unique coloration make them sensational for an indoor spring arrangement. Red Crown Imperial Friterlaria is a striking addition to the late spring garden. Grows up to 3′ tall with a circle of cascading flowers topped with a graceful emerald crown. Iif mice or moles are a problem in your garden, this may be the answer. The fragrant bulbs repel pests but not people!
french20lace-6700635 patriotic20tulip-9235034
French Lace Tulips. Pure white, soft pink, lilac-blue and dark pink colors fuse to form this unique blend. These flora produce full, double flowers which so resemble peonies that they bear the well-deserved nickname of peony-flowered tulips. Though delicate and frilly these long-lasting late bloomers can grow as much as four inches across when full open. Patriotic Tulip Mix. A beautiful mix to place in a memorial garden in honor of our fallen military. Red, white and blue Triumph Tulips these classic flowers have strong stems and large 3″ flowers. Perfect at the back of a border or for a cutting garden. Gather bouquets of these gorgeous tulips for an upright spring arrangement
ile20de20france-3046173 grape20hyacinth-5642953
Ile de France Tulips. We like these as they are exceptional for keeping their form on upright stems. A beautiful tulip for borders and cut flower use. Grape Hyacinth – We love these. The squirrels always dig them up and plant them in unexpected places which adds to the delight. They’re fragrant and multiply like mad. 6-8″ tall.


Hot Spot Garden


Plants love sun. People love fun in the sun. At the height of summer, we guarantee your gardeners will disappear. But your garden will still be there needing care. This garden is the perfect solution for gardens in full sun that usually dry out. Lots of height, lots of color, and little need for care. The planting of this 8 1/2′ x 4′ garden takes only an hour and will last for decades. It contains 18 plants that will spread and multiply over time. At $39.99 it’s less costly than flats of annuals and you’ll be saving a ton on your water bill.

Tip: Plant in the fall so plants will be well established and ready to bloom next year.

A. 3 Hardy Perennial Hibiscus

B. 3 Russian Sage

C. 3 Black Eyed Susan

D. 3 Orange Glory Flower

E. 3 Maiden Pinks

F. 3 Stella d’Oro Daylilies



hibiscus-6919851 blue20russian20sage-4048178 black20eyed20susan-9158742
Hibiscus Russian Blue Sage Black Eyed Susan
maiden20pinks-9765990 orange20glory-3863962 stella20d20oro-1954992
Maiden Pinks Orange Glory Flowers Stella D’Oro Lilies


Buy One Get One Free at Michigan Bulb

Foolproof Perennial Garden


Simplify your life. No green thumb required. Completely beautiful with lots of blooms for cutting. This 4′ x 8′ garden is simply gorgeous by itself and lends itself well to the addition of annuals and bulbs.

A. 3 Mixed Lupines

B. 3 Crimson Coral Bells

C. 3 Barlow Columbine Mix

D. 1 Scarlet Bee Balm

E. 3 Tenor Tall Hybrid Phlox

F. 3 Montana Skies Delphinium


Buy One Get One Free at Michigan Bulb


They may seem frivolous, but they’re not and in the long run they will save you a lot of money. If you are working in a community or parish garden they are a must. One family we know planted hundreds of lily bulbs in a parish garden at a considerable cost to them in money and sweat.  A week or two later, they spotted a crew of other parishioners who had apparently decided to dig up the entire garden and toss everything out. Save hurt feelings and make sure there’s a plan. It also helps if inexperienced gardeners don’t know that a particular plant is perennial and they shouldn’t pull it out!

We like these a lot. You can inscribe them with the identification and even a note Don’t Pull Me Out! I’m not dead! or Bulbs Growing Underneath Here.


You might want to plant a garden in honor of Our Lord,  the Blessed Mother or a Saint for favors granted. Or, in a parish garden, donors always seem to want their gift advertised far and wide (and pastors never seem to remind them that if they are rewarded for good on earth, they will forego their reward in heaven, but that’s another matter).  Here are some nice garden plaques that can be personalized.


These signs and others are available at


Tip:  If you are doing this in a parish or public garden, prepare guidelines so your gardens don’t end up looking like a grave yard. The signage can quickly get out of control – and you don’t want to make it available only to those who have disposable incomes. Think about individuals and groups who donate their muscle.


Some gardeners can get lost in their work and you might not see them for hours. Just ask my husband.  A garden bell is a wonderful way to call the hardworking crew (or children playing happily outside)  in for dinner – or at a parish – for a cold glass of water. It is a wonderful tradition that your Catholic family or parish will treasure. So much nicer than shouting.



Irises deserve a place in the Mary garden as well. Their beautiful blue shades recall her mantle, while the spear shaped leaves that remain behind are like the swords of the Seven Sorrows that pierced her Immaculate Heart. Irises grow from tubers, and like many of the bulbs, they multiply annually. As a matter of fact, if you fail to divide them up, they won’t bloom as well! We like this blue shade collection from Breck’s and plan to add them to our garden this fall.


And, of course, if you can’t decide, Breck’s offers a number of economical collections.  We particularly like the blue collection for Mary Gardens:


Garden Archways

If your budget can accommodate it, a garden archway is a wonderful means of defining “sacred space” – by entering we consciously step out of the work-a-day world and into a place set aside for prayer and contemplation. If you are a parish, put up a wish list. There’s always someone who will be happy to beautify the Church grounds.

In the past, we constructed a beautiful garden gate from wood, but wood doesn’t last forever and after about ten years, it was time for it to come down with the resulting damage to the climbing roses and clematis that covered it.

Here’s one from Smith and Hawkins that you might like. The Monet Arch is a simple structure. Rather undistinguished in its bare bones but amazingly beautiful when it has become established. (Click on logo below to visit)





The Heart of the Catholic Garden

No Catholic garden is complete without roses. We recommend that you select some tea roses that are appropriate for cutting with longer stems and others, like the climbers, that bloom in abundance – just in time for the Feast of Corpus Christi. We don’t know if they’re still available, but K-Mart (or maybe it was Walmart) once carried a wonderful and affordable line of the Martha Stewart climbing roses. They have a great fragrance and are abundant bloomers.

peace20rose-9673802The Peace Rose is a delicately colored and very fragrant tea rose that is usually considered the finest available.

hybrid20tea-5558134Henry Fields has them on sale now for fall shipping along with a Buy One Get One Free offer on other tea roses.


For climbers, there’s nothing like the Blaze rose (left below) OK. Maybe we’re partial since that’s our son’s name. And coming in second is Joseph’s Coat of Many Colors (right below). Both are prolific.

blaze20climber-4089266  josephs20coat-5624137

Save on these bulbs now

Save $25 on orders of $50 or more at!

winter20glads-4650205We absolutely love these gladiolas which are perfect for cut flowers and yet don’t look at bit like they belong in a funeral parlor. And they’re winter hardy! Find Winter Glads at


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Christine Hirschfeld

I never intended to run a Catholic antiquities and book business. Not in a million years. As a cradle Catholic, I grew up in a house that was filled with Catholic images and sacramentals not to mention an abundance of excellent books provided by family members who worked in publishing houses famous for their Catholic catalogues. The beautiful images and concepts presented in those books certainly had their effect in enhancing my identity as a Catholic. As the years passed, even in the midst of very un-Catholic settings, I became a repository for my friends’ Catholic “found objects.” Eventually, I had a family of my own. We’re a small family. There are just three of us. And two of us were born with the “junk collecting gene.” Garage sales attracted us like a magnet.
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