A catechism is a way of teaching the Faith that strengthens the bonds of unity in our Church and, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “enlivens the faith of the People of God.”
In the same spirit, Master Gardener and certified greenhouse grower Margaret Realy’s A Garden Catechism: 100 Plants in Christian Tradition and How to Grow Them will help you create a garden that is more than just a landscape. Filled with an array of plants for all seasons and climates, this beautiful book shows you how to create a faith-based garden that symbolically expresses the teachings of our faith and leads you into prayer.
Presenting accurate plant culture that is easy to understand, aesthetically pleasing, and grounded in Catholic history and tradition, A Garden Catechism is perfect for beginning and experienced gardeners alike. Entries for each plant include:
- Vintage-style color botanical drawing
- Symbolism from Christian literature, art, and folklore
- Horticultural information including each plant’s unique characteristics, habitat needs, and attributes (such as fragrance, seasonal color, and butterfly/pollinator attractant)
- Expert tips for successful growth and care
Plus, you’ll find a wealth of useful information about gardening basics, how to craft a prayer garden, and selecting the right plants for your vision and space.
This unique, comprehensive resource combines the heritage of our Faith and the joy of gardening in a way that is accessible to anyone.
Let’s get growing!
"A remarkable, one in a million book! Never before have I seen such an exquisite blending of Creator, creation, and creativity in a single volume. A Garden Catechism is a stroke of genius that gives glory to God while educating, inspiring, and entertaining the reader. Even non-gardeners will find this book interesting and spiritually fortifying and I’m betting they will be drawn into the wonders of gardening themselves." —Marge Steinhage Fenelon, award-winning author and internationally known speaker
"Born from a deep font of knowledge and faith, A Garden Catechism is a masterclass on the art of discerning, designing, and developing a garden where you'll find respite, hope, and a fresh way to commune with the Creator. I have always turned to Margaret for her encyclopedic knowledge of plants and have trusted her with my most intimate prayer intentions. I'm delighted to be able to turn the pages of this beautiful tool and to share it with others. A brilliant new pathway to caring for our common home and glorifying God while getting our hands dirty!" — Lisa M. Hendey, author of I Am Earth's Keeper
"A Garden Catechism is a beautiful work of love created by one who loves our Mother Mary and appreciates greatly how beauty and nature open us to God’s presence. I know this book will be a great guide for all who garden to create sacred space, and a wonderful inspiration for many others who will often sit with this book to enter that holy presence with them."—Father James Phalan, C.S.C., National Director of Family Rosary
"Divine, practical, encouraging, and inspiring! What a treasure trove this book is! Margaret Rose Realy has done the exhaustive research and organization, and we reap the benefits. Veteran and novice gardeners, converts and cradle Catholics alike will all find something to love and learn in this gorgeous book."—Danielle Bean, author of Whisper: Finding God in the Everyday
"If you pick this book up and thumb through it you will be immediately 'hooked' and want to own it, and that for good reason. Master Gardener and Benedictine Oblate Margaret Rose Realy has brought all of her extensive knowledge on raising and nurturing the abundant delights of color and scent which grace each season, and married it to her deep study of scripture, Catholic devotionals, saintly hagiographies (and even delightful legend), and brought us a book that is almost impossible to put down. I was happy to discover that the Hosta beside which I pray the rosary in my backyard in summer carries a similar symbolism as the lily, and so goes with the rosary! Coupled with the gorgeously wrought illustrations of Mary Sprague, this book is an informative and entertaining treasure. It will become the classic reference for its topic."— Elizabeth Scalia, author of Little Sins Mean a Lot: Kicking Our Bad Habits Before They Kick Us (OSV)
"A student of Margaret’s through her first two books, A Garden Catechism is the perfect next step for this hopeful neophyte gardener intent on growing in faith while growing a garden. I look forward to the beauty that awaits me, filled with hope and trust in our Lord God and his beautiful creation, and Margaret’s sage advice. I feel emboldened to expand my little patch of land with so many of her recommendations!"— María Morera Johnson, author of My Badass Book of Saints
"A Garden Catechism is simply wonderful: a beautifully crafted testament of faith — and flowers! — that will bring out the inner gardener in every Christian and turn planting into a prayer. Author Margaret Rose Realy and artist Mary Sprague have created a treasure, packed with ideas and information, that will help many see the scriptures with new eyes. Our story began in a garden, and I'm so grateful A Garden Catechism is here, to bring us back where it all began." — Deacon Greg Kandra, journalist and blogger, author of A Deacon Prays
"It's easy to sense God's grandeur in a garden. The variety of petals and stamens and leaves, the rich colors, the fragrance, all point to a Creator with an unlimited imagination. And Margaret Rose Realy's newest book, A Garden Catechism, is chock-full of reminders that God is great. Margaret shares her years of hands-on experience to help her readers design and care for the flowerbeds they've always dreamed of. She offers a beautifully illustrated primer of gardening basics, describing the trees and shrubs, grasses and herbs and blooming plants that work well together. But that's not all: Margaret teaches us fledgling gardeners the spiritual significance of each flower. She shows us how to create a Mary garden, a labyrinth, a rosary garden, and more. And she teaches us the spiritual significance of each flower. A Garden Catechism, like the many flowers described on its pages, helps readers to bring their prayer life into the garden, enriching both soils and souls." — Kathy Schiffer, Correspondent and Blogger, National Catholic Register
"John Paul II thought faith is important for culture, but also culture is important for faith. Margaret Rose Realy’s beautiful book reflects this perfectly -- and it is beautiful! Mary Sprague’s illustrations are vintage-feel vignettes you’ll want to hang on your wall. Most of us haven’t grown up in the Catholic culture still present in parts of Europe or Latin America, but A Garden Catechism is a way to start planting a faith-inspired culture into our lives, one graceful grass or fragrant flower at a time. It will do for our yards what stain glassed windows do for churches: not just adorn, but also instruct and inspire. I live in a Spanish apartment with no garden, but I still am happy to have this book to enjoy with my kids - it’s a true catechism of our faith, presented bloom by bloom."— Kathleen N. Hattrup, Spirituality/Church News Editor, Aleteia.org, English Edition
"In A Garden Catechism, Margaret Rose Realy has achieved the extraordinary: she has made me interested in plants! How did she do this? By ushering me into a contemplative garden space, immersing me in the lesser-known stories of faith surrounding the fruits of the earth, and offering practical tips on the cultivation of the soil (as well as the soul). With lyrical writing and lush illustrations, A Garden Catechism is an instant classic — a truly sublime, sensible, one-of-a-kind work of homey genius. I can't wait to see what Margaret does next!" — Dr. Tod Worner, Managing Editor of Evangelization & Culture, Word on Fire Institute
"Margaret Rose Realy’s A Garden Catechism provides the framework for gardening as a meditative practice. Beautifully illustrated, with religious symbolism associated with various plant and prayer garden themes, the book provides guidance and ideas for planning gardens based on these deeper meanings. Margaret also tells some lovely stories from the church’s tradition associated with the plants. The Catechism provides detailed culture notes – useful to gardeners the world over." — Clara Geoghegan, Executive Secretary of the Bishops Commission for Evangelisation, Laity and Ministry of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference
"A Garden Catechism by Margaret Rose Realy is a feast for the eyes and the heart. Its pages are filled with both practical advice on how to create a living prayer garden and suggested spiritual practices to deepen one’s faith. I loved it. I recommend it to any Christian gardener seeking to transform their garden into a place of beauty, rest, and prayer."— Jeanne Grunert, writer at homegardenjoy.com