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Potted perennials with a purpose

Planting flowers on Memorial Day is one way we can remember our loved ones. Our Cathoilc cemeteries are special places because the ground is sacred. This Memorial Day plant some perennials with a purpose – create your own sacred space with a container garden and a blessed object.

A garden, no matter how large or small, can invite a spiritual awakening that one can experience only by recognizing God’s presence through living things.   

Planting your container garden: For a twist on container gardening, try a growing trend. Bury the pot in the fall and dig it back out – still intact – in the spring. If you plan on burying it, be sure to use a container made of terra cotta, stone or wood.

To begin your container garden: Make sure the contatiner has a drainage hole in the bottom. Put a layer of gravel or broken pieces of terra cotta over the hole to keep the soil from trickling out when watering.

Remember, the plants in your container garden will be sharing the same root space and light exposure, so make sure your selections are compatible. Choose eye-pleasing contrasts, such as tall grasses and upright growers with cascading vines; and bright-flowering plants and those with a deep-green foliage. Harmonious color themes can also tie together a diverse mix of plants.

Fill the container with a porous potting soil to about 4 inches of the rim, then wedge plants into the container tightly, filling it with more soil as needed. Don’t forget to check the moisture of the soil daily, especially if the container is in a sunny location.

Our garden contains: primrose (Primula sp.), tickseed (Coreopsis sp.), Beardtongue (Penstemon sp.), black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia vulgaris), mint variety (Lamium maculatum), and Rumex sp.

The final touch: Add a blessed statue or cross that means something to you. We chose a cross and an angel.

General potting soil recipe:

3 parts peat

2 parts perlite

2 parts soil

1 part vermiculite

1 part #3 coarse sand

1/4 part charcoal

To 2 gallons of soil mix add: 2 cups bonemeal, 10 tablespoons Dolomitic lime and 14-14-14 Osmocote fertilizer pellets, according to package instructions.

The significance of color

Religions place deep significance on color, which adds greater dimension to the palette of flowers. Colors chosen for a spiritually inspired garden represent more than their relative positions on the color wheel.

Blue: Truth is revealed under the clear blue sky and in the light of day. Blue is the hue of Mary and it is the color of the heavens and baptismal waters.

Green: The color of plants in leaf, green symbolizes the triumph of spring over winter, as well as reproductive fertility. Representing hope, it was the color favored by Greek and Roman priests in their water rituals.

Red: The color of power and the blood of the martyrs, red is also the color of love and hate. It is the color of fire, the fires of faith and of Pentecost.

Yellow: The color of the sun and gold, and of rays and halos which represent the light of God.

Purple: Purple became the predominant color of penance and fasting, which led to its later use in Lenten celebrations. It is also the color of expectation and the Advent candles.

White: White has a universal appeal as a sign of purity. It speaks of truth and innocence and was the primary vestment color of the early church, preceding purple as the color of Lent. White was the original color of mourning before being replaced with black.