Exhibition on View August 30th – October 12th 2012

4th Floor University LibraryMary Garden at St. John's

The Mary Garden at St. John’s is located behind Donovan Hall and lies adjacent to the Organic Community Garden. Conceived and designed by Professor Andrea Oliva Florendo, M.A., DDA and her Mariology students as cross-curricular gardeners, the Mary Garden provides students with an opportunity for community service.  In this service learning project, art, stewardship and gardening offer the vehicles and language for theological reflections, and devotional and spiritual inculturation.

A Mary Garden is an essential, but little examined feature of garden history that can be traced from the small monastic gardens of medieval times. The name has its recorded origins in Renaissance religious art in which paintings of Mary or the Virgin and Child are depicted in an enclosed garden (Hortus Conclusus) surrounded by symbolic flowers.  Whereas a Mary Garden of the 13th century was created to spread the Gospel and Christian symbolism, the modern-day Mary Garden may also be seen as a conservation tool instrumental in encouraging the preservation of biodiversity.

Outside of the classroom, students have a greenhouse, a herbarium at St. Albert Hall and the garden itself at their disposal. Hands-on activities such as pressed-flower art, nature printing, watercolor painting, and gardening allow for the students’ own discovery and spirituality.  The results of some of these students’ activities are on display on the 4th floor of St. Augustine Hall.  Also featured in the exhibition are books from St. John’s University Libraries and Special Collections. These books, and many more, are available for further research, by visiting the main library on the Queens Campus or making an appointment with the University Archives and Special Collections Department at archives@stjohns.edu.

For more information about the Mary Garden at St. John’s, please contact Andrea Oliva Florendo at florenda@stjohns.edu.