Some of the first herb and flower gardens ever to be cultivated were those made by monks and were enclosed within a monastery.
Even in modern times, some of the most beautiful gardens in existence are associated with religious orders.
For instance, there are some sacred gardens known as saint’s gardens that are designed to honor a particular person and reveal a vision of God through nature. Usually the specific saint’s spirit and philosophy is embedded in the character of the garden, and there is at least one statue of the saint to whom the garden is dedicated.
Predictably, St. Francis of Assisi is a popular saint for nature-lovers, and gardens are often dedicated to him. He founded a monastic order named in his honor, the Franciscans, in the 12th Century. His love of nature and all of God’s creatures was passionate, and he preached to sparrows and called a wolf “brother,” and when he died larks circled the house in which he lay.
Gardens honoring him are full of color, sound, scent and movement, and birds and butterflies abound. Flowers are grown to provide seeds for the song birds and nectar for humming birds and butterflies.
Favorite flowers are sunflowers, coreopsis, cosmos and coneflowers, as well as many others depending on the region.
By providing food and water for God’s creatures, a St. Francis garden demonstrates true charity, just as St. Francis himself always did.