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Creating a Memorial Garden Space

No two people deal with grief in the same way. Many of us channel our grief through different coping mechanisms, such as therapy, hobbies, and speaking of our lost loved ones. 

For others, whether it was their deceased loved one that gardened, or they want to channel their grief into creating a tranquil space for reflection and remembrance. Memorial gardens are a wonderful, meditative, healing space that can help you through your time of sorrow and help you memorialize those lost. 

Gardening can provide a sense of ease, and the therapeutic benefits of digging into the soil long have been documented. Being in nature and plants can aid you in physical, mental, and emotional healing. 

If you want to design and plan a memorial garden, we would love to present you with ideas and suggestions to get you started. 

What is a Memorial Garden? 

The beauty of memorial gardens is that there are no rules for creating this special place. What makes a memorial garden perfect is what it symbolizes and how it makes you feel when you visit and spend time there. It can be as simple as a bench under a single tree in your yard, a long pathway of flowers, or a garden of bright flowers planted around a pond. The size and scope of a memorial garden will depend on how much you wish to do and how much space you have. Even if you live in an apartment, you can still plant and grow meaningful things in an area, such as your balcony or in a corner of a room near a window. 

  1. Where to Begin
    If at all possible, you will want to choose a private space. Because the garden will become a peaceful place for you to retreat to, to remember, to mourn, you will enjoy an area that is quiet and just for you or your family. Since the garden will be placed in your backyard, front yard, or the comfort of your home, you will probably already feel comfortable choosing an area that will help you feel close to a loved one without traveling to their gravestone.

  2. Plants
    Did your loved one have a favorite plant or flower? Perhaps they loved peonies, roses, or lilies? Were they the sort to always have a fresh bouquet of certain flowers in the home? What, if any, scents or flavors do you associate with your loved one? Some people adore the smell of lavender or honeysuckle, for example. What about what they loved eating? Were they spicy pepper lovers, or did they enjoy fresh garden vegetables? What was their favorite season or color?

    You can plant herbs, flowers, and vegetables that remind you of them or a simple vegetable garden plot as a tribute. There are no rules as to what is meaningful to you. You should note whether the area you will be planting in will have enough sunlight for your chosen plants.

  3. The Meaning of Plants
    If you still are unsure or undecided, many plants hold symbolic meanings. For instance:

    • Lillies represent the peace and purity of the soul of the deceased. For those who are religious, lilies also symbolize renewal and rebirth.
    • Like lilies, roses, especially white roses, symbolize purity and innocence. But other rose colors can mean different things. Red roses symbolize love and passion; orange roses are for energy and desire. Yellow represents friendship and joy; lavender is for wonder and enchantment. Pink is for elegance and sweetness; peach represents sincerity and gratitude; black represents change and courage.
    • For a symbol of eternal love, consider orchids.
    • Purple hyacinths represent regret and sorrow.
    • Forget-me-nots are perfect flowers to tell your departed loved one and family that you will never forget them.

  4. A Light in the Darkness
    Solar lights, candles, lanterns, or fairy lights allow you to visit your memorial garden anytime, day or night. Grief does not have a set time, and since it can come in unpredictable waves, you will want to be able to venture out into your garden whenever you need it safely.

  5. Statues or Décor
    Were they music lovers? You may wish to incorporate a musical wind chime. Did they collect figurines or enjoy whimsical fantasy creatures? There are thousands of garden décor items that you can add to your garden to memorialize them. For instance, if they loved dogs, add a few dog statues. If they were an avid bird watcher, consider adding a bird feeder and birdbath. The more you can personalize your garden to represent the one you lost, the closer you will feel to them and their memory.

  6. Somewhere to Sit
    Last but most importantly, you will want a place to sit and reflect, and you'll want to do so as comfortably as possible. You can add a cozy chair, a wide bench, a swing, or even a small patio chair and table. 

One last suggestion would be to consider adding elements of water. The sound of naturally trickling water is a soothing, relaxing sound, and installing a small pond or fountain will help you feel more at peace in your memorial garden. 

Creating your memorial garden takes time, as does grieving—a garden can symbolize your journey toward healing.