University of Vermont Extension
Department of Plant and Soil Science
Leonard Perry, Extension Professor
University of Vermont
or remembrance gardens are an ideal way to keep alive the memory of
deceased, whether they are family, friends, or even pets. They
are particularly appropriate if the
deceased had some interest in gardening.
They serve to rekindle happy memories, not just to grieve. They
share similarities to "memory"
gardens that are designed for those aging, or losing mental abilities,
back fond sensual memories from earlier years.
are differing views on whether memorial gardens are appropriate.
If a person, such as a child, never had an
interest in gardening, some feel such have little impact. To
others, even planting a tree or shrub in
someone's memory, even if it has no significance to the person, reminds
that person every time they see or work with this plant or garden. With
remembrance their personality and shared wonderful times come back to
though my father never knew what a mountain ash was, I liked the tree
planted one in his memory. Every time I
viewed or watered it I thought of him.
The past tense is appropriate, as the tree recently died from
disease. I plan to plant another,
perhaps a different tree, in his memory.
Yet even this death of my memorial tree reflects that life and death
a part of gardening just as in the life of a person.
of a plaque or memorial that lasts, some like to plant a mass of
a grove of native trees. These are allowed
to reseed, so as the original plants die, new seedlings grow.
carries the planting along for many years, much longer than a single
plant. Candidates for such perennials might be mallows,
garden phlox, and lupines, and for annuals try cosmos or spider
flower. Just make sure their reseeding wont be cause
problems where sited.
person was interested in gardening, their passions would be a good
start in creating a memorial garden.
Perhaps they were fond of a plant such as rhododendron, phlox, or
hollyhocks, which by planting will remind you of them. Perhaps the
a food such as applesauce, or wines, so you might plant an apple tree
to trigger memories. My mother was fond
of herbs, so I keep a small herb garden in her memory. Others
keep alive memories of friends through
plants given to them by that person.
person liked a particular season, focus your garden on this, either
times as in spring bulbs or foliage colors for fall. If a person
liked a particular color, focus
on this with flowers and foliage if possible.
A white garden is sometimes popular to remember a young child, white
symbolizing purity. If the person was
religious, consider a religious statue.
If the person liked birds, add bird feeders and baths. Such
objects as bird baths, hummingbird
feeders, and benches are appropriate if you don't have time or space
for a full
common remembrance popular with many is to plant a variety with the
name of the
person, such as Mary Todd daylily if the person's name was Mary.
Every time you see the plant you think of the
person. Roses are a popular remembrance
plant, many having people names. Perhaps
you shared gardening experiences such as planting bulbs, or harvesting
vegetables, that you could carry forward into a memorial garden.
different type of memorial garden can be designed for reflection, or to
grieve. In such gardens, enclosure from
the outside world as with a fence or hedge often is used. Usually
such gardens have a plaque, monument,
or focal point and a bench or some form of seating. Soothing
sensual effects such as fragrance from flowers or the
sound of a gentle water feature can be
comforting in such gardens.
visited such a grieving space at a public, formerly private, garden in
Illinois. The owner created such a space in tribute to
a group of school children that died in a bus accident just after
garden. The space was very private,
hidden down a path behind a hedge. There
you found a bench, and only once sitting on the bench did you notice
to these children
memorial garden for reflection is appropriate for persons that really
interest in plants. Instead, install
some object to remind you of them as a focal point. For an adult
interested in music, you might
choose wind chimes, or a musical sculpture.
For one interested in literature, have their favorite poem
inscribed. For children, this focus could be a sculpture
of their favorite toy, or impressions in stepping stones. Perhaps
you would create a children's play
garden for other youth to enjoy.
garden, the family created a backyard in remembrance of their child who
physical and mental challenges. This
child had loved the outdoors, watching and hearing trees in the wind,
smelling herbs and flowers, touching soft plants such as lamb's
ears. This couple created a mainly raised bed
garden in memory, with plants for the senses and wind chimes to hear,
children in wheelchairs visiting could share the same experiences.
memorial gardens promotes healing.
Maintaining them is therapeutic.
The gardens not only keep alive their memories, but also provide beauty
to those who see them even if they didn't know whom you are