Jessie Milligan, a writer, remembers the day she decided to plant a memory garden.
“It was that afternoon last summer when I telephone my Aunt Sue,” she said. ‘What’s your favorite plant, Sue?’ I asked. ‘I’ll put one in my yard.'”
Milligan said her aunt tried to put her thoughts into words that came slowly through the fog of her medication.
It was a vining plant, Sue assured her.
“It was very green,” Sue whispered into the phone before she said goodbye.
Milligan said she decided then that she wanted a garden of perennial plants that would remind her of each of the five sisters, her aunts.
Milligan wrote that she called a cousin who was the keeper of a cache of obscure family details.
Milligan’s mother’s plant is already in the yard, its red reminding Milligan of her mom’s favorite color for lipstick and cars.
“The rose of Sharon is planted and in summer I’ll enjoy the delicate, showy blooms of the deceptively tough shrub,” said Milligan in an article. “Texas sage will be planted for its flush of loveliness that follows dark days of rain.”
And already there is a honeysuckle which Milligan has dedicated to her Aunt Sue.
A memorial garden provides a lasting tribute to someone who has passed away as well as a place for the survivor who has planted the garden to remember and heal.
When selecting plants for a memorial garden consider the favorite flowers of the individual you are honoring,” says Dr. Leonard Perry, extension professor at the University of Vermont. “Or think about the fragrances or colors that evoke fond memories.”
Plant sweetheart roses to remember a spouse, Perry recommends.
When planting your memorial garden you will probably want to include a mix of varieties as well as keep rules of proportion in mind – taller plants in the back, smaller ones in the front, for example, said Perry.
Include appropriate statuary and hardware.
Add a bench for visitors to sit and reflect or a water feature.
Where you locate your garden will depend on where you have adequate space and/or the type of plant – sun lovers or shade lovers – you want to include.
When choosing a site, keep in mind that for a successful garden you need to select the right plants to fit the soil, sun, and other growing conditions.
If you live in an apartment or don’t have a backyard you can still create a memorial, according to Perry.
It doesn’t matter what you plant, where you locate the garden, or what form, size, and shape it takes, what’s most important is that you create the garden that is most meaningful to you.