Planting A Memorial Garden – A Way To Work Through Grief

When my mother passed away eight years ago, one of the first things I did was create a garden with transplants from her garden. I found that working on that project truly did help work through my grief.

My husband and I are hoping for a little hobby farm where we can retire, raise our own food and livestock and just relax after all these years. I’d love to set aside some space where I can plant a memorial garden in honor of my mother, other family members and yes even my Toby, the Wonder Dog. I look forward to having it as a place for reflection and peaceful solitude.

My hope is that anyone who has lost a loved one can be inspired to work through the grief by planting a memorial garden.

Choose A Size And Location For Your Memorial Garden

A memorial garden can be any size you want. You can make one as small as a single tree or you can dedicate a large garden space for water features, seating, statuary, flowers, grasses, shrubs and even trees if you like. The main thing is that it should be a size that you can manage easily so that you can enjoy the maintenance of it as well as the garden.

Where you want your garden to be depends on how much space you have available, how much maintenance you want to perform and what kinds of plants you want. A quiet, secluded garden will allow you privacy for meditation. A garden with a special view will provide for hours of enjoyment. If there is a location that was special to your lost loved one, you could build your garden there, too.

Even if you live in an apartment, condo or rent your home, you can still create a beautiful memorial garden in honor of your loved one. Create an arrangement of containers with plants and flowers that your loved one enjoyed. Miniature roses, ivy, or herbs like rosemary are wonderful for this. Even a single potted plant or tree can become a special memento of a special person now gone.

Deciding What To Plant In Your Memorial Garden

Memorial Garden

Memorial Garden by Elliott Brown On Flickr, Commons 2.0

When selecting plants for a memorial garden, think about your loved one’s favorite flowers. My mother loved roses and so do I. She loved her orchid trees too, so I’m planning to have at least two, maybe more. You might want to include your loved ones’ favorites too. Did they love flowering plants, evergreen shrubs, shade plants or ornamental grasses?

How about honoring their favorite fragrances or colors? Did they particularly enjoy the fragrance of lavender, roses or jasmine?

If red was his or her favorite color, try planting a garden consisting primarily of red flowers with a single accent color like white or yellow. For example, you could plant a mixed bed of red impatiens, geraniums, and roses mixed with white daisies or yellow daffodils. If you plan ahead to take into account blooming times, you could enjoy flowers all the way through to Fall.

What about plants with specific meanings, like forget-me-nots (memories), rosemary (remembrance), poppies (rest or eternal sleep), yellow tulips (friendship), or pink carnations (I’ll never forget you). Daisies stand for innocence and white lilies for purity; great choices for a baby or child’s memorial. Sweetheart roses are a sweet way to remember a spouse.

A red, white and blue garden would be a wonderful way to honor a fallen soldier. You can fill it with poppies, daylilies and lots of other beautiful selections.

What makes it a very special memorial garden and a tribute to our lost loved ones though, is that the planning, effort, choices and results that come from our hearts. Don’t worry whether your planting fits rules of design or will be appreciated by others. Do what is most meaningful for you.

Flowers And The Months Of The Year

Knock Out Rose Single

Like with birthstones, there’s a flower or plant that represents each month. This is a good way to get some ideas for special plantings for your memorial garden.

Is there an important birthday, anniversary, or other date that reminds you of your loved one? How about planting flowers for the birth month of each of a mother’s children. This is is one idea that I really liked. My mom had four children for example and two were born in the same month. How about you?

Honor their memory by commemorating that month if you like. Plant flowers that will help you remember the significance of that month.

Here are some examples of flowers and the months they go with.

  • January: carnations
  • February: violets
  • March: daffodils
  • April: daisies
  • May: lilies of the valley
  • June: roses
  • July: larkspurs, water lilies, and sweet pea
  • August: gladiolus
  • September: asters
  • October: calendulas, dahlias
  • November: chrysanthemums
  • December: holly, poinsettia

Memorial Garden Stones Are Thoughtful Ideas

I’m planning to have some birdbaths and bird feeders, a concrete bench or two and perhaps a fountain. There are some lovely smaller memorials out there, so I may include one or more of them.

Solar Butterfly Memorial Garden StoneSolar Lighted Weeping Angel Memorial Garden StonePavilion Gift Company 19069Not a Day Goes By Mother Memorial Garden StoneGanz Stepping Stone, Perhaps The Stars in The SkyMy Mother Kept A Garden Heart Shaped Garden StoneMother Memorial Wishgivers Garden StoneEvergreen Enterprises Dog Paw Print Devotion Garden StoneIn Memory Garden Stone

Decorating A Memorial Garden

If you’re planting a memorial garden in honor of someone who loved cats for example, why not include a small cat statue and plant some catnip or cat mint? Mom had lots of cats, always. She loved having cats around her all the time. It would be my tribute to her to have a couple of cat statues in a garden I make for her.

We can add a bench for visitors to sit and reflect or a water feature, such as a fountain or water garden, to create a soothing, comforting environment. Or put in an arbor or trellis, training honeysuckles, ivies, and other climbing vines to cover the structure to create a quiet, secluded spot for contemplation and remembering.

I’m truly looking forward to creating this garden of honor for Mom as well as for me.  I hope I was able to inspire some gardening ideas to help you plant a garden in memory of a loved one.

Stone Garden DogKissing Boy & Girl on BenchOutdoor Solar Pagoda Garden LightSolar Girl Bug CatcherResting Cat Stone Garden Accent


Made in USA Designed for lasting outdoor use - won't crack or chip Constructed of cast stone
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The loss of a loved one is devastating#44; and the knowledge that you have something small to pay homage to them can be a great source of comfort. Our engraved garden stone will allow you to dedicate ...
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Made in USA Designed for lasting outdoor use - won't crack or chip Constructed of cast stone
Merchant: Staples
$51.99
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Planting A Memorial Garden - A Way To Work Through Grief When my mother passed away eight years ago, one of the first things I did was create a garden with transplants from her garden. I found that working on that project truly did help work through my grief. My husband...