Creating a Tribute or Memorial Garden
A memorial garden is a wonderful way to create a tangible, living tribute to someone or something. Whether the setting is as small and intimate as a bench under a tree, or as large and active as a public park, the garden can provide a place of consolation and remembrance that will serve as a perpetual source of comfort for those who visit.
When planning and designing your tribute garden, you may want to consider incorporating things reminiscent of the person or event you are memorializing. A large-scale example of this is the 9/11 Memorial in New York City. It took 10 years to choose, plan, design and construct the final result -- two waterfalls and reflecting pools set in the footprint of the original twin towers, surrounded by White Oak trees. Your tribute garden, regardless of size, can have this same significance and impact as long as it represents your vision.
If your garden is going to pay tribute to someone special, you may want to consider beginning the process by making a list of their favorites – colors, flowers, scents, trees, animals, hobbies. All of these things can serve as inspiration for elements of your garden design. You may also find plants that contain your loved one’s name, such as Sweet William, Queen Ann’s Lace, Rose of Sharon, Lilly of the Valley or Holly.
As your design evolves, you may want to include trees, shrubs and flowers that will provide color and fragrance throughout the seasons so your garden can be enjoyed year-round. Imagine the splendor of flowering trees and azalea bushes encircling a bubbling fountain in Spring; the fragrances and summer beauty of honeysuckle and roses growing along side a stepping stone path; the countless shades of autumn chrysanthemums and changing leaves of shade trees growing among benches and garden seats.
In addition to bulbs and perennials, you can also incorporate a variety of annuals into your garden through the use of cast stone planters, flower boxes and colorful glazed pottery. These “portable” containers provide an element of versatility from season to season, and year to year.
So far we have focused on the visual and olfactory aspects of your garden, but it can be very comforting to include permanent fixtures that evoke special memories. A wooden or cast stone bench with a tribute inscription will provide a place to sit and enjoy the beauty of your garden, or perhaps relax in the sunshine while reading a book. A whimsical birdbath placed amongst the colorful foliage can be a source of amusement while offering a resting place for our feathered friends. The sight and sound of water cascading over the tiers of a cast stone fountain as its splash inadvertently waters the plants nearby.
Garden statuary can also be an important addition to a memorial garden. Perhaps a cast stone representation of a beloved pet or favorite animal; a variety of nautical objects for the seashore lover; or a statue of the Madonna and Child or St. Francis can provide inspiration.
Regardless of what you choose to include, the elements of your garden can tell a story that will result in a fitting tribute, and you can believe that each person that experiences it will come away with their own personal sense of gratitude for your efforts.