Making a Memorial Garden

Create a special garden in remembrance of someone dear to you. This page is about making a memorial garden.


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January 10, 2005

Our son died in October and we made a small sitting area with a small maple tree, rock, monkey grass, and ceramics he had in his yard that we brought home. I painted a rock with a sweet saying in his memory - my first effort using acrylic paint and got instructions off the web. I plan to paint more.

By Granny Annie

(The text says: Eddie, If tears could build a stairway and memories a lane, I'd walk right up to heaven, and bring you home again.)

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March 27, 2008

Losing a loved one is never easy. For those of us left behind, creating a living tribute in the form of a memorial garden offers us a place to grieve, reflect, and pay homage to our loved one's memory. Enlisting the help of friends and family in the creation and maintenance of the memorial garden will offer all involved a chance to heal. Whether you have lost a human or animal companion, here are some thoughts on creating a memorial garden to honor their memory.


Determining Size and Location

A memorial garden can take the form of a single rose bush placed in a container on your patio or deck, or take the shape of complex landscaping in a corner of your backyard.

The size and shape of your memorial garden is not important and depends largely on what resources are available to you, and how big of a garden you want to maintain.

Like the size of your memorial garden, its location depends on the space you have available. If you are creating a memorial garden within existing garden space, you may think about selecting a site that offers visitors a sense of privacy, or a site that has a favorite view or held a significant meaning to your loved one.

Those lacking in garden space can still create lovely tabletop or terrace memorials with special containers and perennial flowers, herbs or houseplants. Dress up pots and planters with small tokens, figurines, and other embellishments that have significant meaning. Ultimately, what matters most is that the process of creating the memorial garden is meaningful to you and that it comes from your heart.


Personalizing the Space

Was your loved one fond of a particular type of flower, tree, or shrub? Did they have a favorite season, a love for dogs, a fondness for sailing, or a quirky sense of humor? Let their personality shine through by incorporating statuary, art or other garden features into the memorial garden that best represents their unique personality. While your memorial garden is in the planning stages, you may find it helpful to sit down and create a list of some of the things your loved one enjoyed, such as their favorite colors, hobbies, foods, fragrances, animals, authors, etc. Involving friends and family in this process is a wonderful way to share memories of the deceased and offer each other comfort and support.

Selecting Plants

A successful memorial garden starts by selecting plants that are suitable to the soil and light conditions present at the site. Here is a list of other criteria to think about when selecting plants for your garden:

Inspirational Names

Choose names that represent your loved one's personality, your relationship with them, or names that represent your feelings. Examples: Sweetheart Rose, Baby's Breath, Forget-Me-Not, Bleeding Heart, Stars and Stripes' Amaryllis and Bachelor Buttons.

Important Dates

Perhaps there is a significant birthday, anniversary, or other date that reminds you of your loved one. Like birthstones, a flower or plant represents each month.


Traditionally, the colors of flowers also represent specific feelings and emotions.

White: purity, perfection.
Yellow: well-being, thoughtfulness, consideration, self-control, wisdom and intelligence.
Green: healing, hope, victory, rest, balance, health, peace, and serenity.
Orange: Friendliness, courtesy, sociability, out-going, pride, and abundant energy.
Peach: love and wisdom.
Red: love, passion, energy, and vigor.
Scarlet: courage and loyalty.
Burgundy: success, wealth, and prosperity.
Pink/Rose: love, joy, grace, happiness, affection, kindness, and being in love.
Blue: truth seeking, wisdom, heaven, eternity, devotion, and loyalty ("true blue").
Brown: earthly, worldly, practical.
Purple: royalty, oneness with God, devotion, loving-kindness, compassion, spirituality.
Violet: devotion, affection, love, gentleness, and peacefulness.

Traditional Meanings

Acacia: eternal, immortal love.
Alyssum: grace, gentleness, artistry, delicacy.
Amaranth: immortality, everlasting.
Anemone: resurrection, transformation.
Aster: God's grace, love, blessings.
Baby's Breath: sweet, gentle, innocent, harmless.
Chrysanthemums: abundance, prosperity, gratitude, humility. Pun on mum'.
Columbine: gentleness, enlightenment.
Cosmos: joy, happiness, overflowing love.
Crocus: growth, new beginnings, hope.
Daffodil: joy, resurrection.
Daisy: freshness, newness, simplicity, cheerfulness, innocence.
Delphinium: inspiration, adoration, devotion, blessings.
Ferns: peace, acceptance, grace, serenity, gentility, quietude.
Fuchsia: harmony, healing for those who grieve, angels.
Geranium: positive attitude, strength of purpose, steadfastness and cheer.
Gladiolas: can be pun on "Gladness of heart".
Impatiens: patience, steadfastness, loving-kindness.
Iris: power
Jasmine: peace, goodwill, and healing.
Lily: faith, new life, grace, and spiritual healing.
Marigold: protection, friendliness, cheer, courage, joyful service.
Nasturtium: fairies, cheerful servitude, protection.
Pansies: gentle thoughts, friendly faces.
Peonies: thoughts of the past, memories.
Petunia: peace, harmony, serenity, uplifting of the body and soul.
Rose: love, beauty.
Snapdragon: communication, telepathy.
Sunflower: abundance, sunny disposition.
Tulips: faith, hope, and charity.
Verbena: peace
Violets: shyness, humility, quiet joy, tender thoughts, gentle love.
Zinnia: friendship, joy, and laughter.
Rosemary: remembrance and friendship.
Sage: wisdom, prudence.
Thyme: peace or pun on "time".

Planting Tips

When planting your memorial garden, it helps to keep a few design elements in mind. You will achieve greater visual interest by selecting a variety of plants with a broad range of colors and textures and by placing taller plants in back. Plan a mix of both perennials and annuals to ensure season-long color. Trees or shrubs with interesting bark or colorful foliage will anchor your garden, provide habitat for birds and animals and create winter interest. Remember to finish your garden by providing visitors with a comfortable place to sit and enjoy.

Alternatives to Memorial Gardens

A wonderful alternative to creating a private memorial garden is creating a memorial to share with the public. Did your loved one a frequent a special park, hike a specific trail, or visit a particular local garden? Consider planting a tree, dedicating a bench, or donating a special rosebush in your loved one's honor.

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February 14, 2005

If you have a special person or pet you want to honor or remember, here is a design that I did in my garden. I made a heart design and a tear design by digging up the grass and making a flower garden and a shrub garden to honor someone special.

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January 5, 2006

My husband lost both his parents this year and we are not able to go visit their graves. So we made a Memory Garden for them.

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Share on ThriftyFunCheck out these photos. Click at right to share your own photo in this page.

October 28, 2014

Photo Description
After my 30 year old son and his 29 year old wife died a week apart, I felt like I was shrouded in death. The next spring, I decided to surround myself with life. It took two years to convert my barren back yard into this garden; complete with waterfall, koi pond, pergola, patio, and deck. This garden became my serenity and helped heal my broken heart. The child is my son's daughter, who I raised. She too, found solace in our garden.

Photo Location
My home in Dearborn, Michigan

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When a loved one passes on and the family receives plants. Think of making a "Memory Garden" with them. I lost my dad in 1980 and my sister in 1998 and nine months later my mom in 1999. Wonderful friends knew my love of gardening so we received many plants. Here are some of them.

Memorial Garden

By Great Granny Vi from Moorpark, CA

Plaque and butterflies on wall.

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Home and Garden Gardening Memorial GardensFebruary 4, 2013
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