Ideas for Plants and Sound to Help You Curate a Memory Garden

Recommendations For Curating Memorial Garden

Curating a Memory Garden to Remember Loved Ones

A memory garden is a beautiful way to pay tribute to a loved one who has passed on. It can honor their memory, and also help you through the healing process.  A memory garden can be a beautiful, serene place of remembrance that can be an inspirational place to reflect on the life of your loved one, and keep their memory alive.

The beautiful thing about curating, or deliberately selecting certain elements, in establishing a memory garden is that there are no rules to follow for this special place. What makes it significant is what it symbolizes and how it makes you feel when you visit.

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Like any garden, it may depend on the space you have available, your climate, and your creativity. Even a small area, like an apartment balcony or garden window, can be planted with beautiful and meaningful things to honor and remember your loved one.

A Memory Garden Can Help You to Heal

When you are experiencing a significant loss, let yourself ride the waves of grief as they come and go. Because this is a painful task, creating a memory garden can give you a place for energetic catharsis of your feelings and a peaceful place to retreat to when dealing with the emotions surrounding a loss. 

Just the simple act of designing, building and maintaining your memorial garden can help you to keep your mind focused on something beautiful and symbolic while you deal with your grief in a constructive, healthy way. When it's completed, your garden will provide you with a quiet place to visit, reflect and remember.

Six Creative Ideas for Planting Your Memory Garden

Naturally a garden is all about plants. Special plants in a special location can trigger memories by their colors, fragrance, or locations. Here are six ideas to get you started.

1. If your garden is honoring a veteran, plant it with beautiful red, white and blue flowers.

While a memorial garden with flowers blooming all at once can be a lovely reminder during a particular time of year, for example around Memorial Day, you might also think about plants that offer their colors in different seasons to help spark or prolong your memories. For example, white daffodils that bloom in spring, blue blooming shrubs and perennials in summer, and a tree or shrub that flames bright red in autumn.

2. Planting a special tree for a loved one can also be an appropriate tribute to a beloved pets memory too.

A small ornamental tree with new growth and fall foliage in colors reminiscent of your tawny Maine coon or an Irish setter might be all you need to trigger fond memories.

3. White or dainty pink flowers are often suggested to memorialize the memory of a child, especially an infant.

Here, something ornamental like a marble cherub can add a sense of hope. A spring bulb garden is also an appropriate tribute, bringing a feeling of permanence and renewal through beauty that can help ease your grief.

4. Plants used in memory of someone special can be placed together in a special spot.

Or, consider spreading them to various areas throughout your garden. Fragrance is another wonderful trigger for memories. If your loved one enjoyed a particular plants fragrance, add it to multiple areas in your garden. Every time you walk by or open a window and catch a whiff of the scent, you'll recall their delight. This idea works well for plants that bloom with your loved one's favorite color and also for plants included because the plant's name reflects the person's name, such as Iris or Rose.

5. Think about your memory garden providing joy as well! If your strongest memories are of fun and laughter, plan a space to create a reminder.

You may not want to add it immediately, but a funnily shaped plant or garden ornament that makes you smile and would have drawn a chuckle from your loved one is a perfect addition when you're emotionally ready to include it.

6. Don't forget containers as a component of your memory garden.

You can have a memorial that is up close and visible from indoors as well as outside. A significant plant or group of plants on your deck or in a window box can be an excellent way to spark memories even if you can't go outside due to rain, cold, heat, or wind.

Adding Sound to Your Memory Garden 

Another element that can add to the feeling of remembrance is the bell, traditionally used in churches. In your garden, a wind chime can be the perfect remembrance. Here are seven steps for choosing and placing the perfect wind chime.

1. Where is the breeze?

To work, wind chimes need a breeze. Even if you live in a windy location, there are eddies and swirls of air movement around your home.  Try using a hooked pole designed for hanging plants to test the breeze in different areas. Before you purchase a wind chime, use a scarf or piece of fabric to confirm where the regular breezes flow.

2. Where will you hang your chime?

Choose where you'll place your chime, so you know you'll hear it. You may want to set it in a tree on the far end of your garden path, to beckon you, or you might choose to place it near the kitchen window. Consider the volume of your chime as part of its placement.

3. What type of sound do you want?

Wind chimes are made from a variety of materials, from bamboo to bronze. Triangular brass or bronze storm bells used in coastal areas are available and sound a single warning bong no matter where the striker hits. Chimes made of tubular metal like conduit can be the same length for a single tone or cut to different sizes to ring in harmony. Other materials create different sounds. Bamboo or shells clack, and glass chimes tinkle.

4. What is the best tone?

Metal chimes resonate and carry sound into your home or to the neighbors. Listen to chime options beyond a single shake or strike when you're shopping. How long can you stand to listen to a particular timbre or pitch? You may prefer deep tones or a chime that is pitched higher. And, of course, consider your neighbors. Test whether your chime can be heard in homes when you're sleeping. You may want to put your chime on a pulley so you can remove or wrap the striker during storms or at night.

5. What's the best way to catch the wind?

The striker is the key to the creation of sound. The wind won't be there to grab the striker and send it knocking against the bells, shells, or tubes in the garden the way you'll likely test it in the store. If your chime doesn't ring as often as you'd hoped once you get it in place, evaluate the striker. If necessary replace it with a lighter, larger one that's more capable of catching every small breeze. 

6. More than one chime?

If you spend much time in your yard, you may have preferred locations – maybe the porch in the morning while you drink your coffee and a bench in the sun for resting in-between periods of weeding or pruning in the flower beds. It’s OK to have more than one wind chime, even chimes of different types with different purposes. Check to see how they will sound together when there’s a strong wind, then plan to enjoy their quieter tones chime by chime as you move around the garden.

7. What about maintenance?

Plan for the care of your wind chimes. Because they are designed to move, your chimes may wear out over time. Back and forth movement and exposure to the weather can cause a striker's chain or cord to break, or even separate tubes or shells in a multi-part chime. Be prepared to replace the hanging hook, buy a new chain or re-string a chime so you can continue to enjoy your time for your garden's lifetime.

Creating a memory garden can help you to overcome your grief and become a much-cherished area of your garden. Including elements like comfortable seating, outdoor lighting and adding sound in addition to flowering plants and shrubs can help you to create a beautiful tribute to your loved one that can become a source of comfort and renewal for you.

Curating a memory garden can not only provide a beautiful tribute to your loved one, but it can also be a healing experience. Designing and creating a space that symbolizes your love and remembrance can help you work through your grief, and give you a space that can be a source of solace and of nurture for your spirit when you use living plants as a part of your strength and recoveryt

Ann Yakimovicz