Public memory gardens – or memorial gardens – are public areas dedicated to the memory of a person or group of people. They usually have some form of specific connection – maybe it is a site where many people lost their lives or are buried. (The same could apply to an area which is not actually a garden – for instance the Twin Towers Memorial). If the memory garden is in recognition of a person it may be where they spent a lot of their time when they were alive or had some other form of link to it. The area may be many hundreds of acres in size, or a small grassy patch in the middle of a city.
But memory gardens don’t have to be open public areas. Many people create memorial gardens on their own private land.
So what are memory gardens if not public areas?
They are for you – and maybe family members and close friends – to remember a loved one. We are not necessarily talking about a whole garden – just one area of it. It is somewhere to go and sit quietly, reflect and think about the person you have lost in the same way that you might at their grave side. The only difference is that you can go here whenever you want to – if only for a few minutes – and design it exactly how you want to..
How do I create a memory garden?
The first – and most important – point to understand is that your memorial garden can be anything you want it to be. It can be acres of landscaped gardens – or it can be a window box. There are no rules. So simply ask yourself the following questions – and remember that there are no right or wrong answers.
How large / complex should the area be?
This will depend not only on the space you have available but how long you intend to spend creating your memory garden. Do you have plenty of free time? Do you enjoy gardening? And are you a competent gardener? Most of us will want an easy to manage section of the garden where we can sit and contemplate. But there will be those who think best while they’re working and will feel closest to the person they have lost when they are actually building their creation. If you are one of these people then it may be best to consider a more complex option – one that will never actually be ‘complete’ but always be a work in progress.
Where should it be situated?
It may be that you are limited as to where you can create your memory garden. But if you have the luxury of a large garden area and so plenty of choice, then consider the details of the intended design. For instance, if you intend to light it then you will need access to a power supply.
But also consider what you personally want from it – a place to sit in the sun? Or a shaded area? And would you like to view it from your window? Or would you prefer it - as most memory gardens are – hidden away as a place of quiet and solitude.
What should be included?
Again – there are no rules. Memorial benches or other seating would seem wise, but otherwise it’s what ever feels right for you.
And what would your departed loved one like to see there? Water features? Memorial trees or bushes? Did he or she have a favourite type of flower? Or a favourite color?
If your garden is in tribute to a lost dog, cat or other pet, then one of the different styles of pet memorial stones may be appropriate. They can be bought as stepping stones, plaques or small headstones inscribed with pet loss quotes. Or you could even make one yourself.
You can personalize your garden by placing memorial ornaments or statues based on what used to interest them. Or memorial stones with inscriptions such as their favourite poem or a motto they lived by. And perhaps a sealed photograph of that person – or both of you together – to bring back happy memories.
A few final thoughts ………
Why not start on your memory garden together? While you are both still here? Then when the day comes that only one of you is here to enjoy it, how much more special will the place be if you both had an input?
We hope we have enforced the point that there is no specific plan to your memorial garden – it should be just how you want it to be. But the other essential thought to leave you with is this……….
memory gardens are not places for sadness but for the happiness that comes from remembering someone dear to us and celebrating their life.