Why Plant a Memory Garden?

Our long-time family dog, Lily, died this past winter, and we decided to plant a small area of our front garden in her memory. Of course, it features lilies, and they look very pretty now and remind me often of Lily and her antics.

Toronto lily
‘Toronto’ lily reminds me of my old dog Lily, who didn’t exactly like Toronto.

This is the ‘Toronto’ lily. Our family spent several months living in Toronto when our children were younger. To be honest, Lily was not an urban dog. She disliked the local dog park in Toronto (and all those nasty dogs there!) and the drives back and forth from Toronto were a real trial for Lily. But, she was a good sport — as nearly all dogs are. I will always remember her bursting out of our minivan and romping in the yard when we got back to Northfield. She knew this was her home. And, she was happy to be there.

It’s the recalling of these special memories that make memory gardens meaningful. I don’t think there are “rules” for memory gardens—these are the most personal of all garden spaces and they can be created to recall whatever important events, people (or pets!) you want to remember. I’ve heard of people planting trees  to commemorate a child’s birth or a wedding—great idea! Taking a cutting or moving a loved one’s plant to your garden is also a way to keep memories alive. Because of the seasonal nature of gardens, you can plan to have your memory garden shine at a special time of year.

What memories does your garden hold?

7 thoughts on “Why Plant a Memory Garden?

  1. We are so fortunate to live in the home where my husband was raised. I still tend my MIL’s day lilies, trillium, lilies of the valley, iris and trumpet vines. Each spring, we watch for their return and remember the efforts of loving and lovely Lillian to make this yard a showcase. It’s been more than 30 years since her death but the bounty she left in the gardens remind us of her enduring presence.

  2. So sorry to hear about your dog. My sisters and I planted a memory garden at my old house after our maternal grandmother died. She loved roses, so we each got one that reminded us of her and put them together. I’m in a different house now, and wanted to have a spot for “grandmother” roses here, too. I chose Julia Child, because they both loved to cook and bake with butter.

  3. There are many memories in our garden. The gingkos that the grandsons planted, a stone over a cat’s grave, but some have a less sentimental tale. We have a well out in our field with a gravity feed line into the house. We used that separate water for the garden UNTIL some skunks fell into the well (even though there is a big flat rock over it) and the smell in the basement was too much to tolerate. My poor husband had to climb into the well and haul up the skunk carcasses. They are buried under the Applejack rose – which continues to smell sweet. The gravity feed line has been inactivated.

  4. For my 60th birthday, I requested only garden gifts – cuttings, seeds, etc. from any guests. Now I have a “Celebrate”garden. One of my cousins gave me a metal ‘celebrate” sign which is part of the garden where I put all of my gifts. Some did not last to the next season, but enough did so that as I walk through it, I remember the friends and relatives that celebrated that birthday with me.

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