Planning a Memory Garden?


What would you plant in a memory garden

A memory garden can take many different forms: an entire garden, a small plot, a pot, a tree, flowers or even vegetables – – but all planted in memory of a beloved family member or ancestor.

What to Plant in a Memory Garden?

What you choose to add to your memory garden depends on its meaning for you. For example, my great-grandmother and grandmother always had hollyhocks lining their walks, so for my sister and I, hollyhocks would be a perfect choice.

Hollyhock memory garden

My mom, on the other hand, absolutely loved red geraniums. In fact a week ago I had dinner with my sister-in-law and noticed she had a photo of my mom sitting next to a vase of clipped geraniums. An inside (albeit it temporary) memory garden.  A tribute to mom.

plant an ancestor memory garden

And years ago, while walking through the overgrown (and mostly deserted) cemetery where my great-great-grandparents are buried, I noticed wild lilies growing up through the weeds, close to their overturned tombstones. Yes, I took a bulb home to put in a pot as a memory garden.

wild lily memory garden

One of my newsletter readers told me several years ago that she planted Moonbeam Coreopsis in remembrance of her grandfather – – all because of the stories he told her about the moon.

Moonbeam coreopsis memory garden

As you can see, what you plant isn’t governed by anything except the meaning it gives to you.

Trees and Vegetables in a Memory Garden?

One of my grandmothers was an avid vegetable gardener. My sister, Vicki, got her love (and skill) of gardening from grandma. In my mind, every time Vicki plants her heirloom tomatoes she’s planting a memory garden for grandma.

heirloom tomatoes memory garden

Today, it’s so easy to buy heirloom vegetables (and flowers) that I think it would be wonderful to have a small garden plot created in its entirety from heirlooms. Among those I’ve seen are:

  • sunflower
  • moonflower
  • zinnia
  • johnny-jump-up
  • Bells of Ireland (wouldn’t this be great if you had Irish ancestors?)
  • Kentucky Wonder pole beans
  • Lincoln peas

johnny jump up memory garden

And, although trees are a little harder to plant, if I had the room I would purchase a heritage tree that had an  historic meaning relevant to my family. For example, I would buy a Mark Twain Cave Bur Oak because I am a Missouri native and the family was in Missouri starting around 1835.  Or, to honor all of my Revolutionary War ancestors, I would definitely want a George Washington Sycamore grown from a seed from a Mount Vernon tree.


What About Your Memory Garden?

I hope this has inspired you to plant at least one little plant outdoors or in a pot or window box. While we may not have the space to plant a large memory garden, I’m hoping all of us can at least pot a special plant in memory of a loved one.

For me, it’s mom and the red geranium. What will be in your memory garden? Leave a comment – would love to know how you use plants to honor your family.

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