Creating a Memory Garden


sun shining on a moss gardenMy grandmother passed away five years ago, at age 94, and I’m still not over it. We were close, and I have a void I’m not sure I’ll ever fill again. Grief is a part of life we have to struggle to accept, struggle to explain to our kids, and struggle with how to move on.

I had to put all of my grandmother’s pictures away for a time. The stabbing pain in my chest was too much to handle every time I walked past her face staring at me behind a picture frame. Time heals somewhat. I started putting her pictures back out. And I finally know what to do with a patch of my yard where grass won’t grow; I’m creating a memory garden to honor her.

Over the years, the kids and I have made fun fairy gardens in spots around our yard, usually resulting in many weeds drowning the fairies and statues. My new memory garden area is full of moss, perfect for keeping weeds at bay. This area has a slight hill, and I envision a windy dirt path, Memory Lane, heading upwards to the sky. This spring, we will hunt for garden accessories to remind me of Gram and others we’ve lost, even our pets

Here are steps to take to create a memory garden.

  • Walk around your outside area and find a suitable spot. I recommend avoiding areas where only grass grows; it’ll be challenging to maintain—scope out the side of the house or at the base of a tree. Between bushes could work or along the side of the garden. Or, like me, a weird moss area in the front yard will suffice. I’ve seen people create a memory garden in a birdbath as well.
  • Decide what the “base” of the garden will be. Mine will be moss, but stones are great, mulch, flat rocks, or we’ve even done shells. That kinetic sand lying around works too.
  • The fun part is to pick out your adornments! Start with looking around your house for small items. Look for anything that reminds you of the people or pets you want to remember. Things such as small frames of loved ones (nothing too precious that can’t withstand weather), little statues or fairies, gems, beads, fake plants, shells, Legos even, or small toys. Small birdhouses are great for this too. The great outdoors provides many natural elements, like sticks, rocks, and sand.
  • Lay it all out. I’ve let the kids take the reins on this part for fairy gardens. I’m always surprised by their designs and plans. Creativity shines through with pathways, homes, gardens, and play areas. A fun memory with a loved one can be recreated. 
  • Add flowers or native plants. I bought forget-me-knot seeds to plant along one side of the memory garden area. I liked the name to go with my garden, but any plant or flower that reminds you of those you’ve lost can bring deep meaning.

The plan is to create a memory garden with intention. Even if weeds, the wind, or any of our resident chipmunks decide to come through like a hurricane, creating the memory garden is enough to elicit joy and healing. I’m sure it’ll make me cry, but I find letting tears flow and imagining the grief leaving me is therapeutic.

Have you ever created a memory garden?


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