Why plants? This is easy. For those of us who love the garden, we often spend a lot of time out there. It is logical for us to want to feel and remember those we have loved in the garden, just like we love to have those we love come and enjoy our gardens. We see the cycle of life in every plant, bug, and in time learn a lot about ourselves and our own mortality in the garden. This is where we see life and death played out day in and day out. It is also an expression of ourselves, thus it is logical that we would bring special memories with us into the garden.
The first and most common plant to use in a garden setting for a passed loved one is a plant they owned, or cared a lot for. A good example of this in my garden are several iris that have been owned by my grandmother and great -grandmother. The iris may not have any names but, to me, they are named for them. The most important part of gathering plants from the home of a passed member of the family to remember them by is to ask first, even if you believe you have the only right to them. A little asking first really helps with problems later, and you never know who might just want a little piece also but was to afraid to ask. You can also plant a flower they loved instead of one from their actual garden . I plant gladiolas for my wife every year as a memorial for her grandmother. You don’t have to have the same plant. Many times the original plant gets sold with the home or is lost long ago, but you can find a similar plant to place in your garden to bring their memory back to you.
The next great thing you can do is to plant a plant with the name of the loved one who has passed on. Iris, daylily and hosta are three plants that have many names, with many human names in the mix. Another way to use plants like these in the garden is to find their favorite color or something from their occupation. The possibilities are endless. You only have to sit down and think about what you loved most about the departed. After you have made a list, start searching the Plantfiles for plants the include the names or thoughts about your loved one. The best part about looking in the PlantFiles is you can often find a vendor for the plant listed on the same page.
The last common method is to plant a tree for the departed. This can be in your own space or in a public space. The idea is to plant something long lasting for generations to come. Much care should be taken to select a tree that gives the feeling and look you want to represent your loved one. Evergreens and Magnolias make wonderful choices. The leaves in the dead of winter will remind you of your loved one. Most cities and urban areas have the ability to purchase a tree for memorial purposes; just call your city offices and ask. The biggest problem with planting the memorial tree in a public area is many times there is a list of trees to choose from, thus limiting your choices. The tree you want to plant and where you want to plant it is all up to you.
For placement in the home garden there are really two main ways to have the memorial plants. The first way is to place the plant in a bed with other plants. This is a logical way for the gardener without much space or who needs neatness and order in their beds. It also provides, in time, for you to spread out the special plants in the garden so no matter where you walk you will see those special plants here and there in the whole garden. The other common method is to put a garden bed aside just for those plants that are in memory of those we have loved. This garden is often crowned with angels and chimes, a simple bench, and a cottage feel in the planting. The colors and the sizes do not matter in this garden. It is planted for the memories tied to each and every plant. This second method offers a special place in the garden for you to go to sit a while and remember, touch the leaves, smell the flowers, and just remember. Both are great ways to integrate these special plants in the garden. Your own garden style will decide what works best for you.
However you pick the plants, place the plants, and care for the plants, these plants will remind you for years to come about those special people and pets in your life. What ever you do---plan for the long term. These plants will grow on you . The memories they encompass will stay with you long after the blooms have faded and the winds of winter blow.