By Last Updated: August 3rd, 2022

How to Plan and Plant a Memorial Garden

After the death of a loved one, it’s natural to seek out ways to honor their memory. A memorial garden of any shape or size can be a wonderful tribute to your loved one and will serve as a place of healing. If your loved one was fond of plants or being in nature, a memorial garden is an excellent way to honor them. But what defines a memorial garden, and what’s important to consider when you’re planning to create one? Here’s everything you need to know about planting a memorial garden for your loved one.

What is a Memorial Garden?

A memorial garden is a beautiful and peaceful place you create to remember and celebrate the life of a loved one. Often, memorial gardens are filled with flowers, trees, and special touches that remind you of your loved one and honor their memory. A memorial garden can be a public or private space in which you can visit and reflect after someone is gone. It can be a garden at home that is a living tribute, or you can create it as a space to bury or scatter your loved one’s ashes. It can also be a low-cost alternative to other eco-friendly cremation options you may be considering for a nature-loving family member.

Why Should I Plant a Memorial Garden?

Planting a garden in honor of a loved one can help you process your grief while also creating something beautiful in their memory. Plus, there are many therapeutic benefits to tending a garden. Florence Williams, author of The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier and More Creative, emphasizes that being surrounded by plants has many positive effects on our brain and our health. Being outdoors with our hands in the soil is a sensory experience that helps to lower blood pressure, reduce stress levels, and improve our mood and mental health overall. Furthermore, gardening can be used as a way to cope and work through some of the physical and emotional symptoms of your recent loss. You can use your memorial garden to carve out time alone, away from people, or you can include friends or family in the garden if you need company or support.

backyard memorial garden with white and pink flowers and small water barrel

How Do I Choose the Best Plants For a Memorial Garden?

The best way to decide which plants to use in your memorial garden is to choose what reminds you of your loved one. You could plant a favorite tree, grow flowers they loved, or choose specific plants that bloom in their favorite color.

When planned carefully, you can create a memorial garden that contains plants that bloom one after the other, all year round. To create a continuously flowering garden, you will want to choose types of flowers that will thrive when planted next to each other. Include early season bloomers, mid-season bloomers, and late season bloomers throughout your memorial garden, with a good mix of perennials that come back year after year and annuals that bloom just for a single season.

You could also choose plants based on their symbolism. See the chart below for further ideas of what to plant in your memorial garden.

Plant What it represents Typical blooming season
Blue salvia (sage) Thinking of you Summer
Bonsai Harmony, peace N/A
Daffodil Regard, unequaled love Early spring
Daylily Chinese symbol for mother Summer
Hibiscus Delicate beauty Late summer
Hydrangea Gratitude for being understood Summer
Jasmine, yellow Grace, elegance Winter
Oak strength N/A
Orchid Eternal love, beauty Spring
Poppy Consolation Spring
Rose Many different meanings, depending on color Spring and fall
Schlumbergera (Christmas cactus) Loyalty, due to its longevity Winter
Zinnia Thoughts of absent friends, lasting affection Late spring until the first frost


Add Special Touches to Your Memorial Garden

Once you’ve established your memorial garden with plantings, it’s time to make it personal. Your memorial garden should be a place of rest, a sanctuary for you to process the loss of your loved one. Since this is a place for remembering and healing, choose items that will elevate the space, such as:

  • A memorial stone
  • An engraved bench
  • A fountain or water feature
  • Solar-powered lighting
  • Bird feeders
  • Wind chimes

white and pink flowers in a small memorial garden planted in large backyard

Creating a Living Remembrance

A memorial garden can serve as a long-lasting tribute to the memory of your loved one. Tending to the garden can be a tangible way to keep their memory alive through the budding plants and new growth from season to season. You may even choose to scatter their ashes in a ceremony once your memorial garden is in full bloom, or incorporate your loved one’s cremated remains in the form of smooth stones that can be used in an altar or special area of your memorial garden. Use the time spent in the garden to reflect on the life they lived, the joy you shared, and the way life and death moves through nature.

Once you become open to the idea of planning a memorial garden, Opal Cremation is more than happy to help you get started on your journey to remember your loved one. Opal Cremation exists to help those experiencing loss navigate a difficult time. With direct cremation services and affordable, all-inclusive packages, we cater to the unique wishes and needs of all families. Count on our dedicated care team, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to support you through the entire process. Contact us today to ease the burden, stress, and uncertainty of making arrangements.

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