Memory Gardens

Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?

With carnations for Grandpa Jones … red flowers for Grandma Jones; they must be red … violets for Grandma Cline … And zinnias, definitely zinnias for my brother, Butch. (Luther, he whispers softly in my ear. Sorry my dear brother, after 35 years of calling you Butch before you left us, Butch it is.)

Traces of these dear souls that touched my life are scattered throughout the house; the clock Grandpa Jones made, the clock my brother gave me for a long-ago birthday or Christmas present, the milk glass candy dish from Grandma Jones, the quilt from Grandma Cline, the cookbooks from several close friends. These physical items are more than just a book, a clock, a dish or a quilt. They are keys that open the floodgates of memories, keeping the spirits of these loved ones close to me and alive in my heart.

What can be nicer than expanding this sphere of memories outside the house and into the garden?

And that is the story of how my own memory garden started. With red roses for Grandma, carnations for Grandpa, and of course zinnias – always zinnias – for my brother.

Sorry Grandma Cline, I never did have the patience to attempt violets in memory of the multiple shelves of violets that I remember you tending to. Another flower for Grandma Cline’s memory would be a lilac. I’ve tried that one twice and failed both times. What’s funny is that out of all the plants I’ve planted to remember loved ones with, I don’t have a single plant in the garden to signify Grandma Cline. But out of all the people – she was the most ardent gardener!

Here’s a snippet from Memory Gardens:

Choosing Your Plants

Choose a plant that reminds you of a loved one. A number of methods can be utilized in choosing your plant palate.

A specific plant: Choose a specific plant that reminds you of your loved one. My brother (Butch, who I’ve already mentioned) loved to grow zinnias. Whenever I see zinnias I’m reminded of the zinnias he grew in Toledo when we were children, and the zinnias he grew on his property in Iowa. When I see or smell carnations, memories flood my mind of the carnations my Grandpa Jones grew in Glendora, when I was a young child.

A favorite color: Did your loved one have a favorite color? My Grandma Jones loved red. Red, red, red! Any red flower could be used to honor Grandma’s memory.

A favorite scent: Did they have a favorite scent? Some popular favorite scents or fragrances they might have cherished might be lavender, rose, orange blossom, jasmine, or others.

Plant name: Several plants have names that could be used for certain loved ones. For instance, Black Eyed Susan’s for Sue, Susan, Susie, or Suzanna. You could plant Bachelor Buttons to represent a favorite bachelor uncle. Rose of Sharon (hibiscus) is perfect to remember a Sharon in your life. An expanded list follows later in the book.

A favorite season: Did your loved one have a favorite season, perhaps spring or fall? You could grow plants that symbolize that particular season, such as daffodils for spring or chrysanthemums for fall.

Plant symbolism: Many plants have symbolic meanings attached to them. A few examples are Rosemary for remembrance, Baby’s Breath for innocence, or Iris for faith, promise in love, or hope. A chapter on the symbolic meaning of plants follows.

Special Circumstances: There may be other special circumstances about your loved one that brings a certain planting scheme to mind. Are they a veteran? If they’re a veteran or have served in any military branches, plantings of red, white, and blue may be appropriate. Or, perhaps use a selection of yellow flowering plants – to symbolize the ‘Tie a Yellow Ribbon’ theme.

Flower of the Month: Certain flowers represent “flowers of the month”. A list of flowers and months follows. You could choose a plant that represents either their birth month or the month of their angel day.

In Memory Gardens, Angel Day is a phrase used to replace day of their death. My dear friend, Becky, devastated over the death of her daughter, began calling that horrible March day of Sarah’s death her ‘angel day’. I’ve adopted the practice since then. It doesn’t diminish the finality or the tragedy of our loved one’s death but acknowledges that they’ve left this earthly plane and still exist in spirit – in the realm of the angels.

Celebrating Early Spring

herb thyme

The groundhog was right! I’m celebrating our early spring. Yesterday I spent an hour outside pulling weeds and enjoying some sunshine on my face. While pulling the weeds, which seem to be more delighted with this bout of early warm weather, I also found scads of sunflowers already sprouting and a three inch high sprig of lemon balm already growing underneath our porch steps. Don’t be a hater. I can’t usually be out doing yard work the last week of February. Usually I’m scraping ice off the windshield to go to work this week. I’m always happy to be able to start yard work by mid-March.

This year, I’m enjoying this early bit of sunshine after a week or two of early spring rains. It’s cool enough that we’re turning on little heaters once the sun goes down and I still need a jacket in the morning hours. But, I’m still doing a happy dance for being able to get my fingers dirty this early in the season. I love that little groundhog. (At least the years he predicts an early spring – and the year’s that he’s right about it.)

To celebrate early spring, I’m extending the February Memory Gardens sale through March. Regularly $9.99, it’s on sale through the end of March for only $4.99!

(This sale is only good through my author page, not through Amazon.)

Following is a snippet from Memory Gardens.

Happy Spring!

cover_memory garden

Why Plant a Memory Garden?

To live in the hearts we leave behind is not to die.

Thomas Campbell

Planting a Memory Garden is a very special tribute to honor the memories of a loved one, or loved ones. It is a way to have a living reminder, where seeing the plant, tending to it and enjoying the beauty of flowers or fragrance brings your loved ones to mind.

Your Memory Garden can be anything you want it to be. It can be as simple as one plant or a single stepping stone to honor someone’s memory. It may be a small corner with a few plants and possibly a piece of statuary. It can also be a more elaborate, full-blown garden with many plants, possibly a winding path and perhaps a small bench or seating area to sit and reflect. Your garden can be any size you wish it to be, according to the space and land you have available, and the number of plants you wish to maintain.

A Memory Garden can be a place of solace, a place to remember and heal. It is a gift you give yourself, a living legacy of memories and love.

A memory garden is just that, a place to recognize and honor memories – those of our loved ones.

A garden is a living memorial for us, the living. It does not bring them back. It does not remove our pain or grief, although for many it does help soothe and soften the grieving.

The planning, the gardening, the caring for living plants nurtures our souls; it is a way for us to say — Here. I place this plant, or this stepping stone, or this statuary, in your honor and memory. It is a symbol. It is a symbol of my love for you. I cherished you in my life. I miss you. I will remember you.

I believe they see our tributes. I am a firm believer in the afterlife, and that our loved ones still know what is happening in our lives. I have too many unexplained coincidences in my own life and experiences that confirms it for me. Does it help to believe my brother is here, that he is sending a message, that he is still involved in my life, yet I can’t see him? Some days, yes. It is comforting. Some days, absolutely not. I want to see him. I want to give him a hug. I want to sit down and have a cup of coffee with him. But, I can’t do that. And sometimes I still get angry about that.

Grief is not a static emotion. It is not a one-way path. We do not walk the pathway of grief, one step at a time, to the end, where we reach ‘non-grief’. We waver. We’re back and forth. Some days are good. Sometimes we drift along towards healing. We go on and live our lives. (We have to. We have no choice.) And other days, there will be one memory, one song, one fragrance, one thought – and we are suddenly back to a painful place that we thought we’d left behind.

Just remember this, on the path of grieving no one’s path is the same. None of our journeys are exactly like another’s. Don’t let anyone tell you what’s ‘normal’, or what’s ‘not normal’. Follow your own heart. Follow your own healing.

Yes, go on living. Definitely do so, as we are still alive. We can do that while keeping the memories sacred and honored.

I take comfort in the actions of caring for zinnias, believing that my brother knows that when I tend to them, I’m thinking of him. When I tend to the red roses, I remember Grandma Jones. When I clip the carnations, I think of Grandpa Jones.

For many years, families were the caretakers of loved one’s gravesites. The whole day was spent there, often with picnics. A celebration was created around the loving care of the final resting places. Nowadays, some people still do this, but not many. I loved to take flowers to the graves of loved ones at Christmas. Now, I’m too far from any of them to be able to do that. So tending the plants in my backyard is a way of making that connection. That is something I can do every day, not just on holidays and honoring special dates.

Why plant a memory garden? For our own healing. For our own souls. For a tribute to the ones we loved that no longer walk this earthly planet with us.

Remembrance is a golden chain

Death tries to break, but all in vain.

To have, to love, and then to part

Is the greatest sorrow of one’s heart.

The years may wipe out many things

But some they wipe out never.

Like memories of those happy times

When we were all together.

Author Unknown

A Memory Garden with no Plants?

What? You can’t garden you say. Your thumb is perpetually brown, not a green sprig in sight?

That’s okay. You can still have an area where you pay tribute to your loved ones that have passed. You can use statuary, stepping stones, garden signs, flags, windmills, chimes, bricks painted with their names – the possibilities are endless.

Here’s a short excerpt from MEMORY GARDENS: Botanical Tributes to Celebrate our Loved Ones (just released at Amazon this week) to give you some ideas.

*******************

MG_heart stumpWhat? You say you don’t have room for a garden? You don’t have a place to put any potted plants? Nothing grows there? You don’t have a green thumb?

It is possible to have a beautiful memory garden area without a single plant. Thousands of concrete and polyresin pieces exist, with loving sayings, angels, rainbows and a multitude of symbolic meanings that can create a memory area at your house, on a patio, in a corner of a room, or on a mantle. Angels in every form or fashion you can imagine are available. Pick up any mail order catalog. Do an internet search. Possibilities abound with something you can use to create a special space for our loved one.

Were they an ocean lover? Fill a basket, or a planter area, with sea shells, driftwood or pieces of smooth edged sea glass.

Were they a bowler? An old bowling ball or a bowling pin inscribed with their name will fill your memory area with special thoughts.

Look around your house or your yard. Find a corner, a niche, an area that you can fill with mementoes that bring your special loved one to mind. It may take a weekend. It may be an ongoing project that you keep adding to as you go along. When you spy that additional little trinket that brings your loved one to mind, think of them as you purchase it and bring it home to add to your collection. Their memories remain alive in your remembrance. Cherish the memories that return to you unbidden, even though they are sometimes painful and saddening. Our tears and emotions keep our feelings alive, and the connections with our loved ones open.

MEMORY GARDENS

MEMORY GARDENS: Botanical Tributes to Celebrate our Loved Ones

TFMemory2_LKO CoverPlanting a Memory Garden is a very special tribute to honor the memories of a loved one, or loved ones. It is a way to have a living reminder, where seeing the plant, tending to it and enjoying the beauty of flowers or fragrance brings your loved ones to mind.

Your Memory Garden can be anything you want it to be. It can be as simple as one plant or one stepping stone to honor someone’s memory. It may be a small corner with a few plants and possibly a piece of statuary. It can also be a more elaborate, full-blown garden with many plants, possibly a winding path and perhaps a small bench or seating area to sit and reflect. Your garden can be any size you wish it to be, according to the space and land you have available, and the number of plants you wish to maintain.

A Memory Garden can be a place of solace, a place to remember and heal. It is a gift you give yourself, a living legacy of memories and love.

A memory garden is just that, a place to recognize and honor memories – the memories of our loved ones.

A garden is a living memorial for us, the living. It does not bring them back. It does not remove our pain or grief, although for many it does help soothe and soften the grieving.

The planning, the gardening, the caring for living plants nurtures our souls; it is a way for us to say — Here. I place this plant, or this stepping stone, or this statuary, in your honor and memory. It is a symbol. It is a symbol of my love for you. I cherished you in my life. I miss you. I will remember you.

I believe they see our tributes. I am a firm believer in the afterlife, and that our loved ones still know what is happening in our lives. I have too many unexplained coincidences in my own life and experiences that confirms it for me. Does it help to believe my brother is here, that he is sending a message, that he is still involved in my life, yet I can’t see him? Some days, yes! It is comforting. Some days, absolutely NO! I want to see him, I want to give him a hug, I want to sit down and have a cup of coffee with him. But I can’t do that. And sometimes I still get angry about that.

Grief is not a static emotion. It is not a one-way path. We do not walk the pathway of grief, one step at a time, to the end, where we reach ‘non-grief’. We waver. We’re back and forth. Some days we’re good. Sometimes we drift along towards healing. We go on and live our lives. (We have to. We have no choice.) And other days, there will be one memory, one song, one fragrance, one thought – and we are suddenly back to a painful place that we thought we’d left behind.

Just remember this, on the path of grieving NO ONE’S path is the same! None of us will have a journey exactly like another’s. Don’t let anyone tell you what’s ‘normal’, or what’s ‘not normal’. Follow your own heart. Follow your own healing.

Yes, go on living. Definitely do so, as we are still alive. But we can do that while keeping the memories sacred and honored.

I take comfort in the actions of caring for zinnias, believing that my brother will know that when I tend to them, I’m thinking of him. When I tend to the red rose, I’m thinking of Grandma Jones. When I clip the carnations, I’m thinking of Grandpa Jones.

For many years, families were the caretakers of loved one’s gravesites. The whole day was spent there, often with picnics. A celebration was created around the loving care of the final resting places. Nowadays, some people still do this, but not many. I loved to take flowers to the graves of loved ones at Christmas. Now, I’m too far from any of them to be able to do that. So tending the plants in my backyard is a way of making that connection. That is something I can do every day, not just on holidays and honoring special dates.

Why plant a memory garden? For our own healing. For our own souls. For a tribute to the ones we loved that no longer walk this earthly planet with us.

Stay tuned …. MEMORY GARDENS: BOTANICAL TRIBUTES TO CELEBRATE OUR LOVED ONES is slated for ebook publication next month!

A to Z: ‘Z’ is for ZINNIA

Today is ‘Z’, the last day of the A to Z blog challenge. We made it through the month, Hooray!

I’ve been blogging about MEMORY GARDENS: botanical tributes to celebrate our loved ones. Most of my writing is about keeping memories alive, so a spring garden is a perfect match to celebrate loved ones memories. Thanks for following along through the month.

a2z_z

A to Z: ‘Z’ is for ZINNIA

Zinnias are my favorite memorial flower. They evoke memories of my brother every time I see them. He always loved growing zinnias. I remember a flower bed we had in Toledo, Ohio. He would have been in 4th grade then. There is still a picture or two floating around of him standing there so proud of his colorful crop. The last time I saw him, in August 1995, he was showing me around his property in Iowa – and again, was so proud of the bright zinnias gracing all of his walkways. Two weeks later he was gone. What I would do to be able to go back in time and spend another day with him, complementing him on his bountiful flowers and telling him how proud I was of him and what he had done with his life. But I can’t. So I just continue to grow my own zinnias, and think of him every time I see the bright shining petals reminding me of my love for my brother.

ZINNIA (Magenta) – Lasting Affection

ZINNIA (Mixed) – Thinking (or in memory) of an Absent Friend

ZINNA (Pink) – Lasting Affection

ZINNIA (Yellow) – Daily Remembrance

 

pat and zinnias Oct 2013 (2)Common Name:                      ZINNIA

Botanical Name:                      Zinnia

Height:                                    6” – 3’

USDA Hardiness Zone:          Zones 3-10

Sun requirements:                   Full sun

Water Needs:                           Moderate, don’t water overhead (subject to mildew in humid conditions)

A to Z: ‘Y’ is for YARROW

It’s April! That means it’s time for the ‘BLOGGING A to Z CHALLENGE’. Everyday this month (except Sunday) bloggers will be blogging to a theme, using different letter of the alphabet – running, of course, from A to Z.

I’m blogging about MEMORY GARDENS: botanical tributes to celebrate our loved ones. Most of my writing is about keeping memories alive, so a spring garden is a perfect match to celebrate loved ones memories. Come join us all month for 26 different posts about Memory Gardens … and then, maybe plant your own tribute to remember your own special person.

a2z_y

A to Z: ‘Y’ is for YARROW

The yarrow I planted in my memory garden last year survived its first Texas winter. It was one of the first plants to come back this spring and is already budded up and getting ready to flower. I was uncertain what it would do through this cold winter, but now that I see how hardy it was, I’ll be planting more this year. It’s so pretty – and the symbolism of healing and cure for heartache is perfect for a memory garden.

yarrowYARROW – Cure for heartache, Healing

Common Name:                      YARROW

Botanical Name:                      Achillea

Height:                                    10” – 5’, generally 36-48”

USDA Hardiness Zone:          Zones 3-10

Sun requirements:                   Full sun

Water Needs:                           Little water

A to Z: ‘X’ is for EXPERIENCING GRIEF

It’s April! That means it’s time for the ‘BLOGGING A to Z CHALLENGE’. Everyday this month (except Sunday) bloggers will be blogging to a theme, using different letter of the alphabet – running, of course, from A to Z.

I’m blogging about MEMORY GARDENS: botanical tributes to celebrate our loved ones. Most of my writing is about keeping memories alive, so a spring garden is a perfect match to celebrate loved ones memories. Come join us all month for 26 different posts about Memory Gardens … and then, maybe plant your own tribute to remember your own special person.

a2z_x

A to Z: ‘X’ is for EXPERIENCING GRIEF

stages of griefGrief over the loss of a loved one is a complicated and lengthy process. Entire books have been written on grief, so summing it up in one or two paragraphs doesn’t begin to cover the depths of this crippling emotion.

In How to Survive the Loss of a Love, three stages are talked about, that a grieving person goes through. The stages are distinct, yet often overlapping. They are: shock/denial/numbness, followed by fear/anger/depression, leading into understanding/acceptance/moving on.

The book also states:

“When an emotional injury takes place, the body begins a process as natural as the healing of a physical wound. Let the process happen. Trust the process. Surrender to it. Trust that nature will do the healing.”

Many steps to healing are outlined. Along with, ‘It’s OK to feel afraid, ‘It’s OK to feel anger’, ‘It’s OK to feel depressed’, are other positive steps towards healing. One of the steps is ‘Surround yourself with things that are alive’.

A memory garden is a way to surround yourself with things that are alive – a whole garden full of alive. The life in nature is soothing and reaffirming. When planted to specifically remember, it provides solace.

Experience your grief and feel your pain and emotions. Remember your loved one. And move on towards healing, knowing that the memories will live with you forever.

A to Z: ‘W’ is for WHY?

It’s April! That means it’s time for the ‘BLOGGING A to Z CHALLENGE’. Everyday this month (except Sunday) bloggers will be blogging to a theme, using different letter of the alphabet – running, of course, from A to Z.

I’m blogging about MEMORY GARDENS: botanical tributes to celebrate our loved ones. Most of my writing is about keeping memories alive, so a spring garden is a perfect match to celebrate loved ones memories. Come join us all month for 26 different posts about Memory Gardens … and then, maybe plant your own tribute to remember your own special person.

a2z_w

A to Z: ‘W’ is for WHY?

Planting a Memory Garden is a very special tribute to honor the memories of a loved one, or loved ones. It is a way to have a living reminder, where seeing the plant, tending to it and enjoying the beauty of flowers or fragrance brings your loved ones to mind.

Your Memory Garden can be anything you want it to be. It can be as simple as one plant or one stepping stone to honor someone’s memory. It may be a small corner with a few plants and possibly a piece of statuary. It can also be a more elaborate, full-blown garden with many plants, possibly a winding path and perhaps a small bench or seating area to sit and reflect. Your garden can be any size you wish it to be, according to the space and land you have available, and the number of plants you wish to maintain.

A Memory Garden can be a place of solace, a place to remember and heal. It is a gift you give yourself, a living legacy of memories and love.

A memory garden is just that, a place to recognize and honor memories – the memories of our loved ones.

A garden is a living memorial for us, the living. It does not bring them back. It does not remove our pain or grief, although for many it does help soothe and soften the grieving.

The planning, the gardening, the caring for living plants nurtures our souls. It is a way for us to say — Here. I place this plant, or this stepping stone, or this statuary, in your honor and memory. It is a symbol. It is a symbol of my love for you. I cherished you in my life. I miss you. I will remember you.

I believe they see our tributes. I am a firm believer in the afterlife, and that our loved ones still know what is happening in our lives. I have too many unexplained coincidences in my own life and experiences that confirms it for me. Does it help to believe my brother is here, that he is sending a message, that he is still involved in my life, yet I can’t see him? Some days, yes! It is comforting. Some days, absolutely NO! I want to see him, I want to give him a hug, I want to sit down and have a cup of coffee with him. But I can’t do that. And sometimes I still get angry about that.

Grief is not a static emotion. It is not a one-way path. We do not walk the pathway of grief, one step at a time, to the end, where we reach ‘non-grief’. We waver. We’re back and forth. Some days we’re good. Sometimes we drift along towards healing. We go on and live our lives. (We have to. We have no choice.) And other days, there will be one memory, one song, one fragrance, one thought – and we are suddenly back to a painful place that we thought we’d left behind.

Just remember this, on the path of grieving NO ONE’S path is the same! None of us will have a journey exactly like another’s. Don’t let anyone tell you what’s ‘normal’, or what’s ‘not normal’. Follow your own heart. Follow your own healing.

Yes, go on living. Definitely do so, as we are still alive. But we can do that while keeping the memories sacred and honored.

I take comfort in the actions of caring for zinnias, believing that my brother will know that when I tend to them, I’m thinking of him. When I tend to the red rose, I’m thinking of Grandma Jones. When I clip the carnations, I’m thinking of Grandpa Jones.

For many years, families were the caretakers of loved one’s gravesites. The whole day was spent there, often with picnics. A celebration was created around the loving care of the final resting places. Nowadays, some people still do this, but not many. I loved to take flowers to the graves of loved ones at Christmas. Now, I’m too far from any of them to be able to do that. So tending the plants in my backyard is a way of making that connection. And that I can do every day, not just on holidays and honoring special dates.

Why plant a memory garden? For our own healing. For our own souls. For a tribute to the ones we loved that no longer walk this earthly planet with us.

remembering

A to Z: ‘V’ is for VIRGINS BOWER

It’s April! That means it’s time for the ‘BLOGGING A to Z CHALLENGE’. Everyday this month (except Sunday) bloggers will be blogging to a theme, using different letter of the alphabet – running, of course, from A to Z.

I’m blogging about MEMORY GARDENS: botanical tributes to celebrate our loved ones. Most of my writing is about keeping memories alive, so a spring garden is a perfect match to celebrate loved ones memories. Come join us all month for 26 different posts about Memory Gardens … and then, maybe plant your own tribute to remember your own special person.

a2z_v

A to Z: ‘V’ is for VIRGINS BOWER

Ha! Bet it’s not what you thought when you saw this post, is it? I have to admit, I haven’t heard of this plant called Virgin’s Bower before I started researching symbolic meanings of plants. I’ve always known it as Clematis. But, hey, I needed a ‘V’ for the A to Z blog challenge, so this worked out well. A plant, even one as beautiful as this one, doesn’t even begin to make up for the loss of a child. And if you’ve lost a child, you certainly don’t need a plant in your memory garden to remember them by. They are with you in every moment, in every thought, in your every breath.

VIRGIN’S BOWER (Clematis) – Filial Love (Filial: referring to a son or daughter)

clematis

Common Name:                      VIRGIN’S BOWER

Botanical Name:                      Clematis

Height:                                    6’ – 25’, varies with species, generally 12’-15’

USDA Hardiness Zone:          Zones 4-8

Sun requirements:                   Roots need to be cool, tops in sun

Water Needs:                           Regular moisture

A to Z: ‘U’ is for U CAN DO IT!

It’s April! That means it’s time for the ‘BLOGGING A to Z CHALLENGE’. Everyday this month (except Sunday) bloggers will be blogging to a theme, using different letter of the alphabet – running, of course, from A to Z.

I’m blogging about MEMORY GARDENS: botanical tributes to celebrate our loved ones. Most of my writing is about keeping memories alive, so a spring garden is a perfect match to celebrate loved ones memories. Come join us all month for 26 different posts about Memory Gardens … and then, maybe plant your own tribute to remember your own special person.

a2z_u

A to Z: ‘U’ is for U CAN DO IT!

You can do it!

You can add a memory garden one step at a time. You don’t need to accomplish the whole undertaking in one weekend. Start out with a plan. What can you do? A whole plot? One plant? Determine what you can do and make a plan. That’s a start! Hooray! Celebrate your accomplishment. You’ve made a decision and a plan.

Then, decide what your next step is. Do you need to clear an area? Get a planter? Buy a brick to pain?

One step at a time, that’s all it takes. Celebrate your accomplishments and know that your loved ones recognize your love and your efforts to honor their memory.

See, you CAN do it!

you can do it_skyline

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