In the Garden:
Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
March, 2010
Regional Report

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Plant a memorial to loved ones who have passed on.

In Loving Memory

The gardens at Sunset Magazine in Menlo Park have a redwood grove that was dedicated to the Lane family, the founders of the magazine. There is a Sequoia sempervirens planted for every member of the family. It is a restful spot where you can linger and reflect on the beauty and serenity of life.

Garden memorials are as old as mankind. Scientific evidence proves that cave men put their loved ones to rest covered in a blanket of wild flowers. Modern day cemeteries celebrate the lives of departed loved ones with various groves and glades. A common way to commemorate the loss of a dear friend or family member is with a bouquet of beautiful flowers.

There are many ways to pay tribute to the passing of a life. Planting a tree that will survive into the next century will not only leave a mark of respect, but will also improve the air quality and benefit wild creatures that can find refuge in the branches and leaves. The Transfigurational Episcopalian church in San Mateo has a "Garden of Remembrance" where members can spend time reflecting on the lives of those who have passed on. Church members donate colorful shrubs and annuals to enhance the experience.

I lost my stepson many years ago. He was a young man who had only just begun to live and died tragically at the age of 19 in an automobile accident. His body was cremated and the services were held on Mount Tamalpias where his ashes were scattered. The mourners were a young crowd, most never having experienced a loss prior to Billy. I wanted to leave a lasting memorial on the mountain for this beautiful young man and came up with the idea of mixing wild flower seeds in a small bag of potting soil with a scoop of slow release fertilizer added for good measure. The whole package fit neatly into my hand bag. When Billy was spilled from his urn, I laid the wild flower seed mix over the spot and patted it down. I visited the location a few years ago and there was a brilliant stand of lupine and poppies thriving on the site. I knew that Billy had nourished the roots of these beautiful flowers as they became established on the mountain. No stone or marker, just wild beauty to commemorate the life of a young man.

Life will always be a balance of joy and sorrow. A garden is the ideal place to find refuge from the "stones in the road". When you receive a difficult diagnosis or find yourself feeling lost or overwhelmed by the daily grind, visit a garden and see if your spirit is not lifted by the experience. The first place I went after receiving a diagnosis of breast cancer was to my garden. When I had to put Noodles, our lovely old ginger cat, down last summer, Sweetie came to find me working in the earth at Henry's.

Having to put Noodles down was the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life. I have made a vow to plant Nepeta (catnip) in his memory wherever I am gardening. That way, generations of pussy cats can enjoy a rousing romp, compliments of Noodles.

We will all become compost eventually....


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