Creating a Living Memory in Honor of a Loved One You’ll Never Forget

Flowers on a grave site for lost loved ones, war heroes and friends symbolize that you are thinking of them.

You show respect and honor them every time you visit the cemetery.

Many feel the presence of their loved one, if even in their own memories, when they sit in quiet contemplation nearby.

Most people go to the graveside to mourn someone or to remember them. Some have conversations with their loved ones. Some people make a day of it and take a lunch with them to enjoy with the family including those who have passed.

What if you can’t take a trip to the cemetery but want to show the same respect to lost loved ones?

You can facilitate the grieving process and build a living memorial to your loved one by creating a garden in their memory in your own backyard or home.

Getting Started

You have decided that you want to make your own special memorial garden so that you can visit it regularly and feel nearer to your loved one so now it’s time to get started.

  • Start by deciding where you are able to locate it.
    • Do you have a large backyard area that you can create a ‘living room’ or is your space limited? Some people may have only enough room to have a container garden on a patio or even a windowsill in the house.
    • You could use a side yard to create your oasis or a courtyard area. Perhaps one single flower bed in the yard can be dedicated to your memorial. Whatever space you have can become a beautiful area for reminiscing.
    • Do you have access to a small lake, creek or water feature?
  • Depending on the space that you have to use, you will then need to create your master plan. Draw on paper your ideas so that you can determine what materials you will need. Will you need pots or flower beds, dirt, mulch, stones, rocks or pavers?
  • Decide how many plants and hardscape objects you can incorporate into your design. Can you add a bench or seating area, a stone walkway or wall, a birdbath, statues or remembrance plaque?
  • Once you have an overall design idea it is time to think about which plants you want to incorporate.

Flowers and Plants to Build The Garden

The plants that you grow in your memorial garden can have a significant impact on the feeling it evokes. There are many, many different kinds of plants to choose from and each can have a memory attached that can bring back the spirit of your loved one.

Would they love to have roses or cabbages in the garden? Did they have a special relationship with a particular plant that you remember? For instance, did they always have a vase or mason jar of daisies on the table in the house or was a single yellow rose their favorite? Perhaps your fond memory is making pickles together so maybe you want to grow pickling cucumbers in the flower bed.

There is no right or wrong way to create your personal memorial garden.

Here are some considerations when choosing garden plants:


When picking the bloom, think about what color has the most meaning to you and your loved one, there are different meanings or emotions associated with the color of the bloom.

This chart breaks down the colors and might help guide your selections.

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Are there plants that attract things your loved one would enjoy if they were seated beside you on the bench or stone wall? Would they love to see butterflies in the garden, honey bees or hummingbirds?

There are specific plants that will attract each one of these creatures to your memorial garden so pick wisely!

Would they prefer an apple tree to make applesauce or a vegetable garden to feed the family or flowers to cut and put in containers throughout the house?


Sometimes a particular scent can be associated with a memory. Did your loved one use a jasmine perfume or eucalyptus shampoo that whenever you smell that fragrance you think of them? That would be the type of plant that would be wonderful in the garden.

Perhaps they loved cats and had several over their lifetime, maybe a catnip plant would be fun.

Fragrant flowers or plants can stimulate memories like nothing else. In fact, the olfactory sense in the limbic system is often called the emotional brain because it can bring strong memories back quickly!

Duration of bloom

When will particular plants bloom during the year? Will they bloom in spring, summer or fall and have some show in the winter?

Can you plant a flower that has brilliant blooms on your loved ones birthday or your anniversary? Can you fill the garden space with several different blooms that will keep the garden lush with flowers and color throughout the year?

Plan for your space restrictions and your preferences for the most advantageous blooms.

Ease of care

If you have limited time to spend tending the garden, you might want to factor in the amount of work it takes to nurture the plants.

  • Will they need constant pruning or weeding?
  • Will they need treatments for feeding or pest control to keep them free from harmful bugs?
  • Will they attract predators such as deer or rabbits which will make their dinner from your garden?
  • Do you have enough sunshine or too little shade to promote growth and health for particular plants?

Name of plant

You can choose plants based on their name to honor your loved one. Did you know that there are roses with people’s names such as Beverly, Betty Boop, Penelope or special names with meaning like Falling in Love, Paradise, Missing You, Remember Me or Heaven?

A name with a special meaning to you and your loved one can only increase the joy.

Birth month flower chart

Perhaps you would like to add in a plant that symbolizes the month that your loved one was born. Each month has a corresponding plant that you can learn about in this chart.

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Remembrances in the Hardscape

Once you have decided on a plan for the overall scheme and picked some plants that will adorn the space, it is time to consider what form of remembrance you will add into the space that can be everlasting.

Will you add a bench or some other feature that was once owned by your loved one or find something new that complements your area?

Would you like to add a statue that your loved one would have liked such as an angel, a bird, a religious symbol like St. Francis, cross, obelisk (often used in cemeteries to point toward heaven) or a bird bath? Perhaps a combination of these depending on the space.

Even if you have a small area or a container garden you can find small objects that signify something about your loved one. A special stone or figurine in the container will be beautiful!

Is a plaque that commemorates your loved one, including name and dates or something special about them such as ‘beloved mother’ or ‘treasured dad,’ something you would like to add? There are a variety of shapes, sizes and materials that could fit into your space. You could even paint a patio flagstone with this information.

It doesn’t have to be professional or formal. It should fit your loved one’s memory.

By creating a memorial garden that is tranquil and a place of peaceful reminiscence, you will keep your memories of your special loved one alive and be able to share it with other family members.