(Family Features) - Memory gardens are a beautiful way to honor and remember lost loved ones. They don't have to be elaborate or require a lot of maintenance. They can be as simple and as personal as you like.
To start your garden, pick a place in the yard that can be easily seen from a favorite window or an outdoor seating area. Be sure and keep the light requirements of your plants in mind. Sun loving plants need at least six hours of direct sun to thrive, and shade plants will wither in direct sun.
There are several kinds of elements you can have in your garden.
Trees. Keep the size of your yard in mind. For smaller yards, choose a tree that's compact in height and width. Japanese maples, weeping mulberries and dogwoods are good smaller sized trees.
Think about the seasonal look of the tree, as well. Spring flowering trees include Eastern redbuds, Bradford pears and saucer magnolias. For fall color, consider sugar maples or ginkgo. Evergreens give color and structure all year long.
Flowers. If your loved one had favorite flowers, incorporating them into your garden is a good way to honor their memory. If possible, bring some plants from their own garden into yours.
You can also choose plants that remind you of them with their scents or color. If she loved chocolate, for example, you can find plants with chocolate in the name, such as chocolate columbine, chocolate daisy or even edible chocolate mint. Was he the life of the party? Then bright zinnias or wildflowers would be appropriate.
Seating. A chair or bench can be a soothing place to sit and enjoy the garden. Choose seating that reflects the personality of your loved one - classic stone, modern metals or rustic wood are some options available.
Water features. A fountain or bird bath can be a soothing feature in your garden. A small pond with some goldfish or Koi fish adds light, motion and a reflective element, as well.
Art. A meaningful statue, some original art, or a garden stone with a heartfelt verse can provide a focal point for your garden. Garden stones are available through your local florist, garden center or gift shop. Many retailers keep a variety of verses in stock and can also offer custom ordering.
There are no set rules to creating a memory garden. Quiet and reflective, neat and contemporary, or full of color and whimsy - the garden should reflect your loved one and your relationship with them. Above all it should be a place to remember them with love.
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