By AMANDA ZAMBRANO
Master Gardener Intern
WARSAW — After a loved one passes, we often look for special ways to remember them. Of all the ways I’ve chosen to remember loved ones, my most treasured is my memory garden. I guard my memory garden with fierce care, gently pruning to encourage healthy growth, taking some cuttings to keep in a vase or to take to the cemetery, and attacking weeds with a determination not to be found in the rest of my yard.
I had help planning my garden, and I would certainly encourage you to seek out help as well — especially if you are a beginning gardener. Start with a reasonable budget — and remember you don’t have to put everything in at the same time. Select an ideal place in your yard or near your house. Mine is at the corner of my house, and while I can’t see it particularly well out my windows, it is easy to visit even in inclement weather.
Spend some time thinking about what kind of garden area you want. Do you want lots of bright cheerful colors and fun ornaments? Do you want something simple and understated? Do you want to attract birds or butterflies? Do you want a place to sit, or a special plant that reminds you of your loved one?
I had really only two requirements for my memory garden. I wanted hardy plants that would thrive in partial shade and I wanted to include dianthus (also known as Sweet William; the name has a special meaning for me). I had three gifts given to me at a memorial service: a small cement statue, a cement bench and a set of wind chimes. I decided to include these all in my garden.
With help from a garden planning expert, I also looked for the following elements: something evergreen, so a part of my garden would look alive even in winter; things that would flower throughout the season; and some of my favorite colors, including pink, purple and cream. I looked through nursery catalogs and wandered local nurseries to get a feel for what would be right for my space. My garden is home to boxwood, knock-out roses, honeybun roses, salvia and Sweet William. A shepherd’s hook holds my wind chimes, and my small statute is nestled in the boxwood. A cement bench sits to one side, a place for reflection.
As I pull weeds and prune, as I watch the roses bloom and the boxwood grow, my heart is soothed. Caring for my garden is a way to continue to care for my loved one. I remember weeping as I placed those roses in the ground, reminded of placing a small casket in the ground a few months earlier. But as my garden blooms each spring I’m filled with hope and a joy at seeing new life. I hope as you create your memory garden, you’re filled with the same hope and joy.
Written in memory of William Jorge Zambrano 3/9/12 – 3/16/12
Amanda Zambrano is the director of advancement at Grace Village Retirement Community. She is a master gardener intern, just learning the ins and outs of successful gardening.
Along with her master gardener volunteering, Amanda serves on the board of directors for the Wagon Wheel Center for the Arts, the Symphony of the Lakes committee and a Kosciusko County Community Foundation scholarship committee. She plays flute for the Symphony of the Lakes and enjoys hand-quilting, baking and reading. She is also an occasional blogger. Amanda lives in Warsaw with her husband Dan and her son Alexander.