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Memorial gardens create a place of tribute, reflection

Dealing with loss is a universal challenge, but establishing a memorial garden can serve as a beautiful tribute to honor a loved one, offering a serene space for reflection and remembrance.

There are no strict guidelines for creating such a garden. Whether it's on a small balcony or a spacious yard, the focus should be on capturing the essence of the individual being honored. Consider their interests, personality and favorite spots, perhaps incorporating elements they cherished or frequented.

When planning the garden, factors like sunlight and accessibility are crucial. Choose plants that thrive in the environment and consider seasonal preferences. Trees provide longevity and shade, while flowers and shrubs add color and symbolism.

Researching plant meanings can add depth to the garden. For example, yellow tulips symbolize friendship, roses signify love, poppies represent remembrance.

Maintaining the garden is important. Think about low-maintenance features like ground cover instead of grass, and consider adding sculptures, pathways, or seating areas. Engraved stones or plaques with meaningful words can personalize the space further.

Tailor the garden to reflect the interests and passions of the departed. For an outdoors enthusiast, a firepit surrounded by seating can foster storytelling and warmth. Nature lovers might appreciate a garden filled with plants and a water source to attract wildlife. For more ideas for planning a remembrance garden, read the full article on the Ask a Master Gardener blog at

Memorial gardens aren't limited to humans; they can also honor beloved pets or commemorate individuals' contributions to society. For example, the Skagit County Master Gardener Foundation placed elm trees along Memorial Highway which honor fallen soldiers of WWI, with each tree bearing a plaque commemorating a serviceman from the county who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

At the Skagit County WSU Extension Master Gardener Discovery Garden at 16650 State Route 536 (Memorial Highway), several memorials celebrate master gardener members who gave so much of their time, ideas and dedication to making the Discovery Garden the special place it is today. Look for Gloria Williams' engraved memorial stone in the Naturescape area, the Lloyd Eighme Heather Garden, and the recently installed Moon Gate at the entrance to the Japanese Garden honoring Peggy Van Allen.

Outside of the Children's Garden, an anchor monument is dedicated to early master gardener and U.S. Navy veteran Joe Dupre. Doc's Arbor was planted and erected in memory of Dr. Richard Hoag, who was instrumental in the planning of the original garden. He and his wife also donated the first "seed" money to get the project started.

Stroll around the Discovery Garden and spend some time remembering and thanking these individuals.

Even if you don't have a personal memorial garden, visiting spaces like the Discovery Garden can provide solace and connection to nature while remembering loved ones, both living and departed.

Kathy Wolfe has been a Skagit County WSU Extension Master Gardener since 2002. She is co-coordinator of the vegetable garden at the Discovery Garden west of Mount Vernon.

Questions about home gardening or becoming a Master Gardener: Skagit County WSU Extension Office, 11768 Westar Lane, Suite A, Burlington, WA 98233; by phone: 360-428-4270; or via the website:


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