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Thread: Mourning gardens

  1. #1
    Elite Member Sojiita's Avatar
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    Question Mourning gardens

    Have you ever heard of Mourning Gardens? Ever have one?

    Typically mourning gardens are very small gardens(sometimes within a larger garden) honoring the memory of someone who has died, and they are very symbolic. Usually they would include:

    1. A willow tree or shrub variety(representing regeneration)
    2. An evergreen(representing everlasting life)
    3. Water-usually flowing of some kind or a fountain-(representing
    absolution or cleansing of the spirit)
    4. an urn or stone or something(representing remembrance).

    I had a raised bed in my back courtyard where I made a mourning garden back in the early nineties in remembrance of the friends I had lost to AIDS(including someone who had lived for a while with my partner and I in that very house as a roommate and good friend, RIP Ken,)

    I had a half whiskey barrel, buried and with a liner, and had a fountain in the middle of it(at one point I had a pump that circulated water up into and down some rocks making a small waterfall into the barrel-pool. Surrounding the buried barrel were a dwarf arctic willow(willow), a dwarf mugho pine(evergreen), and there was a stone garden urn(urn)on the other side, planted with some sedums that could survive in the small space in the urn.

    I had been thinking of making a small similar garden in a small place I already have here. I already have a garden seat, a statue of St. Fiacre, an urn, two evergreens(one broadleaf, the other needle). I also have a small Hakuro-Nishiki willow across a walk from it. I could always transplant it to the other side(it is very small and I could keep it that way). There is a part of a multi-section fountain pool that I have sitting in the ground as a (very) small water feature for things to drink out of, but I would have to get something larger I think. Not sure how I would get the water to 'move or flow' since I have no electicity there. Maybe just having it there would be enough. The space is only five by five or so and next to my shed.

    I have lost enough people that I think it would be a healing thing for me too. And a good place for contemplation.

    What do you think of these types of gardens and this whole idea?

    *I could find NOTHING online about these either. Very strange.
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  2. #2
    Elite Member Just Kill Me's Avatar
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    Hmmmm, I think it's nice.
    Are they called memorial gardens?
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    Elite Member HelpMeRhonda's Avatar
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    I have one in my back yard.. for my cat Maxi does that count? I have a small Rose of Sharon by it ..an etched stone with her name and years on it and Wooden cross with her name and a Bleeding heart plant and ivy. Also added a flat stone with the.. If tears could build a stairway, And memories a lane, I would walk right up to Heaven To bring you home again. - poem on it.

    I think they are great and a nice way to pause and reflect on the one you love.. and lost.
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    Elite Member Sojiita's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Just Kill Me View Post
    Hmmmm, I think it's nice.
    Are they called memorial gardens?
    duh. Maybe I should have googled that instead. I will look.

    edit-ok after looking that up, I think this is something a little bit different. More private, and an old long-ago tradition kind of thing. Also smaller with very distinct things in it to represent very distinct things. I had a book which mentioned them, and that is what made me make mine in the first place. It mentioned that they were very distinct and were done maybe 100 or 200 years ago. I think 'memorial gardens' is something broader and large in scope and context compared to what I read about.

    If anyone can find anything online about these old fashioned 'mourning gardens' please post a link. I cannot find anything, and what little I could find I was 'denied access to' !!! The book I originally found this from was on Early American history and traditions..it was in the 'death' area naturally.


    *And why does google not freakin' realize the difference between 'mourning' and 'morning' !!!!! ARG!!!
    Last edited by Sojiita; May 9th, 2008 at 02:22 PM.
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    Elite Member Laurent's Avatar
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    I like the idea of a mourning garden, though I'm not familiar with it. It sounds like it would be very peaceful and serene.

    Quote Originally Posted by Just Kill Me
    Are they called memorial gardens?
    Memorial gardens are typically another word for cemeteries that don't feature elaborate funerary art. The headstones are usually bronze, small, and flush with the ground. They're a much more modern cemetery than the elaborate cemeteries of the 19th and 20th century with all the Victorian funerary art and sculpture.

    Cemetery wandering is a (strange?) hobby of mine. I enjoy looking at the artwork of old headstones.
    “What are you looking at, sugar-tits?” - Mel Gibson

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    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Laurent View Post
    Cemetery wandering is a (strange?) hobby of mine. I enjoy looking at the artwork of old headstones.
    Me too....glad to see I'm not alone
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    Elite Member Laurent's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by witchcurlgirl View Post
    Me too....glad to see I'm not alone
    No, you're not! A friend of mine is a photographer and shoots older cemeteries a lot - I love to go along.
    “What are you looking at, sugar-tits?” - Mel Gibson

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    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    ^^ they are beautiful.....people once did such beautiful monuments....with poems, sculptures...

    Check out a book called Brooklyn's Greenwood Cemetary - it's full of gorgeous pictures and stories about the monuments....it's really a beautiful place
    All of God's children are not beautiful. Most of God's children are, in fact, barely presentable.


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    Elite Member Sweetie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HelpMeRhonda View Post
    I have one in my back yard.. for my cat Maxi does that count? I have a small Rose of Sharon by it ..an etched stone with her name and years on it and Wooden cross with her name and a Bleeding heart plant and ivy. Also added a flat stone with the.. If tears could build a stairway, And memories a lane, I would walk right up to Heaven To bring you home again. - poem on it.

    I think they are great and a nice way to pause and reflect on the one you love.. and lost.
    Awww, that is just so sweet.

  10. #10
    Elite Member Laurent's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by witchcurlgirl View Post
    ^^ they are beautiful.....people once did such beautiful monuments....with poems, sculptures...
    I know. People would order marble from Italy for these massive gravestones! It's unreal to look at them and realize they've sat there every day for the last however many years - hundreds in some cases. The fencework surrounding some of the graves is amazing. To imagine what people must've spent on them is staggering.

    It was another time when people didn't just plant their dead, and the business of death and dying wasn't sped up, sanitized, and forgotten as soon as possible.

    Check out a book called Brooklyn's Greenwood Cemetary - it's full of gorgeous pictures and stories about the monuments....it's really a beautiful place
    I will - thanks. I have several large coffee table books on and about funerary art that I actually keep on the coffee table. It's certainly a conversation starter.
    “What are you looking at, sugar-tits?” - Mel Gibson

  11. #11
    Elite Member southernbelle's Avatar
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    I don't have one, but I think that's a nice way to remember a loved one who has died.

    Here is a website I found talking about something that sort of sounds like what you are describing, but they call it a Memorial Garden:

    CREATING A MEMORIAL GARDEN
    Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor


    A memorial garden provides a long-lasting tribute to a loved one who has passed away, as well as offers a place for the
    survivors to remember and to heal.

    The garden can be as small as a single tree or perennial plant or as large as an oversized flowerbed or garden with many
    different flowers, ornamental grasses, and even shrubs and trees, depending on available space.

    When selecting plants for a memorial garden, consider the favorite flowers of the individual you are honoring. Did that person
    love daisies or lilacs? Prefer peonies or poppies? Did he or she have a favorite season such as spring, making a bulb garden of
    daffodils, tulips, and other spring bloomers the perfect tribute?

    Or think about the fragrances or colors that evoke fond memories. Perhaps the scent of lavender or roses reminds you of that
    person. Another possibility is to include plants that have the same name as your friend or loved one, such as black-eyed susan
    (rudbeckia), veronica, or sweet william.

    If red was his or her favorite color, consider planting a garden consisting primarily of red hues with a single accent color such as
    silver. For example, you could plant a mixed bed of red impatiens, geraniums, and verbena edged with silvery dusty miller,
    lamb's ear, or one of the silver-leaved varieties of artemisia.

    You also could select plants that have specific meanings, such as forget-me-nots (memories), rosemary (remembrance),
    poppies (rest or eternal sleep), yellow tulips (friendship), or pink carnations (I'll never forget you). If the memorial is for a baby
    or young child, plant daisies for innocence or white lilies for purity. Or use varieties such as baby's breath (gypsophila) or
    'Sweet Dreams' coreopsis rosea.

    Plant sweetheart roses to remember a spouse. Or if your memorial garden is a single tree, plant an oak for strength or a yew for
    immortality. Just keep in mind that these can get quite large and need adequate space if they are to last and remain there over
    the years.

    If commemorating a war hero or veteran, plant a red, white, and blue garden, including varieties such as red poppies and
    daylilies, white phlox and peonies, and blue Jacob's ladder (polemonium) and Siberian irises. There are very few true blue
    flowers, so you may need to substitute dark purple varieties, perhaps some of the delphiniums or campanulas for blue.

    Or choose plants with inspirational names like the 'Patriot' hosta, 'Peace' rose, 'Freedom' alstroemeria, and 'Over in Gloryland'
    Siberian iris. Other popular choices are gentle shepherd daylily, remember me hosta, or guardian angel hosta.

    When planting your memorial garden, you will probably want to include a mix of varieties, as well as keep rules of proportion in
    mind--taller plants in the back, smaller ones in the front, for example. What makes it a memorial garden though is that it's
    planted from the heart. Don't worry whether your planting fits rules of design or will be appreciated by others. Do what is most
    meaningful for you.

    Include appropriate statuary and hardware. If memorializing someone who loved cats, why not include a small cat statue? For a
    bird lover, add a birdbath to attract backyard songbirds. If the person was known for a great sense of humor, buy or make a
    garden whimsy or two as a remembrance.

    Add a bench for visitors to sit and reflect or a water feature, such as a fountain or water garden, to create a soothing,
    comforting environment. Or put in an arbor or trellis, training honeysuckles, ivies, and other climbing vines to cover the structure
    to create a quiet, secluded spot for contemplation and remembering.

    Where you locate your garden will depend on where you have adequate space and/or the type of plant--sun lovers or shade
    lovers--you want to include. Or you could choose a quiet, private spot or one with a favorite view or meaning to the deceased.

    When choosing a site, keep in mind that for a successful garden you need to select the right plants to fit the soil, sun, and other
    growing conditions. Full-sun plants such as peonies will not do well in a shady spot. Siberian irises don't mind wet feet while
    varieties that need a well-drained soil will struggle to survive in wet areas.

    If you live in an apartment, or don't have a backyard, you can still create a memorial. Tie a colorful ribbon around a pot of
    rosemary and keep it by your desk. For a deck or patio, fill a special container with a few choice perennials that you can move
    indoors to overwinter when the weather turns cold. Or check with your local town officials to see if you can have a tree planted
    at a park or near a town landmark or building in memory of your loved one.

    It doesn't matter what you plant, where you locate the garden, or what form, size, and shape it takes, what's most important is
    that you create the garden that is most meaningful to you. Involve your family and friends, and let the planning, planting, and
    caring for the garden be part of the healing process not just for you, but also for others.


    Creating a Memorial Garden

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    Elite Member panda's Avatar
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    I think this is a wonderful idea and a nice way to honor your loved ones. I think I may do this in my garden for my grandparents who both loved to garden!

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    I think they are a wonderful idea. How lovely to have a special place to think about your loved ones.

    My mum requested in her will that her ashes go under one of my rose bushes. But would you beleive I received a phone call from my cousin who mum was a second mum to and she is buying me a rose bush. She didn't even know that we have mainly roses in our garden.

    So I am going to take your wonderful idea Sojita and create a mourning garden. I just love it.

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    Elite Member McJag's Avatar
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    Soj,this is the best! Love all of your ideas & plan to steal some.

    Anne-that is a special gift for your Mum's cousin. Very thoughtful. What color or did your Mum have a favorite rose? My Mother likes Queen Elizabeth,Tropicana & Peace.
    I didn't start out to collect diamonds, but somehow they just kept piling up.-Mae West

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    Elite Member twitchy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sojiita View Post
    *I could find NOTHING online about these either. Very strange.
    You might try 'remembrance gardens'.

    Found you an article, Soj. Memorial Gardens
    Last edited by twitchy; June 14th, 2008 at 08:48 PM.

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