Memory garden of perennials makes a lasting gift

completed memory garden in Williamsville NYA memory garden is an arrangement of perennials– still in their pots– that later can be transplanted into a corner of a garden. The flowers come back year after year and become a living memorial to the deceased person.

This idea comes to us from Mark Yadon, vice president of Mischler’s Florist and Greenhouses, 118 South Forest Rd., Williamsville.basket for memory garden in Buffalo NY

The staff at Mischler’s creates these as arrangements that can be sent to the funeral home or directly to the home of the loved ones. They look every bit as beautiful as arrangements made of cut flowers. In fact, memory gardens look just like arrangements of cut flowers!

These are so beautiful that I think they would make lovely gifts for other occasions as well, such as birthdays, anniversaries, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

A memory garden is seasonal and can be done only from about April through September. Now is the best time of the year for a memory garden because there are so many perennials blooming, Yadon said.

Start with an inexpensive wicker laundry basket and line it with some plastic to help prevent water from seeping through, as in the photo above right.making memory garden in Williamsville NY

Choose a variety of plants that will work well together, not just in the basket, but in the garden, too. For example, make sure your plants require the same exposure; choose plants that work in a sunny area or plants that work in a shady area.

“Choose tall plants, border and short plants, and groundcover so you have all the components for a little corner of the garden,” Yadon said.

Make sure your plants are watered thoroughly.

Yadon began this arrangement by squeezing three large  pots into the basket, which you can see at left.  He used a pink ‘Let’s Dance’ reblooming hydrangea, a purple ‘Kobold’ liatris and a yellow ‘Happy Returns’ daylily. Notice that to create interest, he chose flowers with three different shapes: ball, spike and trumpet.

This type of arrangement is meant to be viewed from one angle, so as you place your plants, decide which side will be the front.smaller plants in memory garden in Buffalo NY

Next he inserted smaller pots into the gaps. The wicker has a little bit of give to it and so do the plastic pots, so you can squeeze the pots snugly in place. In the photo above right, Yadon is inserting malva ‘Zebrina’. He also used coreopsis ‘Tequila Sunrise’, the yellow flower at the right in the photo of the finished basket at the top of this page, and dianthus ‘Sweetness’, the purple flower draping over the right side of the finished basket.

For height, he added the gaura ‘Whirling Butterflies’, the white flower you can see in the finished basket.

In the photo above right, you can see a large tag at the left of the basket. That detracts from the beauty of the arrangement, but don’t throw the tag away. It contains valuable planting information the recipient will need. Just move the tag to the back of the arrangement to hide it.

sign for memory garden in Williamsville NYTo disguise the tops of the pots, add pots of ground cover. These can be tucked into any remaining spaces or just set on top of the soil in the large pots. Yadon used sedum ‘Tricolor’, sedum ‘Angelina’ and sedum ‘Red Carpet’. If you still have spots to cover up, you could place handfuls of sphagnum moss on the tops of the pots, he said.

To finish your memory garden, add a sign that can also be used in the garden, such as the one above, and a large bow.

A memory garden takes just minutes to assemble, but will last for years and years.


Photos by Connie Oswald Stofko.

7 Comments on “Memory garden of perennials makes a lasting gift

  1. I received a basket of perennials (tulips, daffodils, etc.) in February. After they died, I cut the dead blossoms off and put them in a sunny basement window with a little watering. When, if ever, can I use these bulbs again? Jean

  2. I was so excited when Mark told me about this idea. I think it would be a nice gift for anyone who gardens– just change the sign to one that says “Happy Birthday” or something else appropriate. Thanks for writing.

  3. Brilliant. We planted one for my dad at my parents’ home in FL. Never thought of doing this in lieu of cut flowers. Lasting tribute seems wiser than cut flowers. Great alternative.

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