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May 12, 2009

Genealogy Remembrance Garden

Spring is here. It's time to start planting flowers and shrubs outside. I think many of us will also be planting vegetables this spring! I always have a herb garden and love to cook using those fresh herbs or the herbs I dry over the winter months.

This year I am thinking about all my ancestors who have long since left this earth. I decided that in their memory I'm going to create a Genealogy Remembrance Garden. My garden will have plants and flowers of course, but it will also have items (garden architecture) that remind me of various ancestors.

For example my mother was allergic to flowers so I will place another elephant bell in her memory in my meditation garden at the side of the house. I call it my Meditation Garden because it is quiet and peaceful.

My great grandmother ran a boarding house and my grandmother always said her mother was a fantastic cook. I will add another batch of sage to my herb garden in her memory.

My existing meditation Garden is a large area covered in small stones. I placed potted plants, a small pond, and many architectural items that are pleasing to me such as elephant bells, coloured glass and marbles, bird cages, windchimes, pieces of driftwood, statues and other objects I find.

My grandmother loved anything red so we'll plant a red flowering plant for her. I haven't decided what kind yet.

For ancestors who I did not know personally, I'll choose a plant or object that I feel represents them. I'll look for another birdcage for my great grandfather, who was said to love birds.

My husband moves large boulders that we find on our farm property, and I have started creating a life-size chessboard with pieces. I think I should find chess pieces to represent my grandfather, who enjoyed an evening chess game!

My husband wants to have small photo plaques made for each ancestor we remember in the Remembrance Garden, so that I can place those with the item or in the flower bed beside their flower, or in the earth of the plant I add in their memory. I like that idea so he is figuring out how this can be done. We thought we could always have them done at a local cemetery where they make photo plaques to install on tombstones.

It's going to be a fun planting time this year. This might also be a really fun project to work on with your children or grandchildren! Get them involved. Talk about each ancestor you are going to add to the Remembrance Garden and let the children come up with a plant or object that represents a specific ancestor. Why not add an item for each grandchild too? They are your descendants and the Genealogy Remembrance Garden doesn't just have to be about ancestors.


Greta Koehl said...

What a lovely idea, and it sounds like a lot of fun, too. If I can get my garden cleaned up to a decent state this year, I may try to start one of these.

Olive Tree Genealogy said...

I think it will be fun Greta. I can't do traditional gardening because of physical limitations so I have to garden in pots.

That's why I have my "gravel garden" which is small stones and then I place garden architecture, rocks, and potted plants about. I hope you end up creating a Remembrance Garden in a traditional garden - that would be so pretty!

Irish Genealogical Research said...

That is a lovely idea! If I had more of a green thumb (oh, I wish I did!), this is something I'd try. My husband and I have done similar remembrance projects in other venues. The most recent project was collecting coins that were minted in the birth and death years of specific ancestors, then creating an album with the coins and a card next to each set indicating who they represent. We tracked down coins on eBay for this, and got enough to cover two dozen or so ancestors, with coins going all the way back to the 1850's. It was a fun project, and something we now treasure.

Lisa Haas said...

This is a great project! I have done this, keeping only my mother and grandmother in mind though. I have a yellow rose bush that represents my mother, along with an angel statue nearby. For my grandmother, I have planted MUMS, as they were her favourite, along with the Fall season. I never thought to include more ancestors. Thanks for the nudge!

Charley "Apple" Grabowski said...

I have some heirloom plants and a cousin has suggested that I have a genealogy garden as many of the plants make me think of those I hope still have long lives ahead, while other plants make me think of those that have departed. I like the idea of adding non-plant items in memory of those that had no interest in flowers.