There are many beautiful memorial gardens dedicated to incredible people around the country.
Some, such as the National Memorial Arboretum and the stunning Princess Diana Memorial Garden, are on a grand scale, while others are more pocket-sized, made with the love of a supportive community.
To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow– Audrey Hepburn
Memorial gardens can be a beautiful lasting legacy, as well as a healing space.
Here, we look at six community-led memorial gardens dedicated to the memory of special people. They may inspire you to to organise – or get involved – in a memorial garden project that’s dedicated to someone unforgettable.
Braveheart Memorial Garden
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David Godfrey created the Braveheart Memorial Garden in Cullompton, Devon, as a tranquil space for members of the forces and their families to remember comrades and loved ones. David’s grandson Daniel Lee Coffey was just 21 years old when he was killed by a sniper in Iraq, in February 2007. Fusilier Lee Rigby, is also among those remembered at this special place.
Members of the community in Cullompton– where Daniel grew up – along with many other supporters helped raise funds, with members of the Royal Engineers among the volunteers that helped build the garden.
David, who has also founded a charity, Operation Braveheart, which supports forces charities and injured servicemen, said that Daniel had been the driving force behind 10 years of work to see the garden finally open in 2017.
He said: “It’s wonderful to finally see the memorial garden finished, providing a place where visitors can stop for a moment, reflect, and remember those who lost their lives serving their country.”
Thomas Blake Memorial Gardens
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In Ross on Wye, Thomas Blake is still remembered more than 100 years after he died. Born above The Post Office, he rose from humble begins to become a wealthy man, who spent much of his money on projects supporting the local community – from a free library, to playing a key role in piping a fresh supply of water to the town.
Thomas died in 1901 and local citizens created the garden in his memory. More than a century later, his name still lives on and the garden is a very pretty attraction that’s lovingly cared for by a host of local volunteers.
Grenfell Memorial Garden
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Dedicated to the memory of 72 people on the first anniversary of the Grenfell Fire which claimed their lives, the Grenfell Memorial Garden is a restful haven at St Clement’s Church in Notting Dale, London.
An anonymous benefactor who lost one of her own loved ones in the fire, donated £10,000 to create this special sanctuary for remembrance and contemplation.
It is planted with beautiful shrubs, summer flowers and features a mosaic plaque honouring those mourned and reflecting the local community’s rich diversity.
Picture:Little Things and Co
Little Haven is dedicated to the memory of angel babies who were born too soon and is a lovely example of a community-led garden project in memory of little ones.
“The garden is a beautiful, calm and tranquil space and so much more than that,” says LeighAnne Wright, who led the team of volunteers who created the garden.
“It was to prove that gestation, circumstance and ‘time ago’ doesn’t matter, because all babies are equal in their memory.”
Craignuek Community Garden
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Residents of Craignuek, North Lanarkshire, have come together to create a remembrance garden on a patch of land donated by the local council, to remember a number of local youngsters who have lost their lives.
Planted with trees and flowers and supported by lots of volunteers, it’s also been a way of bringing the community together in a positive way.
The Livia Memorial garden
Picture: Henry O'Hanahan on Unsplash
A memorial garden dedicated to 16-year old Livia Galli-Atkinson has been brightening a busy north London bus route for almost 20 years.
The Livia garden in Enfield was created by George and Giulietta Galli-Atkinson, in memory of their daughter, who was killed by a car in October 1999, as she walked along the pavement to her ballet class.
Giulietta was aware of a derelict site close by where the accident happened, which belonged to Network Rail. With its permission and the support of other organisations, local volunteer groups and community members, she transformed the land into a beautiful Mediterranean-inspired garden, dedicated to Livia.
The Livia Memorial Garden has become a focal point of pride in the local area and a peaceful space in which other families who have lost a loved one, have also come to plant flowers in memory.
Joe Catley Memorial Garden
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Thoughtful pupils at Humberstone Academy in Grimsby have proved you don’t need acres of green space to create a beautiful garden in someone’s memory.
They raised £3,000 in funds to build a garden area in the front of their school, dedicated to their friend, Joe Catley, who died of cancer aged just 16.
The raised garden has lots of features that reflect Joe’s hobbies and interests, including a waterfall adorned with a basketball and a snowboard. Pupils and friends worked on Saturdays to help build the garden and keep Joe’s memory alive.
Creating a community memorial garden
Some tips to help you get started
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- Who owns the land?: If you’re thinking about creating a public memorial garden, you’ll need to identify who owns the land and get permission from them before you begin. It could be at a school, place of worship, or hospital site, an idea for troughs or planters, or reclaiming a bit of waste ground.
Raising funds: Many people raise funds for community garden spaces through crowdfunding websites, generating support through social media and local newspapers, or community events. Costs to consider may include liability insurance for any project that’s accessible to the public. Schemes such as the Royal Horticultural Society’s Britain in Bloom are available for community groups to join and provide insurance with membership.
Call on volunteers: Friends, local community members and businesses may be willing to lend a hand, tools or materials to get your memorial garden off the blueprint and on the ground.
Maintaining your garden: It can take a lot of work to create a memorial garden and once it’s established, it is a legacy that will need regular care and maintenance. You’ll need to consider who will take responsibility for this. The RHS has lots of useful tips to get your project going and maintained.
Memorial garden ideas: get growing
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A long-lived evergreen, known as the herb of remembrance and bursting into blue flowers in the spring.
It’s all in the name. Once these pretty summer flowers feel at home, they will self-seed and reappear year after year. Find them as potted plants in garden centres, or buy seeds to scatter
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Synonymous with remembering those who served and sacrificed, wild red poppy varieties can be grown from seed sown in spring and autumn. Showier oriental varieties can also be grown from seed, or bought as potted plants ready to bloom and come into flower every year. These can be bought from many garden centres or sown as seeds between May and September to flower next spring.
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There are a host of beautiful roses named for remembrance: My Lovely Mum and Never Forgotten are just two. This Memoria Story is full of lovely ideas to inspire you – and you’ll also discover how to name a rose in someone’s memory.
- A tree
A tree can be a long-lasting garden memorial. If you’re creating a private sanctuary for your loved one,
Bios Urns and Geos Urns (available to buy from good funeral homes), combine cremation ashes in the growing matter to bring a tree to life from seed.
Given the right amount of sunshine, nutrients, water and TLC, many plants will thrive, so don’t let space limit your imagination, when it comes to creating a remembrance garden.
##Memorial garden ideas: personal touches
Little personal items from your loved one’s daily life can be lovely reminders to incorporate in your memorial garden: A teapot that always had a ready supply of cuppas on the go or an old pair of wellies can make a unique garden planter or home for wildlife.
Outdoor paints or finishes can add a special touch and increase their longevity.
Personalise a garden with a memorial bench, or create a memorial pebble bed and ask visitors to bring their own pebble in tribute, adding to the memorial garden.
Mosaic art is another lovely touch – whether you create a plaque, an ornamental table top, or make a mosaic pot plant to grow a memorial rose in. The Victorians used to call mementos made of all kinds of bits and pieces as ‘memory ware’, a kind of 3D scrapbook.
Memorial garden ideas: nature haven
It’s always wonderful when wildlife is attracted to a garden and this can take on special significance when someone we love dies. For many people, the cheerful robin is a symbol of hope, while for others, butterflies are especially meaningful.
A bird table or feeder is a lovely memory garden feature, while your choice of seed or berry-laden plants will also draw birds to your remembrance garden.
Picture: Krzysztof Niewolny
Summer-flowering blooms including wallflowers, heliotrope, sweet William and stocks are much-loved by butterflies, which also find purple-flowering buddleia irresistible.
You can also ‘grow your own’ butterflies for release. Find them online from breeders who specialise in native British varieties.
Memorial garden ideas: soothing sounds
The sound of water can be calming and relaxing, helping to clear your mind of ‘noisy’ thoughts. Solar powered water features are available in many shapes and sizes, suitable for all sorts of memorial gardens.
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You could also consider grasses or bamboo, spinners or windchimes in your remembrance garden to combine ornamental features with gentle meditative sounds.