Gardens are such an evocative space. The feelings, sights, sounds, smells, all conjure up signals directly related to the memory part of the brain. The citrusy perfume of lemon verbena wafting in the air; the feeling you get when tilt your wrist as you inspect a new bud brings immediate joy to your heart; the sight of a veggie patch when the light falls just so on your crops; watching a young child grasping a seedpod; the gritty feeling of the remnants of dirt on your gardener’s hands; being caught in the moment of sound, sight and scent and pocketing a freshly plucked pansy into your coat,; all of these moments are destined to get your senses soaring. We store these in our brain’s memory bank, and it’s amazing how quickly these images flit back once we re-engage with nature – be it the next day or the next year. And often these memories are attached to family members or friends you garden alongside, or share a gardening passion with.
Memories and gardens are so closely related due to the fact that a wander through a garden will often prick your emotions with each and every step. The touch of a flower petal, the smell of a star jasmine, and so on….all are strongly evocative and therefore easily bring on emotions attached to memories. Many gardeners often say time spent in their gardens not only brings about a closer connection to nature, but a closer connection to relatives and friends who have passed away. This is the sole reason why many of us decide to set up memorial gardens, or sections of the garden paying homage to those departed who left an indelible mark on our soul.
A memorial garden might be a small rose corner containing your mother’s favourite roses, or an entire veggie patch dedicated to the great green thumb your grandpa was. Sometimes a plaque or a shrine marks these spots. It’s a lovely gesture that most cemeteries now have sections where you can plant something to honour your dearly departed too – with society realizing how important this is to some of us.
Whatever the reason you choose to honour your loved ones, and in whatever fashion you do so – it connects us with those we loved and keeps their spirit alive. It’s a great way to keep that memory going forever, and a place for you to go to so you can communicate (be it out loud or in the voice in your head), or just the connected feeling that emerges when you are in a space which reminds you of those sadly gone from Planet Earth.