Planting a memorial tree or shrub is a special way to remember a loved one or pet who has passed away. Planting a tree or shrub in their honor is an easy way to show you care and promote healing.
Recently, one of our staff members shared a story about a dog they lost and what they did to remember her."I noticed a brand new variety of Japanese Maple, called Bihou, at Green Acres. As fan of these trees, I was interested yet not sure if it would fit in my landscape. Then I found out it had been bred to retain the golden hued color of its bark. (similar to the Coral bark.) I had been thinking of a memorial tree for our Golden Retriever, Amber, who has been gone for a while but still lives in our hearts. We now have her tree growing a few feet from where she is buried, and we could not be more pleased."
Each year a handful of customers come in asking about this topic. This growing trend is a beautiful way to express your continued love and remembrance for those you have lost, as well as making the garden even more special. It's a wonderful way to remember them in a tangible fashion. It is a beautiful expression of the circle of life, and the process can be promote healing as well.
With so many lovely trees and shrubs you have lots of choices when planting a memorial garden. We are going to review a few from both categories.
(Acer palmatum) these gorgeous trees that date back over two-thousand years are prized for their unique foliage and shape. There are over a thousand varieties that are cultivated with some being extremely rare. These trees are deciduous, meaning they lose their leaves in winter. They thrive in morning sun and afternoon shade.
Here are a few we love:
- The Coral Bark Maple, ('Sango kaku') have bright red bark that looks quite stunning even in winter.
- The 'Butterfly', has silvery white margined green leaves that cover the densely held branches and become scarlet magenta in fall, while new spring growth is pink tinged.
Some are more golden hued, purplish, and some have serrated leaves. All are gorgeous! With so many unique varieties, you will surely find one that will represents the spirit of the person being honored. Japanese Maples.
(Cornus) Gorgeous springtime flowering trees that are mostly deciduous, but are prized for their showy blooms of red, pink or white. (pictured)
Several species have small heads of inconspicuous flowers surrounded by an involucre of large, typically white petal-like bracts, while others have more open clusters of petal-bearing flowers.
The red seeds they produce are used by over 32 different varieties of game birds to feed upon, including quail. Also used by native Americans for medicinal purposes, these trees are an excellent choice for a memorial.
(Sequoia sempervirens), or the coastal redwood is common in our area. These are the world’s largest trees, and can reach heights of 370 feet in old growth groves. They are goliath specimens that need plenty of room and plenty of water, and will be around long after we are.
Here are a few of our favorite varieties with slightly different characteristics:
- Santa Cruz
- Aptos Blue
(Sequoiadendron giganteum), or the mountain redwood are the coastal’s cousins. They do not get quite as tall, but have the largest mass of all living things in earth.
They need less water than the coastal and have been hybridized into many cultivars including dwarf and variegated. They are found at higher elevations (4000-6500 feet) but can be successfully grown in the valley. Either Sequoia make excellent choices, if you have the space!
Other Attractive Trees:
- Crape Myrtle
- Flowering Cherry
- Mayten 'Green Showers' (pictured)
SHRUBS & CACTUS:
(Rosa) The most prized flowers in the world, with thousands of varieties, this family of shrubs and climbers are gorgeous. Most have a scent, (as well as thorns), but all are fairly easy to care for and are very attractive. Choose either a shrub form or a climber like the one pictured to the right. ('Joseph's Coat)
- Many are named in honor of famous people so if Grandma was a Babs fan, then a Barbara Streisand rose would be a good choice.
- There is a Veterans Honor, Mother's rose, Firefighter & more.
(Cactaceae) is a species of plants that live in habitats subject to at least some drought. Cacti show many adaptations to conserve water. Most species of cacti have lost true leaves, retaining only spines, which are highly modified leaves. This means in laymen terms that they are prickly! Not a great choice for high traffic areas, but with so many sizes and shapes to choose from, they make a nice addition to the garden. If old Uncle Rufus was a kind of a prickly dude, it might be perfect.
There are many other shrubs that would be beautiful choices for a memorial plant. Choose from either fragrant or non-fragrant shrub options.
- Gardenia (pictured)
- Lilly of the Valley
Non Fragrant, but prized for blooms:
Want to Plant Your Own Memorial Garden?
- Determine what sun or shade requirements you have for the area you'd like to plant.
- Choose the appropriate plant for the sun or shade requirements. Keep in mind the size of the plant at full maturity.
- Many people like to choose a tree or shrub that reminds them of their loved one or beloved pet. The possibilities are endless, but the memory will live forever.