Garden Photo of the Day

A Memory Garden

Finding comfort in the garden after tragedy

memorial garden

Today we’re visiting with Nikki Byer, who has used gardening to help find comfort after a tragic loss.

I have been gardening my whole life and have a large perennial and vegetable garden in York County, Pennsylvania. On March 11, our oldest daughter passed away, leaving behind her devastated parents and her three children. Our family chose to honor her with a garden, because when she was well she had a beautiful garden. We decided to create a pond with a waterfall, fill it with pretty fish and plants, and plant a tree in her honor. It has provided us with a great deal of healing and comfort.

garden pondThe pond is near our patio, where we can sit and listen to the sound of water.

serviceberry treeWe chose a serviceberry tree (Amelanchier, Zones 4–9) as her memorial tree because it will bring in birds and be pretty in all seasons. Her children put a tiny amount of her ashes under the tree. The special rock says, “Your wings were ready, but our hearts were not.”

A frog has taken up residence in our pond, and the plants have thrived.

Creeping JennyThis is a view of the pond and the patio. Wind chimes from her funeral hang nearby, and when the breeze blows past I hear her whisper. Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’, Zones 3–9) has made a pretty carpet around New Guinea impatiens (Impatiens hawkeri, Zones 10–11 or as annual), Heuchera (Zones 4–8) and Portulaca grandiflora (moss rose, annual).

Canna ‘Australia’Some of the plants in this picture are black-leaved Canna ‘Australia’ (Zones 7–10 or as a tender bulb), hardy water lily (Nymphaea), parrot feather (Myriophyllum aquaticum, Zones 6–10), and variegated society garlic (Tulbaghia violacea ‘Variegata’, Zones 7–11).

‘Autumn Joy’ sedumThe angel statue was a gift from the couple who built the pond for us. Plants are ‘Autumn Joy’ sedum (Sedum spectibilis ‘Autumn Joy’ Zones 3–9) and New Guinea impatiens.

The garden pole is cheerful and reminds visitors to dream and smile.

Little Bunny miniature fountain grass‘Little Bunny’ miniature fountain grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Little Bunny’, Zones 5–9)

Aztec ArrowheadAztec arrowhead (Sagittaria montevidensis, Zones 8–11) bloomed most of the summer.


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View Comments


  1. user-7017435 10/21/2019

    Thank you for sharing the beautiful garden your family created to honor your precious daughter's memory. I am truly sorry for your loss & hope creating this garden together has given your family comfort & peace.

    1. NewberryNikki 10/23/2019

      Thank you for your kind words.

  2. User avater
    meander_michaele 10/21/2019

    Please accept my sincerest condolences on the sad passing of your daughter. Your memorial garden tribute to her is lovely and, no doubt, will encourage happy recollections of her well lived life.

    1. NewberryNikki 10/23/2019

      It has brought a great deal of joy to us as we grow to accept life without our daughter.

  3. User avater
    treasuresmom 10/21/2019

    Thank you for sharing this with us & may the beauty of this garden ease the pain in the hearts of all who loved & treasured her.

    1. NewberryNikki 10/23/2019

      Thank you. My daughter and I had some of our best times in the garden.

  4. User avater
    simplesue 10/21/2019

    That's so touching. There is nothing as perfect as a garden for a memorial. And there is nothing as amazing as a garden to heal, cope and have positive thoughts and fond memories.
    And such a pretty garden with the sounds of water and wildlife. A labor of love in more ways than one.

    1. NewberryNikki 10/23/2019

      Thank you. My husband has never been a gardener but he has taken on the care of the fish in the pond and making sure that leaves don’t decay in it. I even saw him pulling weeds! ?

  5. moyra_b 10/21/2019

    What a truly lovely memorial to your daughter.

    1. NewberryNikki 10/23/2019

      Thank you.

  6. User avater
    bdowen 10/21/2019

    What a bright, colorful garden you have created to honor your daughter and provide a place of peace and memories for your family as well as a welcoming spot for the birds. I hope it continues to bring you healing.

    1. NewberryNikki 10/23/2019

      I planted some tulips, daffodils and hyacinths under her tree. The serviceberry tree is starting to wear her fall colors.

  7. btucker9675 10/21/2019

    Out of such sorrow, such beauty... Thank you for sharing this truly lovely memorial to your daughter. God bless you!

  8. user-7525974 10/21/2019

    I am deeply moved by your story and the beautiful treasure this garden gives your grandchildren. The garden is so perfect and the wind chimes detail brought me to tears. Thank you for sharing your photos and words with us.

  9. cheryl_c 10/21/2019

    My eyes filled with tears for you and your grandchildren as I read your post. You have chosen such a beautiful and uplifting way to remember your daughter. Thank you for sharing how you have turned your loss and grief into brightness and light and sound. I especially love your garden pole, which I've never seen before, but added to my Pinterest page. Thank you for that also.

  10. Musette1 10/21/2019

    what a lovely memorial to your beloved daughter - may it bring you and your family much peace and comfort. Thank you for sharing.

  11. NewberryNikki 10/22/2019

    Thank you everyone for the kind comments about our garden. I truly believe in the restorative benefits of gardening. When one works in the garden, the cycle of life is always visible. During the quiet acts of planting & weeding, one has time to reflect and come to terms with a tragic loss. For me, gardening has always brought a sense of peace. My husband has never been a gardener, but the pond has helped him find comfort. Nothing can bring our daughter back, and the pain of loss will always remain, but the garden has helped us get through the hardest part.

  12. davlinkun 10/22/2019

    Such a beautiful garden and memory and I’m so sorry for your loss.
    We are given such tragedy , who knows why, but there is love, hope and grace in the world and gardening helps to show it.

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