Hospice Memory Garden – Planting the Design

Ready for planting, St Christophers Memory Garden 2016


A Hospice Memory Garden Planting Design needs to meet a range of criteria.

It should be a place of remembrance for those who have lost a loved one, somewhere to sit and reflect on the happy things as well as the sad.

But it should also offer the opportunity for residents, patients and staff to sit; to relax and recharge.


Our previous blog Hospice Memory Garden – Design and Preparation told part of the story. This one will tell you some more…and show you lots of photos, which is always good!


Hospice Memory Garden – the Design Concept

The term a hospice memory garden may cover a number of types of gardens and borders where flowers, shrubs, trees and even statues are placed so that the bereaved can come and remember their loved ones.

St Christopher’s Hospice offers care and support for the residents of the London Boroughs of Bromley, Croydon, Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark. They have a site in both Orpington and Sydenham.

Marie, garden designer at our sibling company Plews Garden Design, was asked by them to design and create a Hospice Memory Garden in the grounds of the Sydenham hospice. She asked if we would like to be involved and, obviously, we were happy to be a part of this hospice garden project.

rosemary and remembrance, St Christophers Memory Garden 2016, plews garden design, plews garden landscaping

It was agreed that the Memory Garden would have the names of loved ones planted along with the flowers and shrubs. The date for completion was that the garden should be ready for an ‘official opening’ at the St Christopher’s Mad Hatters Fair on June 25th.

Marie designed this as a year round garden, to be enjoyed by the residents, staff and carers.

Initial thoughts and ideas followed on from the site survey, carried out by both Marie, and our Nathan, from Plews Garden Landscaping. We knew the whole border would need to be cleared of the old, tired shrubs; the soil dug over and improved.

The hospice memory garden design included a change of shape and extension to the existing border so that scented flowers could be planted near the doors of the pavilion.

Marie considered scent and a changing outlook over the year to be important design elements for this hospice memory garden. A predominantly white orientated planting scheme was chosen with both silver foliage and white flowers. This soft colour will show up well for evening visitors, and provides a contrast to the lush green lawn.

convolvulus cneorum, St Christophers Memory Garden 2016

The low hedging plants are all evergreen, all have either scented foliage or flowers. Santolina, English Lavender, silver variegated Thyme and Dianthus give a variation of height and leaf shape.

santolina and heuchera hedge, st christophers hospice memory garden 2016

Within this hedge, purple and red offer the contrast to silver and white. This comes from both foliage and flowers; many of which are scented. In particular, the aromatic foliage will be a year round pleasure.


Hospice Memory Garden – Planting the Design

Another, smaller gathering of the Plews Team and volunteers got together for planting the design.

santolina, lavender, set out, planting plan, St Christophers Memory Garden 2016

Thanks must go to Terry of Crocus Bookkeeping for looking after the majority of the plants in between donation or purchase and their planting at St Christopher’s. They all survived – no mean feat as there were quite a few!

do we have enough plants, St Christophers Memory Garden 2016

Setting out the plants to the new planting design was followed by a break to eat chocolate cup cakes.

well earned rest, St Christophers Memory Garden 2016

And then we had to get on with the planting…

designer and landscaper, St Christophers Memory Garden 2016

mark, liam, planting, st christophers hospice memory garden 2016

The show piece plant, our Corylus avellana contorta ‘Red Majestic’, a particularly decorative cultivar of the corkscrew hazel, was planted up into the large terracotta pot. You may not realise it, but even this ‘ornamental’ hazel produces edible nuts in the autumn when mature.

corkscrew hazel, clouds, st christophers memory garden 2016

It’s worthwhile considering the usefulness as well as the decorative qualities of trees and shrubs when choosing new ones for your own garden. Trees can multi-task too!

Ground cover plants to reduce weeding requirements includes purple Heuchera and furry leaved Stachys byzantina, sometimes known as ‘lambs’ ears’.

red rose, St Christophers Memory Garden 2016

And there are roses, including Rosa ‘in loving memory’ and Rosa ‘thinking of you’, both of which are red.

marie, liam, planting, pots, st christophers hospice memory garden 2016

Marie always makes a mess when she’s planting, the empty plant pots kept rolling down the slope!

Plews is currently maintaining the memory garden, with some help from our volunteers, as newly planted garden borders need extra care.

hardworking volunteers, ducks, st christophers memory garden 2016

Yes, even an easy maintenance garden requires some tlc in the early days after planting! Regular watering of course, but also making sure foxes haven’t dug up the plants. They are often tempted by newly turned earth, as are your own or neighbours’ cats and dogs.

Trees and shrubs need regular watering for a longer period than smaller plants; often up to two years after they’re planted.

And on that note, I’m off to check on the hospice memory garden, as we have had some issues with foxes digging holes around some of the plants…


Related Garden and Landscaping blogs

Hospice Memory Garden – Design and Preparation

salvia, St Christophers Memory Garden 2016

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