"Someone once said, the memories are the perennials that bloom again and give us hope after the hard winters beat." Those words from Elaine Friesen who opened the 15th annual Memory Garden service in Altona Monday evening. 

This year, 15 shrubs and bushes were planted in memory of a loved one lost. 

Since 2007, the following greenery/structures have been established in the garden:

  • 58 trees, some columnar in shape and some top grafted varieties
  • 190 + shrubs
  • Numerous perennials and annuals
  • 9 benches
  • 1 memorial rock
  • 1 steel art piece
  • 1 gazebo
  • 2 pergolas

A few benches in memory of have been placed in other locations in Altona, specifically the Centennial Park / Buffalo Creek Nature Park areas.

Below are Friesen's full opening remarks.

"The late American author Hal Boyle once wrote, 'memory is the best of all gardens. Therein, Winter and Summer, the seeds of their past lie dormant, ready to spring into instant bloom at any moment the mind wishes to bring them to life'." 

This memory garden was originally established in 2007 by the Altona and Bloom Committee who had a vision and a goal, and wanted to create a memory garden that would provide a peaceful, serene place to spend time remembering loved ones while surrounded by the nature beauty of nature.  Altona Palliative Care then partnered with the first Memory Garden service such as this. 

The land for this garden was donated by the Town of Altona. The committee hired a professional landscape artist, Monique Rampton, who created the predetermined plan and continues to help with the layout of the garden. She was advised that this garden should be low in maintenance, but high in beauty, interest and peacefulness. The plants that are used are native to this area and hopefully, will thrive for many seasons to come. 

Each year plants are added after the Memorial Garden service such as this. Any Community member can participate in the service by purchasing a plant and planting it in a specified area, and that is what you are doing today. These items you see here today have all been purchased by people who have participated in services in earlier years. As you can see, the garden to the west of me, and the pergola and benches. They are ready for you to rest upon and joy as you refresh your body, mind and spirit as you reminisce. 

The first year of the Memory Garden in 2007, there were four trees and some tulips planted. So, today the site is as you see it with trees, shrubs and flowers that burst in to colors every spring and grace us with their loveliness through the seasons all year long. 

When you're walking by or sitting down or just enjoying the beauty of this garden, feel free to pull a weed if you happen to see one.

Today is a special time as we come together to reflect, to pray and to give thanks as we plant these trees, shrubs and flowers in memory of our loved ones. Each tree or shrub planted is a way to pay tribute and honor the memory of someone who is gone. Every bloom and fresh new leaf are a sweet reminder of how precious that person was and how life, in all its painful beauty, goes on.

I am sure we have all come with memories of wonderful times, but also with feelings of emptiness and loss. Our hope is that in doing this labor of love and being here surrounded by others who have also experienced loss, we will be comforted together. Losing a loved one is never easy. For those of us who remain, creating a living tribute in the form of a memory garden can offer us a place to grieve, to reflect, improve homage to our loved ones' memory."