Posted by: chlost | June 25, 2011

Our wild Irish rose

Last year when my sister died, the people from my office gave me a gift card for a local gardening center. The sympathy card explained that they hoped I might find something there which I could plant in memory of my sister.

What a sweet gift.

But that summer, I just wasn’t up to it. The pain was raw. I felt overwhelmed. I just could not do it. The gift card was stashed away in a drawer. Another winter passed.

In May, I came across the gift card while searching for something else. Yes, I have several junk drawers which hold a varied and miraculous amount of …….ummmmm……junk. The card was in one of those junk drawers.

This time when I saw the card, I decided it was time to use it. I loved the idea of planting something for her. My sister lived near Norfolk, VA. There is a great botanical garden nearby, and she loved that place. I visited it with her several times. One of my favorite pictures of her was taken there.

So, I took my mom and off we went to the garden center. I found a very helpful clerk who assisted me in finding plants which would be beautiful, aromatic, and something that my sister loved. Roses. Roses which are hardy in this tundra-like environment. My  mom approved the choice.

I found four different varieties. One was even a coral, which was my sister’s favorite colored rose.

Then the work began. As my mom “supervised” from the shade of the backyard deck, I got started on the garden. First, I had to decide where I wanted the garden. There are only a few sunny spots in our backyard to choose from. I wanted to find a spot where I could see the garden from the house but it would still get sun most of the day.

Setting out the garden location

I knew that I wanted the garden to be in a curved shape. We are not big gardeners, so this was a challenge. My husband was wonderful, and helped me get the garden laid out and prepared.

Digging out the sod

After digging out the garden area, we had to lay out the garden fabric and the edging.

Now I was able to start the planting. This is one of the rose varieties.

I enjoy getting my hands dirty. It is the getting down on my knees and then getting back up that is a challenge. By the end of the day, I had the plants in, and the garden only needed the mulch placed on top of the garden fabric.

Then it rained for a week. I had to search many garden stores before I finally found the crushed cocoa bean shell mulch that I wanted. Today, I was able to buy that and finish off the little rose garden. I know it may not look like much to those who do a lot of fancy gardening, but it is an accomplishment for me.

I just have a few more touches that I want to add, but this is pretty much complete.

The roses are blooming. The mulch smells like cocoa. Oh, boy, would she love that smell! (I know I have to keep the dog away from the mulch. He is only allowed out in the yard on a leash or tie-out. He can’t reach it.)

I am still looking for a statue to place in this little garden. My daughter-in-law is also going to decorate a small stone for the garden. The bird bath was a gift from my other sister.

My brother-in-law still has not picked up my sister’s ashes from the mortuary. I feel tears ache in my eyes as I type that sentence. There is no stone or marker for her anywhere.This is especially hard for my mom. She cannot understand why my sister’s ashes have not been buried, spread, or otherwise handled for her remembrance.

But now I have a small garden which has been planted in her memory.

Kathleen’s Rose Garden.

These are shrub, or wild looking roses, not the hybrid flower store varieties.



  1. The garden is beautiful! I’m sure your sister is smiling over it. *hugs*

    • Thank you-yes, I think she would like the garden. Hug back at you!

  2. What a wonderful job you did. A living memorial is so very special and that was such a thoughtful gift from your office.
    So glad you all ready know about the cocoa and dogs.

    • Thanks. I like this as a way of remembering her. Our office is full of great folks-no one else would last in our jobs. We take care of each other.

  3. What a lovely memorial to Katherine! I like that better than a plot and headstone!

    • I do too. But the main thing is that my mom can focus her thoughts here. Thanks!

  4. What a beautiful little garden. May your sister’s memory and spirit dwell there and to hell with your brother-in-law. I’m sorry, but what a jerk.

    • I am giving him the benefit of the doubt and going with the theory that it is too hard to have her ashes nearby. I am the only one in our family with that theory, I think that the others agree with you..

  5. Beautiful, I planted a bridal bush ( white spirea) in my yard for my sister and a maple tree for my sister in law. I think this is the best way to remember someone by giving life to our environment and I know they would have been very pleased.

    • Those sound like the perfect things to plant. I am hoping it is helpful to see things come back in the spring….to know that life goes on.

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