There are so many ways to connect with people we love, both those who are living and those who have passed away. This blog post was inspired by a conversation I had recently with Alison Feik, a Minnesota artist and environmental designer.
Alison Feik has a profound interest in the healing properties of plants, energetically, physiologically, and emotionally. She thinks deeply about the space that people inhabit in the outdoor environment. She told me, “I consider how humans can better have dialogue with the earth the healing that is available there. We evolved out of the great outdoors and returning to that space is deeply grounding. It allows for relaxation and contemplation.” I did a question and answer on-one with Alison recently.
What is a legacy garden?
A legacy garden is a small garden bed with a seat that raises up in the middle. It’s a manageable size and area to sit to contemplate, grieve and heal. It is a meditate place for the mind to rest and honor a loved one. An intentional, tangable space to be and to tend to the cycle of life. We know that gardening helps people with depression, getting them outdoors, active and grounded with their hands in the dirt.
How did you get the idea?
I got the idea from wanting to create a garden for someone who had passed. I combined my interest in intentional gardens and outdoor sculpture. For example, I created a garden bench for a woman who’s mother was an avid gardener. This created a space for her to remember her mother and her passions for years to come. Later, the idea of mirroring came to me, these are two seats facing each other that create an opportunity for dialog.
How might you honor a baby who has died?
With the flowers and plants chosen you can be mindful of the baby you want to honor, soft delicate flowers or baby’s breath. You could have pink or blue flowers, anything representative of the baby to you. If you’re not sure of the gender, Bleeding hearts for sorrow or yarrow for bringing strength into places that feel depleted are possible. You can use the ritual of annual planting as a yearly reminder of the baby. During the time of the babies birth or death this space can be used for remembering. If in the winter seasons, a candle or bird feeder can be a gathering place for you and your loved ones. Perennials return each year, on their own accord, a conscious and unconscious reminder of our memories continuing year after year. Perenials are ever expanding, often used for medicinal use, for example a plant you can drink as a tea, such as peppermint. They attract butterflies, bees, and birds. You are creating a little niche ecosystem for personal healing and environmental nurturing.
Are there different styles to these benches?
Yes, You can pick a single or double seat. If a double, or love seat, it’s becomes a place for conversation of all things important to your heart. This could be with a partner or living children. What’s interesting about these places is still function as a contemplative seating area in your own backyard, throughout the year.
Do people ever put a babies or another loved ones ashes into these gardens?
Yes that’s completely possible. If you ever move to another home, this seat and it’s soil can be removed and transferred to it’s next location, continuing it’s meaning and intention.
How would someone contact you to design the garden space and seating?
These benches are all available individually, created with the intention of the user. Each bench shape has a meaning. Each person can co-create the design with me. This might be a bench shape, words, names, plant choices, or other intentions built into the design. “You can even order benches or plants for someone else who is grieving. My goal is to provide meaningful dialog between people and Earth for healing.” My website is www.legacy-garden.com. My phone number 612-636-7577 and my email is firstname.lastname@example.org.