Do you know that many gardens are also used as remembrance or memorial gardens?
Gardens offer a good space to keep alive the memory of those we lost, whether they are family, friends, or even pets. Nature can help us to remember happy memories, not just to grieve. Visiting a memorial garden or even a small spot that is dedicated to remembering can promote healing. Maintaining these spaces may even have therapeutic aspects. Spaces of remembrance not only keep alive or bring back memories, but also provide beauty to those who see them even if they didn’t know whom you are remembering.
Our garden is used in many ways. One very special corner we dedicated to Hannah in May 2019. Hannah was a former student of our school who died in a tragic accident. I did not know her personally but every time I take care of the space, I remember her. One winter morning in December 2021 when I was feeding the birds in the garden, I discovered that somebody had brought a bunch of white roses for her. I got very sentimental. What a beautiful gesture.
Nina Madsen helped organize the planting of the memorial tree in 2019. She graduated LIS in 2021 and is now studying at Copenhagen Business School. She agreed to an interview to give us a glimpse of the role this tree plays and to remind us of Hannah.
How did the idea of dedicating a memorial tree in the school garden come about?
The idea of organizing a memorial ceremony and dedicating a memorial tree for Hannah was brought to me by a parent, during the time I was a leader in the Student Council. The idea behind a memorial tree is that it should be an enduring symbol of life, to provide family and friends with a place to visit and be close to the deceased. Hannah, who was an important figure in our school community, a person everyone knew and was somehow touched by, needed such a symbol and place in school to be remembered. For this reason, the school garden seemed a fitting and appropriate place for her memory to live on.
What can you tell us about the choice of tree and its relation to the garden? What kind of space did you choose? How is it designed?
Our choice of tree was a cherry tree that was purchased by a family also part of our school community. Cherry blossoms are charming, pure, fresh, and lovable, which is a direct reflection of Hannah. The fact that they bloom only briefly symbolizes a life short-lived, as was the case, but what can be found comforting is that the tree will keep growing, thus underscoring Hannah’s living memorial. I also want to mention that this tree, which attracts birds and other animals that feed on its cherries, reminds me of how Hannah was someone who drew people in and that everyone wanted a piece of her. So it made sense to plant the tree in the middle of the freshly soiled new vegetable garden, which has since grown into quite a garden, with the cherry tree at the heart of it.
Can you tell us something about the day of the memorial?
The day we planted the tree was Hannah’s birthday, May 23, 2019. It was a beautiful, sunny spring day, so we tried to make the occasion festive, and it remains the day that many of us continue to visit the garden. In honor of her happiness and livelihood, we decided to decorate the tree with ribbons. We have also chosen the phrase “Solange wir an unsere Lieben denken, leben sie in uns weiter,” which translates to “As long as we think of our loved ones, they live on in us,” which we have made a plaque out of.
You are now studying in Copenhagen, which will probably prevent you from visiting the garden often. Do you have a wish for Hannah’s place in our garden? Do you have a message for the students who did not know her?
On behalf of everyone affected, all I can say is that the tree is a significant symbol of Hannah’s memory and it is comforting to know that it is being cherished and cared for by the gardening community, to which we owe our gratitude. My only wish is that the garden continues to be a place for people to gather and that it may never be neglected.
-Nina was interviewed by Gitte, our school garden coordinator.-
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