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In Memory Of...

May 24, 2012
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I've shared ways nature can help heal. I've shared ways nature can help reduce stress. And I've shared ways nature can be enjoyed, whether you picnic in the park, walk a local hiking trail or simply lay in a hammock between the trees in your backyard.

In honor of Memorial Day, the upcoming holiday we'll observe on Monday, today I'll share one way nature can help us remember.

As I assume many individuals my age can relate, my grandpa and a few uncles of mine have served in the U.S. Army and Marines Corps. My relatives were fortunate to complete their service terms and return home from the wars. But other brave soldiers were not so fortunate to see their families and friends at the conclusion of combat.

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For those of you who have lost friends or family members to wars, I encourage you to spend some extra time in your landscape this weekend and start preparing a memorial garden to honor your loved ones. You don't need a lot of space, and you don't have to follow any sort of pattern or template. From the flower species, vegetables or trees you grow to the color scheme and layout you choose, customize the garden for the loved one in remembrance. What would he or she have liked to see in a garden?

When the flowers begin to bloom, take some to the cemetery and place them on the gravestone of a lost loved one. Press a few flowers and save them for a memory box or handmade cards. Or place a handful of flowers in a vase and spread the beauty indoors.

If you haven't yet discovered your green thumb, you could assist a local family with their garden while their loved one is deployed. Not only will the service man or woman's family benefit from the edible goods and/or beautiful blossoms as a result, but also the social and gardening activity will help them cope with the absence of the relative.

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Depending on the size of the memorial garden you choose to plant or assist, you may consider donating the fresh vegetables and other edible harvests to a local veteran's agency or hospital. Your memorial garden could be the gift that keeps on giving.

Now that it's near the end of the week, for some of us, a three-day weekend lies ahead. (Something to look forward to, right?) But before you cut to the chase and begin preparing for weekend cookouts and family getaways, take some time to remember why you have an extra day off this weekend.  Your garden is waiting for you.

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