Altona’s annual memory garden service took place Monday night near the Van Gogh painting, and across the street from Gardens on Tenth. 

"This memory garden is a place where families can come as individuals, or together, during holidays or in times when they're alone feeling grief for their loved ones who have been lost," shared Maria Nickel, Volunteer Team Coordinator with Altona and District Palliative Care. "The planting itself is a physical project, so there's work to be done. There's work in grieving as well, so when we grieve loved ones, it's a form of work we have to do over time. Whether families are in town, or from far away, this is a place where they'll be able to come and remember."

Started in 2007 with four trees and a few tulips, the memory garden has now reached its ninth bed, with well over 100 trees, bushes and perennials planted in memory of a loved one lost. 

"It's been an ongoing pleasure for Town of Altona residents who come walking by throughout the seasons, winter, spring, summer and fall, everything looks a little bit different during the seasons," added Nickel. "It's a joy to the people who live across at the Gardens on Tenth, and also a joy to people who come from far away visiting our lovely town of Altona to have a place like this to walk through and see the garden."

Seventeen plants were added to the garden during Monday's service.

Nickel addresses the crowd Monday nightNickel addresses the crowd Monday night

"We're seeing, tonight, people will have their families and their friends here to help them grieve through this process, and the grief itself doesn't happen all at one time," she said. "We know there are people who passed away several years ago, and the families have finally been able to deal with their grief enough to come and do this duty today in memory of their loved ones."

And those memories will last for years to come, not only through the perennials planted, but in the book which is updated annually with the names of those who have had a shrub or tree planted in their honour. That book is located in the pagoda near the west end of the garden.

You can listen to CFAM Radio 950 Morning Show Host Chris Sumner's conversation with Maria Nickel, below.