Category Archives: Memory Garden Design

Planting Tree Memorials for Infant Loss

Pregnancy and infant loss leave little for parents to cradle, including tangible objects associated with their deceased baby. Early pregnancy losses are known to society as “Silent Grief” because of the misunderstanding of those who have not endured this tragic loss. Even before the positive pregnancy test, parents could hear the words, “Mommy and Daddy, I Love You.”


These babies will never be forgotten by the parents who have planned the glorious arrivals. Planting a tree memorial offers visual symbolic growth of their baby, angelversary recognition, and the various phases of healing. If bereaved parents are not in a permanent residence, certain trees will thrive in large transportable containers. The variety of tree differs for each baby due to season, angelversary, gender, birthstone color, and property limitations. Planting tree memorials are considered to be “Green”. Wood was not utilized for a casket, trees produce oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide in addition to lowering temperature, improving ecosystems and positively impacts mood.


In zone 7, Greensboro and the surrounding areas,  many trees will thrive including; Oak, Maple, Crape Myrtle, Magnolia, Carolina Silverbell, Japanese Snowbell, Smoketree, Redbud, Fringe Tree, Dogwood, Ash, Cherry, Zelkova and Plum. There are several factors to consider; blooming period, autumn color, mature size, shape of leaves, and more. Planting a strong tree resistant to insect and disease problems is desirable for a long and healthy life.

 A tree memorial sympathy gift can provide the family with new traditions including; yearly family pictures, picnics, decorations and a place for reflection.

More information is provided within the blog.

Diana Gardner-Williams

Landscape Design and Installation


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Pearly Gates Open for Pudge

We walked on a golden floor of autumn leaves, under an arbor to a heart-shaped garden with silver stars twinkling overhead. In the center was a raised area edged in sea shells, adorned with an angel statue and plaque with a water fountain serving as a headstone. Faye Floyd, a local hair stylist, lost her beloved pet Pudge after 14 years of companionship on July 23, 2009 due to age and diabetes. The memory garden for Pudge is located 40 feet from her back door where she can see it from inside the home.

Faye and her seventeen year old son, Brad Marley fell in love with the underdog of a friend’s litter. The fuzzy and pudgey chow mix puppy quickly became a full-fledged part of the family. He slept in Faye’s bed, ate at the kitchen table and road shotgun in the car, not to mention having complete run of the house. Faye started and ended her day with Pudge by her feet.

On a chilly afternoon August 22, 2009 35 guests attended a memorial ceremony in Faye’s backyard to honor Pudge’s life. The high number of attendees was a true testimony of the love for Pudge and the support for Faye. There were 3 readings, a song sung and composed by Brad with the entire ceremony videotaped by a friend. The lyrics and readings touched on the love, memories and the hope of seeing him again. When I asked Faye what helped her through this difficult time  she said reading a book titled,  “Cold Noses at the Pearly Gates”, building his memory garden and the support of family and friends who knew of their unbreakable bond.

I thank Faye for sharing this touching story of the love for a pet sadly missed.

The memory garden is just beautiful. Faye was worried about what I would think because of my profession as a landscape designer. She had nothing to worry about, I was just glad that a garden was the type of memorial chosen to honor Pudge.

Every element in the garden has meaning and symbolism.

The angel was a statue given to Faye’s mother at an earlier point in time.

Rest in Peace Pudge



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Healing Journal Coming to the Piedmont Triad

-Press Release-For Immediate Release

 New Triad Paper Embraces Death, Grief and Memorials

Just a Cloud Away, Inc. ™ Journal, reporting on “Hope”


Diana Gardner-Williams, a bereaved mother of Liberty, NC founded Just a Cloud Away, Inc. ™ after the stillbirth of her first baby, Tanner Lee in 2003. The support website and products have helped grieving families of pregnancy and infant loss for over 2 years. More than a hundred heartfelt stories of loss, love and hope are posted on “Love Talk” blog at by bereaved parents whose hearts and dreams are shattered forever.


Diana Gardner-Williams will publish a full color, free monthly paper titled, “Just a Cloud Away, Inc. ™ Journal”. Topics will cover surviving the loss of a loved one, pregnancy or pet. Personal stories of grief, the healing power of hope and the various ways love is expressed through the creation of memorials will be documented by interviews and photographs.

 “Death is a natural part of life, but we don’t have to walk in the valley of darkness alone”, says Mrs. Gardner-Williams.


Just a Cloud Away, Inc. ™ Journal will provide local information regarding healthy living and planning, grief support after the loss of a loved one, pregnancy or pet, the various roads to healing and memorials created, capturing their legacy. Local support groups are listed on the “Support” page found on “Love Talk” blog at Mrs. Gardner-Williams is a certified Landscape Designer who created a reflective memory garden after the death of her baby. Ideas on memory gardens can be found on the blog at


The Just a Cloud Away, Inc. ™ Journal will be distributed to funeral homes, florists, waiting rooms, coffee shops, animal hospitals, nursing homes and churches. The first issue will arrive early February 2010. Other venues interested in carrying the journals should contact Diana Gardner-Williams at








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Angelversary Garden Flags for Pregnancy Loss

What is an Angelversary? The term sounds so sweet, yet it is a word no parent ever wants to use. The loss of a much wanted pregnancy or infant is an earth shattering tragedy where a permanent hole is pierced within hearts.


Even if you do not have a memory garden for your baby, pregnancy loss flags can be displayed beside a walkway, driveway, or front door within your landscape honoring your child.


October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, with October 15th as the actual day. Display your garden flag during this month and also on their angelversary.


Our awareness ribbons contain two colors, light blue and pink. Many early pregnancy losses from miscarriage, ectopic or molar pregnancies are unaware of the child’s gender. I was fortunate to know my stillborn baby was a sweet little boy.


Tanner’s angelversary is coming this month, September 28th.


My angel will be 6 years old.


Parents of angels will never forget their babies.


If you know bereaved parents of pregnancy and infant loss, please forward this blog along with the blog of Just a Cloud Away at


There is a high demand for the Angelversary Garden Flags. Please allow 2-3 weeks for delivery. A $20.00 check can be sent to:

Just a Cloud Away, Inc. Po Box 327, Julian, NC 27283,

The costs include shipping, handling and taxes. If you live out of the Continental United States, an additional fee may apply. If this is a sympathy gift, please include the mailing address of bereaved family.

Angelvesary garden flags are another way to remember, honor, love and create awareness that our children were real and will never be forgotten.


Diana Gardner-Williams

Landscape Design and Installation


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When & How to Use Mulch in Landscaping

Mulch serves many purposes in landscape designs.

  • It retains the moisture for plant roots
  • It cuts down on weeds
  • It is an affordable way to add curb appeal
  • It can be applied in an artistic manner
  • It adds contrast and texture to plant beds and homes
  • It hides unsightly blooms of spent flowers fallen on the ground
  • It makes it easier to pull weeds
  • It provides a low maintenance solution on slopes
  • It gradually decomposes, creating improved soil structure for plants
  • Some will deter insects and pests
  • Mulch is an affordable solution to a naturalistic walking path

I like to apply fresh mulch in the month of June. This is the time when the daffodil foliage and flowers of azaleas, gardenia and other spring blooming shrubs have ended. Simply take your water hose on full blast and spray spent flowers so they fall to the ground. This “Kleims Hardy” Gardenia has finished blooming.

A water hose has cleaned the plant and looks beautiful again.

A fresh application of mulch will hide all of the brown flowers that you have sprayed off.

Mulch can also be applied in an artistic manner. Especially if your plant bed is on the large side, having one mulch can look mundane. In my son’s memory garden, pine needles and dark hardwood mulch was applied to create contrast and interest.

Pine needles in the back and hardwood toward the front.

So many ways to use mulch!! Hardwood mulch was used to delineate a walking path under the pergola with the majority of the plant bed mulched with pine needles.

If you have natural areas that contain birdbaths, fountains, benches or other garden art, think about adding a mulched path. Use a contrasting mulch from the one used on the majority of the plant bed.

Selling your home and can’t get the grass to growin certain spots? Just get out the round up and turn those areas into plant beds.

Please save the brightly red colored mulch for theme parks and museums.

Happy Planting!

Diana Gardner-Williams

Landscape Design and Installation


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Unique Pergolas in Landscape Designs

Oh how I love pergolas and all of the different materials we can use to build them. This particular pergola serves as the entryway into one of my son’s memory gardens. Let’s look at all the different materials one can use in its construction.

Materials used in this pergola are:

  • Pressure treated wood
  • Salvaged brick of various colors and styles
  • Birdhouse finials
  • Salvaged windows
  • White PVC pipe
  • White outdoor stain (pinto white to be exact)
  • Galvanized wire

This pergola evolved over time as materials were gathered. Don’t feel limited to one material as you create your beautiful outdoor structure.

I loved using the birdhouse finials and they were not intended for any visitors. Foam was sprayed into them to deter wasps and other insects from building a nest. Birds were also detered because they were purchased for 4 dollars a piece and are not structurally sound for nests. Well that didn’t work. This spring, foam was dispersed around our property as determined birds pecked away at it making room for their nests. We did have baby birds last week and I suppose the family was very happy with their accomodations.

Salvaged windows were hung providing more interest and support for the climbing rose and grape vine. You can find these treatures at your local antique shops, salvage or thrift stores.

My father is a plumber and I asked him how we could incorporate white pvc pipe into its design.

We did so at the top. The pvc was cut and inserted vertically along the horizontal 2×4’s and secured with the proper fittings.

I love old world charm so I did not mind using different varieties of salvaged brick as columns around the 4×4 posts. I did tint the mortar a light brown color for a more blended effect.

Pergolas are fantastic around the holidays displaying Halloween or Christmas decor.

Low-level outdoor lighting can illuminate your structures for moonlit walks and views from your interior rooms.

Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box to create your outdoor structures.

Happy Planting!!

Diana Gardner-Williams


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Flowers and Landscape Plants for May Blooms

May in Greensboro, NC is full of brightly colored flowers on trees, shrubs and perennials. Is it coincidence that Mothers Day is also celebrated in May. Mothers should not be deprived of gorgeous flowers in their landscapes with so many to choose from.

Below is the Japanese Snowbell tree. There are hundreds of delicate, white, bell-shaped blooms giving off a light fragrance. The flower is similar to lily of the valley ground cover. I love this spectacular tree. The foliage is also delicate and is just a great addition when a medium to small size tree is needed for your space. Another great factor is pest stay clear of this tree.

Another beauty is the Sarah Bernhardt Peony. One of these large fragrant blooms will completely fill up a vase for your tabletop.

Even before they fully open, their value is greatly appreciated. It is advisable to install near a fence or other structure to lean upon. There flowers tend to be on the heavy side and this perennial reaches 3 feet in height.

You cannot forget roses!! Below is an absolute must for color from May until the first frost. The Knock Out Rose. This particular rose variety comes in light pink, dark pink and red. It is a fantastic low maintenance addition to those with a black thumb.

Knock roses line the grassy area in my son’s memory garden

Here is the red variety of Knock Out Rose. These roses are planted along our driveway to greet visitors with a splash of red blooms.

There are so many roses to choose from, so don’t forget all the hybrid roses. They are higher maintenance, but sometimes worth it.

Old Fashion or old roses are another easy rose to grow in your landscapes.

Cannot forget to add climbing roses on your pergolas. New Dawn is a variety I love to incorporate into my landscape designs. It is easy to grow and the foliage is glossy and dark green for the rest of the season.

Here is a very easy perennial to add vibrant and rich colors to your gardens…Iris. Not only do it bloom in May, the foliage adds a unique vertical and coarse texture to gardens. The iris perennial looks great with finer textured plants like coreopsis or candytuft.

The last amazing May blooming plant is Salvia “May Night”. This perennial won an award for its performance in the landscape. The purple spike are deep purple and last for weeks. Shear them back after they have finished and you will see more flower spikes later on.

Happy Mothers Day and buy your mum a beautiful May bloomer for next year.

Happy Planting!

Diana Gardner-Williams

Landscape Design and Installation


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Native Wildflowers for Roadside Memory Gardens

Native wildflowers of the southeast region of the United States can provide a solution to roadside memory gardens prohibited by the state of North Carolina. I was deeply affected by this issue after witnessing a mother fixing her child’s memorial cross on the side of a busy highway.

I cannot imagine a mother or father being denied to place a cross at the place their sweet child took their last breath as a memorial tribute. The families may even want others to look upon a life cut short because of a senseless automobile accident taking their child’s life. North Carolina is one of several states prohibiting roadside memorials because they in themselves may cause an accident by people trying to get a glimpse. Another reason is the maintenance issue. Well I have an easy solution for both.


To lesson the impact of someone looking at a memorial cross at the last minute because brightly colored silk flowers or a cross have caught their eyes, incorporate into a plant bed. North Carolina already creates beautiful plantings along roadsides, why not create a smaller area for a family grieving the loss of their child. We can beautify our highway plantings and include memorials for bereaved parents. This is not a new concept. In 1965, the Highway Beautification Act was the result of Lady Bird Johnson’s efforts to create aesthetic native plantings. In 1982 she then founded the National Wildflower Research Center dedicated to incorporate native plants in natural and planned landscapes.


Some states offer a program that would cost families $1000 to create a sign in memory of their child. Are they crazy. Many families cannot afford that astronomical fee.

Those who have lost babies as stillbirths or early in pregnancy are walking memorials for their children who started their lives in the womb and also died there. Parents of miscarriage, stillbirths and other tragic pregnancy losses wear memorial keepsake jewelry, pink and blue ribbons and anything reminiscent of their angels. No one can tell us not to wear our memorials. I would personally have a difficult time hearing that the place my child died cannot be marked as the final breath of my child. That ground is now sacred with new meaning to a grieving mother of an angel.

Areas of the Southeast have many plant options for bereaved parents and families to install at roadside memorial gardens for their children. When the term “native” or “indigenous” is used the definition means that the plant was NOT introduced by another region and already grows in our area. Those plants would have a great chance of survival in roadside gardens of vehicle related accidents. A few wildflowers to try are:

  • Goldenrod
  • False Indigo
  • Swamp Milkweed
  • Butterfly weed
  • Creeping Phlox
  • Cardinal Flower
  • Yarrow
  • Daisy

These memorial gardens can be created for easy mowing and to not distract drivers. There needs to be another solution besides the $1000 sign fee for families already having to finance their deceased child’s funeral or memorial service.

Peace Love and Hugs from Above



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Stars in Remembrance Gardens for Angels


If a child died early in pregnancy or as an infant, think about planting a Star Magnolia Tree in their Memory Gardens. Some bereaved parents may have chosen the star as the theme, symbolizing their precious baby. Even if a memory garden is not considered, this memorial tree to honor a little angel can be planted alone.

Star Magnolias (scientific name-Magnolia Stellata) are small deciduous (loose their foliage in the winter) trees growing 10-15 feet in height and 7-10 feet in width.


This dainty and open tree has white, strap-like petals forming star-shaped blooms in early spring. There are other varieties being developed in order to escape early frosts like “Royal Star”, also having fragrant flowers.


This is a perfect plant to place alongside of a patio, providing dabbled shade and one of the first blooms for your enjoyment.

Overall care for Star Magnolia trees are minimal. The tree is  slow growing, prefers sunny areas, requires little to no pruning, and a moderate supply of water. When this plant has all of its foliage, it is considered a very course textured because the individual leaves are 3-4 inches in length. The foliage also turns a yellow/brown color in the fall.

I personally love the short period of time the flowers start to emerge from the bud. A soft and fuzzy casing gently opens to reveal the pinkish colored flower petals shown below.


This beautiful process occurs early in spring and is a taste of other transformations just days away, like warmer temperatures.


If spring is a significant time reminiscent of your angel, install other plant material with early blooms beneath the tree. Since the Star Magnolia has such a course textured leaf, think about planting something with a fine texture for contrast. some f my suggestions are; crocus and daffodil bulbs, creeping phlox, or pansies (depending on your plant zone). Other plant with evergreen foliage that would work are; candytuft, dianthus or lemon thyme.

If you are thinking about buying a Star Magnolia tree for greiving parents of pregnancy or baby loss make sure they have a place to plant the tree, soil and mulch. This remembrance gift will be located at your local nurseries but before purchasing make sure the plant can be lifted out of the container with ease. It should not have roots sticking out and the soil should not fall apart when lifted. The limbs should not have any injuries and leaves should not have black spots. I love this plant for its ease and what it offers.

Plant a Star for your Angel.

Peace Love and Hugs from Above



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Planting Helleborus in Gardens Remembering Babies


Helleborus niger or Christmas Rose is a beautiful plant for memory gardens honoring a baby that has died early in pregnancy or other tragic loss. Sympathy giftsare sometimes difficult to fathom for a child that is supposed to be here. If you know the grieving parents would love an outdoor plant to honor their deceased child, purchase a Helleborus plant for their garden.


Helleborus was used in our son’s memory garden and did quite well in the hot, scorching sun. They are the creamy blooms flanking the entrance. Typically, they favor an area with part shade and protected from wind, yielding a  long lasting cut flower. Helleborus come in creme or mauve colors and can be pressed and dried for scrapbooks. They stay nice and compact and the foliage is dark and evergreen. This is considered a very coarse plant which will add nice contrast next to plants of different textures like daffodils. This is one of my absolute favorite plants to use in my landscape design projects.

Helleborus can grow in zones 4-9 and they bloom when there is little color within the landscape, making it a very good choice for winter interest. Other plants offering early blooms are crocus, jasmine nudiflorum, star magnolia, flowering apricot, camellia japonica and daffodils.

If you know your baby’s gender and would like to create a Memory Garden, visit Gardens for Angels  and Pregnancy Loss Gardens Blooming White to help you on your gardening journey honoring your precious angel. A tipsheet is also available providing helpful information on how to start your babies’ garden. If your sweet little baby died early in pregnancy visit, Zodiac Signs for Pregnancy Loss to give ideas on elements for your gardens and scrapbooks. These ideas will also provide you with more tangible keepsakes to work into your journals, shadowboxes and other places remembering your baby.


The nodding flowers are so gorgeous, the small size of the plant and how beautiful it looks in the winter are all positive. If you know of anyone who grows these plants, ask if you could have one or two because they transplant well.


Above is a past landscape design project where I used Helleborus as an edging plant. When this pretty plant is in prime bloom the display is spectacular brightening this rather dark space.

If you have any questions about memory gardens or scrapbooking for your children in heaven, please feel free to inquire.

Peace Love and Hugs from Above



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