Rosewood Therapeutic Memory Garden

established in 2017

The backyard at Rosewood was a perfect spot to add more outdoor space for residents to enjoy in the nice weather.

Based on a professional design, the garden was laid out, grading done and concrete was poured.  So many details were considered while designing this amazing space. Even the concrete was dyed a subtle mauve to be easy on elderly eyes.

  1. the garden needs to be close to the building so that it is visible from inside.
  2. It needs to provide features that stimulate memories and lets residents become engaged in meaningful outdoor activities such as tending raised vegetable beds, filling birdfeeders, sweeping , and harvesting to name a few.
  3. The view should face away from roads and parking lots.
  4. There should be an area of shade in the garden as elderly individuals can overheat very quickly.
  5. Exterior gates should be disguised so that it is not apparent that they are gates.
  6. Avoid plants or statuary that could possibly evoke fear, like gargoyles or trees that loom over walkways.
  7. Provide a water feature- The sound of water fountains is very calming.
  8. All plant material and mulch must be non-toxic.


Underutilized, but private space behind the building.

photo of the back of rosewood house lawn and fence
photo of the back of rosewood fence and lawn
photo of the back of rosewood before therapy garden installed


The Garden has 5 vignettes to stimulate memories and conversation.

The first area you come upon is the “Seasons”.  Here, plants were chosen to represent the four seasons.  One of the goals of the memory garden is to help orient residents to times of the day and seasons of the year.  The feature plants included in this section were a spring blooming Magnolia, a summer blooming Japanese Stewartia, an Autumn Brilliance Serviceberry, and a Korean Silver Fir.

The second area is “Memories of gardens past” an ode to old fashioned Cape Cod gardens.  The plants chosen for this section were thornless roses, old fashioned Abelia, dwarf Rose of Sharon, Lambs ears, and Meadow sage.  This area is also a sensory area with the fragrance of the roses, the soft touch of the lambs ears and the color of the brilliant purple meadow sage.

The third vignette is a Japanese inspired garden anchored by a dwarf Japanese Maple.  Other elements include Spirea, Soft touch pines, and a large blue ceramic Koi fish.

The fourth area is the woodland garden.  This features native shrubs and shade perennials like Hosta and Astilbe.

The fifth and final planting area is the herb and vegetable garden.  The herbs planted along a walkway were picked because they release a scent when you brush by.  The vegetables will be in wheelchair height planting beds so that residents can easily tend them.  There is also a bed of blueberries for residents to enjoy.

In addition to plantings, the management team made a road trip to the Brimfield antique fair to find unique items to incorporate.  There is an antique plow for the vegetable area, a hand pump for a water feature, an old potting bench for residents to use, as well as birdhouses and other unique finds.

Volunteers and resident family members gathered in June of ’17 for a weekend of planting