Children's Memorial Garden

A volunteer work day is scheduled for Sept. 21 at the Children’s Memorial Garden.

To revitalize a Bozeman memorial garden, local organizers have planned a volunteer work day scheduled for Sept. 21.

Patrick O’Neil and Zelpha Boyd began the project earlier this summer when O’Neil discovered that the Children’s Memorial Garden in Westlake Park had been abandoned and was in need of care. He enlisted the help of an avid gardener, Boyd, and they got to work.

The two have spent months working in the garden, moving out debris and maintaining the plants and trees that are already there. They’re still in the process of clearing out rock and making room for flower beds.

On Saturday, Sept. 21, from 8 a.m. to noon, all are invited to help with the project. Boyd said the crew could use an extra wheelbarrow or shovel to get the work done.

The idea for the event came from Bozeman resident Camille Lindsay. She lost her 18-year-old daughter, Sage, last spring to cancer. When she heard about the effort to revitalize the memorial garden, she was moved to help.

“Sage was just a little firecracker, and a do-gooder, and I would just like to pitch in like she would have,” Lindsay said.

Lindsay and her husband met with Zelpha to see the garden and ask what was needed. They decided the most effective tool would be to crowdsource extra hands.

As a mother who has lost a child, Lindsay said she knows how important it is to have a place where family members can go to remember their loved ones. The Lindsays planted a tree in their yard for Sage, but Lindsay said she knows that’s not an option for everyone.

Creating a public space for that purpose was the goal of the Compassionate Friends of Bozeman when they founded the memorial garden in 2002. The garden includes a pathway and a plaque that lists the names of children who have passed away.

However, the group disbanded and the city didn’t have the resources to maintain the garden. It became overgrown with weeds until O’Neil found it. He and Boyd have spent countless hours working in the garden since.

Boyd has helped out with gardening at the Gallatin Rest Home for nearly a decade and has always had a green thumb. She said the project at the memorial garden has been very rewarding.

“When I first saw that garden, it looked like such a good project. I just couldn’t back away,” Boyd said.

Once the garden has been cleaned up and is back in good shape, Boyd said she’d like to plant some new flowers. She’s hoping to get seed or bulb donations in the spring.

But there’s still plenty of work to do, Boyd said, and that’s why Lindsay planned the volunteer event.

“Many hands make light work,” Lindsay said.

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