Lake County Children's Memorial Garden
After the tragic loss of her child, the client Jennifer Dempsey was inspired to create Lake County Children’s Memorial Garden, an experiential park for the bereaved to interact with nature as they emotionally heal. For the 1.5-acre site fronting Lake Idamere in Tavares, Florida, Perkins+Will conceived a carefully choreographed living memorial that provides space for all steps of grieving, from inward contemplation to group support. Drawing on theories from environmental psychology, landscape architecture, medicine, and horticultural therapy, the designers mapped out a path that guides park visitors through eight key elements, which progress from private to public.
Images courtesy of Perkins+Will.
The journey begins in the Garden of Remembrance, an entry space with a memorial wall bearing engraved copper panels and butterfly sculptures. The main circulatory path, the wood-planked Observation Boardwalk, begins here, looping through the site to provide views of the area’s lake and biodiversity. Nestled in a shaded grove is the Reflection Alcove, the most intimate spot, which supports quiet and peaceful contemplation. From this secluded space visitors progress through increasingly interactive zones, including the Restoration Outlook, which features tiles hand-painted by local children; the Active Healing Garden, incorporating interactive musical instruments; and the undulating, meditative Children’s Labyrinth. The artfully planted Viewing Garden signals the transition from these more individual realms to a communal one, the Memorial Terrace. In this flexible space, visitors gather for events such as butterfly releases and small memorial services, thus underscoring the much needed support that community can bring.