One NE 60th Ave. • Des Moines, IA 50313 • Phone: 515-289-2230

Garden Tour

Cemetery Office

The cemetery office is at the entrance of the grounds fronting Northeast 60th Avenue. Announcing Highland Memory Gardens Cemetery (HMG) is a massive black granite sign set on a pedestal of limestone. The sign is landscaped with roses and tall grasses with the flag pole and night lighting. Along the north side of the office, perennial plantings add color.

The office itself was built in the English cottage style and houses all records pertaining to the ownership of spaces, interment and the operation of the cemetery. At the entrance to the office, shrubs, perennial plantings, roses and annual plantings of tulips or wave petunias greet visitors who enter the office.

The office is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Visitors and lot owners are always welcome.

Best Friends Garden

Best Friends Garden is specifically set aside for infants and young children. It is located in the southwest area. The name is drawn from the remarkable bronze sculpture titled "Best Friends" by artist, Corrine Hartley. The garden offers families a serene and whimsical area to visit their loved ones.

Since 1997 when the garden was developed, HMG has donated space and Granit-Bronz, Inc. donated a bronze memorial marker in support of the Fetal Memorial Service Program sponsored by Mercy and Lutheran Hospitals and Hamilton's Funeral Home.

Flanking the entrance to this garden are two custom made decorative iron panels. One of the panels displays the "Best Friends Garden" bronze plaque. On the other panel is a bronze plaque bearing the poem, "Little Footprints" by Dorothy Ferguson, a former HMG Board Member.

Children's Garden

Children's Garden was the first garden set aside for the burial of infants and is located to the west of the business office and surrounded by shrubbery. A set of two iron gates flank the entrance to a permanent walkway, which provides access to the little garden.

A charming birdbath garden in the northwest corner allows for vibrant color throughout the spring, summer and fall seasons.

Because only a few spaces remain in this garden, Best Friends Garden was developed in the southwest area of HMG.

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Christus Garden

To the east of the business office, the Christus Garden has limestone pillars and ornamental black iron gates to adorn the double permanent walkways that lead directly to the statue of a life-size representation of Christ shown with outstretched arms. Perennial gardens and two granite benches complete the feature.

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During the summer of 2010 a new Columbarium was constructed for the above ground inurnment of cremated remains with companion and individual niches available. Centrally located in the Crucifixion Garden as the feature, the columbarium is constructed of silver bronze granite with contrasting niche panels of paradisio granite. It stands six feet high featuring a five-foot granite cross centered at the top.

Ornamental plantings of grasses, annuals and perennials surround the columbarium. The flower beds are outlined with grey edging brick and the walkway is filled with fine white limestone rock. Two granite benches made from similar granite as the Columbarium have been placed at the corners of the walkways.

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Companion Garden

The Companion Garden or lawn crypt garden serves a special purpose with pre-placed in-ground double depth vaults in one section, allowing for two burials in a single space. Companion Garden space sales include the cost of the space, two interments and the lawn crypt memorial as a package at a considerable savings over traditional burials.

The west side of this garden was not developed for lawn crypts and can be used for either traditional in-ground or cremation burials.

The feature, which is located on the southern border of the cemetery, is a five foot tall granite section on which a beautiful scene has been etched of a couple walking along a path. The granite tableau rests atop a base of cut limestone with perennial plantings at its foot. Large evergreen trees are behind the feature and run along the entire southern border of the garden to give it a peaceful feeling like being in a forest.

The garden adjoins Best Friends Garden to the west and Memories Garden to the east.

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Crucifixion Garden

At the entry to Crucifixion Garden there are several crab trees, multiple perennial plantings and two granite benches. Situated within the Crucifixion Garden is the new Columbarium Garden with a five foot Cross centered on the granite structure. Crucifixion Garden is the southern portion of the garden east of the Tower with the entry on the south end of the garden.

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Devotion Garden, Babyland
Devotion Columbarium

As one of the first gardens to be developed, Devotion Garden is bordered on the east, north and west by a variety of lilac shrubs and lies on the north edge of the cemetery. Mature maple and pine trees also add to the beauty of this garden.

A formal paved walkway from the entrance leads north to the Devotion Columbarium. This feature serves as the garden's focal point for those who prefer above ground cremation inurnment. The columbarium is constructed of Moonlight Gray Granite with contrasting niche panels of Carnelian Granite. Atop the Columbarium is a large open Holy Bible engraved with the Lord's Prayer. Granite benches located north of the Columbarium and on either side of the formal walkway provide a place for reflection.

While the Devotion Columbarium no longer has spaces available, families wishing above ground inurnment of cremated remains can be accommodated in the new Columbarium in the Crucifixion Garden.

The original Babyland was intermingled with the traditional spaces in one of the burial areas of the garden. Because of the lack of uniformity in the space sizes, use of this area for infant burials was discontinued when the Children's Garden was constructed.

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Faith Garden

Faith Garden is one of the earliest gardens and one of only two gardens to retain the platted ten-foot lots. Originally a part of Prayer Garden, it was called "Block 8" for most of its history. It was designated as a separate garden and given the name "Faith" in the 1970's. Therefore, there is no formal feature in the garden, but the natural setting gives families an opportunity to experience views of the entire cemetery and gardens. Two granite benches surrounded by perennial plantings under the shade of two Bradford pear trees provide for a peaceful and restful place for visitors. Faith Garden shares its boundaries with Good Shepherd and Trinity gardens.

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Fitch Garden

The Fitch Garden is the only private garden in the cemetery with the burial of F.W. Fitch and his wife Gertrude. The remaining spaces are reserved for members of the Fitch family. The garden is surrounded by shrubbery and has two sitting benches, with the feature of a personalized bench. Access to the garden is through a wrought iron gate under mature crab apple trees between the Serenity and Children's Gardens.

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Gethsemane Garden

Located at the northeast corner of the cemetery the Gethsemane Garden offers a distinctive red brick entrance wall with a lush and full perennial grass garden. From the gates a double permanent walkway leads to the feature and proceeds to completely wrap around it. Between the walkway and the feature hostas and lilies have been planted.

The feature portrays Christ praying in the Garden of Gethsemane prior to his crucifixion.

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Good Shepherd Garden

The permanent divided walkways into the Good Shepherd Garden are in the shape of a cross with the feature located at the top of the cross.

The feature is a life size depiction of Christ with His shepherd's hook, cradling a lamb. Etched in the pedestal below the feature is "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want."

Because the Good Shepherd Garden was one of the first gardens available for burials and is one of the smallest gardens, there are fewer spaces remaining for purchase.

This garden adjoins Last Supper Garden on the north, with an open border toward Faith Garden on the south boundary.

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Last Supper Garden

Last Supper Garden displays one of our largest features. An expansive stone reproduction of Michelangelo's "The Last Supper" is entirely framed by cut limestone including a four foot high pedestal on which the entire feature rests. The feature is located at the back corner of the garden with permanent walkways surrounding each block leading to it. A large perennial garden fronts the length of the feature allowing for changing colors and floral displays throughout the growing season.

The frontage of the garden, which encompasses the northwest corner of the cemetery, is bordered by limestone pillars and black iron decorative panels. The entire garden is enclosed by shrubs, giving it a private and secluded feel.

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Masonic Garden

The Masonic Garden was originally designated for members of the Masons and their families and is situated to the west of the Tower. The feature for this garden was specifically designed with assistance from the Masons and depicts the three Masonic Officer Chairs (West, South and East) and the Holy Bible resting on a large pedestal in the middle of the Garden. Each of the Chairs represents a certain level of responsibility within the Masonic organization. All three chairs are backed by a grouping of mature yews.

During the spring and summer of 2010 a new perennial garden was established on the north side of the garden. The central point of interest in this perennial bed is a ceramic gazing ball with the Masonic Emblem, which was donated by a lot owner. The corners of the "inner room" are now marked by young trees.

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Meditation Garden

Meditation Garden is the north half of the garden that also includes Crucifixion Garden and is located to the east of the Tower. The entrance to Meditation Garden is on the north side of the garden and is highlighted by several crab trees, a perennial garden bed and granite benches.

The feature for Meditation Garden is a huge bronze sundial built on a sunset red granite base. The sundial located in the center of the garden area, but on the south end of Meditation. The sundial keeps correct time; however, it does not reflect daylight savings time.

Granite benches, evergreens and other perennial plantings surround the sundial, offering a quiet place for reflection.

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Memories Garden

The feature of Memories Garden, titled "Together Forever", is carved in light gray granite carrying a beautiful "Expression of Love" verse, appropriate for the theme of the garden. The facing stone of the foundation is Minnesota Kosota split-face limestone in shades of pink and buff providing a soft contrast with the feature itself. The feature at the south border of the garden is accessible by a permanent double walkway.

Tall pines and other natural landscaping behind and around the feature offer a peaceful and comforting setting.

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Peace Garden

Peace Garden is dedicated for use by members of the Catholic community with the cooperation and blessing of the Most Reverend Bishop Maurice Dingman. The life size statue of St. Francis of Assisi is handcrafted in white Italian Carrara marble, with a contrasting background of red brick that provides for a dramatic setting. The Prayer of Peace is carved in two plaques of Georgian marble mounted in the red brick.

A paved double walkway draws visitors to meditate in this quiet spot, which is sheltered by large trees and surrounded by a shrub border.

The theme for this garden was built around the Prayer of Peace attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, which was the main prayer given by His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, when he visited Des Moines in October, 1980.

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Prayer Garden

Prayer Garden is located on the west side of the main drive at the entrance to the cemetery. The feature in this garden replicates a graceful pair of Praying Hands carved from white Italian Carrara Marble weighing over 2000 lbs. The base is faced with Wisconsin Lanin Stone inset with two granite plaques reading "Garden of Prayer."

Not only is the Prayer Garden one of the original gardens at HMG, it also is where the first burial took place April 14, 1930. It is one of the two gardens in the cemetery to retain the original platting of ten-foot lots.

The garden is separated into five blocks by permanent walkways with a perennial garden situated around the base of the feature. Two stone benches in the center area provide a place for reflection and meditation.

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Resurrection Garden

The Resurrection Garden encompasses the southeast corner of the cemetery featuring a six-foot tall hand-carved statue of Christ rising from the tomb. The statue is made from white Italian Carrara Marble and the tomb is constructed of brownish red Tennessee Crab Orchard Rock. The stone at the entry to the tomb is gray Utah Lava Rock.

The feature was completed in August 1967 and in 2007 the landscape surrounding the feature was updated to better showcase the statue of Christ and the tomb.

One wide permanent walkway leads to a perennial garden surrounding a birdbath. The walkway continues around and ends at the feature which also has extensive perennial plantings.

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Reverence Garden

Reverence Garden is located east of the central drive. The garden features a statue of "Christ and His Disciple, Simon Peter." This sculpture is carved from white Italian Carrara Marble and rests on a base of Wisconsin Lanin Stone. Two granite plaques identify the area as "Garden of Reverence."

The garden is divided into five sections by unpaved walkways leading to the central walkway which surrounds the feature. Inside the central walkway is a perennial flower garden with crushed stone paths and granite benches.

Numerous oak and maple trees provide shaded areas while flowering plants and shrubs add color and beauty.

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Serenity Garden

Serenity Garden has been developed to accommodate only in-ground cremation burials with uniform-sized lots and memorialization. Space, interment fees and bronze on granite memorials are included in the one time cost for either individual or companion cremation burials.

The feature consists of a bronze plaque on which the poem "Away," written by James Whitcomb Riley, is permanently set in a wall of light gray split limestone.

On the back side of the limestone is our Wall of Remembrance cenotaph for those who wish to commemorate loved ones who have been scattered, given to science or who are buried elsewhere. A commemorative memorial is attached to a square in the wall.

Serenity Garden is located at the entrance to HMG next to 60th Avenue.

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Sermon on the Mount Garden

The Sermon on the Mount Garden situated along the middle of the east side of the cemetery has a boundary of mature pine trees. Permanent walkways provide for either a north or south entrance into the garden, meeting in the middle where a perennial garden is located, anchored by a birdbath. The walkway travels east to the feature depicting Christ sitting, giving his sermon.

Lilac bushes border the north and a mixture of lilac and yews border the south.

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SW Corner

This undeveloped area of the cemetery has great potential for future expansion.

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Tower Garden

Tower Garden has the most recognizable feature of Highland Memory Gardens. Erected in 1935, as a result of the extraordinary vision and support of Des Moines businessman and philanthropist, F. W. Fitch, the Tower of Memories was built to be a distinguishing landmark for not only our cemetery, but also for the community at large. With financial assistance from the Fitch Foundation and several private donors, the Tower of Memories was lovingly restored to its original grandeur in 2000.

Its primary purpose is to provide an elevated sound system in the belfry to amplify chime, organ and voice music played during interment services. It has functioned this way over the years with few exceptions, giving the cemetery the character of an "outdoor cathedral" during services. In the early days, an organ was played from the main floor of the Tower during services. Appropriate recorded music is also played during Memorial Day and other special holidays.

Built with an advanced combination of poured concrete superstructure and a variety of colorful cut limestone provided by Rowat Cut Stone of Des Moines, this tower has stood for decades as a symbol exemplifying the strength and endurance our families have come to expect from Highland Memory Gardens Cemetery.

The mature crab trees bordering the garden were recently replaced by younger trees and perennial plantings.

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Trinity Garden

Gates leading into Trinity Garden are cut white limestone with black iron panels. The garden is divided into three sections by permanent walkways that lead to the feature in the middle section on the west edge of the cemetery. The Garden feature is an impressive fifteen-foot brown and gray limestone wall that surrounds a large panel on which the Bible verses from Matt. 28:18-20 have been etched.

Only an indention in the turf identifies the boundary with Faith Garden to the north, while shrubbery defines the border with Peace Garden.