Graveyard Plantings

Carolyn’s Shade Garden in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania

TheGardenLady recently wrote  a post answering a question about the the types of plants she would recommend planting near a graveside.  You can read it here.   She then received the following letter from Carolyn Walker of the famous  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, which  was about the same topic.  Here’s Carolyn’s letter.

Hello Garden Lady

It is very coincidental that you should have this question about planting around graves. One of my customers referred an elderly woman to me who was interested in planting around her husband’s gravestone. The cemetery, which was in the woods, allowed live planting. She sought my advice on what would be elegant, simple, easy to maintain, and most importantly, deer proof.

My son and I went to the graveyard and transformed the site. First we removed the sod in a rough oval extending around the sides of the grave to soften its stark outline (see before photo). Then we planted ten shade perennials for maximum year round impact and deer resistance. We chose three Helleborus niger ‘Jacob’, one of the new Christmas roses that is not only evergreen but also blooms from November to April. We surrounded it with five Lamium maculatum ‘Shell Pink’, the only lamium that blooms from April to November. It is also evergreen. We now had flowers and foliage year round. Finally, we added two Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’, a perennial forget-me-not with huge, silver leaves and long-blooming blue flowers in spring. To me the heart-shaped leaves of this plant symbolize the husband and wife. The two after pictures show the completed job. The plants will fill in quickly so that no bare earth remains.

I have never done this type of planting before, but it was immensely satisfying.


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