Lily of the valley at Glynn Valley

This weekend involved some rather spur-of-the-moment planting at Glynn Valley Crematorium in Cornwall. Not my usual gardening hangout! On a sunny day (which it was), there are wonderful views from the top of the remembrance gardens down across a large pond into the wooded valley beyond.

The view from Glynn Valley crematorium remembrance gardens

The view from Glynn Valley crematorium remembrance gardens

My dad’s ashes are buried here, in a tranquil haven under a hawthorn tree. Close to established woodlands, and with birds flitting about everywhere, it’s a lovely spot to commemorate the nature lover that he was. Having given ourselves some breathing space since the funeral, we’re now ready to decide what to plant under the tree. Whatever we plant, it needs to tolerate shade in the summer (when the trees are back in leaf) and lots of tree roots, be low growing and low maintenance, and look as natural as possible in this setting.

One plant we know we want to include is lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis). It’s ideal ground cover for dappled shade, and it was one of the flowers in my mum’s wedding bouquet, so it has sentimental value too. This weekend, while in Cornwall, I unexpectedly acquired a few lily of the valley rhizomes. After soaking them in lukewarm water for a couple of hours (sound familiar? see Planting wood anemones!), and snipping the ends of the roots off to jumpstart growth, I managed to lever them into the rooty ground in a couple of clumps either side of the engraved memorial book.

We inserted some sticks to mark the spot, and now we just have to wait to see if the ‘pips’ sprout (for some reason that’s what lily of the valley shoots are called). If they do, in May the plot will be graced with delicate arching racemes of highly scented bell-shaped white flowers, and red berries thereafter. (I think I’m going to try to grow some from seed in my own garden!)

Memorial plot

Memorial plot in need of a shade-tolerant, low-growing, low-maintenance planting scheme

Now that we’ve made a start, I plan to go back next month with a mixture of bulbs to fill the plot – more lily of the valley and potentially some wild wood anemones, snowdrops and cyclamen, but any other suggestions would be much appreciated.

In loving memory of Carl Beesley (dad), 1944-2013.

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