Lasting Landscapes by Carol

Peaceful Plantings

Peace, love and joy are common greetings this time of year and ones I always aspire to demonstrate. I visited Laurel Hill Cemetery this fall and found it to be an amazing and peaceful place. A place where loved ones of the deceased as well as the members of the surrounding community reflect, remember and commune with nature.

Lasting Landscapes by Carol
Located along the Schuylkill River not far from center city Philadelphia, Laurel Hill serves as the final resting place for many.
Lasting Landscapes by Carol
Gregg Tepper, Senior Horticulturalist; Aaron Greenberg, Arboretum Manager; and Jo Cosgrave, Horticulturalist (not pictured) spent the better part of a day with us and provided a comprehensive tour.
Lasting Landscapes by Carol
Visitors see monuments for miles surrounded by majestic trees.
Lasting Landscapes by Carol
Seating areas invite visitors to pause and remember.
Lasting Landscapes by Carol
Shade trees add to the peaceful setting and provide the perfect place for reflection.

Laurel Hill is a very special cemetery. It’s historic, yet modern, an arboretum and more. The arboretum staff do a stellar job of maintaining the property and use nearly maintenance-free plants to ensure lasting appeal. Drought tolerant plants and other gorgeous specimens provide a great alternative to plastic or silk flowers which are strictly prohibited.

Lasting Landscapes by Carol
Sedums and other drought tolerant plants grow in challenging spaces like these cradle graves with stone surrounding them.
Lasting Landscapes by Carol
Pellaea atropurpurea (Purple cliffbrake fern) grows happily in the stone archways.
Lasting Landscapes by Carol
6000 specimen trees and shrubs and over 700 unique species and cultivars grow here along with some state champion trees.
Lasting Landscapes by Carol
I loved this allée of Gingko trees.
Lasting Landscapes by Carol
During my fall visit, this Camellia was in full bloom.
Lasting Landscapes by Carol
Uniquely colored roses softened the many stone monuments.
Lasting Landscapes by Carol
This climbing rose graced a nearby trellis at Laurel Hill East Cemetery.
Lasting Landscapes by Carol
Climbing aster (Ampelaster carolinianus) added great color to the fall landscape.
Lasting Landscapes by Carol
Wealthy people are buried in millionaires’ row which has a spectacular view.
Lasting Landscapes by Carol
Some of the millionaires’ names are listed on this marker.
Lasting Landscapes by Carol
The owner of this gravesite engraved ‘Cocktails at Six’ is on their monument to highlight a daily routine.
Lasting Landscapes by Carol
Architectural masterpieces appeared around every corner, like this Art Deco inspired mausoleum.
Lasting Landscapes by Carol
Certain monuments looked broken and ruined, showing in stone how loved ones felt regarding the passing of their beloved.

Laurel Hill has evolved with the times. They now offer a green cemetery area where un-embalmed bodies are buried in caskets made of wicker or similar materials that rapidly decompose. When the reserved active burial area is full, native plants and trees cover the bare earth. As an echo of human life, plants mature, and shade trees transform the sunny meadow into a forest over time.

Lasting Landscapes by Carol
The green burial area starts out as meadow and eventually becomes a forest.
Lasting Landscapes by Carol
Meadow plants include Asters and Asclepias. Mother Nature uses seeds left to ripen to create new life.
Lasting Landscapes by Carol
Eryngium leavenworthii shows off its purple sheen in the meadow.
Lasting Landscapes by Carol
Granite slabs engraved with the names of those buried in the green area take the place of gravestones.

While some may find the thought of visiting a cemetery unappealing or depressing, I encourage you to change your mindset. Cemeteries can be magical spaces, especially when they house an amazing assortment of trees, shrubs and perennials planted artfully to sooth the soul.

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