Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Before-After: Grave Site Garden Design

Hardest job I've done.  He hired me, the 1st time, about 4 years ago.  Now, he's under the black frames, below.
He & his wife became the fun couple on Facebook.  Always together, mostly in the Caribbean during winter, home a few days, perhaps a quick trip to France, perhaps etc.  The clothes, the food, the conveyances, myriad events, their precious dogs, smiles, fun times, fun bearing witness.  Glad someone is 'living the life'.  More to it of course.  His hard work at a company he built over decades, and his earnest stewardship of more than 200 employees.  His funeral at the largest church in town, standing room only.  Graveside service, below, filled the cemetery curbs with cars.
For too many weeks after the funeral, she's had to come to this barren patch.  Alone.  Nothing.
She asked for their cemetery plot, 6 spaces total, rectangular shaped, to look like their backyard.  I designed/installed it, but hadn't been back recently.  Made an appointment to see her, at home.  Terrible appointment, both crying throughout.  Thru the tears, I got what I needed to exactly design their grave site.  On the upper deck, from their kitchen/family room, she said, "This was his favorite spot in the world to be."  In addition, "We love the Caribbean and want it to look like that."      

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Leaving a lot of the story out, he was murdered, by his grown son.  She was home when it happened.

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More than wanting to design their cemetery plot to remind her of their backyard & Caribbean, I know she has the murder trial ahead of her.  His grave site must step up to the plate & nurture her during darker days to come.
Designing their backyard, they had asked for a Caribbean theme too.  And we put in a pool.  A portion, from the outdoor shower to the pool, thru a patch of lawn, has a checkerboard square.  Travertine surrounds the pool.  In addition I spent several sessions vision questing Caribbean cemeteries online.  She wanted the same travertine at the grave.

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Our mason poured concrete, above, for the travertine.  I knew the grave site must have her palm trees, and his beloved red Japanese maples.  Turf for the checkerboard, and the small amount of groundcover, Big Blue liriope.  His eyes were the color of the Caribbean, stunning.  Sourcing  plants, below.

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Studying Caribbean cemeteries it's obvious the pair of colors to use, green-white.

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Ok, next, the seriousness of designing a garden for a nationally owned cemetery.  Layers of rules, and constraints.  I was given the name/number for the manager of the cemetery.   In addition, I wanted the garden design for the grave site to be malleable to input from her sister & brother.  No children, she's being supported emotionally by her siblings.
A few days after giving her the garden design, she called & said it was good.  That's when I called and introduced myself to the manager of the cemetery.  Told him the constraints she had given me for the garden design, and more importantly, I was a team player.  Whatever the cemetery needed, I could abide by.  Happy to make changes.
Sent the plan to him as an attachment, and a couple of weeks later, received approval.  Total approval.   Amazing, the plan went to their national headquarters, and passed, zero changes.
During construction, met with the cemetery manager on site.  Graveyards are not what they used to be.  The section we worked in has irrigation for each grave.  You want, you pay.
More, he said the room with casket display was being remodeled as a party room, with space for caterers.  And, more people are choosing cremation, causing his industry to change.

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Cemetery allowed us to make a cut into the curb for entry, above.  Pair of red Japanese maples will be pruned into a bower arching over the entry.  Boxwood edging will be pruned to knee height.  A bench is on order, and soon, annuals will be planted at the entry.
She will augment cemetery maintenance for the grave site with private.
As hard as this grave site remains for her, cannot imagine the days she has yet to unfold, in the court room with his murderer.
Garden & Be Well,   XO T


Dewena said...

There just are no words to convey the sorrow reading this. I hope this place will be a balm to her and others who loved him.

Penelope Bianchi said...

Oh Tara! What a sad story. And what a beautiful thing you have created there. I know it will be a comfort to her. I am so sorry. You must be so proud. Gorgeous.

HolleyGarden said...

Tara, I read all your blog posts, but I must say, this one totally got to me. The wonderful life, then the story of his death, incredibly sad. The before and after pics of this job are incredible and inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing your thought process throughout the design/implementation.

Brenda Coffee said...

You let this unfold without our knowing and then... You told us about the son. How achingly tragic and difficult for this poor woman. How challenging and sad for you to be required to fulfill both of their wishes. She will take much solace there in the months to come. Garden & Be Well to you my friend. xoxox, Brenda

Cyndia said...

How devastating for her. Bless you for offering her some peace and comfort during this awful time.

Janet R said...

Such a sad story, my heart aches for her. What a splendid design, I hope it provides some solace.

Connie in Hartwood said...

I love this more than you can possibly know. Wonderful, Tara dear.