Autumn and winter are the times of contemplation and contemplation and thus also the times of remembrance – combined with visiting the graves of loved ones who have died. These graves then want to be redecorated, and this may include new grave planting. But that doesn’t have to be the case: You can also decide to focus on beauty and durability right from the first grave planting. Then later it is just a matter of a little care and supplementation, or perhaps the attachment of a special seasonal decoration. We will show you the different options.

The basis: ground cover

The vast majority of graves receive basic planting with ground cover . This covering forms a suitable background for all other growths and for any decorations placed on the tomb on certain seasonal occasions. At the same time, however, it offers permanent decoration – even if the person responsible for the care of the grave should be unable to work for a longer period of time, a grave covered with ground cover will never look neglected.

The ground cover for a grave planting should be chosen carefully. He has to meet some special requirements. It should keep its leaves for a long time or be evergreen straight away, nobody wants to go to the grave for a long time in autumn to rake leaves. A good frost hardiness is also recommended, a winter protection applied to a grave site would spoil the optics quite a bit. Here are a number of ground covers that meet such requirements:

  • Balkan cranesbill (Geranium macrorrhizum): robust, long-lived, fast-growing
    • grows around 30 cm tall, flowers in June and grows in almost any soil
    • approx. 8 plants per square meter
Tip: The Balkan cranesbill can decorate a grave all by itself if you combine different varieties that flower in different shades of cream to red.
  • Ivy (Hedera helix): also grows on the ground
    • evergreen, fast-growing, undemanding, about 4 plants per square meter
    • make sure to plant a relatively hardy ivy variety,
    • Ivy needs some shade
  • Spotted lungwort (Pulmonaria saccharata): Spreads quickly on humus-rich soil, tolerates almost any competition, around 10 plants per square meter.
  • Yellow elfin flower (Epimedium perralchicum “Frohnleiten”): The only recommended ground cover among elfin flowers
    • evergreen, undemanding, around 10 plants per square meter
  • Hazel ( Asarum europaeum ): produces a dense and glossy leaf surface
    • at least 15 plants per square meter
    • Soil usually has to be prepared, it needs humus, nutrients and lime
    • Location in semi-shade or shade
  • Evergreen creeper (Euonymus fortunei): in various leaf colors
    • grows in sun or shade in any regular soil
    • depending on the variety by 6 to 12 plants per square meter
  • Small-leaved periwinkle (Vinca minor): Evergreen, carpet-like habit, grows well in sun or shade in any loose, humus-rich soil
    • 10 to 12 plants per square meter
  • Foam flower (Tiarella cordifolia): best ground cover under coniferous and deciduous trees
    • Foam flowers grow in partial shade and shade in any reasonably rich, well drained soil
    • 10 to 12 plants per square meter
  • Waldsteinia (Waldsteinia ternata): Evergreen, persistent, suitable for shade
    • closes the area with its foothills
    • around 12 plants per square meter
  • Ysander ( Fat Man ): Grows in dense green carpets on soil rich in humus
    • starts slowly
    • put at least 15 plants per square meter
    • is also called “shadow green” because it likes to grow under trees
    • also withstands a cover with autumn leaves and is very frost hardy

If you have selected a groundcover and read in a plant description: “Requires nutrient-rich humus”, you can assume that it is ideally suited for your purposes, because the earth in a cemetery is allowed to develop largely naturally. It is often of a better composition than the soil in many of our home gardens. If you now plant the ground cover, do your part to ensure the continued existence of the healthy soil: As in nature, where there is no “bare soil”, the ground cover protects the soil, loosens it and retains moisture from the plant waste that occurs live soil organisms and produce humus from them. In addition, a dense cover of ground cover automatically prevents foreign plants, i.e. weeds, from settling.

Planting the ground cover

It may take some extra work to prepare a really optimal soil bed for the ground cover, but the grave planting will remain uninterrupted and well-groomed for longer:

  • If possible, the soil should be freed from assertive root weeds, which will always cause problems for the ground cover.
  • Heavy soils become looser by working in some coarse compost, light soils become richer.
  • The best time to plant groundcover is early autumn.
  • Because at this time the growth slows down, the freshly planted ground cover has less to fend off new competition that is sprouting up next to it.
  • However, the freshly planted plants have enough time until the onset of winter to form firm roots.
  • The recommendations for planting density given above are aimed at developing a closed cover within the next one to two years.
  • Of course you can deviate from these recommendations, if you want the cover to close in the first year, you can plant more densely.
  • However, this can mean that the plants have to compete for light and shoot long, thin shoots to do so.
  • The ceiling usually becomes more beautiful if you give the ground cover some time.
  • After planting, you can prune the shoots by about half, which encourages the plants to branch out.
  • The best way to suppress foreign plant colonization between freshly planted ground covers is a layer of bark mulch.
  • Because every weed hack would also damage the roots of the ground cover and thus prevent the formation of a dense cover.

Points of view with meaning

The ground cover should usually not be left alone, a little more decoration on the grave is usually desired. You can also bring these in with the grave plants if you do not necessarily and always appreciate the typical decorative items as grave decorations. You can even put plants on the grave that “talk” to their flowers. Their flowers convey a very specific meaning in the language of flowers. The “language with flowers” is a very old communication model that is already mentioned in Egyptian hieroglyphs. A memorial is certainly a very good place to honor this beautiful means of wordless but very aesthetic communication. Here is a list of flowers that you can let do the talking when planting a cemetery for the deceased loved one:

  • Columbine (Aquilegia vulgaris): Embodies the Holy Spirit and thus contains a promise of salvation to come
  • Anemone (Anemone): Tells everyone that you often think of the deceased and miss him
  • Calla lily (Zantedeschia): As a traditional flower of the dead, stands for immortality
  • Chrysanthemums (Chrysanthemum): Are the traditional flowers of the dead to express love beyond death
  • Ice Begonia or God’s Eye (Begonia x semperflorens-cultorum): Expresses gloom, sadness, melancholy
  • Gerbera ( Gerbera ): Tells everyone that the deceased made life more beautiful
  • Lily (Lilium): White, traditional flower of the dead, which stands for purity of heart, love beyond death and the resurrection of pure souls
  • Marguerite (Leucanthemum): Represents many tears shed
  • Carnation (Dianthus): In white, symbolizes eternal fidelity
  • Peony (Paeonia): As a symbol of Mary, it represents Mary’s humility and love
  • Primrose (Primula): Also a symbol of Mary, also known as the key to heaven because of the shape of the flower, which Peter needs to unlock heaven, a symbol of hope
  • Marigold ( Calendula ): Traditional flower of the dead, because the soul should recognize orange flowers particularly well, Christian symbol for redemption after death and eternity
  • Rose (pink): The red color is a symbol of love or the blood of Christ, the white color is an expression of purity and transience and a symbol of Mary
  • Pansy (Viola wittrockiana): With the three-colored flowers, it symbolizes the Christian Trinity, and also stands for modesty, innocence and freethinking
  • Marigold ( tagetes ): Traditional flower of the dead because of its orange flowers, so marigold
  • Tulip (Tulipa): Represents beauty and love and transience
  • Violets (Viola): Symbolize modesty and hope, loyalty and love and paradise
  • Forget-me-not (Myosotis): Stand for love beyond death and eternal togetherness

All of these flowering plants are either native perennials or are at least offered as perennial forms. They can very well be planted sometime in the fall, so that they can decorate the grave a little and then take root in peace over the winter, only to unfold in full splendor again in the spring. Only the ice begonias and pansies are cultivated here as annuals and have already completely exhausted themselves with the plentiful flowering in the first year. Actually, the two also belong to the perennials. So you could definitely be looking for an organic rearing that will still have vigor in the next season.

Grabbepflanzung im Winter

If you’re visiting the tomb in winter, you can plant all of the flowering plants mentioned above, provided the ground isn’t frozen. But of course you will only make your contribution to the beautiful design of the grave next year. If you want flowers to appear on the grave in winter, you would have to choose other varieties:

Christmas roses (Helleborus) bloom in the best case from November, they stand for new life emerging from death, for resurrection. Or you can plant daffodils (Narcissus), which will bloom in March at the latest and serve the same symbolism.

The classic grave with year-round planting

You can achieve a decorative as well as permanent grave design if you plant shrubs between your ground cover. Within such a permanent grave planting, the ground cover proves to be an effective protection for the earth surface and both durable and decorative basis on which you can settle a whole range of higher plants. We have put together a selection of evergreens that are great for planting on a grave. They grow only slowly and are certainly frost hardy:

  • Gold Tree of Life “Rheingold”
  • Japanese azaleas, slow-growing varieties such as “Fridoline”, “Königstein”, “Maruschka”, “Petticoat” or “Schneeperle”
  • Caucasian Zwergfichte, Picea orientalis „Jewel“
  • Lebensbaum, Thuja occidentalis „Golden Tuffet“
  • Wacholder „Blue Star“
  • Dwarf Colorado Fir “Minima”
  • Dwarf yew Taxus baccata repandens
  • Dwarf Cypress “Nana Gracilis”
  • Dwarf silver cypress “Baby Blue”
  • Dwarf white spruce, Picea glauca, also in many different varieties
  • Dwarf juniper “Blue Swede”

The same applies to this permanent grave planting as to the ground cover: Autumn is the best time to plant. With some of these trees, such as the Japanese azalea, you would then have to ask exactly what the flower of the respective variety will look like when you buy it. Here you can choose from a pleasant and surprising wealth of variants.

An autumn or winter grave planting can lay the basis for the festive decoration of a grave for the big church festivals and memorial days. But it can also create a durable grave cover that always looks decorative even without care. The plants mentioned above are of course only the first suggestions. You could also design a grave according to the favorite landscape of the deceased, with typical plants from Tuscany or the Lüneburg Heath, for example.

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