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Please help


Im a new gardener and looking for advice for a very special project. Have just lost my eldest, dearest dog and having him cremated. When we get the ashes back we would like to put them into a large container so that he can be, well, reborn in a way, and feed a plant/shrub etc. Will be a nice memorial to him. Trouble is, I have only one shot at getting it right because if the plant perishes then his ashes will have been wasted. So my question is this - which plants would be suitable? Container size is not important as we can purchase anything, but we live in Aberdeenshire which can get very cold in winter. I would like a fairly large plant which can obviously deal with the nutrient levels that will be added to the soil from the cremation ashes. I wondered about an acer, or roses etc but wondered if there may be better choices out there. Any thoughts? Xx 



  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,149

    It's a nice idea but does it have to be a pot?   Most plants prefer to be in the ground, especially if they are to grow to any size as they can then spread their roots to get all the water and nutrients they need.  Plants in containers are entirely dependent on you for food and water.   Also, plants in containers are more likely to have their roots damaged by freezing temps unless you can take them under cover for winter.

    First of all I advise you to start watching Beechgrove Garden when it starts broadcasting again in March or April on BBC 2 Scotland, repeated Sunday mornings on national BBC2.  It is based at a garden near Aberdeen so has plants that should survive in your garden.   You will learn all sorts about what, when, how and where with plants, planting, pruning etc.

    The programme publishes fact sheets online for each programme and the website has info on the various gardens and their plants within the plot so you can check what will survive your winters and see if you'd like to give them a try - 

    If you do choose a shrub or tree, you should know that the smaller specimens usually grow away faster and stronger than the larger ones which can take a while to get their roots established well.   Roots drive upper growth and health so getting the planting conditions right.   

    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Hi mark, welcome to the forum, so very sorry for your loss......our pets are so special and will always have a place in our hearts.

    I think what you are planning is a lovely idea, would it have to be a pot? I will not offer any of my own thoughts as I'm still a 'learner' myself and would hate to give you wrong advice. There are plenty of people on here that will be able to offer you their thoughts and opinions on what will work so as you can achieve your aim of creating a memorial to your beloved dog. x

  • Oops crossed posts with you Obelixx, knew one of you would be quick to offer mark some help. Good advice as always.

  • It doesn't necessarily need to be a pot, though I liked the idea that it was a)a dedicated space and b) could be taken with me if ever I move. I've a huge garden here that was knee deep with thick tufty grass two years ago and is now under control with lots of herbaceous borders, a chicken enclosure, small orchard, veg patch and greenhouse. I'm not a complete beginner, having grown plenty of things from seed etc and always remembering to lift my dahlias etc! It's just that with other plants the risk of choosing the wrong plant means only that I need to either move it or replace it if it entirely perishes... with this special project though I am reluctant to do anything without seeking advice as if the plant starts to take up the nutrients from the ashes and THEN dies then I will have lost both the ashes and the memorial plant.... I do watch beechgrove sometimes but it isn't a patch on GW!!! 

  • Exactly mark, that was my line of thinking. Such a special project needs expert advice and I'm sure you will gets lots. Check out the link from Obelixx as a starting point.

  • PosyPosy Posts: 3,601

    When my beautiful horse died, five years ago, a friend gave me a little collection of hardy shrubs. I made a special group of them and added favourites of my own and we call that area Ben's Garden. They have grown up and filled out and have interest at all times of year, now. If I had to move, I could take cuttings because they are all very tough, easy-going types. I don't know about ashes, but I think having a special plant or area in your garden is a very good idea.

  • punkdocpunkdoc Posts: 13,726

    I would go for an Acer. Many different types, interest a lot of the year and do well in pots.

    How can you lie there and think of England
    When you don't even know who's in the team

    S.Yorkshire/Derbyshire border
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,149

    In my experience, acers (Japanese maples) don't like to be lashed by strong wnds and suffer if their fine branches get frozen.  Lots of dieback.

    If you can plant one in a sheltered spot protected from wind and deep frosts it will be happy in a pot and give you a lovely display of fresh spring foliage and autumn colour and, if you pick the right one, winter stem colour.

    I found in my last garden that evergreens such as viburnum and skimmia don't take well to being frozen hard and all died one bad winter so if you regularly get below -15C I wouldn't choose a broad leaved evergreen.

    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • AuntyRachAuntyRach Posts: 4,989

    Lovely to have a memorial mark.sabine.

    If the worry of the plant failing is heavy then maybe consider that the pot, planter or garden space dedicated is the real 'memorial'. Maybe you could consider keeping some of the ashes back to use once your plant is established/thriving so you can nourish it periodically? I suppose it depends on your beliefs and wishes about the ashes but I would say - don't put pressure on yourself and enjoy the process and the sentiment as much as you can. 

    I wanted to nurture a plant 'for my Mum' when she died and was worried in case the plant didn't flourish. I decided to dedicate a collection of pots in a small border instead. Some of the plants did not survive the winter but the process of tending to the memorial garden and re-planting is still a lovely bond and activity. 

    I hope you can be successful in creating your memorial - best wishes. 

    My garden and I live in South Wales. 
  • Joyce21Joyce21 Posts: 15,489

    My dogs' and cats' ashes are under various shrubs in the garden. . . it's meaningful to me as I walk round. 

    SW Scotland
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