The Caring Grave Gardener

We offer a caring Grave Tending Service for Mortonhall Cemetery, Edinburgh
& Edinburgh Cemeteries

 

Grave Tending Services, Edinburgh

Grave Tending Services Edinburgh

No longer living in Edinburgh, can't visit your loved one's grave as much as you wish? We offer compassionate Grave Care Services for Mortonhall Cemetery and cemeteries throughout Edinburgh. Our Grave Tending Services include:

Jen - Your Caring Grave Gardner

The Caring Grave Gardener Edinburgh

My interest in plants and gardening was sparked in my childhood garden which was where I spent most of my time amongst a large variety of flowers, trees, fruit and vegetables. I had my own little plot where my first project was sowing wildflowers to count towards the Brownies’ ‘Gardener’ badge (cringe).

As well as the plants, I was fascinated by all the creatures that lived in the garden; it was the perfect learning ground for a young nature lover, and helped develop my ambitions to become a botanist. ...

Yes! After completing a University degree in Plant Science, I went on to gain a Doctorate in Botany. During these years of my research I was very privileged to be based at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh. Studying and working with plants has been richly rewarding for me in many ways. Among my most inspiring experiences has been working on a number of Scotland’s rare wild plants, which grow in some of the most remote and beautiful parts of the country.

I have come back to gardening through the back door, as they say, using my knowledge as a botanist and naturalist to develop my own garden. Having started with a sterile plot, I have created in miniature several different habitats – a pond, a meadow, a rockery, a flower border and a small woodland. All of the gardening has been done on a budget, and the wildlife has arrived for free – foxes, birds, bees, butterflies, frogs, newts, and even a visiting otter.

As much as I can appreciate the grand gardens of a country house, I am much more at home gardening on a small scale where I know and tend each individual plant. Grave gardening allows me to combine this focus with a desire to evoke the same kind of childlike appreciation plants can inspire, whether it be colour or scent, or shape or some of the traditional uses or meanings associated with the plant. When my father died I took great comfort in seeing the snowdrops pushing up in the hospice garden, a sign of new life and great beauty which he shared with me in life. And so I hope to introduce people to the idea of having a miniature garden of life on their loved one’s grave.

Caring Grave Care

Grave Care Services Edinburgh

We are a specialist grave tending company located in Edinburgh offering grave maintenance and other services for when you don’t live nearby. Our services can also offer you peace of mind when you cannot visit your loved one’s grave as often as you would like. We:

  • are honest, caring, collaborative and transparent
  • will purchase only from reputable plant sellers
  • will endeavour to make the grave look cared for
  • will send digital images after each visit
 
Mortonhall Cemetery, Edinburgh. Grave Tending Services Edinburgh

My Parents' Grave: 2019

Grave Care: My (Trischi's) Parents' Grave

... and how we started this venture.

In 2014, I had to heart-breakingly give up my Family home in Edinburgh. Thereafter, I could only bare coming up once a year for an annual visit to my family's (Mother & Father) cherished grave in Mortonhall Cemetery, Edinburgh.

Over the years I have tried SOOOOO hard to make the grave pretty with plantings, but, with annual trips I have been unable to frequently care for it and nurture seasonal foliage :( So, over the years, I have placed advertisements for a gardener to tend my parents' grave. Alas, gardeners, deemed the project too small / unappealing (apart from sweet Jill who had caringly looked after it before) :( Last year (2019), I cried when I visited the grave and saw that all my lovely plants (and I had spent so much over the years on them!) had ...

...disappeared, the plot was overrun by an awful unruly bush, and the pebble border was in disarray. It had never been as bad as that. I was... mortified, crying and haunted :( In previous visits I had got the cherished grave to look like, for example...

Mortonhall Cemetery, Edinburgh. Grave Tending Services Edinburgh

This year, by stellar luck, just as my Edinburgh ad was about to expire, Jen replied on... my Mother's birthday (March) and, during lockdown! Poor Jen, over a week I politely tested her so hard over her trustworthiness and integrity in offering to grave tend on my behalf (I'm a canny half-Scot and don't want to be done over!). Jen has been utterly brilliant - honest, knowledgeable, attentive, collaborative, compassionate and hard working.

In Spring 2020, the grave plant selection, planting and tending project began. Jen is still planting throughout the year and has left space for the plants to grow. We have planted, for example Edelweiss (one of Mummy's favourite plants), Fusilier Carnations, Flanders Poppies & Hesperantha coccinea 'Major' (Daddy was a Major in the the Royal Highland Fusiliers), Cyclamen, Dianthus, Anemone nemorosa, and Christmas rose to be in flower around the time of Daddy’s birthday.... All of the plants have some real special meaning for me and were chosen with Jen’s advice to be suitable for the plot.

As we have both worked so well together, I thought, Jen would be perfect for my back-burner idea of... setting up a grave tending service in Edinburgh, particularly for Mortonhall Cemetery mourners like myself who can not regularly tend their grave. Jen is the expert gardener and I (Trischi) am the web guru :)

P.S. I so miss my Mummy and my Edinburgh family home. Visting Edinburgh is so hard and visting the grave makes my heart miss beats at first, but then bizarrely, it is the the place I feel most tranquil at.

Mortonhall Cemetery, Edinburgh. Grave Tending Services Edinburgh

My Parents’ Grave: 2020, After Jen's First Planting

 

Grave Planting Services

Grave Planting Edinburgh

Our Grave Planting service will really make your grave extra special:

  • Consultation and advice to choose meaningful and suitable plants for your grave
  • Transparent purchasing of plants from a reputable local supplier
  • Preparation of the plot and soil improvements
  • Planting of the plants
  • Plant care - agreed number of sessions to nurture the plants
  • Photographs (Before & After) emailed after each visit

Regular Grave Tending

Regular Grave Tending Edinburgh

We offer a regular Grave Tending service which is highly flexible from four times a year or, as you wish:

  • Gravestone washed with water
  • Tidy-up: removing weeds, leaves & neatening the grave’s borders
  • Grave plants cared for e.g. watered, dead-headed, pruned
  • Photographs (Before & After) emailed after each visit
  • Raise any concerns - e.g. condition of the gravestone
  • Add-ons e.g. new plants planted, flowers placed on the grave - To be discussed

Grave Tidy Up

Grave Tidy Up Edinburgh

We offer a one-off or an annual Grave Tidy Up service, particularly suitable to commemorate an anniversary or birthday:

  • Gravestone washed with water
  • Tidy-up: removing weeds, leaves & edging the grave’s borders
  • Grave plants cared for as required
  • Photographs (Before & After) emailed after each visit
  • Raise any concerns - e.g. condition of the gravestone
  • Add-ons e.g. flowers placed on the grave - to be discussed

Grave Tending Pricing

Grave Maintenance Services Edinburgh

We will care for your grave with respect as if it was our own loved one’s. Our prices exclude long distance travel costs to a grave.

  • Grave Tidy Up - £35 (can be requested up to 3 times a year)
  • Regular Grave Tending - 10% off
    • £126 for 4 visits/year
    • £189 for 6 visits/year
    • £408 for 12 visits/year
  • Placing cut flowers / wreaths on the grave - £35 + cost of flowers
  • Grave Planting Service – bespoke for your plot, we will quote you.
  • Grave Planting Advice – £35 ph
 
Grave Maintenance Services Edinburgh

The Caring Grave Gardener's Reviews

To be honest, we don't have any reviews yet apart from my case study above. We've only just started. And we won't create fake reviews!

We do ensure a stellar and caring service and will add reviews here as when we receive them.

If you are happy with our service, please do give us a review so we can add it to the website.

And do come back, to read our reviews.

Grave Maintenance Services Edinburgh
 

The Caring Grave Gardener's FAQs

The most natural and safest way to clean a headstone is by cleaning it with water. Gravestones can contain cracks, particularly old headstones, that could be exacerbated by some cleaning methods. The following headstone cleaning methods could damage your headstone:

  • Chemical cleaning agents e.g. bleach - as headstones are porous, chemicals can seep inside of the stone and cause corrosion.
  • Acidic cleaning agents e.g vinegar or lemon detergents - will eat away at the headstone surface.
  • Abrasive cleaning agents and tools (e.g. brushes) - can scratch the gravestone and exacerbate subsurface cracks.
  • Pressure washers - the highly pressurised water can remove the outer surface of the stone and expose the soft interior pores of the stone to the outside elements. For older headstones the intense pressurised water may cause pieces to fall, flake or break off.

We will use only water and a soft cloth to wipe gently the grave’s headstone. Leaves, twigs will be removed by hand before cleaning. If we notice any damage / natural erosion to your headstone which has occurred between our grave tending visits we will notify you.


The environmental conditions of your grave plot affect what plants will grow there - soil, light/shade, exposure, aspect and drainage. We can recommend plants that should do well in the existing conditions and make some improvements to the soil to help new plants establish. We can also advise on the suitability of any plants you would like to have in memory of your loved one.


Most cemeteries have management rules relating to the size of plants that can be planted on a grave plot.

  • Trees - are not permitted; although there might be other locations where a memorial tree can be planted.
  • Height Limit - there is usually a height limit for graveside plants of 2 feet (c. 60cm) so that they do not overshadow neighbouring graves. This still allows a vast choice of potential plants - small shrubs, smaller herbaceous perennials and annuals, herbs and many wild plants.
  • Plant spread - the spread of a plant can be kept in check by careful pruning or thinning.

Plants will grow best where they can flourish in the conditions available without an unrealistic amount of intervention. Where the conditions might not be ideal for a plant of your choice, the plant must be responsive to appropriate care to encourage it to flourish. Without daily attention, such as you might give to plants in your garden, the most successful graveside plants will be those which are disease resistant, low growing and least prone to wind damage, frost hardy, and have reasonable tolerance of drought once established. Whilst this excludes some more tender plants, it still provides a great variety to choose from.

Factors to consider when selecting plants:

  • Cemetery guidelines - most cemeteries have guidelines about what sizes and types of plants are allowed, for example trees or shrubs can become too large or unruly over time. Moreover, the maintenance crews have to be able to work around your plants without damaging them or causing more work.
  • Type of soil:
    • Clay soil: has tiny particles that stick together, forming large clumps. While clay soil tends to be of higher fertility than other soil types, it is not optimal for planting because its texture makes it very difficult for plant roots to work their way into it.
    • Sandy soil: often drains too quickly and is less able to retain nutrients.
    • Loam soil: is crumbly, full of organic matter, retains moisture yet still drains well. This is an ideal planting soil.
  • Climate - review where your grave is located for e.g. the light levels (is the grave mostly in the shade or sun), moisture availability, wind levels... This will affect the types of plants which can or cannot flourish there.
  • Space – will be limited, but most grave plots will allow either one or two medium sized plants or low growing shrubs, or several smaller plants within their boundaries. A greater number of plants can be accommodated by successional planting - where different plants appear above ground and flower at different times, e.g. Spring bulbs and Summer perennials, to give a longer season of interest.
  • Containers - such as small planters or pots can be sunk into the ground to allow different plants to be grown close together without competing with each other, and allowing the plants to be moved if required. Some plants will even flower more if grown in pots than in the ground.
  • Plant Height - though you or your missed one had their favourite plants, some plants may be too tall to plant at your grave as they could overshadow the gravestone.
  • Perennial & Annual flowers - Perennial plants which grow year after year will provide the grave with seasonal colour, but as they grow they do need some maintenance. Annual flowers (which includes most bedding plants) grow from seed and flower within one year; they tend to require more frequent watering. Perennials and annuals which flower at different times can be combined in the one plot.
  • Wild flowers – many native wild flowers make excellent graveside plants and can be grown from seed as single species or a mixture. They are attractive to pollinators and tend to be more drought tolerant and disease resistant.
  • Memories – What memories do particular plants evoke for you? Is there a favourite flower you remember from your parents’ garden as a child? Was your loved one a nature lover, a cook, a gardener, in the armed forces? Did they have a favourite colour, smell, season?
  • Planting themes – You might want to consider a colour theme – red and white for military, an aromatic herb garden; a miniature rock garden for a mountaineer.
  • Wildlife - avoid planting plants which can attract squirrels, rabbits, birds... For sure some wee rascals have eaten some of my (Trischi's) bulbs.

Did you know? The tradition of laying flowers at a grave originates from ancient Greeks who placed flowers on warriors’ graves. It was thought that if flowers grew on the grave, the warrior had moved on and found happiness in the next world and they were sending a message to say so.


One of the delights of having plants growing on a grave is seeing them come into flower as the seasons change. With carefully planned planting, even on a grave, different plants can provide colour throughout the seasons. And many plants can be encouraged to flower more than once or for a longer period. These are just a few examples of the best seasonal grave plants:

  • The best Spring plants for graves: Crocuses, Daffodils, Snow Drops...
  • The best Summer plants for graves: Carnations, Geraniums, Irises...
  • The best Autumn plants for graves: Bowden Lily, Michelmas Daisies, Sea Hollies...
  • The best Christmas / Winter plants for graves: Christmas Rose, Cyclamen, Ferns...

We have plenty more ideas for the best seasonal plants for your loved one's grave. Do check out our Grave Flowers & Plants Ideas below, and our Insta photographs showing Jen nurturing seeds and plants before they are planted on a grave and The Caring Grave Gardener's Pinterest pin boards with more graveside flowers and plants ideas.

There are no rules about what flowers can be placed on a grave. There might be flowers which were a favourite of your loved one or which have special meaning for you. Flowers can relay symbolism, which is very important for remembrance. When choosing flowers to leave at your grave, just let your heart be your guide.

  • Beautiful spirit - Larkspur
  • Delicate beauty - Orchid
  • Devotion - Edelweiss, Lavender, Honeysuckle
  • Forget-Me-Not - Forget-Me-Nots
  • Friendship - pink Roses, Zinnias
  • Immortality of the soul - Wreaths
  • Lamentation - white Chrysanthemums, dark crimson Roses
  • Loyalty - Violets
  • Love, declaration - red Tulips
  • Love, eternal - Heliotropes
  • Love, passionate - red Roses
  • Love, sweet - White Jasmine
  • Please forgive me - Purple Hyacinths
  • Pray for me - Verbenas
  • Purity - white Roses
  • Respect - Irises
  • Thank-you - Sweet Peas
  • Thinking of you - White Clovers
  • Veterans - Scarlet Corn Poppies

Which flowers to lay on a grave, on days of remembrance and special occassions?

  • All Saints Day - white Lilies, colourful Peonies, Tulips, Roses
  • All Souls Day - Lilies, Roses
  • Chrismas - Chrismas wreath
  • Day Of The Dead - Marigolds (Cempasuchil), Baby’s Breath, Hoary Stock, Cockscomb, Gladiolus, Chrysanthemums
  • Easter - Pasque flower (derived from the Hebrew word for Passover, "pasakh"
  • Mother's Day - Daylilies (filial devotion to a Mother), white Carnations
  • Father's Day - white Roses to honor a deceased Father
  • Remembrance Day - Scarlet Corn Poppies, red Carnations
  • Wedding Anniversary - Calla Lilies

And grave flowers to perhaps avoid as they have negative meanings:

  • Daffodils - denote new beginnings
  • Peonies / Petunias - in Victorian times Peonies represented anger
  • Rhododendrons - indicate beware, as their leaves are poisonous
  • Snapdragons - deception
  • Striped Carnations - in Victorian times striped Carnations conveyed rejection or refusal
  • Orange Lilies - hate, pride, and disdain.
  • Yellow Carnations - in Victorian times yellow Carnations conveyed disdain
  • and... petrol station flowers!

Do check out our Grave Flowers & Plants Ideas below, and our Insta photographs and The Caring Grave Gardener's Pinterest pin boards with more graveside flowers and plants ideas.

Here are some tips on how to keep your cut flowers last a bit longer on a grave:

  • Vases - purchasing and placing your flowers in a memorial grave flower vase will provide your flowers with much needed water.
  • Pre Grave Visit Preparation - place the stems of your flowers in deep water and leave them there for a few hours before visiting the grave.
  • Leaves - remove all leaves from the part of the stem that will submerged in water. The bacteria from leaves that decay underwater can build up to plug the ends of the flower stems and prevent them from absorbing water.
  • Fizzy Lemonade - add a small glass of fizzy lemonade in the water before adding your flowers. The mix of acid and sugar helps to stop bacteria and therefore helps make the blossoms last longer.
  • Sugar - add a spoonful of sugar in the water before adding your flowers will nourish the flowers.
  • Copper Coin - add a copper penny and a spoonful of sugar to the memorial vase water. The copper in pennies acts like an acidifier, which prevents the growth of bacteria.
  • Aspirin - crush an aspirin in the water before adding your flowers will nourish the flowers.

You can have both - cut flowers and planted flowers on a grave! But there are some good reasons to consider having plants growing on your loved one’s grave.

  • Longevity – cut flowers last only a few days, whereas you could have growing plants in flower for every season. Individual plants can flower over many weeks or months, and foliage can provide colour and interest when flowering is over.
  • Cost – Over a year or more having plants established on your grave could cost less than it would to lay cut flowers every week or month.
  • Peace of mind - lf you can not visit as frequently as you would like to, then having carefully chosen flowers growing on your grave is more practical and comforting, rather than bare soil or the inevitable weeds which will cover the ground.
  • Environmental benefits – cut flowers have a considerable carbon footprint (grown intensively in heated glasshouses, transportation, packaging), whereas growing plants, even on this small scale, benefit the environment and wildlife.
  • Choice – whilst there are many different cut flowers available, the range of plants which could be grown is far greater, allowing you to choose plants which have meaning for your loved one or which you simply love the look of.
  • Nurture – there is something very special about nurturing a plant and watching it grow. It symbolises the cycle of life, the arrival and passing of each season. Living plants delight and surprise us, and are a natural way to nurture our memories.

Not sure whether to opt for a one-off grave care service or a regular grave tending service? We highlight the benefits of annual / one-off grave care vs regular grave tending services.

Annual / one-off grave tidy up benefits:

  • Grave appearance – for a limited time the grave's appearance is significantly improved with regard to a clean headstone, weeds removed and borders tidied.
  • Natural damage reporting – natural damage concerns can be raised e.g. the condition of the gravestone, fallen lanterns.
  • Cost – a one-off grave tidy is the cheapest option.
  • Commemoration – a one-off grave tidy is ideal for commemorating for example, birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas...
  • Digital Images – if you can't visit the grave you can see it (before and after the tidy-up).

Regular grave care benefits:

  • Grave appearance – with a regular grave care service the grave will look cared for throughout the year.
  • Natural damage reporting – any concerns regarding e.g. the condition of the gravestone can be reported on a regular basis.
  • Cost – we offer a 10% discount on our regular grave tending service for 4 annual visits or more.
  • Peace of mind - if you can not visit as frequently as you would like to, then subscribing to a regular grave tending service is more practical and comforting, avoiding bare soil or the inevitable weeds and leaves which will cover the ground after an annual grave tidy service.
  • Nurture – if special plants have been planted in the grave's plot they will require nurturing throughout the year.
  • Digital Images – if you can't visit the grave you can see it throughout the year and at your loved one's birthday and anniversaries.

We are here to make your loved one's grave a place of warm remembrance. Would you like to discuss our services?

Cemeteries are an important habitat for many wild creatures. Some, like rabbits, can be a pest if they eat your plants. However, rabbits would much rather have fresh cut flowers – that is like dinner on a plate! If rabbits are a problem, there are many plants which are less tasty to them and which they tend to avoid – including bulbous plants, herbs, plants with prickles and strongly scented garden or wild plants.

If your loved one was a nature lover, planting flowers which attract insects like bees and butterflies is a fitting way to nurture your memories and the native wildlife.


Apart from leaving customery flowers at a grave, other remembrance objects can be left at a grave, including a:

  • Christmas Wreath - in Germany Christmas wreaths are placed on graves which relay the missing of the loved one during Christmas. The Christmas wreaths can comprise: pine branches, red berries, pine cones, red ribbons and holly.
  • Evergreen Grave Blanket - a Scandinavian tradition, is a woven arrangement of greenery that covers the grave's plot during the winter months or at Christmas. A Grave Blanket is typically made from the boughs of evergreens intertwined with pine cones, Gypsophila (Baby’s Breath) flowers, and at Christmas, with ribbons. During winter months few plants flower and foliage is withered so a Grave Blanket will cheer up a grave at Christmas.
  • Coin - leaving a coin at a grave is meant as a message to the deceased soldier's family that someone else has visited the grave to pay respect.
  • Remembrance Cross - a remembrance cross is a small plywood cross with a red crimped paper poppy in the centre with the words 'In Remembrance' printed below which is used to remember the sacrifice of the UK armed forces, particularly during Remembrance, held every year in November. One can also place a Poppy Wreath at an armed forces grave. Where can you buy a Remembrance Cross or Poppy Wreath from? Both the Remembrance Cross and Poppy Wreath can be purchased from Lady Haig's Poppy Factory, Edinburgh.
  • Stone - leaving a stone at a grave is a common Jewish cemetery custom which is a symbolic gesture from the visitor to say to the loved one, “I remember you...”

Grave Tending Tips
 
 

Useful Info - Mortonhall Cemetery, Edinburgh

Address: 30A Howdenhall Road, EH16 6TX, Edinburgh
Opening times: 8am to 6pm, daily
Office Closed: Sundays & public holidays
Parking: Parking is available and there are 4 disabled parking spaces (in front of the chapels and behind the main building).
Facilities: Toilets & an outdoor tap beside them (BYO watering container)
Transport: Lothian Buses No. 7, 37, 47 or 67 & First Bus No. 62.

Consent & Liability

  • Consent:
    • Authorisation - we will, please, require a written letter of authorisation to tend your grave.
    • Images - we may ask if you would consent to us using an image on our website or on social media.

Waiver any liability for the: ...
- Natural Damage - we would never do anything to damage your grave.
- Gravestone - while every endeavour is made to clean your headstone and we will only use water, some natural wear and tear, staining and decay is impossible to clean.
- Plants - due to nature we can't guarantee the longevity of the plants planted.

What we won’t do:
- Use any chemicals (cleaning agents/herbicides/fungicides etc).
- Place artificial flowers at a grave.
- Move or handle grave ornaments unless agreed with you.
- Carry out any work which might impact on neighbouring graves.
- Planting which might infringe cemetery management rules.

What we will do:
- Care for your grave with respect as if it was our own loved one’s.
- Only do what has been agreed with you.
- Provide evidence of the work we have done.
- Contact you if we have any concerns about your grave.

 
The Caring Grave Gardener

Contact Us

We will be delighted to hear from you.

The Caring Grave Gardener