On the Road is a weekday feature spotlighting reader photo submissions.
From the exotic to the familiar, whether you’re traveling or in your own backyard, we would love to see the world through your eyes.
First Timers Week
Let’s give a warm welcome to Wolvesvalley! She takes us on a tour of the most charming little cemetery plots I can imagine. Just beautiful. Sweet little places that seem to be filled with love. ~WaterGirl
Otmar’s lovely photos of the Vienna Central Cemetery, featured in On the Road last December, reminded me of some photos I took in Germany back in 2006. I discovered the place pretty much by accident. I was in Münster for a conference, and part of my walk from the hotel to the city center lay beside a long, high wall with trees showing over the top. There was an entrance at the corner. No imposing gateway, no identifying sign. Just a place to go in. I looked in, and it didn’t look private. So I went in.
It was plainly a cemetery, but I did not find out until afterwards that it was the city’s Zentralfriedhof (central cemetery). The time was the last week of May 2006, and the trees and flowers were very lush.
The surprise (to me) was that each gravesite was an individual tiny garden! The whole place, huge as it was, had an intimate and cozy feeling.
The plots showed an almost infinite variety in size and elaboration. This one had minimal plantings (or at least nothing that was blooming in late May) but a very imposing and expensive memorial installation.
Its next-door neighbor, on the other hand, was in full bloom. The bulbs in the narrow plot to the right were done, but there may have been more flowers to come.
Hans Brinkmann’s modest rock looked very much at home in his garden. His family had brought him a new basket of geraniums.
All the pretty flowers!
One of the smallest plots I saw, very carefully designed.
I wish I had had time to explore more than a very small corner of this wonderful place.
I’ve taken my share of photos of cemeteries here in LA, I’ve not seen anyone quite like this.
What amazing pictures.
Wow. Now I wish I were dear and buried there.
OH! These are lovely! My family has tried to put perennials around my parents’ cemetery marker, but the township rules are all ‘urns only at side of marker between May15 and October 15’. Only the old part of that cemetery is beautiful, with day lilies and shrubs and other perennials….
What an amazing cemetery! I love the individual garden plots. Thanks so much for these!
What a lovely way to honor your dead! It looks like a serene and meditative place — despite all the gardening that must go on there (and because of it).
What a beautiful cemetery! I’ve never seen anything like it.
Dorothy A. Winsor
What a great way to start the day. There are so many beautiful corners of the world, and, thanks to you, we just visited another one!
Austrian cemeteries look very similar. I’ll try to make picture when I pass by one.
Lovely! I wouldn’t have thought a cemetery would be so special.
Am I imagining that in the US, cemeteries were more often visited? Certainly there were days when wreaths were laid, but I think in general, you not only visited the gravesite, but also walked. Now it seems it’s “set it and forget it.” Or maybe that’s just me.
Wow, how beautiful!
Thank you all for the welcome! I am happy to have provided an enjoyable beginning to the day.
@Baud: You’re already dear to us, and we’re glad you’re not departed!
@otmar: Thanks! Although this cemetery was a surprise to me, I didn’t think it was unique. It would be great to see some other examples (and photos taken by a better photographer than I am, with a better camera than the little Canon point-and-shoot I had in 2006).
What an amazing revelation! I love cemeteries for the history, statuary and shrines but these are the first gardens I’ve seen. Thank you.
@JeanneT: I was intrigued by the mix of permanent and temporary features. The plot in the second picture (the Reismann family) had, besides the permanent plants, an urn with cut flowers, which would have had to be replaced soon, and a potted arrangement which could have lasted a while. Hans Brinkmann’s geranium-and-ivy basket could have lasted all summer, because the plant roots could have grown down through the basket.
There is so much individual attention to the plots that I am sure the families are involved in their maintenance, but I have wondered how much care falls on them and how much the cemetery staff does. Do the families pay an ongoing care fee? Or do they create an endowment when they contract for a plot?
J R in WV
The best camera is the one you have with you to take pix with!!!
Thanks for sharing these, lots of love gong in in that wonderful place. My grandma took flowers to her late husband’s grave all summer long, starting with peonies, big ones, early in summer.
He died when I was just 10 months old, was a blacksmith up in Pennsy Dutch farm country, then came to WV to work as a hoist engineer, running steam engines and building things, was known as the strongest man in the whole outfit.
@J R in WV:
That is true! I still have that Canon SD850 and it’s still a useful little camera, even though it’s only 8 megapixels. It weighs only 6 ounces and it has an optical viewfinder, so it’s usable in bright sunlight. I have a Sony a6000 that I love, and is a far, far better camera than I deserve. But even though it’s small and light for a replaceable-lens mirrorless SLR, it’s a bigger and heavier device than I want to carry around all day when I’m traveling. I have since compromised with a Sony HX90 that weighs 8.5 ounces, and is still a better camera than I deserve.
@Wolvesvalley: Mostly, families will care for the graves themselves. I have been living in Colombia for the last 7 years, so in the case of my parents (and grandparents) grave, I pay a small amount to the cemeterys gardener (I think it’s 120 Euros a year) to do some basic maintenance, plant flowers in the spring etc. Sometimes, graves don’t have anybody to care for them. In my experience, gardeners them will plant some hardy bushes or something so it doesn’t look too bad.
@Onkel Fritze: Thank you! I did wonder what happened if the family died out or moved away.
@J R in WV: I meant to add that I love the details about your grandfather.
I often visit cemeteries when in Austria, because they’re quite old & quite lovely. Often like this one, carefully tended with freshly planted flowers. No artificial flowers. And long lasting candles in red glasses. I’ve been told that All Saints’ Day is a big holiday in Austria, with families visiting their family plots. The main cemetery in Salzburg (where Mozart’s parents are buried) has one section with plain black headstones. With everyone having died the same day. I did some sleuthing and realized it was the date of a WWII bombing run. So lots of history contained within the walls.
I’m horribly late to the thread, but thank you so much for sending these in. I’ve never seen anything like it.