Plants and Trees as Objects of Commemoration

There is a longstanding tradition of planting trees to mark an event or remember the death of a person. It’s a fitting tribute, one that will stand the test of time as the tree grows, and one that is alive rather than stone or marble.

There are plenty of notable examples of these types of natural memorials. Many people planted trees in the immediate aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States. There have also been stories of acorns taken from a World War I battle site (the Battle of Vimy Ridge) being used to repopulate that area’s tree life (with the help of a Canadian do-gooder) after it was destroyed over the course of a four-day battle.

If the idea of planting a tree to commemorate an event or in the memory of another person is an idea that resonates with you, here are some ways you can make it happen.

  • Do it yourself: This can be both a cathartic and meaningful task to take on yourself. Planting a tree from a seed or sapling in itself isn’t difficult, but it does take some effort to maintain and grow it and make sure it not just survives, but thrives. You need to make sure that you not only plant the seed or sapling correctly, but that you also properly water and fertilize it, especially in the first few years of its life.
  • Offer seeds or saplings at a memorial service: You can encourage a number of people to plant trees in the memory of a loved one by giving them seeds or saplings to take home from a memorial service, with instructions for how to plant and grow them. In this way, the memory of your loved one will live on through the growth of many different trees, tended by people who were touched by your loved one’s life.
  • Instead of spreading ashes, plant a tree with those ashes: If you have a loved one who was cremated, you can order a biodegradable memorial tree urn. In doing so, you can bury the urn while planting a tree directly over it. This adds even more meaning to a new tree than just a standard dedication, as the materials used in the urn include ingredients that will help spur the growth of the tree.
  • Order a tree to be planted in a particular area: There are many types of nonprofit organizations that plant trees in forests where they are needed, or in particular locations around the world, be they human-made groves, naturally grown areas or city parks. Through these organizations you can order a tree to be planted, and dedicate the tree as a memorial gift. Depending on the organization, you may receive a certificate of dedication and instructions as to where exactly your tree is located. In many cases, the dedications are placed in an online registry on the organization’s website, with photos of the tree that was planted.

For more ideas about how you can commemorate a person, event or moment with the planting of a new tree, we encourage you to contact us at admin@soiladvocates.ca or 289-221-0164.

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By |2019-05-07T09:09:52-04:00May 7th, 2019|Categories: Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , |

About the Author:

Dr. Leanne J Philip, BSc. (Hon.); MSc.; PhD. is the Managing Director & Chief Scientist of Soil Advocates Inc. She studied at the University of Guelph as an undergraduate (Plant Biology, Environmental Management and Urban Horticulture) and as a graduate student (Plant & Soil Interactions). She has a keen interest in soil sciences, which lead her to the University of British Columbia in Vancouver for doctoral studies in soil carbon sequestration and movement within British Columbia’s clear-cut soils. Further work in soil sciences in Europe and Canada reinforced Dr. Philip’s belief that soil processes and mechanisms belowground drive aboveground aesthetics and plant interactions. While active in both research, mentorship and teaching, most recently Dr. Philip has been working in applied soil sciences in industry and community outreach. Dr. Philip is a native of southern Ontario and is a strong advocate for scientific literacy within her community and responsible environmental stewardship.

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