Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Is there life after death? (21 MAR 2012)

Amongst the towers and traffic of the East End of London is a place to find peace and sanctuary.

Originally commissioned as a burial ground in Victorian times, now a public park and nature reserve cared for by one paid worker, Friends and volunteers.  A place where young Londoners, who may have never seen woodland, can visit with their schools or families.

Historically, all churchyard burial grounds were consecrated.  In modern times, graves are leased for up to 75 years, even so the inner city of London will run out of grave spaces in a few years.

Mother Nature reclaims what she can.

Managing this land on a shoestring budget is a delicate balance between preserving it's history and encouraging the growth of wild flora and fauna whilst facilitating public access.

At some point in our lives we shall be faced with the reality of our mortality.
It might be in a doctor's surgery awaiting test results, after narrowly escaping a road accident or in a place of rememberance like this.
Consequently, our faiths will be tested to their limits.
Despite everything that we have been taught and believe, some of us may still wonder :
Is there life after death ?

I've stopped asking this question since becoming a gardener.

trumpet daffodils                                                                             double daffodils

jetfire daffodils                                                                            Narcissus canaliculatus

lesser celandine                                                                                  primrose

unknown 1                                                                                         snowdrop

star of bethlehem                                                                               pickwick crocus


unknown 2                                                                                      hyacinth

lamium                                                                                            unknown 3

unknown 4                                                                                      unknown 5

unknown 6                                                                                             anemone

bluebell                                                                                            muscari

All that lives must die, Passing through nature to eternity.

©Copyright 2012 b-a-g. All rights reserved. Content created by b-a-g for


Christine @ The Gardening Blog said...

I love all the plant life, especially the daffodils. It looks like a place where one can just "be".

Lovely photos and post.

Karin / Southern Meadows said...

I'd say that is a lovely place for a body to rest for eternity. Kudos to all the volunteers who maintain it. We had to renew the lease on my grandparents burial plot in Germany recently. It has been 10 years since I've been there to visit and I hope it is being maintained with so much care.

Indie said...

Beautifully written. What a uniquely beautiful place!

Anonymous said...

We have a great deal to thank the Victorians for and creating wildlife refuges in city cemeteries for later generations has to be one of them.

linniew said...

What a beautifully written and photographed post! The flowers thriving among the old graves--dramatic and lovely and made your point so well. Thanks b-a-g.

HolleyGarden said...

I love old cemeteries. And this one is beautiful with all the flowers popping up everywhere.

Donna@Gardens Eye View said...

There is such life, history and mystery in old cemeteries. I do love exploring and hope they do not fall on disrepair...when I was a child exploring the woods near a friends house we discovered an old cemetery from the 1700s...fascinating....and of life being born in the cemetery, so many wonderful flowers...

b-a-g said...

Thanks Christine - That's a nice way to put it. Being there is a really spiritual experience. There is an underground station around the corner and many people walk through here , I could tell that they felt the same way.

Thanks Karin - The caretaker and volunteers do a brilliant job. I think they've got the balance spot-on.

b-a-g said...

Thanks Indie, Croftgardener, Linnie, Donna & Holley - This is the only cemetry that I've ever visited. I stepped inside with trepidation several years ago, I came with a group of volunteers, not really knowing what to expect. When I saw the first violets in my garden last week, I decided to return to the place where I first saw them.

Mark and Gaz said...

There are a few cemeteries and churchyards in the south east that are worth visiting, for the planting as well as famous people that are interred there.

Thoughtful post, Carpe Diem and enjoy the pleasures of gardening!

Donna@GWGT said...

I too appreciate cemeteries. There is so much beautiful architectural elements in them from the carved stones to the mausoleums. Most here are very well maintained and usually all grass. The bulbs are much prettier, but nature overtaking the stones is not something seen much here.

Carolyn @ Carolyn's Shade Gardens said...

I think graveyards are kind of a waste of space (cremation?), but they certainly gain stature with time. Your photos of this graveyard are beautiful and haunting. Just in case you want to know what the plants are: unknown 1 Ipheion?, the snowdrop is a snowflake (Leucojum vernum), unknown 4 comfrey cultivar, unknown 5 Siberian squill?.

Alistair said...

A thought provoking post b-a-g. Beautifully written and the Spring flowers set it off magically. Is there life after death? when I was young my employers were brethren (christians) I kind of got caught up in it, well a little. Funny how you would think that the older you get the more comfort you would find in religion. Perhaps we are afraid to admit that life after death is a bit of a long shot, in the fear that we may be excluded. Personally I now feel Christianity and much of the writings were created by man in an attempt to make us behave in a more civilised manner. I think that working with nature gives us an understanding of what its all about, without all the mumbo jumbo stuff. Do I believe in God, yes, yes, yes.

Masha said...

It looks beautiful. Here, a lot of cemeteries are just huge expanses of lawn with stones lying flat for ease of mowing :(.

b-a-g said...

Thanks Mark & Gaz - Good point, I need to get on with doing some gardening ...

Thanks Donna & Masha - There are graveyards with lawns in the UK too. This was a privately-owned burial ground that was sold to the local council. It's now used as a public park and is being developed into a nature reserve.

Thanks Alastair - Working with nature has certainly opened my eyes to see the bigger picture. Some of the nicest people I know are religious. They have something that I'm still looking for.

Thanks for helping with the flower names Carolyn - About 70% of people in the UK opt for cremation.

debsgarden said...

I agree that nature is a confirmation of life after death. I am a Christian, and to me the order and complexities of the universe clearly point to a Creator. One small way God reveals himself is in all those beautiful blooms, growing amidst the gravestones!

David Marsden said...

What a lovely post - wish I'd thought of the idea! When living in SE London it was often cemeteries I would go to just to see some green - and get some quiet. Dave

Laura Bloomsbury said...

Lovely - a thought provoking post b-a-g, filled with flowers. I believe in keeping faith with the awesome and not trying to resolve it with religion.
p.s. was this Tower Hamlets or Abney Park. Due to visit the latter in the next week or so

b-a-g said...

Thanks Deb - It was a beautiful revelation.

Thanks Dave - It certainly wasn't quiet here, the birdsong was almost overwhelming.

Thanks Laura - This is Tower Hamlets. Looking forward to your post on Abney Park.

Stacy said...

I grew up in a very religious home (in a good way), with specific doctrines and beliefs and behaviors. Like Alistair said, a lot of that has faded over the years. Nature and gardening--like in your beautiful photo of the trumpet daffodils near the ivy-curtained gravestone--seem to offer less specificity but more certainty. A sense of keeping the faith, maybe. Lovely post (and place), b-a-g.

Suzanne said...

In nature’s garden such flowers, like the one Snowdrop, are ever so delicate and yet their beauty is strength? It tells of God’s claim in all things, for all creation, of which we are his own. Thank you for being a gardener who shares such joy; while on a shoestring budget. Because in your giving and caring way life is less hurried for everyone who visits the East End of London; as the noise of our world quiets a bit more and one draws, perhaps, a bit more closer to whom one is in God.

Suzanne McMillen-Fallon, Author 2012
“There’s one thing I know–God exists.”’sWritings.html (currently not active)
The Mommy Writings Series
Mommy, would you like a sandwich?
Book 1

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