Journey Journal… Winter Park, FL
MUTATION in ELYSIAN FIELDS
Anyone who has not been to any cemeteries in recent years might be surprised by the modern imprints that now beautify them. In many cases, landscape architects haven’t left a stone unturned, so to speak. Cremation gardens, in particular, are contemporary features of recent origin on burial properties and, at certain ones, they are exquisite masterpieces of design.
The concept of these attractive havens has been grasped by cemetery owners who recognize their desirability. As the rate of cremation escalates, so does the development of this type of amenity on burial grounds throughout the country. The economic forecast for a return on such an investment is favorable. In contrast to substantial acreage required for whole body interments, the space allocated as quarters for many units of cremated remains can be confined to a smaller area. The sales potential is great due to the significant number of remains that can be accommodated within a delineated area. Maintenance costs are lower. And opportunities for stylistic innovations are refreshing in contrast to predictable patterns of commonplace cemetery layouts.
Sometimes a cremation garden suggests a sense of sanctuary in an area that feels segregated from the rest of the grounds, if not geographically, at least visually. Foliage accentuates the effect. The Glen Haven Memorial Park harbors one that implies that sort of retreat.
Its entrance pathways surround a fountain, refreshing to body and mind under the searing Florida sun.
A stroll along groomed walkways reveals an eclectic mix of stone memorials. Some of the conventional ones are modest and generically basic.
Other memorial structures are distinctly unique and exceptional.
Cremation bench monuments summon an impression of meditative repose. Such configurations are constructed with single or multiple inner chambers to hold cremated remains of an individual or several family members. They may be straight or curved, with or without arms and backs.
Symbols reminiscent of the person who died may be prominent elements of style.
For decedents who had been multi-taskers, perhaps memorial signets that serve a dual purpose are especially apropos. Granite birdbaths invite enlivening activity.
Sundials on pillars with chambers that contain cremated remains capture a natural way to avoid losing track of time… perhaps even alluding to the preciousness of it!
Often a cremation mecca such as this one features niche walls or community columbaria on the premises.
It is common, also, to encounter a contemporary version of a cenotaph. The bronze plaques on this community memorial bear the names of people whose remains were buried or scattered elsewhere – sometimes in another area within the garden.
In an arena of sectioned “family estates” there is room for multiple burials of related remains.
The expansive allotments offer opportunities for unconfined creativity. You never know when a visitor might want to pause for a picnic or a game of chess!
Perhaps the most commanding component of this picturesque “Tranquility Oaks” cremation garden is the tranquility of its pond and waterfalls enveloped in lush foliage.
Amid soothing bird songs, sun-drenched lily pads, and gentle ripples, it is an oasis of serenity that bespeaks the nature of death.