Family upset by removal of shrub from cemetery plot

A local family is upset that a shrub was cut down at their parents’ gravesite at the Kings Highway Cemetery and that more plantings are scheduled to come down. But cemetery officials defend the grounds work, saying they are trying to improve the appearance at the cemetery.

Vincent Veccharelli, who has several loved ones buried at the Kings Highway Cemetery, said his sister called him March 29, crying, because she discovered that the shrub Vincent had planted at their mother’s grave in 2003 was gone.

Only the stump remained.

Veccharelli said he visited the cemetery often to trim the shrub, and in his mind, it united his mother and father’s separate graves.

He has since returned to the cemetery to dig up a shrub he planted next to his fiance’s grave in 2004, and another at the plot of a close friend, so that he could transplant them at his home.

He thinks the cemetery association has been disrespectful and accused the groundskeeper of desecrating the gravesites by removing the plantings.

While Veccharelli and his sister, Linda, said they got no notice and saw no postings that the plantings would be coming down, James Beard, cemetery association president, said signs were posted before the plantings were removed.

“We have been thinning out overgrown bushes for several years now,” Beard said. “We do a section at a time.”

Beard said he would remove all the bushes and shrubs at once if there was enough money.

“When plantings get too big, it impedes mowing,” Beard said. “Secondly, the excessive growth infringes on the neighbor's plot.”

Also, removing the plantings improves the aesthetics at the cemetery overall, he said.

The association hasn’t gotten many complaints, mostly compliments, at the removals, Beard said.

Beard said there is a list of plants that are acceptable at the cemetery, and noted that some cemeteries do not allow any plantings, only flush markers, to make it more easy to mow the grass.

A blog called A Grave Interest, published in 2011, confirms that some cemeteries have banned plantings, noting that although plantings date back in history, many cemeteries now limit them because of the maintenance required.

“The planting of flowers, shrubs or trees at the site of a loved one’s grave goes far back into history,” the blog states. “Plantings were used as a way to mark where the grave was or as a way to honor the deceased with a favorite flower or tree. Cedar trees were planted to keep some color in a graveyard year-round.”

While some cemeteries still allow plantings, more and more are refusing such requests, the blog states.

“Cemeteries without sufficient grounds crews do not want the added work of tending to plantings around graves,” according to the site. “Many plants will spread quickly if not tended regularly.”

According to a site called imortuary, “These days, most cemeteries have strict regulations regarding what types of flowers you can put on a grave and how long they can remain before being removed. This is done not to inconvenience families, but to ensure that the grounds remain beautiful for all the visitors stopping by.”