Memorials banner: summer shot of young memorial silver birch tree in the foreground with memorial trees in the background.
Memorials Available at Sun Rising Natural Burial Ground


As a natural burial ground there are no large headstones at Sun Rising, but there are other ways in which a loved one can be remembered.

Slate Memorial Plaques

In woodland burial areas, there is the option of a small slate plaque, engraved with the name and dates of a loved one, together with a few chosen words. The plaques are secured onto low wooden posts, and installed near the tree.  A grave needs to settle before a tree plaque can be installed: this may take 2 - 6 months.

If a tree plaque has been ordered, it is possible to order a temporary wooden grave marker through us.  This will remain in place until the tree plaque is installed.

Beside paths and tracks around Sun Rising, there are a number of large wooden posts, onto which slate memorial plaques can be fixed. From April 2020, these come in two sizes: the larger are for those buried at Sun Rising.  For those laid to rest as interments of ashes after cremation, the plaques are a little over half the size.

A simple picture may also be possible.

To ensure the site never feels untidy in a human sense, no memorials other than these are permitted.

Memorial Post with crow perched on top.

Memorial Trees

A memorial tree beautifully expresses the enduring cycles of nature, giving reassurance as it comes into leaf each spring, growing gently year by year.  It is not only a gift to the one who has passed away, but to the landscape and to generations to come.

Where a woodland plot is chosen, a tree can be bought through Sun Rising to be planted on the grave.  Trees can also be bought to mark the lives of those we have loved and respected who are not buried at the site.

All the trees available are native to South Warwickshire and the clay soil. The options are listed below.

Slate Memorial Tree Plaque at Sun Rising

These grow to take up more space in the canopy above and soil below.  They may not always available: too many large trees will compete with each other poorly, allowing none the chance to mature properly, nor the development of a healthy understory of smaller trees and shrubs.

  • English Elm (geographical clone)
  • English Oak (Quercus robur)
  • Small Leaved Lime (Tilia cordata)
  • Wild Service Tree (Sorbus torminalis)

These are trees that don't need to be dominant, making up the main part of the woodland.  Some make up the healthy understorey, coming into leaf more quickly and seeding more prolifically.

  • Alder  (Alnus glutinosa)
  • Alder Buckthorn  (Rhamnus frangula)
  • Bird Cherry  (Prunus padus)
  • Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa)
  • Buckthorn  (Rhamnus cathartica)
  • Crab Apple  (Malus sylvestris)
  • Dog Rose  (Rosa canina)
  • Dogwood (Cornus sanginea)
  • Field Maple  (Acer campestre)
  • Goat Willow (Salix caprea)
  • Guelder Rose  (Viburnum opulus)
  • Hazel  (Corylus avellana)
  • Hawthorn  (Crataegus monogyna)
  • Midland Hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata)
  • Silver Birch  (Betula pendula)
  • Sweetbriar Rose (Rosa rubiginosa)
  • Wild Cherry  (Prunus avium)
  • Wild Privet (Ligustrum vulgare)

To see photographs and information about each tree on our list, have a look at the following websites :

The Wildlife Trusts
Trees in Britain (Pictorial Guide)

Guarantees: Memorial Trees are guaranteed for ten years. If a tree fails within ten years of it first being planted, we will replace it free of charge. If we feel a different species would do better in that spot, or the developing woodland will no longer allow adequate space for the tree to grow, we would consult with the family. After ten years, we encourage families to see the woodland as a whole as the memorial, trees growing, seeding and dying to allow new saplings space to grow.

Buying Trees: Memorial Trees are all provided by us. Trees are planted as little bare rooted saplings (2 - 3') in order to give them the best chance to establish and grow, and are protected from rabbits, hare and deer with sturdy green tree guards for the first 7 - 8 years. We strive to ensure that all our saplings are English grown, bought from a reputable local tree nursery.

Planting: Trees planted before Christmas always do better than those planted afterwards. Tree Planting Weekends are held in late November to mid December, and all families who have bought a tree are notified and invited to attend - whether to plant or witness the planting of the trees by Sun Rising staff and volunteers.

Planting of a Memorial Tree at Sun Rising

Parkland Memorial Trees

While a few oaks, small-leaved lime and other large trees can be planted in the woodland areas, these will naturally compete with other trees, growing tall and slender for a while, a minority coming to dominate the eventual canopy.

However, to create a further kind of ecological habitat, a small number of trees are planted in the meadow, where they can grow to their full glory without competition from other trees. These we call Parkland Memorial Trees. They may be oak, small leaved lime or elm.  They are guaranteed for fifty years.

Only a dozen or so will be planted within the sixteen acres of Sun Rising. There may be no availability at the time when you enquire, but let us know if you would be interested.

Young Parkland Oak at Sun Rising

Memorial Oak Benches

Occasionally, beautifully hand-crafted benches can also be bought through us to be installed at Sun Rising. The bench can be hand-engraved with a loved one's name or a few key words.

The benches are crafted of Scottish oak from sustainable forest sources. Because we use no varnish or preservative, after a year or so the oak softens to a natural brown-grey. Cracks appear but these should not compromise the strength of the bench. NB: We cannot guarantee the life span of our natural benches.

In order to retain the natural feel of the burial ground, only a limited number of benches can be bought for a site.  We do have a waiting list.  Please ask if you're interested.

Memorial Bench at Sun Rising

Supporting Wildlife

What better way to remember a loved one at a nature reserve burial ground than by supporting the wildlife?

You may like to sponsor a nest box for birds, or a roosting box for bats.  Our bird feeders also have sponsors, both for the feeder itself and for the huge quantity of birdseed the birds get through each week.

Birdfeeder at Sun Rising20