Woodbrook Natural Burial Ground Co. Wexford

Trees and flowers that can be planted on a grave at Woodbrook NBG

Planting a tree on the grave of a recently deceased loved one is the ultimate environmentally friendly tribute. The tree will leave a beautiful growing legacy which will give to many future generations.

At Woodbrook we are creating a graveyard which will eventually become a piece of traditional Irish woodland, a sanctuary for our native flora and fauna. To achieve this families may have a tree planted on each grave. If you don’t want a tree planted you don’t have to have one. Families booking multiple side by side spaces can also choose to have only one tree planted instead of multiple of trees on different graves.

There are already a number of large ‘high canopy’ trees in the burial ground. These will need to be added to over the years in order the complete the high canopy. Meanwhile the trees planted will be coppiced to allow space for everyone to have this option.

Feeding the wildlife that is attracted to the grounds is important to us, as is looking after the pollinators. We also want to allow families the opportunity to under sow the graves with native wildflowers if they wish to.

The list of trees below have been chosen to achieve our goal whilst allowing families the opportunity to have this ultimate growing legacy. Note: for maintenance reasons avoid trees/shrubs which develop suckers.

List Of Trees

Strawberry Tree (Arbutus unedo)

This broad leaved evergreen is called “Caithne” in Irish and is also sometimes called “the Killarney Tree”. It is often found in oak woods in counties Kerry, Cork, Wexford, Wicklow and Sligo.

It’s name comes from the red berry fruit that it produces which resembles a strawberry. Although edible it is not quite as tasty as a strawberry - the latin name for the species “uneda” basically means “I only eat once” - this may mean that it is best left for the birds. It produces lots of white flowers in November and December, which can often mean the fruit and the flowers are on the trees at the same time.

Grows between 5 to 10 meters tall.

Mountain Ash (Sorbus aucuparia) Red berries

A light canopy native deciduous tree where the branches grow to 10-20 meters tall. The Irish name for mountain ash is Caorthann. Commonly found in Irish glens, by mountain streams and in woodlands. Bears strongly–scented large numerous white flower in May-June and clusters of red berries in autumn. The berries hang onto the tree into winter which is very welcome for birds. Good for pollinators. The species name ‘aucuparia’ comes from the latin ‘aucupor’ meaning to catch birds.

FAQ: Are mountain ash affected by ash dieback. A: Ash dieback does not affect mountain ash.

Mountain Ash Joseph Rock (Sorbus Joseph Rock) Golden berries

This variant of the mountain ash has amber yellow / golden berries.

Crab Apple (Malus Sylvestris)

This small to medium sized deciduous native tree that grow wild and freely in our old hedgerows. It has beautiful pink/white blossoms which are pollen and nectar rich which flowers in June. They produce small apples in autumn which are about 1 or 2 inches in diameter which can be eaten. Grows to about 10 meters tall.

White Common Birch (Betula pubescens) aka Downy Birch

A deciduous native tree mostly identified by it’s striking white, pink, or peeling brown bark. A light canopy allows for under sowing. Produces yellow -brown catkins in early spring.

Grown to 10-20 meter tall. This tree does not like long periods between coppice - coppice is on a 5 year rotation. The catkins which are produced in early spring are an important source of early nectar and pollen for bees and other insects.

Hawthorn (Crataegus Monogyna)

Hawthorn, a thorny deciduous native, is Irelands most common hedgerow tree with the roadsides becoming a sea of white cluster flowers (sometimes a blush pink) in May each year. The tree becomes laden with bright crimson berries in autumn. There is lots of traditions attached to this tree – example.. Traditionally no one cuts a lone hawthorn tree as it is thought of as a meeting point of the fairies.. However it is also considered as a lucky tree. Among other uses the young leaves are edible and can be included in a salad. Hawthorn can grow to 6 meters tall. It’s Irish name is ‘Sceach Gheal’ meaning thorn bush. Again hawthorn is extremely important for pollinators, birds and other wildlife.

Hazel (Corylus Avellana) Common, Green

Once believed to be “the tree of knowledge” the Corylus avellana is a large, deciduous shrub or small tree. It is a tree which loves to be coppiced and their long stems are very useful (hazel fences etc). It is easy to spot by the long yellow catkins that appear in January and February. The edible hazelnuts appear in September in their frilly green husks. The catkins which are produced in early spring are an important source of early nectar and pollen for bees and other insects.

Grows up to 8 meters tall

Hazel Purple (Corylus Avellana) Purple

Similar to the green common hazel, however the leaves are purple/red and the catkins are red/purple.

Holly (Ilex Aquifolium)

Holly is a beautiful small native evergreen tree. In Irish it is called ‘Cuileann’

Produces small white flowers in May – June followed by bright scarlet berries (non-edible) in late autumn. It is an extremely important tree for birds and other wildlife in winter.

It can be hard to transplant – so potted plants work best. As it is evergreen it does not work well for under sowing – however this can be resolved by removing/clipping the bottom branches.

Holly is often used in Christmas decorations – and indeed this is leading to a shortage of holly in certain parts of Ireland.

Interesting fact: Traditionally this tree was planted close to houses as it was seen as protection against lightning strikes. Science recently discovered that this may be a true deterrent as the spines can react as miniature lightning conductors.

Medlar (Mespilus Germanica)

This small, deciduous, slow-growing tough hardy little tree was once found commonly growing in kitchen gardens in Ireland. In recent times it has become a bit of a rarity, which was part of the reason for including it in our list. It produces an impressive pale spring blossom and russet -golden edible fruit which are not harvested until later in the year (November time) often after a sharp frost. The fruits can also be used to make flavoured jelly. It grows best in a sheltered spot with lots of sunlight.

White Common Willow (Salix Alba)

This native deciduous tree gets its name from the white shade of the underside of the leaf. As with all willows it loves to be coppiced and the long straight stems are very useful in basketry and fencing, the larger trees can be made into charcoal. The bark was also used in the past for pain relief, among other medical uses. The catkins which are produced in early spring are an important source of early nectar and pollen for bees and other insects.

Spindle Tree (Euonymus Europaeus) aka Spindleberry or Burning Bush

This small native deciduous tree is known for being particularly stunning in autumn when its leaves turn a rich orange-red and it’s bright pink berries open to reveal its bright-orange seeds inside. Commonly found on the edges of forests and ancient woodlands. The fruit / berries are non-edible. Grown up to 3 – 5 meters tall. Spindle is a tough, hard and dense creamy white timber often used in stair making. Currently the timber it is finding a use for making top quality artists charcoal.

Guelder-rose (Viburnum Opulus) A tree not a shrub

Guelder–rose is a beautiful deciduous shrub – the only shrub on our list. In June and July it produces a stunning dense, flat-topped clusters of fragrant creamy flowers. Produces translucent shiny red berries in late autumn. The leaves also turn red in autumn.

Can reach as high as 4 meters tall.

List of Flowers

Flowers / bulbs can be sown or planted on each individual grave at Woodbrook.

While compiling this list we have limited our selection to native Irish species which are to be found in old Irish woodlands. We have also taken into consideration the importance of attracting pollinators while avoiding excessively invasive species which could lead to maintenance problems in the future.

We will add more to this list in coming months, if you have a specific question about any flower please contact us and we will advise – your research can also be very useful to us so please share to colin@greencoffins.ie

Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) Native Irish species only please

Probably the most beautiful and most anticipated arrival from April onwards in any woodland each year.

They spread a beautiful carpet of blue colour in shaded areas under the trees. The native Irish bluebell is known as the “English” bluebell – please avoid the Spanish bluebell (Hyacinthoides hispanica) when planting.

Snowdrops (Galanthus Nivalis)

One of the first and most beautiful flowers to pop up in the woodlands each year in January and February.

They prefer to grow in shady areas (perfect for under sowing at Woodbrook) under broadleaf trees where the leaves fall of in the summer. They brighten the often colourless woodland floor at the most dreary time of the year.

Wood Anemone (Anemonoides Nemorosa)

The wood anemone is one of our most beautiful woodland flowers. The small white flowers are very visible on the avenue under the chestnut trees at Woodbrook NBG in early spring. It is a perennial herbaceous plant growing 5-15 cm tall. In Irish it is called Lus na gaoithe (plant of the wind) a reference to the way the flexible flower stem allows the flower to bend in the wind. Traditional coppice woodland management really helps this little flower to flourish. Planting period for bulbs is from September to November.

Lily Of the Valley (Convallaria Majalis)

Again a beautiful scented little white flowering plant ideal for under sowing. A herbaceous perennial it spreads to form extensive colonies in woodland areas. Flowers in May.

Primrose (Primula Vulgaris)

One of our favourites at Woodbrook with it’s beautiful pale yellow flower. The of the common primrose appears in the grounds in early spring. Ideal for under sowing. Widely available as young plants. The name in latin translates as “first rose”.


There are lots of different varieties of ferns available – each one having a place in our woodland. Ferns just love our damp Irish weather and the shade provided by the trees.

Foxgloves (Digitalis Purpurea) Lus mór

Foxgloves are one of our most beautiful indigenous plants. They are nectar rich and are particularly attractive to insects and rely on bees for pollination. Often prominent in hedgerows and woodlands it reacts well in coppice areas. We are lucky to have some white flowered foxgloves at Woodbrook which were often used for medical purposes. If considering planting please avoid hybrid species. Widely available in seed or plug plants – flowering from June to August.

Red Campion (Silene Dioica) Coireán Coilleach

As the Irish name suggests this is another beautiful woodland flower – ideal for under sowing. Flowers from April/ May until September often just as the bluebells are finishing off. Loved by pollinators in the past this perennial flower was often worn as a buttonhole by young unmarried men. Sow seed from March to October.

Wood Sage (Teucrium Scorodonia) Lúr Sleiibhe

This perennial native herb producing a yellow flowers from July to September and can grow to 12-24 inches in height. Also known as woodland germander. They are highly attractive to pollinating insects.

Solomons Seal (Polygonatum Multiflorum)

A welcome addition to woodland with its dangling white blossoms in spring early summer. Provides nectar, pollen, berries and shelter for wildlife.

Flowers that are more suited to the grassy areas of the burial ground

Oxeye Daisy (Leucanthemum Vulgare)

The Irish name for Oxeye daisy is ‘NóinIn mór’ which means ‘big daisy’ and that really does describe this beautiful flower. Strong erect large flowers (up to 80cm stems) allow these flowers to compete with grasses in a meadow. They are a hardy perennial and will self seed. Sow seeds from February to July with flowers from June to September. Ideal for the areas of the graveyard with less trees.

Cornflower (Centaurea Cyanus)

This bright blue annual flowering plant often grew as a weed in cornfields. Due to over-use of herbicides it is now endangered. Can be seen in the grass meadow at Woodbrook in the areas with less trees. Very good at attracting bees and butterflies and other pollinating and beneficial insects. Sow seeds from March to May – flowers from June to September.

Harebell (Campanula Rotundifolia)

Found throughout Ireland in dry grasslands – so again more suited to areas in the burial ground where there are less trees. Sow in May to June – with flowering June to September. Often called the bluebell of Scotland where it colonises grasslands and open areas – or as the name suggests in areas you would expect to have hare visitors.

Field forget-me-not (Myosotis Arvensis)

The Irish name is Lus míonla goirt. The flower is regarded as one of the prettiest if not smallest at 5mm in diameter. This annual or biennial grows to about 35cm and it flowers from May to October. The bees also love this flower. Again more suited to areas with less trees – the edges of the burial ground. Sow seed from Aptil – June with flowers from May – June.

Cowslips (Primula Veris)

Bainne Bó Bleachtáin in Irish. Noticeably absent for some time, is now making a comeback. The yellow-orange flower frows to about 8-15mm in height, nodding to one side. This flower blooms in early summer months, in April and May.

Yellow Rattle (Rhinanthus Minor)

The Irish name for the yellow rattle is gliográn. The flowers reach a height between 10-30cm. Yellow rattle is a parasitic flower that attaches itself to the roots of grasses, reducing the ability of the grasses to grow large and take over a meadow, thus creating room for other wildflowers to grow. A favourite for any farmer looking to grow a wild meadow surrounded by agricultural land.

Contact Us

If you have questions or need further assistance. We are gladly to help and will get in touch with you.

  • Cnoc Glas, Shannagh, Fanad, Donegal Ireland

  • +353 74 9152712

  • +353 86 1722955

  • facebook.com/greengraveyard

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