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Fitting flowers to mark the passing of your pet; Mark the life of your four-legged friend with a garden grave and a special plant.

WE LOST one of our dogs recently, a 14-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel called Coco Chanel. We had inherited her from my late mother-in-law and she brought with her all the airs and graces of a pedigree dog.

She spent most of her time lying around snoozing.

On the sad last visit to the vet, he was kindness itself having nursed her through a few false alarms when jabs of steroids worked wonders.

After putting her to sleep, he advised we go home with her, bury her and at some stage plant a rose or other shrub in that spot to remember her by. So that's exactly what we did. We put her in an area of the flower garden where we already have a bench dedicated to her previous owner.

So now Coco is sleeping, surrounded by beautiful flowers in a place she can always be remembered.

Diarmuid's Coco Chanel The next project for me is to decide what plant would be appropriate to celebrate Coco's personality and it got me thinking in general about what to do with pets and what should you plant to remember them.

Pet graveyards are a constant source of wonder, sometimes seen in stately homes.

The one at Powerscourt Gardens, just up the road from me in County Wicklow, is one of that estate's most treasured attractions - rows of little headstones with names and dates. Pet cemeteries can be an expensive route, so what are the regulations for burying pets at home? dog You are permitted to bury small domestic pets, such as cats and dogs, in your garden providing your vet has judged it non-hazardous. You must own, not rent the property.

The pet needs to have lived there - in other words, you can't bury other people's pets on your property.

It's not advisable to bury in boggy grounds or areas that tend to flood in winter - and always site away from water courses, ponds and streams.

It's best to wrap your animal in something biodegradable, such as an old towel or cardboard, and try to allow at least three feet of depth above your pet to prevent it being dug up by animals.

Initially, you could put a slab on the site to protect it and allow a period for soil subsidence before planting your memorial rose or shrub. Or you may decide for a permanent slab that will host a beautiful pot or ornament.

Your choice of plant will as usual depend on the aspect. Is it shady or an open sunny position? It should be appropriate to the type of soil - clay, sandy, acidic, well-drained etc.

You could choose a shrub or small tree that flowers around the time of your pet's birthday or anniversary or perhaps a beautiful Japanese maple you've always wanted.

Another source of inspiration is to research plants that include your treasured pet's name.

I've found a lovely patio rose called 'Coco', which has lots of salmon pink blooms with a golden yellow eye.

There's also a really beautiful Michelia 'Coco', which is a type of evergreen magnolia with scented creamy flowers edged in burgundy.

The problem here is that it is only grown in New Zealand at the moment.

Her namesake Coco Chanel's favourite flower was the camellia, which she included in many of her designs. And her coffin was covered with white camellias, along with white orchids, gardenias and azaleas.

However, my soil is not acidic enough to grow these plants.

Or how about a topiary dog that would make me smile? I'm sure in time the right answer will emerge and I can imagine her tail wagging in approval.

CAPTION(S):

Tribute: A topiary dog could be an option

Elegant: Gardenias (left) and azaleas (right) adorned the coffin of fashion designer Coco Chanel

Diarmuid's dog Coco Chanel

Remembrance: Mark your pet's resting place with stunning camellia (above) or a maple (below)
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Publication:Paisley Daily Express (Paisley, Scotland)
Date:Sep 15, 2018
Words:649
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