Plaques that grace the ground beneath a tree hold a special significance. The tree itself can represent many things – the courage of a fallen soldier; a larger than life character; a special event, etc. –and adding a plaque can give it even more meaning.
Memorial plaques are aptly named because they were originally used to commemorate World War 1 servicemen who had died in battle. Originally made from iron, commemorative plaques can now be created using a wide variety of materials; though usually a metal alloy for engraving purposes.
Types of Memorial Plaques
Any type of plaque can be placed underneath a tree; however, the most popular design is the small rectangular aluminium plaque engraved with a concise epitaph. These understated plaques can be any colour or shape and keep the attention on the memorial tree rather than the plaque itself. Another popular option is a stone with a flattened edge rather than a wooden backing. These plaques are sturdier, longer lasting, and weather resistant; however, they’re slightly more expensive due to the added labour involved during production.
Rules and Regulations
Rules and regulations regarding installation of tree memorial plaques can be very confusing. Before placing any memorial in a public space the local council should be informed. Memorials underneath trees are usually accepted if the person in memoriam was of particular significance to the local community, such as a fallen soldier. If the deceased, event or landmark is not well-known in the area and you don’t have written permission, then the plaque could be removed and destroyed.
Planting a tree is another matter. Many authorities will insist that the tree stays in line with the aesthetic of the area. It may be easier to plant a tree in your own garden as opposed to on public land as obtaining planning permission can take months, or even years. Information regarding planning permission can be found on most local council websites.
Finding a Suitable Design
When choosing a tree memorial plaque, it’s not just the regulations and area that needs to be taken into account. Does the plaque require maintenance? Are you planting the tree, and if so, will you need to maintain it yourself? Are there any alternatives which might be cheaper and more relevant? Make sure you understand the legalities and long-term commitment before you even think about buying.
Stone memorials are by far the most robust; and some would also argue that they’re the most beautiful. Stone is difficult to mass produce, and thus, provides a unique memorial that can’t be replicated. However, they can be expensive to engrave and mould and mildew will likely build up on the surface. If you choose a stone plaque that’s embossed and painted it will likely require an annual repainting to keep the wording bold and readable.
Installing a Memorial Plaque
Never screw a plaque directly into a tree. The holes are effectively open wounds that could become infected, which could kill the tree and destroy the monument. If you are granted permission to install a memorial plaque you’ll probably have to hire a professional to conduct the process.
Image Caption: Memorial plaques are usually placed directly under trees.