"From Lucy, to Andrew, to Ashes to Blooms" - Healthy Life Essex Blog, 09/02/24

"From Lucy, to Andrew, to Ashes to Blooms" - Healthy Life Essex Blog, 09/02/24

Ashed to Blooms can help you create a lasting legacy for a loved one

Ashes to Blooms Helps Create a Lasting Legacy with Wildflower Memorial Seedballs

Losing a loved one is always challenging. For most people, the time after the death involves countless decisions that need to be made and the grief and sadness is almost put on hold while necessary arrangements are made. One decision that is often overlooked if the loved-one, whether a beloved person or a special pet, has been cremated, is what to do with their ashes. There are several options available, but perhaps one of the best ways to create a lasting legacy is wildflower memorial seedballs.

David Holmes is the founder of Sussex Seed Balls which provides small-batch wildflower seed balls, including heritage seed balls, plus a range of botanical gifts all sourced locally. This is his story of how he was inspired to launch Ashes to Blooms after two very sad deaths in his own life.

This is David Holmes' story


From Lucy, to Andrew, to Ashes to Blooms

By David Holmes

Growing up, we were very much an ‘animal household’. At one time or another, we had every imaginable pet, ranging from Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs, to stick insects.

Over the years, our beloved animals passed away, and took-up their final resting places in our family garden, close to where they lived and caused hilarity & mayhem.

In 2010 I decided that my flat, and my life, were missing something and so I set about finding an animal companion. That summer I was lucky enough to come across a mischievous Netherland dwarf rabbit, later to become known as Lucy. She came home with me & was the best companion for almost 12 years.

Losing Lucy inspired David to launch Ashes to Blooms creating beautiful wildflower memorial seedballs

Lucy lived free in my lounge and made it entirely her own. We referred to it as ‘Lucy’s lounge’, as she was very much the boss of the territory. Lucy really came into her own during lockdown, when she became my ‘lockdown buddy’ & was a brilliant companion.

Lucy was full of love, enjoying head strokes and cuddles, as well as being feisty and endlessly naughty! When she decided it was time for strokes, Lucy would either (in her younger years) jump onto the sofa & nibble me, or (in her later years), sit by the sofa and stare at me until I realised that my attention was required. She was intelligent and affectionate and always knew how to get what she wanted.

By early 2022, Lucy was suffering from arthritis and on 27/01/22 I made the heart-rending decision to have her put down. This was performed by our local vet, who had provided Lucy with great care during her life and this level of care continued until the end. I was with Lucy until the end and was stroking her head (her favourite thing in the world), as she slipped away.

The vet gave me several options for dealing with Lucy’s body, including taking her home with me, or sending her for group or individual cremation. I didn’t have a garden to bury her in and didn’t want her to be in a box on the mantelpiece for the rest of my life, which didn’t seem like a fitting end for a girl who was so full of life and naughtiness. And so, in the moment, I opted for the group cremation.

As well as the grief, I also felt a lot of guilt for allowing Lucy to be sent for a group cremation & very much felt that I hadn’t given her the resting place that she deserved. During this period, I spent hours online, searching for alternatives to burial or cremation, as well as ways of making use of ashes.

It turns out that there are endless options, where your loved one was human or animal. ‘Scatter tubes’ are one way to spread our loved ones’ ashes. Ashes can be fused with glass to create art, or they can be added to a bespoke piece of jewellery, or even turned into a diamond. I have also seen that one company can take the ashes of a beloved pet, and your companion’s lead or collar, and frame these along with a photograph of your loved one.

There are some lovely options out there, but I felt that none of them would have been right for ‘my Lucy’ & none felt that they were really taking the deceased back to nature. This inspired me to launch Ashes to Blooms, to provide other people with what I feel would have been a fitting tribute to Lucy, and to give them a lasting, natural, wildflower memorial.

Ashes to Blooms take some of the ashes of a loved one, whether a beloved person or a special companion animal, and combine them with a mixture of 21 varieties of UK native wildflower seeds and other natural ingredients to create bespoke wildflower memorial seedballs.

Customers can gift these to friends and family (or keep for themselves) to scatter in a special place and watch their wildflower memorial grow. This enables each person to create their own memorial to their loved one. This is what I would have wanted for Lucy.

Unfortunately, after a long battle with alcohol addiction, we also lost my brother, Andrew, in August 2022, aged 40.  Anyone who has lost a loved one, whether a family member, friend or animal companion, knows the pain and emptiness we feel when they die; a pain that we will likely all feel a number of times during our lives.

this planter creates a lasting legacy with Adrews wildflower memorial seedballs
Andrew’s wildflower memorial seedballs; noting that we use a mix of annuals & perennials, so the growth & number of varieties will increase, year after year.

Andrew worked hard with me in developing my business, sharing his knowledge of business. After Andrew’s passing, my mother suggested using some of Andrew’s ashes to make seed balls. Hand-rolling the seed balls was very cathartic for me and I felt honoured that my family had trusted me with the last physical part of Andrew which remained on Earth.

Last spring we planted Andrew’s seed balls in our gardens and in planters on our balconies, and he grew with us during the summer. During the winter he has gone into hibernation, and he will be back this summer, and we look forward to his return. Andrew was a keen gardener, and it really feels like he is where he was meant to be, hopefully now at peace.

There is no one ‘right’ way to remember a loved one, but I hope that I have been able to offer grieving families another option for the final resting place of their departed. My family will never have my brother back, but knowing that he is growing on my balcony, and will return, year after year, does provide me with comfort.

 Ashes to blooms specialises in creating a lasting legacy for loved ones with wildflower memorial seedballs

David Holmes, a lawyer by profession, is the founder of Ashes to Blooms, a business based in Worthing, West Sussex, next to the South Downs National Park. Ashes to Blooms specialise in making bespoke seed balls containing ashes, helping clients to create wildflower memorials to their loved ones, with an absolute focus on sustainability, and environmental memorials.

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