Nestled within Riverside Cemetery in Yarmouth is a peaceful haven where visitors can celebrate the lives of their loved ones. Kristen McNerney / The Forecaster

Two years after its official unveiling, the cremation garden at Yarmouth’s historic Riverside Cemetery continues to be transformed, with stones just laid for a new circular garden, vegetation coming into bloom and more benches to be installed.

The garden, which neighbors graves that date back to the 1700s, is designed as a refuge and a living tribute to loved ones while meeting the increasing demand for cremation burial sites, according to Scott Harrison, president of the Riverside Cemetery Association.

“We felt it was a priority,” Harrison said.

A cremation burial stone along the native garden pathway is adjourned with smaller decorative stones to commemorate a loved one. Kristen McNerney / The Forecaster

Of all burials at the cemetery from 2018-2020, 65% were burials of cremated remains, and that number is on the rise, he said.

A number of factors are the cause of the increased demand, including a growing population that is less formally religious and economic and environmental concerns, according to the Cremation Association of North America. Harrison said cremation is a personal preference and reasons differ.

The goal is to have as many options as possible, Harrison said.

A columbarium with 65 niches welcomes visitors to the garden. Behind it, the native garden pathway loops into the native garden, a central sanctuary with four mounds with a total of 120 burial sites.

Behind the native garden is a woodland pathway lined with burial stones linking up with the latest installment – a circular garden complemented by a solar-powered fountain.

Benches for visitors are scattered across the property, with more to come.

“It’s a great place to visit whether you have loved ones buried here or not,” Harrison said.

Of 250 possible cremation sites within the garden, 25 are in use, and more are to be constructed. Prices range from $750 for sites within the native garden and along the native garden pathway to $2,000 for a site in the circular garden.

Ashes also can still be buried on the traditional side of Riverside Cemetery.

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