Parsons Cemetery is both an operational cemetery and an urban green space. It is this parklike atmosphere that sets us apart from many cemeteries and we are dedicated to keeping it that way for future generations.

Headstones in different shapes and data-lazy-sizes at the Parsons Cemetery

Trees – It is the many and various trees that are the most obvious protector of the environment at Parsons. We have lost some to storms and age, but through donations and grants, we are able to plant new ones to take their place. One of the fallen trees was saved and made into a sculpture by students of Salisbury University’s School of Art. It is on permanent display at the cemetery.

Flowers and shrubs – Many plot owners beautify the spaces of their loved ones with fresh flowers. Many have received permission from the cemetery committee to make permanent plantings. The hedge at the front of the cemetery was planted in the 1960s and we have maintained it ever since. As part of a grant we received from the Hampton Roads Community Foundation to restore the brick wall that also serves as a planter for this hedge, we planted Camellia bushes in several areas of the cemetery. By choosing different varieties, we have blooms at all times of the year.

Grave sites along a brick path by the river at the Parsons Cemetery

Protecting the Chesapeake Bay – Parsons borders on beautiful Johnson’s Lake which was created as a mill pond for thriving industry once in the area. To limit erosion that would eventually find its way into the Chesapeake Bay, we applied for and received a grant from the Hampton Roads Community Foundation to create a “living shoreline” in the most affected area. We hope to receive additional grants and gifts to address other areas along the lake.

Parsons Cemetery along the river on a beautiful sunny day

Green Burials – Although local environmental regulations and the practicalities of an urban cemetery environment do not allow the spreading of ashes or burial without a means of separating one grave from another, we allow burials to be in a bottomless vault so that the burial can be as green as possible.

Brick walkway at the Parsons Cemetery

Pet Burials – Our pet ossuary provides a place for people to place the ashes of their beloved pets. This area was created with a generous donation from a donor who wished to remain anonymous because there was no close facility for pet crematoriums to deposit the ashes of those animals who have no owners. It provides a way to deposit the ashes in an affordable and environmentally friendly way.