Process involves adding ashes to root systems of native Texas plants in a garden setting
A small portion of Villabella Cremation Gardens is shown above. The gardens allow families or individuals to create living memorials to passed family members or pets at a fraction of the traditional burial costs. Below, a flowing and flowering vine and scarlet rose bushes create a peaceful setting. David Stone photos
DAVID STONE | June 18, 2022
Dava Villafranca has been in the funeral business for more than a dozen years, and she is cultivating a unique concept of honoring passed family members both human and animal.
Villafranca and her two daughters, Danielle and Alexandra, take cremated remains and place them directly in the root systems of trees and flowering plants.
“We create a never-ending living memorial for departed loved ones,” Villafranca said this morning. “In Texas, people and their animals can’t be buried together. It’s against the law. At Villabella Cremation Gardens, we encourage it.”
The Gardens are located at 5132 Heidenheimer Road not far from the Oscar community.
“We started this concept in the summer of 2020,” she said. “We own 15 acres, and when we started it was all cornfield. We have built gardens on about 3 acres so far, but eventually we will use the entire space.”
So far, about half a dozen people are interred at Villabella gardens, along with several pets. The grounds are planted with native trees, shrubs and flowers, and solar-powered water features have been added. There’s even a section just for veterans.
“Every plant is native to Texas and is heat and water tolerant,” Villafranca said. “We have communal areas intended for folks who don’t have families. These are our butterfly and rose gardens.There was a huge black butterfly here this morning — it was gorgeous.”
“We can custom build a garden to fit a person or family’s needs,” she said. “We have one gentleman who prefers a rock garden. We can do that.”
“We’ve had families who wanted to select the plants and build their garden themselves,” she said. “It’s very healing to take care of your loved one’s area. We will do whatever is needed to give them peace.”
Villafranca said once a location is selected by family members, the ground is opened and the ashes are added to the soil. Time and watering take the remains into the root systems of nearby plants, creating the living memorials.
A memorial plaque can be added to mark the final resting place.
For more information or to arrange a tour, call (361) 728-6010.
So far, Dava Villafranca and her daughters have sculpted three acres of Heidenheimer Road farmland into memorial gardens for cremated people and animals. A portion of the gardens, on the left side in the photo, is marked for veterans of various US military branches. The plants are all native to Texas and can tolerate extreme heat and drought. David Stone photo
Saturday’s best bets
Comedy Showcase at Corkys. Doors open at 7, show at 8.
Temple Coyotes FC soccer at Woodson Field. Fun starts at 6, game starts at 7:30 p.m.
Salado Spring Craft Beer Festival. Noon to 6. Barrow Brewing Co. invites their brewer buds from all over Central Texas to celebrate the brotherhood that is craft beer every Father's Day weekend. It's the perfect way to toast your pops and enjoy time with family and friends on the beautiful Salado Creek. So far, 17 breweries have confirmed, including Fire Base Brewing of Temple and Bold Republic of Belton (soon to be Temple.)
Texas Red Game Show Night at Fire Base Brewing. 7 p.m.
Dave Jorgenson live at Bo’s Barn. 9 p.m. Tickets: bosbarndancehall.com
The Al Edwards Juneteenth Association, Temple Chapter No. 111, will host the annual Juneteenth Festival on June 18. A parade will be held at 10 a.m. on Martin Luther King Drive. Lineup starts at 8:30 a.m. at the corner of MLK and Avenue M. There will be a $25 entry fee. The big Juneteenth Program & Festival will be at 11:30 a.m. at Ferguson Park, 1203 E. Adams Avenue. Speakers will include Mayor Tim Davis (or an appointee) and Mayor Pro-Tem Judy Morales. A free barbecue lunch with all the trimmings will be served while supplies last. Other activities include live entertainment, vendor booths, a children’s fun corner and games for everyone.
Second Annual Father's Day Car Show sponsored by Corky's and Tour Temple.
June Fest at Sparta Volunteer Fire Department. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Vendors needed. Contact SReynolds@spartavfd.com.
Salado Springs Craft Beer Fest at Barrow Brewing Co. in Salado. Noon. Barrow Brewing Company invites their brewer buds from all over Central Texas to celebrate the brotherhood that is craft beer every Father's Day weekend. It's the perfect way to toast your pops and enjoy time with family and friends on the beautiful Salado Creek.
Sunday’s best bets
Dad Joke Open Mic at Corkys, Signup at 2:30, show at 3. Margarita Madness from 2 to 6 p.m.
Martian Folk live at Fire Street Pizza in Belton. Noon.
Summer Lecture Series at 2 p.m. Chris Beall live at 4 p.m. Barrow Brewing Co.