In a pocket of Spring Grove Cemetery & Arboretum, red granite graves peer over the hills and onto the well-traveled roads below them.

The graves are simple — at least for now. But come Memorial Day every year, Scottish Travelers (often called “gypsies”) lavishly decorate them to commemorate family members. Extravagant floral arrangements suddenly materialize, but otherwise the tradition is shrouded in mystery — and that’s the way they seem to want it.

The tradition and stories behind it blur the lines between sacred cultural customs and urban legends. At Spring Grove, the Scottish Travelers are rarely discussed, though legend says a local funeral home extended credit to a destitute Traveler years ago, making Cincinnati a favored town for burials.

The Spring Grove staff usually jump at the opportunity to discuss the cemetery’s facts and idiosyncrasies. But on this topic, they are tight-lipped. “We serve families of all backgrounds and traditions,” says Spring Grove CEO Gary Freytag. “We respect their right to memorialize their loved ones in their own way, and their right to privacy.”

In the book “Ethnicity and the American Cemetery,” former University of Cincinnati history professor Paul F. Erwin catalogs rumors such as: Travelers spent $35,000 on flowers at a Northside florist; a car dealer sold them 35 new Cadillacs in one day — in cash; and harsher rumors about Travelers doing faulty home repair and snatching household items as they pass through town.

Some of the only real “witnesses” are the graves themselves — often red granite, flanked by tall pillars and urns, engraved with thistles (Scottish national flower), acacia twigs or Masonic symbols.

But in a cemetery that boasts of Civil War heroes, Reds stars and entrepreneurial giants, the Traveler graves are silent.