Plants

January

There is no better time to come and enjoy our impressive evergreens. Mount Auburn’s conifer collection is noted for its size and diversity. With more than 80 different taxa and more than 1,500 plants, it is comparable to the conifer collections at … Continue reading

February

Now is a great time for a second look at many of our deciduous trees and shrubs. Even without their more showy foliage and flowers, many of our plants have something to contribute to the winter landscape. From the the impressive size and shape of some trees … Continue reading

March

Early signs of spring appear throughout the landscape in March.  The cheerful yellow blossoms of witchhazel that appear early in the month and the beautiful carpets of scilla  that emerge by month’s end remind us that warmer days are soon on their way. … Continue reading

April

Mount Auburn is painted in shades of yellow, pink, white and lilac thanks to the daffodils, forsythia, magnolias, and redbuds now blooming.  For many, though, it is the April flowering of Mount Auburn’s 20+ varieites of ornamental cherries that truly signal spring’s arrival. … Continue reading

May

It is no wonder that Mount Auburn welcomes so many visitors each May.  Flowering dogwoods, crabapples, lilacs, and azaleas are just some of what is on display.  If you’ve never been to the Cemetery, now is the time to make … Continue reading

June

Though May might be the peak of spring bloom, there is still plenty of interest in June.  Rhododendrons, Mountain Laurel, and Kousa Dogwoods add plenty of late-spring color to the landscape. The annual and perennial plants planted in flower beds throughout … Continue reading

July

In July, make your way out to Willow Pond for a glimpse of our butterfly garden at its peak. As you walk at to the pond, you’ll notice a number of summer-blooming trees and shrubs adding seasonal interest to the … Continue reading

August

Late summer blooming ornamentals provide plenty of reasons to visit Mount Auburn, though perhaps the best reason to visit the Cemetery in August is to seek shade beheath the Cemetery’s dense canopy of shade trees.  Maples and oaks are among our shade … Continue reading

September

As the last of our summer-blooming plants make a showing in September, other plants begin showing the tell-tale signs of autumn’s approach.  Our wildflower meadow, located at  Washington Tower, is now at its peak as we bid farewell to one … Continue reading

October

By mid-October Mount Auburn’s landscape is awash in color.  As our many deciduous trees and shrubs begin to transform their foliage into jewel-tone shades of red, orange, yellow, and purple, other plants set out their fall fruits and nuts. Here are some … Continue reading

November

The diversity in Mount Auburn’s collection of trees ensures an prolonged foliage season each fall.  Even in November, there is still plenty of color in the landscape. From our noble oaks displaying autumn color to the fall-blooming witchhzel, there is plenty to see at the Cemetery.  Here are … Continue reading

December

As our deciduous plants drop their last leaves we welcome the winter season. Now is the time to explore Mount Auburn’s many plants displaying four season interest.  The diversity in our horticultural collections ensure that a visit to Mount Auburn at … Continue reading

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Horticultural Highlight: Jeffrey pine, Pinus jeffreyi

March 5, 2018

 

I’d seen

their hoofprints in the deep

needles and knew

they ended the long night

under the pines…

                -Mary Oliver

 

Within Mount Auburn there are approximately 450 pine trees, representing two-dozen distinct species, out of the 125 Pinus species extant worldwide. Herein we look at the Jeffrey pine, Pinus jeffreyi, native to southwestern Oregon, California and into some mountains of northern Baja California. Most often growing at elevations between 5000 and 9500-feet, in the northern coast ranges it also occurs almost at sea level.

Its common and Latin names commemorate the man who introduced it, John Jeffrey (1826-1854?), Scottish plant collector/explorer, sent to the Pacific Northwest and California in 1850, by British gentlemen subscribers interested in new plants. Initially signed to a three-year contract, representing the Oregon Association of Edinburgh, four of his eventual ten shipments of boxes of specimens and seeds never arrived back to Edinburgh. Nonetheless 119 species of seeds (including P. jeffreyi) and over 400 plant specimens of new and unusual flora were his documented success. After early 1854 he mysteriously disappeared, never to be heard from again. Author Frank A. Long states, “John Jeffrey was like a shooting star, a quick twinkle soon extinguished.” (more…)

Grafting for the Future

March 1, 2018

If you look around the cemetery you will see numerous trees with a distinct scar or swelling around the bottom of the trunk. Have you ever wondered what that was? More than likely, this is a grafted tree. Grafting is the widespread practice of joining two or more plants together to improve or preserve desirable characteristics. Sometimes trees and shrubs express a natural occurring characteristic that is attractive or unusual which growers would like to reproduce. The easiest way to do this is to take a cutting of the desired trait, a scion, and join it with another tree of the same species known as an understock or rootstock. (more…)

Horticulture Highlight: Cully Heritage River Birch, Betula nigra ‘Cully’

January 30, 2018

And thy lithe boughs hang murmuring and weeping

Above her, as she steals the mystery from thy keeping…

                                -James Russell Lowell

This year as the calendar turns to February our media is full of mention of athletic gold medals, past and near future. Some, perhaps many, may be unaware that there are also gold medals for plants. In the United States, consensus for the preeminent arbiter on this topic is the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS). Organized in Philadelphia in 1827, this is the nation’s oldest extant society of its kind. In 1828 they organized their first flower show and 190-years later, with a $25-million annual budget, the scope of their accomplishments is far beyond this discussion. Nonetheless in 1988, the PHS Gold Medal Plant Program which “highlights exceptional trees, shrubs, vines and perennials…evaluated and chosen for their superb eye-appeal, performance and hardiness…of zone 5-7…” commenced their highly regarded awards. (more…)

Sweet Auburn Magazine

January 16, 2018

Published biannually, Sweet Auburn is an exploration and celebration of the many facets of Mount Auburn Cemetery. Topics covered in the magazine include art, architecture, biography, burial and commemoration, conservation, design, ecology, education, history, horticulture , genealogy, preservation, and wildlife. (more…)