Category: Landscape

Horticulture Highlight: Asa Gray Garden

July 5, 2018

And all rare blossoms from every clime

Grew in that garden in perfect prime.

            -Percy Bysshe Shelley

We encourage all to visit our newly renovated Asa Gray Garden. In collaboration with the award-winning Halvorson Design Partnership and R. P. Marzilli Landscape Contractor, this garden includes a diverse mix of 130 taxa of trees, shrubs, perennials, grasses, annuals and bulbs which will provide four-seasons of color, texture and interest. An enlarged central water feature and reflecting pool help create a sense of calm within this newly re-designed meditative landscape.

made him feel as if the fountain were an immortal spirit

that sung its song unceasingly

and without heeding the vicissitudes around it…

-Nathaniel Hawthorne

In lieu of specific plant discussion, we recall this garden’s namesake, the preeminent nineteenth century botanist, Asa Gray (1810-1888). The eldest of eight siblings of a farmer/tanner in Sauquoit, New York, he graduated from Fairfield Medical College in 1831. Lynn Barber in The Heyday of Natural History 1820-1870 states, “At the beginning of the nineteenth century, all laymen and most scientists believed that the earth and all the species on it had been created by God in six days towards the end of October in the year 4004 B.C.” Gray eschewed an incipient medical practice for a botanical life that led to decades of research and publishing. Later botanical renown positioned him to become the foremost American advocate of Charles Darwin (1809-1882), when in 1859, Origin of Species revealed the then heretical theory of evolution and the process of natural selection. (more…)

Willow Pond Rain Garden

December 20, 2016

The Willow Pond Rain Garden was designed to slow the velocity of storm water input into the pond; capture harmful, nutrient rich sediment; and protect water quality. During rain events, the captured water slowly rises and flows over a stone weir before entering a bio-filtration pool inside of the pond. Installed in 2016, the Rain Garden has also improved habitat for amphibians, reptiles, birds, and invertebrates.


The Rejuvenation of Harvard Hill

August 8, 2016

HH center SA

Over the past two years, Mount Auburn Cemetery and Harvard University have collaborated to rejuvenate the area known as “Harvard Hill” in the historic core of the Cemetery. Located just below Washington Tower, the lot has sweeping views to Cambridge and Boston and overlooks Consecration Dell.

2012 Harvard Hill post 330The story really begins in 1833, two years after Mount Auburn’s founding, when Lot 330 was purchased by physician and philanthropist George Shattuck and gifted to Harvard College. Many of the earliest burials in Lot 330 were young faculty members and students who died far from home, as in those days neither funerary technology nor transportation methods allowed for the deceased to be transported back to their hometowns for burial. As embalming became a common practice and long-distance travel became easier, burials in the Harvard lot declined and for many decades the area received only basic care of trees, shrubs, and monuments. However, in the meantime, many landscape improvements have been completed by Mount Auburn’s horticultural staff in the surrounding area, including the restoration of the native woodland in Consecration Dell and the establishment of a wildflower meadow at Washington Tower. (more…)