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

JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC

Horticulture Highlight: Symphoricarpos, Snowberry or Coralberry

November 5, 2019

How interesting will our times become? How much more interesting can they become?

            -Mark Jarman

A retired medical school dean would appropriately interject into conversations that hearing any one’s doctor mention, “isn’t that interesting,” should not always be the preface of what one wanted to hear next. “Isn’t that interesting,” is also heard from visitors walking our landscape, during this time of year, when coming upon any of our Symphoricarpos, Snowberry or Coralberry.

It is completely unimportant. That is why it is so interesting.

            -Agatha Christie

These modest-sized, twiggy, deciduous shrubs within the CAPRIFOLIACEAE, the honeysuckle family, are innocuous most of the year. Inconspicuous small opposite leaves, lacking any fall color and easy to miss small clusters of pinkish, 1/8-to-1/4-inch, bell-shaped flowers do not cause these to capture much attention. However, as we come into November, it is the distinctive and persisting, white and magenta fleshy fruits that serve as the most conspicuous ornamental features of these primarily native shrubs.

Of the 15 Symphoricarpos species, only one is indigenous to Asia, the rest are native to North and/or Central America. The etymology of the genus alludes to ancient Greek for fruit (karpos) bearing together (sumphorein). These ½-inch diameter, fleshy, berry-like drupes containing two seeds matured back in September. While offering food for various birds and small animals, the lengthy time these fruits ornamentally persist, for our enjoyment, suggest many birds do not have them on their top ten, or perhaps even top-twenty, bulking-up-list pre-migration.

Interesting,”

someone remarks between bites.

“to be right here in the moment

yet also out there watching

some once-in-a-lifetime sublimity

unfold, as if living as if already

dead.” …

            -William Hathaway

Nonetheless we can mention appropriate, bi-centennial historical notoriety. Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) in presidential retirement was adding these plants at Monticello. This enthusiastic botanist often shared his new plant finds with many others and we know he sent cuttings of snowberry to Madame de Tesse (1741-1814), in France, his friend and correspondent of three decades.

There is not a sprig of grass

that shoots uninteresting to me.

-T. Jefferson, Dec. 1790

The greatest service which can be

rendered any country is to add

an useful plant to its culture…

            T. Jefferson, In Memoir

At Mount Auburn we recently added more cultivars of coral berry, some tried (‘Candy Sensation’) and some new for us (‘Proudberry’) which may be found on Spruce Avenue, along with snowberry found elsewhere.

What really dissatisfies in American civilization is the want of the interesting, …

-Mathew Arnold

November sun that latens with our age,

Filching the zest from our young pilgrimage,

Writing old wisdom on our virgin page.

Not the hot ardour of the Summer’s height,

Not the sharp-minted coinage of the Spring

When all was but a delicate delight

And all took wing and all the bells did ring;

Not the spare Winter, clothed in black and white,

Forcing us into fancy’s eremite,

But gliding Time that slid us into gold

Richer and deeper as we grew more old

And saw some meaning in this dying day;

Travelers of the year, who faintly say

How could such beauty walk the common way?

            -Vita Sackville-West

Blooms at Mount Auburn

November 5, 2019
Mount Auburn’s landscape is composed of a diverse array of plants and trees that come into bloom at different times and in different seasons.

What’s in Bloom: Week of November 4, 2019

Japanese anemone, Anemone hupehensis, several locations

Aster, Aster tartaricus, Asa Gray garden

Aster, Symphyotrichum ‘Raydon’s Favorite’, Asa Gray garden

Mountain fleece, Persicaria amplexicaulis, Asa Gray garden

Leopard plant, Ligularia sp., Asa Gray garden

Panicle hydrangea, Hydrangea paniculata, several locations

Rose, Rosa sp., several locations

‘The Fairy’ rose, Rosa ‘The Fairy’, @ Sphinx

Witch hazel, Hamamelis virginiana, Oak Ave., Hazel Path

Chrysanthemum, Chrysanthemum sp., many locations

Ladies tresses, Spiranthes sp., Beech Ave.

‘Endless Summer’ Hydrangea, Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Bailmer’, Spelman Rd.

‘Knockout’ rose, Rosa ’Radrazz’, Spelman Rd.

‘Rose Creek’ Abelia, Abelia xgrandiflora ‘Rose Creek’, Field Rd.

Geranium, Geranium ‘Rozanne’, Admin. Bldg.

Catmint, Nepetaa ‘Blue Wonder’, Azalea Path

Cosmos, Cosmos bipinnatus, Greenhouse garden

Zinnia, Zinnia sp., Greenhouse garden

Cock’s comb, Celosia sp., Greenhouse garden

Globe amaranth, Gomphrena sp., Greenhouse garden

German statice, Limonium sp., Greenhouse garden

Horticultural Highlight: Amsonia hubrichtii, Thread-leaf blue star

October 1, 2019

Yellow, yellow, yellow

it eats into the leaves,

smears with saffron

            -William Carlos Williams

Autumn at Mount Auburn is full with an impressionistic cornucopia of changing landscape colors. During this weeks-long period, different plants pass the mantle of being the “plant of the day.” One plant providing outstanding yellow is Amsonia hubrichtii, thread-leaf blue star.

The genus Amsonia includes about 20 species of clump-forming, herbaceous perennials, primarily native to North America, with one species each also native to eastern Asia and Europe. The name commemorates John Amson (1698-1765), English physician and botanist, who was the one-time mayor (ca.1750) of Williamsburg in Colonial Virginia.

Amsonia hubrichtii, thread-leaf blue star in May displays pale blue flowers atop of three-foot-high stems. Its leaves are uniquely narrow, finely textured, adding contrast next to any companion plants. In breezes, there are kinetic, delightful sways of this billowy foliage. October provides further grandeur as these leaves slowly morph into a butter-yellow or vibrant gold color that will persist for 2-3 weeks. This was the Perennial Plant Association’s “Plant of the Year” in 2011.

We also grow Amsonia tabernaemontana var. salicifolia, blue star that likewise produces blue springtime flowers and outstanding yellow fall foliage. The lanceolate, willow-like leaves are wider than thread-leaf. These two stars are problem free, three-season, reliable perennials. On your next visit to Mount Auburn look for these on Central Avenue, Narcissus Path, at the flagpole and in Asa Gray garden among other locations.

Yellow as a goat’s wise and wicked eyes,

yellow as a hill of daffodils,

yellow as dandelions by the highway,

yellow as butter and egg yolks,

yellow as a school bus stopping you,

yellow as a slicker in a downpour

            -Marge Piercy

Horticultural Highlight: Millenium Ornamental Onion, Allium ‘Millenium’

August 28, 2019

Something in me isn’t ready

to let go of summer so easily. To destroy

what I’ve carefully cultivated all these months…

            –Karina Borowicz

The common onion, Allium cepa would not make many lists of beautiful ornamental plants. Nor would the garlic, Allium sativum, chives, Allium schoenoprasum, or leeks, Allium ampeloprasum. All are members of the large genus Allium, which depending on taxonomic interpretation include 750 or 850 or more species, primarily native to the temperate climates of the Northern Hemisphere. In historic times this genus’ place was in the kitchen or vegetable garden. In our modern era people began to know the “ornamental onions.” You will find in many nursery catalogues as well as landscapes, ornamental Allium species with exceptional beauty.

One well-known, striking example is the hybrid ‘Globemaster’, with its three-foot tall stems topped with large purple flowerheads. You may recall these from their earlier June display around our flagpole planting bed.


Allium ‘Globemaster’ near the flagpole at Mount Auburn.

 Allium ‘Millenium’ one of the more recent horticultural hybrid ornamental onions blooms during mid-to-late summer. This 10-15-inch, compact, upright clump, of dark-green, grass-like leaves is topped with 2-inch, rose-purple balls of florets.

Allium ‘Millenium’ in Asa Gray Garden

This summer floral display may last four to six weeks, attracting many bees, butterflies and other pollinators. When the colorful florets wilt they dry to a tan color still providing texture and accent in the garden. Additionally, this is a drought-tolerant perennial that rabbits and deer leave alone.

Allium ‘Millenium’ in Asa Gray Garden

Bred by Mark McDonough, a Massachusetts plant researcher, who specializes in growing and selecting Alliums, this was selected by the Perennial Plant Association as the Perennial Plant of the Year for 2018. On your next visit to Mount Auburn look for Allium ‘Millenium’ within our new Asa Gray Garden, just inside our main entrance.