Category: Uncategorized

Open Position: 12-Month Arborist Apprentice

January 23, 2020

Performs and trains at tree maintenance procedures including pruning, climb with a rope and saddle, operate an aerial lift, planting, cabling, bracing, fertilizing, spraying and removals.


*Perform and train at all phases of tree work including climbing with rope and saddle, operate aerial lift, planting, pruning, cabling, bracing, fertilizing and removals

*Aerial rescue another arborist in an emergency

*Operate hand tools, brush chipper, battery operated and gas power tools in a safe and proper manner

*Perform I.P.M. and P.H.C. duties including pest monitoring, spraying pesticides and tree injections

*Plant trees, shrubs, and ground covers

*Responsible for correctly using an automated method (time badges) for the purpose of time and attendance recordkeeping.  Employees are only authorized to use their own personal swipe badge.

*May perform any variety of duties as requested by supervisor to maintain or improve the Cemetery

*Present a good company image

*Adhere to Mount Auburn’s “Code of Conduct”


*Degree in arboriculture or horticulture program preferred or equivalent relevant experience required.

*Driver’s license required

*Experience with tree maintenance, climbing with rope and saddle preferred

*Grounds maintenance experience preferred

*Ability to work with other members of the Arboriculture Dept. and Gardening Dept

*Ability to communicate successfully with staff, lot owners and visitors

*Ability to speak fluent English required.  Ability to speak Spanish is a plus

*Must present a good professional image in dress, grooming and personal hygiene per the Cemetery’s dress code policy

As with all Cemetery staff, assist with any cemetery business including special meetings, conferences, Friends events and public programs as needed.

Demonstrate responsible stewardship for the environment when planning and implementing all duties incorporated in job description.


*Ability to climb trees with rope and saddle

*Ability to use and operate a variety of hand tools and power equipment such as hand pruners, handsaws, pole saw and pole pruners, chain saws, brush chipper and sprayer

*Ability to shovel soil and mulch and to lift fertilizer, trees, shrubs, and logs up to 80 pounds

*Ability to bend, walk, and/or stand for long periods of time


*Works outdoors in all seasons

*Sometimes works in inclement weather

*Work can be stressful at times, especially when there are large amounts of storm-damaged trees

All employees of Mount Auburn Cemetery are “at will’ employees and must adhere to Mount Auburn’s “Code of Conduct.”

Mount Auburn Cemetery is an equal-opportunity employer.  It does not discriminate in employment opportunities on the basis of race, color, ancestry, religion, gender, national origin, age, pregnancy, citizenship status, physical or mental ability, military status, sexual orientation or any other characteristic protected by law.

To apply please submit a cover letter and resume, as MS Word documents, by email to stating the job title in the subject line.  You can also mail a cover letter and resume to Mount Auburn Cemetery, 580 Mount Auburn Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, Attention:  Human Resources.  No telephone calls please.

Story Chapel Exterior Masonry Repairs

January 12, 2020

Work will begin in February 2020 on the second phase of a two-year exterior masonry repair project at Story Chapel.  The project includes rebuilding many of the building’s stone buttresses, extensive repairs to the chapel’s chancel wall, and 100% repointing of the exterior masonry joints.  Ongoing moisture issues related to deterioration of the stonework necessitate replacement of a significant amount of the stone at the buttresses and throughout the building. 

The original red sandstone quarried in Potsdam, New York, was susceptible to splitting along bedding planes, opening up gaps in the stone and contributing to failed masonry joints through which water can penetrate.  The Potsdam sandstone is no longer quarried, so identifying a replacement of stone has been an ongoing challenge for maintaining the building.  Working with architects at McGinley Kalsow and Associates, a suitable red sandstone from Locharbriggs, Scotland, was identified in 2015, and was used on two smaller repair projects in order confirm that it was a good substitute.  When dry the replacement stone is a very close match in terms of color, and it was used successfully in a 2017 pilot project to reconstruct buttresses at the southeast corner of the building. The pilot project also provided us with an opportunity to test different mortar recipes for compatibility, color, texture and workability. 

The first phase of the project, completed in December 2019, consisted of repairs at the west end of Story Chapel. Work included extensive structural repairs and masonry reconstruction on the upper third of the tower in addition to rebuilding most of the buttresses with new sandstone.  The gables to the north and south of the chapel entrance also underwent significant repairs to damaged stonework. Finally the tower roof was replaced and all new copper roof flashings were installed to eliminate potential water penetration.

The second phase of work will include cleaning, repointing, rebuilding buttresses and selective stone replacement on the south side of the chapel, as well as major work on the east end of the building. The chancel wall on the east end requires reconstruction of deteriorated supporting interior masonry, some stone replacement on the exterior, and repairs to the tracery of the stained glass window. During this second phase we will remove the chancel stained glass window for conservation and restore the original interior brickwork in the chancel area.

Similar to last year, there will be construction related impact on our use of Story Chapel for memorial services, for public programs and as a Visitors Center. Please check with the Visitor Center desk at 617-607-1963 or email for information on the building schedule and Visitors Center hours.  For the safety of all we do request that visitors stay out of construction zones and be mindful of the presence of construction vehicles as they make their way in and out of the Cemetery. We thank everyone for their patience and look forward to completing this important preservation project in 2020.

Ruggiero Memorial Trust Awards Grant to support Habitat Restoration Project

January 7, 2020

We are pleased to announce that the A. J. & M. D. Ruggiero Memorial Trust has awarded an $89,000 grant to the Friends of Mount Auburn Cemetery to support our new landscape and habitat restoration project along Indian Ridge Path. Over the years, the Friends has received more than a million dollars from the Ruggiero Memorial Trust for wildlife habitat enhancement projects. You may have seen some of the most dramatic work that the Trust has made possible in recent years in the area around Consecration Dell, where we conducted a multi-year phased woodland restoration (most recently expanding to the North Dell Meadows in 2019). This year, we are moving on to a new section of our landscape, Indian Ridge Path, for our latest series of improvements and habitat expansion.

This new project will add horticultural diversity and ecological benefits to the area, offering more resources to resident and migratory birds as part of our larger efforts to enhance our landscape as an urban wildlife refuge. Located near the main entrance, Indian Ridge Path is one of our most popular areas to walk, featuring the burial site of one of our most notable residents, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Indian Ridge is also already a prime birdwatching spot during the spring migration each year, as a destination for neotropical warblers who stop at Mount Auburn to feed before heading north to Canada. Additionally, the path features some of Mount Auburn’s oldest oak trees, which date to the founding of the Cemetery.

Today, however, the landscape along the path lacks any unified design scheme or horticultural sustainability, and is characterized by a few ornamental trees, patchy grass sections, invasive shrubs, and the abovementioned oaks. Given the already high level of migratory bird activity, we have made it a priority to create a landscape design that adds visual appeal as well as plant diversity to the area.

We have already begun work on the area, with the removal of invasive plants that have prevented other native, habitat-friendly vegetation from establishing over the years. These include Norway Maples, one of the most notorious species on the Massachusetts Prohibited Plants list since 2005, as well as Barberry and Honeysuckle. In the spring and summer of 2020, we will move forward with replacing these with native plantings now that they will have the space to thrive properly.

The new landscape has been designed by Mount Auburn’s Horticultural Curator Dennis Collins and horticultural consultant Patrick Cullina, with the help of landscape architect Craig Halvorson, and will take the best features of Indian Ridge as it currently exists – especially its progression of white-flowered trees each spring and its historic oaks – and expand upon these. The trees will be complemented by new thickets and masses of lower vegetation which have been selected to offer habitat benefits to birds and other wildlife.

The grant has brought us halfway to our $305,000 goal as of January 2020, and we need your support to complete the project! Donations will help cover the costs of landscape design, replanting the area with more than 15,000 new plants, and caring for these plants in the critical early years to ensure that the landscape is established.

To make a gift, please contact Director of Institutional Advancement Jenny Gilbert at 617-607-1970 or, or visit and choose “Horticultural Collections.”

Horticulture Highlight: Himalayan Pine, Pinus wallichiana

January 6, 2020

…She will love the smell. Pine. sage, cypress.

She will love the sound…

            -Patricia Spears Jones

We return to a familiar theme, “Who does your garden grow?” With this theme in the past we have discussed the Cherokee chief Sequoia, Benjamin Franklin and the French botanist Pierre Magnol among others. Herein we focus on Pinus wallichiana, Himalayan Pine in tribute to a commonly unsung, even forgotten, plant collector-botanist, Nathaniel Wallich (1786-1854).

Himalayan Pine is a handsome, medium-size (30-50-feet) pine tree which grows at 6,000’ – 12,500’ elevation from eastern Afghanistan across northern Pakistan and India, Nepal and into southwest China. The large genus Pinus includes at least 110 evergreen species worldwide. When identifying most plants, a closer observation helps establish key visual clues. With pine leaves (needles) the individual needles occur in clusters (fascicles) mostly of 5’s, 3’s, or 2’s. Jeffrey pine and lacebark pine have needles in 3’s and Scotch pine and Austrian pine have needles in 2’s. Eastern white pine, bristlecone pine and Korean pine along with Pinus wallichiana, Himalayan Pine have needles in fascicles of 5’s. Pinus wallichiana, Himalayan Pine needles at 5-8-inches-long are longer than the other 5-needle species mentioned. Additionally, their needles are often slightly bent near the base helping to create a pendulous habit. To the viewer this provides a subtle, yet distinct graceful drooping of its branchlets.

Pine cones do vary in size and even shape on the same tree, as well as from different trees. However, in general the cones of Himalayan Pine are longer/larger than the other 5-needle pines covered here.

Danish born Nathaniel Wallich mirrors in some aspects Mount Auburn’s visionary founder, Jacob Bigelow (1787-1879). Each were trained physicians as well as outstanding botanists in their time and place. Wallich’s place was India, (beginning at East India Company) where he spent 34 years, mainly at the Calcutta Botanic Garden, established in 1787, more recently renamed Acharya Jagdish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden.

During the same era that Jacob Bigelow was botanizing around Boston and even below the then trail-less summit of New Hampshire’s Mount Washington, Wallich was on plant collecting expeditions to Nepal, west Hindustan, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa and Mauritius, resulting in important herbaria specimens and live plant collections. As Bigelow’s botanical publications were Florula Bostoniensis (1814, expanded 1822, greatly expanded 1848)and American Medical Botany (1817-1820), Wallich published Tentamen Florae Nepalensis Illustratae (1824-26), and Plantae Asiaticea Rariores (1830-32). Bigelow taught at Harvard Medical School, Wallich taught at Calcutta Medical College.

Wallich often sent herbarium specimens and live plants back to England’s Royal Botanic Garden at Kew. This during the later life of the great Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820), who believed in the internationalism of science, and successfully caused almost every ship sailing to Britain from any British colony to carry plants. Today Kew’s herbarium contains around seven million preserved plant specimens. Housed separately from the main collection is that of the East India Company, the Wallich Herbarium, Kew’s largest separate herbarium.  Another location of his important collections is the Central National Herbarium of the Botanical Survey of India in Kolkata. Besides Pinus wallichiana he was also commemorated in plant taxonomy with Taxus wallichiana, Ulmus wallichiana, Lilium wallichiana, Dryopteris wallichiana, Schefflera wallichiana, Geranium wallichianum, and Rubus wallichii, among others. Twenty different genera include species within them named honoring Nathaniel Wallich.

In 1829 at the second founding meeting of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society (MHS), to which Mount Auburn would soon owe its very existence, a committee was chosen to create a list of honorary and corresponding members. This exemplary first list included notable botanist, Augustin P. de Candolle (1778-1841), presidents of the Pennsylvania, New York, London, Paris Glasgow Horticultural Societies, as well as plant curators at Kew, Liverpool and Wallich, curator of the Botanical Garde at Calcutta, among others.

Fittingly Oakes Ames (1893-1970), Mount Auburn’s eighth president (1934-68), writing in his 1952 Mount Auburn’s Sixscore Years provides our closing citation, “…the records of the Horticultural Society are strangely silent…However…New England Farmer for 1833 and 1834…we learn that…over a hundred varieties of seeds including Himalayan Pine and Deodar Cedar, from Mr. Wallich of the Botanical Garden at Calcutta…” were delivered to MHS.

Lamentably MHS’s Mount Auburn’s plant records from 186-years ago were not to our current standards and the germination success of Wallich’s seeds are left to our imaginations.

On a future visit to Mount Auburn remember this notable plant collector as you look for fine examples of Himalayan Pine on Crystal Avenue, Alder Path, Spelman Road and Petunia Path among other location.