Help us Complete Phase 3, Indian Ridge Habitat Restoration

April 21, 2022

This spring and summer of 2022, we are excited to undertake the third and final phase of our ambitious Indian Ridge Habitat Restoration. Read on to learn what to expect this year, and how you can help us complete this transformative project!

If you have visited in the past two years, you may have noticed our earlier work underway, focused on creating plant communities that would provide both aesthetic and habitat value. Our staff and contractors removed invasive species like Norway Maples from the Ridge and the slopes below it. Replacing them with native shrubs and white-flowered Silverbell trees not only brought a more cohesive aesthetic to the area, but also improved habitat resources for resident and migratory birds.

While we have made substantial progress, we still have many areas of plain turf grass in between the replanted sections. We also need to replace the path along the Ridge – currently narrow, damaged in many spots, and made of non-sustainable asphalt. It is therefore time for the final and most impressive phase of this project. Working with the designs and plants already in place (including what has already been added in Phases 1 and 2), we will complete this colorful and diverse landscape for one of our most popular areas, and improve the path for both visitors and staff.

Phase 3 Design – Sedge and Wildflower Meadow

For Phase 3, we turned to Larry Weaner Landscape Associates to create the landscape design. Principal and founder Larry Weaner has been a leading voice in the movement to shift from reliance on turf grass to diverse and ecologically-friendly groundcover. For many years, he has been working with us on the most effective ways to implement turf grass replacement throughout the Cemetery – one section of the landscape at a time, and always with the goal of complementing the monuments, trees, and other features that are already in place.

Larry has worked with Jenna Webster, Senior Associate at Larry Weaner Landscape Associates, to create a native planting scheme that will stretch across the entire 1,800-foot Ridge. It features a sedge and wildflower meadow along with an ambitious series of landscape character zones. These distinct zones – North Ridge Entry, Longfellow Woods, Ridge Meadow, Gardner’s Woods, Auburn Glade, and South Ridge Entry – draw inspiration from the legacy of the Ridge’s historic landscape, including some of its most notable monuments.

Landscape design map
Design scheme by Larry Weaner Landscape Associates

Improving the Path

We will also replace most of the narrow, damaged asphalt path with a permeable paving alternative. Asphalt produces harmful gases during production and installation, and increases the “heat island effect” in urban areas. As part of our commitment to sustainability, we are using a more environmentally-friendly stone aggregate instead. The larger and smoother path can also accommodate more visitors.

What to Expect When

Work on Phase 3 will begin in late spring 2022 with plant installations, which will continue through the summer. Throughout that time, and into the fall, our staff will be providing critical early maintenance for the new plants as needed. Meanwhile, landscape construction company Capizzi & Co. will install the new path at the same time. Please be aware that access to Indian Ridge will be closed during path construction, from June to October 2022.

Support Indian Ridge

You can help make this last step of the Indian Ridge Habitat Restoration a success! By making a gift to this project, you are enabling us to bring this new landscape to life and make the space more enjoyable for everyone. Thank you for your support!

Donate here

Horticulture Highlight: Amur Maackia

August 2, 2022

Beneath the green mysterious

tree standing at the dead center

of the garden

            Robert Bense

Having 5000 trees representing over 670 taxa, there are examples such as sugar maples, dogwoods and white pines, each with hundreds of individuals throughout our cemetery. To accomplish ongoing efforts of diversifying our living collection, we also grow lesser known, perhaps even mysterious, types of trees, shrubs, vines and perennials. One less well known and less frequently planted tree is Amur Maackia, Maackia amurensis.


Preservation Underway on Veterans’ Monuments

July 28, 2022

Anna (Annie) Francis Kendall Freitag (1830-1905) became a nurse for the U.S. Army early in the Civil War. She first met her husband, Frederick (Fred) Daniel Freitag, when he was recovering from wounds at the hospital where she was stationed in 1862. Later on, Fred suffered a breakdown in 1886 and died two years after that. Annie’s pension file is a unique resource today: a rare primary source to specifically discuss a Civil War soldier’s mental health in addition to physical health, attributing both to his war wounds.

Originally from Virginia, Lieutenant Albert Allmand (1826-1857) entered the U.S. Navy in 1841. His career included service on eight ships, including helping patrol the African coast on the USS Cumberland to suppress the slave trade in 1857. He died soon after, when the ship was at the Navy Yard in Charlestown, MA. After his military funeral, he was buried at Mount Auburn in the Saint John’s Public Lot, a section for single grave interments (for people who had no use for, or could not afford, a large family lot). His marble headstone evokes his naval career with a relief of drapery, anchor, and cannon.

These are just a few of the many diverse stories of veterans commemorated at Mount Auburn, from throughout our nation’s history. This summer, our Preservation team has been working on much-needed treatment for the monuments to Freitag, Allmand, and eight other veterans from the pre-Civil War and Civil War period (see below for complete list). Most of their memorials include text documenting their service, like military rank or battles in which some died. Many also feature military-inspired carved imagery, making them an important, evocative funerary art form.

However, after years of outdoor exposure, these monuments urgently needed preservation to keep them intact for future generations. Thanks to a matching grant that we have received from the Mass. SHRAB Veterans’ Heritage program, our Preservation department has been able to give them the care that they need.

Preservation highlight: we had already identified that the monument to Full Private Jacob Merrifield (1842-1868) contains extensive inscription for its size, and it likely documents his military service, but it had become undecipherable over time. Thanks to the work that has already been completed so far, we are optimistic that one of our inscription expert volunteers will be able to decipher and record it after the full treatment is done – underscoring the importance of preservation to prevent the permanent loss of stories like his.

So far, our skilled team has cleaned all of the monuments, reset the foundations of six of them, and corrected a failed past repair from over two decades ago on one. The to-do list for the rest of the year includes follow-up cleaning (after six months) and stone consolidation work on all of the marble monuments. This treatment will stabilize the stones, preserve sculptural elements and inscriptions, and ensure the long-term survival of these important and threatened cultural artifacts.

Support our preservation team

Learn more at

Veterans’ monuments in this project

Albert Allmand (1826-1857), Lot 1736-337 Fir Avenue
Lieutenant, U.S. Navy, from 1841 until his death in 1857.

Gurdon S. Brown (1832-1889), Lot 1722 Cypress Avenue
First Lieutenant in Company A of the 30th Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry (MVI) in the Civil War.

Jonathan Homer Cheney, Jr. (1844-1881), Lot 829 Fir Avenue
Private in Company E of the 44th Regiment, in the Civil War.

George H. Conant (1821-1863), Lot 1284 Geranium Path
First Lieutenant (previously First Sergeant and Second Lieutenant) in Company C of the 10th Iowa Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War. He was killed in action on November 25, 1863, on Missionary Ridge, TN, in the last of the three-day Battles of Chattanooga. The Union army victory there became known as “the death-knell of the Confederacy.” Conant’s remains were sent to Massachusetts to be buried with his family at Mount Auburn.

James J. Dow (1839-1864), Lot 3579 Saffron Path
Corporal in Company F of the 24th Regiment, MVI, which served with the Coast Division in the Civil War. Dow was killed in action in Deep Run, VA, and his remains were returned home to be buried with his family at Mount Auburn.

Anna (Annie) Francis Kendall Freitag (1830-1905), Lot 193 Ivy Path
U.S. Army Nurse from early in the Civil War until 1864.

Jacob C. Merrifield (1842-1868), Lot 3912 Cypress Avenue
Full Private in Company I of the 1st Maine Cavalry Regiment. He was initially rated as a Full Blacksmith, a key position in a cavalry company. Blacksmiths in the Civil War were responsible for shoeing horses (particularly important in cavalry regiments such as Merrifield’s) and repairing wagons and artillery equipment. Merrifield was later promoted to Full Private.

Samuel D. Phillips (1838-1862), 1259 Elder Path
Military Superintendent of Plantations during the Civil War. His role was part of the Port Royal Experiments, which were intended to help people who were newly freed from enslavement prepare for their independence. This included working land abandoned by plantation owners after the Union army captured the Sea Islands off the South Carolina coast in 1861, as well as education programs organized by Northern charity organizations.

Alexander Wilson (1814-1882), Lot 4777 Clethra Path
Private in Company B of the 42nd Regiment, MVI in the Civil War.

John A. Wilson (1843-1910), Lot 4777 Clethra Path
Artificer or skilled craftsman in Company C of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers in the Civil War. The Corps of Engineers’ duties included planning and erecting defenses, constructing and destroying roads and bridges, placing and removing obstructions, conducting topographical surveys during campaigns, reconnoitering enemy works, and preparing and distributing accurate maps.

Horticulture Highlight: Bugbane, Black Cohosh

July 13, 2022

Horticulture Highlight: Actaea racemosa, Bugbane, Black Cohosh 

twisted like a mobius  

belt, before insinuating your noxious 

nectar – omnivorous, odoriferous, officious 

orifice-filler, you… 

-Mark Levine 

While in bloom, Actaea racemosa, Bugbane, Black Cohosh, with tall stems and long fleecy flowers is truly eye-catching. These same blossoms emit an unpleasant odor. Centuries ago, some thought this smell could repel insects, hence one common name bugbane. The non-entomological etymology has a basis from Algonquin Native Americans. Cohosh is derived from co-os, meaning pine tree, alluding to the pointed spikes. 


Open Position: Public Events Producer at Mount Auburn Cemetery

July 13, 2022


The Public Events Producer is responsible for planning and executing programming that welcomes and connects the public to the Cemetery as a place celebrating the natural world, the seasons of life, and human stories. In this role, they manage both in-person and virtual programs, including Winter Solstice, Mount Auburn’s signature annual event held each December. Other programs in their programming portfolio may include performances, film screenings, panel discussions and lectures, and conferences. The Public Events Producer works closely with Cemetery staff, clients, and external vendors to ensure an exceptional experience for all at every event while protecting Mount Auburn’s landscape and the living and artistic collections it contains. The Public Events Producer will focus efforts on growing the Cemetery’s audiences and meeting annual revenue goals by strengthening existing events and delivering new ones that demonstrate creativity, promote inclusion, and align Mount Auburn’s values.