The Nature Plays

March 22, 2019

Tickets are on sale now for The Nature Plays, the first of two series of site-specific plays created by the Cemetery’s first Playwright Artist-in-Residence, Patrick Gabridge. Gabridge’s Mount Auburn Plays will be presented in two sets of 5 unique plays each: The Nature Plays premiere June 1-9, 2019, highlighting stories inspired by the rich natural environment of Mount Auburn with topics such as spotted salamanders in Consecration Dell, birders at Auburn Lake, and historic debates between naturalists who are buried at the Cemetery. Audiences will experience the performances at various spots across the grounds, surrounded by the sights and sounds of the natural world. Each performance will be followed by a discussion.  


All plays will be fully staged with professional actors on the Cemetery grounds. Directed by Courtney O’Connor. Plays will run rain or shine, runtime is approximately 75 minutes and will include walking within the Cemetery on paved and unpaved surfaces; total walking distance approx. 1 mile.

Seating is limited, registration required. To purchase tickets, please select the date and time you wish to attend:

Thursday, May 30, 1 pm (Pay What You Can Performance)
Thursday, May 30, 5pm
Saturday, June 1, 1 pm
Saturday, June 1, 5 pm
Sunday, June 2, 1 pm
Sunday, June 2, 5 pm
Thursday, June 6, 5 pm
Saturday, June 8, 1 pm
Saturday, June 8, 5 pm
Sunday, June 9, 1 pm
Sunday, June 9, 5 pm


About Patrick Gabridge, Playwright:

Playwright Patrick Gabridge is an award-winning writer of historical and contemporary stage plays, novels, audio plays, and screenplays. His short plays have been produced more 1,000 times in theaters and schools in 14 different countries around the world and appear in various anthologies. His recent site-specific works include Blood on the Snow and Cato & Dolly for The Bostonian Society/Old State House, and Both/And: A Quantum Physics Play for the MIT Museum. In 2018 Gabridge launched Plays In Place, a new company that works in partnership with museums, historic sites, and other cultural institutions to develop and produce site-specific theatrical plays and presentations to help engage, entertain, and enlighten visitors in new and vibrant ways. Gabridge’s Mount Auburn plays will be presented in partnership with Plays in Place as one of the company’s inaugural projects.

Story Chapel Exterior Masonry Repairs

February 20, 2019

Work will begin in March on a two-year exterior masonry repair project at Story Chapel.  The project will include rebuilding many of the building’s stone buttresses, extensive repairs to the stonework on the upper portion of the chapel’s tower, 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, has been 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 a challenge for maintaining the building.  Working with architects at McGinley Kalsow and Associates, a suitable red sandstone from Locharbriggs, England was identified in 2015, and has been used on two smaller repair projects in order confirm that it will be a good substitute.  When dry the replacement stone is a very close match in terms of color and it was used successfully in a pilot project last year reconstructing 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. 

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Horticultural Highlight: Trillium, wake-robin

April 30, 2019

Let us forget the sorrows: they are there

always, but Spring too seldom there;

Once in a life-time only; oh seize hold!

Sweet in the telling once, but not re-told.

In Nature’s cycle blessed once a year,

not long enough to savour, but more dear

for all the anguish of its brevity…

            -Vita Sackville-West

Any hypothetical definition of spring is subject to countless interpretations, frequently entwined with preferred blossoms. Locally, for some it may be magnolias on Commonwealth Avenue, cherries, serviceberries, dogwoods, redbuds, and/or crabapples at Mount Auburn. But for John Burroughs (1837-1921), American naturalist, he famously put it in print as the Trillium erectum, Wake-robin, red trillium, stinking Benjamin. His half-century literary conservationist career commenced in 1871 with Wake-Robin. His own page one therein, clearly defined spring for him, “…and when I have found the wake-robin in bloom I know the season is fairly inaugurated. With me this flower is associated, not merely with the awakening of Robin, for he has been awake for some weeks, but with the universal awakening and rehabilitation of nature.”

Usually not found by the drive-through spring adherents, these are aesthetic gifts to woodland path aficionados who may perchance be satisfied by a memorable encounter of even a single plant in blossom. Native to the eastern United States and Canada its purple/maroon flowers have three lance-shaped, prominently veined, petals. These perennial flowers are on a short stem (pedicel) above a whorl of three attractive, ovate, green leaves. These nectar-less flowers emit an odor which attracts flies and beetles as pollinators. The variant degrees of fetidness clearly are the source of the less complimentary colloquial name,stinking Benjamin. This allows use here of Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s (1809-1892) quatrain;

What is it? A learned man

Could give it a clumsy name,

Let him name it who can,

The beauty would be the same.

The genus Trillium comprises almost fifty species, primarily native to North America, but with ten species native to Asia. One distinct characteristic of this genus is myrmecochory, the dispersal of seeds by ants. The etymology is from the Greek for ant (myrmex) and dispersal (kore). When Trillium flowers have been successfully fertilized they will eventually produce a 1-inch to 1 1/2-inch, red, fruit capsule within which are numerous1/8-inch seeds. Attached to these seeds are elaiosomes, an appendage rich in nutrients, lipids and/or oleic acids. Ants take these seeds back to their nests to eat or feed their larvae the elaiosomes. The seeds then are discarded, outside or inside of the ant nest. This insect-plant interaction is not unique to trilliums, over 11,000 species of plants benefit from myrmecochory.

Other trillium species to look for include Trillium grandiflorum, big white trillium, which as the name suggests have three white petals. Also, the Trillium undulatum, painted trillium, which have white petals with a distinct red v-shaped marking near the base of each petal. On a future visit to Mount Auburn, look for trilliums at Dell Path, Sumac Path, Buttercup Path and at Spruce Knoll.

I have touched the trillium,

Pale flower of the land,

Coral, anemone,

And not your hand…

            -Helen Dudley

Memorial Day 2019: Floral Tributes

April 30, 2019

We are now accepting Floral Tribute orders for Memorial Day 2019. 

Our current offerings include potted plants for placement at lots, graves, and outdoor niches and cut flower bouquets for placement at our indoor columbaria.



Important Dates:
* Orders for Memorial Day must be placed by May 16th.
* Tributes will be placed on the grounds the week of May 20th.
* Tributes will be removed from the grounds the week of June 10th.