Blooms at Mount Auburn

September 16, 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 September 16, 2019

Seven-son flower, Heptacodium miconioides, several locations

Japanese anemone, Anemone hupehensis, several locations

Yellow waxbells, Kirengeshoma palmata, Laburnum Path

Rose-of-Sharon, Hibiscus syriacus, many locations

Chinese silk tree, Albizia julibrissin, Asa Gray garden

Mountain fleece, Persicaria amplexicaulis, Asa Gray garden

Leopard plant, Ligularia dentata ‘Othello’, Asa Gray garden

Phlox, Phlox ‘Jeana’, Asa Gray garden

Prairie coneflower, Ratibida pinnata, Asa Gray garden

Verbena, Verbena bonariensis, Asa Gray garden

Russian sage, Perovskia atriplicifolia ‘Littlespire’, Asa Gray garden

Balloon flower, Platycodon grandiflorum, Asa Gray garden

Orange coneflower, Rudbeckia fulgida, Rosebay Ave.

Panicle hydrangea, Hydrangea paniculata, several locations

Canna lily, Canna sp., Ash Ave.

Sweet William, Dianthus barbatus ‘Rocking Red’, Ash Ave.

Anise hyssop, Agastache ‘Bolero’, Ash Ave.

Heather, Calluna vulgaris, Garden Ave.

Oak-leaf hydrangea, Hydrangea quercifolia, several locations

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

Bee blossom, Gaura lindheimeri, Meadow Rd.

Goldenrod, Solidago sp., Mountain Ave.

Hyssopleaf thoroughwort, Eupatorium hyssopifolium, Mountain Ave.

Northern blazing star, Liatris sp. Mountain Ave.

Branched coneflower, Rudbeckia triloba, Mountain Ave.

Hawkweed, Hieracium caespitosum, Mountain Ave.

Hosta, Hosta sp., several locations

Shrubby cinquefoil, Potentilla sp., Hyacinth Path

Creeping lilyturf, Liriope spicata, several locations

Spiraea, Spiraea japonica ‘Alpina’, Admin. bldg.

Baneberry, Actaea simplex ‘Hillside Black Beauty’, Beech Ave.

Autumn joy sedum, Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’, @ Flagpole

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

Cardinal flower, Lobelia cardinalis, Willow Pond

Jackman clematis, Clematis xjackmanii, Admin. bldg.

Clematis, Clematis ‘Perrin’s Pride’, Cardinal Path

Stonecrop, Sedum sp., Admin. bldg.

New Guinea impatiens, Impatiens sp., several locations

Butterfly bush, Buddleia ‘Nanho Purple’, Azalea Path

Joe-pye-weed, Eupatorium maculatum ‘Gateway’, Azalea Path

Coneflower, Echinacea purpurea, Azalea Path

Aster, Eurybiaa divaricata, Azalea Path

New York ironweed, Vernonia noveboracensis, Azalea Path

Threadleaf coreopsis, Coreopsis verticillata ‘Zagreb’, Azalea Path

Meadow sage, Salvia nemerosa ‘Blue Hill’, Azalea Path

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

Bigleaf hydrangea, Hydrangea macrophylla, Almy Rd.

Geranium, Geranium sp. several locations

False sunflower, Heliopsis helianthoides, Greenhouse garden

Delphinium, Delphinium sp., Greenhouse garden

Snapdragon, Antirrhinum sp., Greenhouse garden

Dahlia, Dahlia sp., Greenhouse garden

Sunflower, Helianthus sp., Greenhouse garden

Mexican sunflower, Tithonia rotundifolia, Greenhouse garden

German statice, Limonium sp., Greenhouse garden

Cosmos, Cosmos bipinnatus, Greenhouse garden

Zinnia, Zinnia sp., Greenhouse garden

Sea holly, Eryngium alpinum, Greenhouse garden

Globe amaranth, Gomphrena sp., Greenhouse garden

Strawflower, Helichrysum bracteatum, Greenhouse garden

Pink-flower indigo, Indigofera amblyantha, Linden Path



DRUMMER BOY: A Civil War Veteran

September 4, 2019

Mount Auburn was awarded a grant by the Massachusetts State Historical Records Advisory Board (MA SHRAB) to preserve selected veterans’ monuments in 2019. One of the monuments chosen for treatment memorializes Rufus King, a Civil War soldier whose role in the Union Army is made clear by the words “MY DRUMMER BOY” at the top of his headstone. This unique inscription made the monument an excellent candidate for the MA SHRAB grant, as did its poor condition (Figure 1 above). Positioned at the top of a hill, it was leaning forward and covered in biological growth, dirt, and residue from atmospheric pollutants (Figure 2 below). We originally described the monument as “small” in the project proposal, because as far as we knew it was only a foot tall. However, preservation work quickly proved that there was much more to the headstone than originally assumed.

Our first step in preserving the monument was to excavate it. It had been clear from the start that some of the headstone had been buried as the hillside eroded, but we were surprised to find as much as twenty inches of marble below grade (Figure 3 below left). The monument had been anchored in its crooked position by several large tree roots, which we cut away so that we could remove it from the ground. Once we unearthed it, we discovered a second unique inscription; the headstone memorialized not only “Drummer Boy” Rufus King, but a young woman nicknamed “Little Pinkey” (Gertrude King). We also noticed that the bottom edge of the headstone was jagged. This suggested that it had broken at some point in the past, and that there had been a base that was discarded after the damage was done (Figure 4 below right).

We brought the monument into Mount Auburn’s preservation workshop, where we washed it with a steam-cleaner (Figure 5 below). This treatment successfully brought the marble from a grayish color back to its original white (Figure 6 below). Next, the ground where the monument had been located was excavated in order to make space for a foundation. One reason that Mount Auburn remains beautiful and safe almost two hundred years after its consecration is the fact that each monument is required to sit on a four-foot foundation. These foundations help prevent the headstones from shifting and leaning over time. However, occasionally we work on monuments like the King headstone that are missing foundations. As we removed four feet of earth and tree roots to pour the concrete, we were surprised yet again; the original base was discovered on its side about two-and-a-half feet below grade (Figure 7 below). Its many years underground had kept the broken marble on its top face from wearing away, so it promised to be a near-perfect fit with the headstone’s corresponding edge (Figure 8). After carefully removing the base from the ground, we dug the hole to its full depth and poured a new foundation (Figure 9 below). When the concrete had set, we cleaned the bottom of the base, set it on the foundation with Portland cement mortar, and backfilled the hole (Figures 10 and 11 below). We then cleaned the granite base with a power-washer (Figure 12 below).

 Due to its tall, thin shape, we decided to give the monument extra stability by putting pins into the headstone at the break. We carefully measured the appropriate location for two holes in each face of the marble and drilled accordingly. Then we cut two stainless steel pins and anchored them into the holes in the lower piece of marble with epoxy, a very strong adhesive (Figure 13 below). Finally, we lowered the headstone into place with a gantry tripod, using more epoxy to glue the two pieces of marble together (Figure 14 below).

Once the epoxy set, we moved on to the finishing touches. The crack where the marble had broken was filled with a mixture of B72 resin and marble dust, which was combined with a tiny pinch of yellow ochre pigment to create a paste the same color as the marble (Figure 15 below). In addition to improving the monument’s appearance, this fill will prevent water from entering the crack and damaging the stone during the freeze-thaw process. The headstone had become slightly soiled again during the preceding preservation treatments, so the dirt was removed as thoroughly as possible with Vulpex Liquid Soap, a restoration cleaner. Finally, we scrubbed and sprayed the marble with D/2 Biological Solution. D/2 works with the wind, the rain, and the sun’s UV rays to clean marble over the course of weeks or months, so the monument will look even better in the near future than it does now (Figure 16 below).

 The King monument is a quintessential example of the crucial role preservation plays at Mount Auburn. The headstone tells stories not only about the Civil War and the King family, but also about past trends in funerary art and Cemetery practices regarding monument damage. If we had not been able to preserve it, much of this information would have stayed buried underground. Each preservation project adds to Mount Auburn’s historic significance and the richness of the stories we can tell.

Please help us raise the remaining funds needed to support the 2019 preservation of our veterans’ monuments with a gift to Monument Preservation. Thank you for your support!

Open Position: Assistant Gardening Supervisor

August 26, 2019


Assists the Gardening Supervisor with the preparation, planting, record keeping, maintenance and removal of lot plantings, new sales areas and other corporation plantings, and special garden areas such as the Front Gate, Asa Gray Garden, Story and Bigelow Chapels, Garden Crypts, Birch Gardens, Tower Meadow, Spruce Knoll, Willow Pond and Willow Pond Knoll.  Coordinates the use of interns, apprentices and volunteers for various gardening tasks.

Acts as the Gardening Supervisor when the Supervisor is absent, directing seasonal and full-time employees of the Gardening Department. 


Responsible for the oversight, care, and maintenance of gardens at the Front Entry Area, Gatehouse, Administration Building, Asa Gray Garden, Story Chapel and Bigelow Chapel.

Supervise seasonal and full-time employees of Gardening Section, as requested by the Gardening Supervisor.

Assists the Gardening Supervisor with prioritizing projects and daily work assignments for the Gardening Section for efficient use of time and labor, and submit time cards for employees in this department.

Supervise and perform the planting and maintenance of lot plantings, which includes groundcovers, trees, shrubs and perennials, and maintain associated records.

Supervise and perform planting and maintenance of curb and fence lot conversions from turf to groundcover plantings.

Responsible for maintenance of roses and perennial beds.

Assist Arboriculture Supervisor with all phases of tree work as requested. Performs ornamental tree pruning during the winter months.  Tree climbing and bucket truck experience preferred.

Responsible for diagnosing plant pest problems, recommending treatments and plant health care improvements, keeping all appropriate records, and performing pesticide spraying and treatments for the outdoor plant collection of the Cemetery.

Keep records of new plantings and removals and communicate regularly with Plant Records Manager to ensure that all new plantings and removals of trees, shrubs, and herbaceous perennials are properly recorded in the computer data base in a timely manner.

Put out floral decorations on lots for holidays and clean the grounds of floral decorations after holidays.

Assists with coordinating tribute cleanup after major holidays such as Easter, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, Christmas and weekly as necessary.

Responsible for safe and proper use of all vehicles and equipment used by the Gardening Section staff, organize and maintain the Gardening Section tool room and order gardening supplies and recommend new purchases as needed.

Responsible for enhancing safety in the workplace by ensuring that all employees under his supervision are properly trained to use any required equipment and are following all safety rules and procedures.  Also, responsible for making sure that required procedures related to employee accidents are carried out in a thorough and timely manner.

Responsible for making sure that all employees in his crew follow posted work schedule and do not stretch out lunch or coffee breaks.

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

Responsible for Recycling Area duties such as operating backhoe, front-end loader, dump truck, and soil screener.  Assist with the general operation and organization of the Recycling Area.

May be required to help interment crew set up graves, green up graves, carry interment devices and caskets, clean-up graves and jackhammer graves when other labor is not available.

Shovel, plow or blow snow as needed.

Occasionally lead tours of Cemetery for plant societies and other horticultural and school groups, and may assist with special events such as Arbor Day or conduct programs for the Friends of Mount Auburn Cemetery.

May be required to perform other duties as requested by the Superintendent of Grounds to assist other Sections or Departments.

Follow all Cemetery safety policies and procedures related to assigned tasks, including wearing personal protective equipment (eye and hearing protecting, gloves, etc.), proper handling of chemicals, ladder safety, and lifting and moving heavy objects.  Bring unsafe conditions to the attention of the Superintendent of Grounds and makes suggestions to improve safe working practices.


Degree in Ornamental Horticulture or related field or equivalent training.

Five years of horticulture work experience with increasing supervisory experience running landscaping crews.

Proven ability to direct staff and run work crews.  Must be able to make sound decisions efficiently and confidently often under pressure and in stressful situations.

Experience working in private estate and high-end residential landscaping is desired.

Arboriculture experience pruning, spraying and bucket truck operation desired.

Ability to obtain a Commercial Pesticide Applicator’s License in “Shade Trees and Ornamentals” (Category 36) within one year of hire.

Ability to obtain a Massachusetts Hoisting License 2A within one year of hire.

MCA, MCH or ISA designation is highly desirable.

A valid driver’s license required.

Ability to communicate successfully and tactfully with staff, outside vendors and contractors, lot owners, customers and visitors.

Experience working in a greenhouse setting or the willingness to learn this function is desirable.

Ability to use radio communications equipment.

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


Ability to shovel soil, snow, and mulch and to lift fertilizer, lime, soil mixes, peatmoss, trees, shrubs and logs up to 80 pounds.

Ability to use and operate a variety of hand tools and power equipment such as pole pruners, leafblower, snowblower, backhoe, bucket truck, chipper, chain saws, and all other arboricultural equipment.

Ability to jackhammer and to lift caskets for interments up to 100 pounds.

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


Work outdoors in all seasons, including harsh weather conditions.

Can be stressful at times, especially during busy holiday season or 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.

The America Plays

July 21, 2019

Tickets are now on sale for The America Plays, the second of two series of site-specific plays created by the Cemetery’s first Playwright Artist-in-Residence, Patrick Gabridge.

Mount Auburn Cemetery was founded in 1831, during the post-Colonial era that would help define America’s identity. This series of 5 short plays, staged at sites across the landscape, will bring to life the drama, philosophies, and struggles shared by Mount Auburn founders Jacob Bigelow, by sculptors Edmonia Lewis and Martin Milmore, and by strong women like Harriot Kezia Hunt and Charlotte Cushman who sought new opportunities beyond the social norms of the time. This journey through the American experience concludes with an immigrant story, featuring some of Mount Auburn’s Armenian residents. Experience the personalities and drama that lie at the heart of America’s first large-scale designed landscape open to the public.



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. 


Attention Citizen Scientists!

August 31, 2019

The 2019 Fall Phenology Study Training schedule is set.

Classroom Trainings

Sunday September 29 with Jim Gorman at Story Chapel from 10:00 – 11:30am


Tuesday October 1 with Brooks Mathewson at Bigelow Chapel from 10:00 – 11:30am

Field Trainings

Monday September 30 with Jim Gorman from 10:00 – 11:30am
Meet at the Citizen Science Gatehouse


Wednesday October 2 with Brooks Mathewson from 10:00 – 11:30am
Meet at the Citizen Science Gatehouse

Please plan on attending 1 classroom and 1 field training

Current citizen scientists are encouraged to attend and new volunteers are welcome to join our community of discovery and science!

RSVP to Paul Kwiatkowski – Wildlife Conservation & Sustainability Manager

The Magic Hour at Washington Tower

August 29, 2019

Join us for a mostly silent sunset meditation at the Tower.  The magic hour is that dazzling collection of moments when the sun is near the horizon just before and after sunset. The moments of The Magic Hour at Washington Tower will be spent mostly in silence (or in hushed tones with friends) as we contemplate the light and cultivate a state of equanimity.

Wednesday 9/4: 6:15 – 7:30PM

Wednesday 9/11: 6:15 – 7:30PM

Wednesday 9/18: 5:45-7:15PM

Wednesday 9/25: 5:30 – 7PM

Space is limited.  Pre-registration recommended.  Free.