Siebold Hemlock, Tsuga sieboldii

January 29, 2019

No white nor red was ever seen

So am’rous as this lovely green

            -Andrew Morrell

As leitmotif to last time’s “who does your garden grow,” we turn next to Siebold Hemlock, Tsuga sieboldii. The genus Tsuga is small with just nine to eleven species, depending on taxonomic analysis, compared with the much larger genus Pinus, or pines. All hemlocks are medium-sized to large, evergreen trees, native to North America and Asia. Previously we have reviewed Canadian hemlock, by far the most prevalent species growing at Mount Auburn.

Siebold Hemlock, Tsuga sieboldii. also referred to as Southern Japanese hemlock may reach heights of 100-feet in the wild, but more often half that tall in landscape use. They have single, flattened, needle-like leaves, each about ½-inch-long, with smooth edges and a tiny notch on the tip. The undersides have two white stomatal bands. The seed cones when ripe are pale brown, one-inch-long. (more…)

Patrick Gabridge and The Mount Auburn Plays

January 29, 2019

Mount Auburn Cemetery was one of the earliest places where the American public could view art. From its earliest days, the combination of artistic monuments, history, and nature was thoughtfully designed to create a dynamic, evolving, and beautiful landscape. Today, our artist-in-residency program serves as an opportunity for the nature and history of Mount Auburn to continue to offer inspiration. Bringing that inspiration to theatrical life, 2018-2019 artist-in-residence Patrick Gabridge has written The Mount Auburn Plays, a series of ten short plays that will be fully staged in our landscape in the coming year. First, in June, a series of five Nature Plays will explore the rich natural environment of Mount Auburn Cemetery; next, in September, five America Plays will explore American identity and history through the lens of Mount Auburn.

Tickets will go on sale later in the winter of 2019. In the meantime, mark your calendars for productions of The Nature Plays between May 30 and June 9, and The America Plays between September 12 and 22. Exact dates and times will be announced when the ticket sales begin.

The Friends of Mount Auburn Cemetery is seeking support for the full production of The Mount Auburn Plays, to help us hire local and diverse theater talent including a director, a stage manager, a costume designer, a casting coordinator, and up to ten regional actors. Please help support The Mount Auburn Plays with a tax-deductible gift at We thank you for your support.


A Bit of Ancient Europe, by Way of Vermont

January 27, 2019

By Volunteer Docent Robin Hazard Ray

In any season of the year, the serpent-green pillar mounted on the Bridge family lot at the corner of Fir and Spruce Avenues stands out. In summer, it towers over with the pale marble headstones of its neighbors. In winter, it provides a splendid color contrast to the snow and ice on the ground. Its unusual hue ranges from a dark pine green at the top, which is shaped in imitation of an urn, to a paler sea green toward the base.

Close examination of the pillar reveals it to be made from a rather messy metamorphic stone. Swirls of green serpentinite are shot through with white veins; this handsome combination is broken into chunks that swim in a finer gray-green matrix along with half-melted blobs of pale pinkish calcite. Here and there are flakes of a black mineral, identified as magnetite. This kind of rock is called “breccia” (Italian for “broken”) or breccia-conglomerate; breccias, which may be green, yellow, gray, or multicolored, are prized in the stone trade for their rough beauty and range of colors and textures. (more…)

The Transformation of Asa Gray Garden

January 15, 2019

After years of planning and a full year of construction, we officially re-opened Asa Gray Garden with a ribbon-cutting celebration last summer. We are deeply grateful to the generous supporters who made this project possible. The Loughlin family provided the lead gift, in memory of beloved Mount Auburn trustee Caroline Loughlin, which enabled us to initiate construction. A generous grant from the Harold Whitworth Pierce Charitable Trust to name “The Pierce Fountain” was facilitated by Harold I. Pratt, and many other individuals and foundations contributed to the garden renovation. A full list of donors will be available in our 186th Annual Report. The Friends of Mount Auburn continues to welcome donations to the renovation of Asa Gray Garden to ensure that it thrives in the coming years!

With the celebration now behind us, we look forward to maintaining this horticultural showpiece that will welcome and inspire all who visit Mount Auburn through all the seasons of the year.