Sweet Auburn: The Magazine of the Friends A Landscape of Remembrance and Reflection | Page 4
By Anna Moir
Grants & Communications Manager
hroughout its history, Mount Auburn’s landscape has evolved in line
with changes in landscape design, cemetery development, and the
natural cycle of growth and decay. Our stewardship of this National
Historic Landmark includes identifying areas that need improvement to reach
their full potential—both aesthetically and functionally—and making that
vision a reality. In recent decades, we have successfully renovated areas like
Consecration Dell, simultaneously amplifying the features that already made a
place special and editing the vegetation (namely invasive species) that limited
its potential. Today, we are turning our restoration focus to another prominent
area: Indian Ridge.
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 our main entrance, Indian Ridge is a natural esker, a sinuous
curving 1,700-foot path with steep slopes dropping down on both sides. It
is one of our most popular areas to walk and features the burial site of one
of our most notable residents, poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. It is also
a prime birdwatching spot during the spring migration each year, especially
for neotropical warblers who stop to feed before heading north to Canada.
Additionally, the path is home to some of our oldest oak trees, which date to
the Cemetery’s founding.
However, a closer look reveals some fundamental flaws in Indian Ridge’s
current state. The landscape along the path lacks cohesion. It is characterized
by sparse ornamental trees, patchy grass sections, many invasive plants, and
the above-mentioned oaks. Given its high visitation, by both migratory birds
and the public, we have made its renovation a priority. The project has been
under consideration since we created our Wildlife Action Plan in 2015, which
identified Indian Ridge as one of our most promising habitats for birds.
The new landscape has been designed by Mount Auburn’s Horticultural
Curator Dennis Collins and horticultural consultant Patrick Cullina, with