Sweet Auburn: The Magazine of the Friends of Mount Auburn Connecting the Present with the Past - Page 11

sweet auburn | 2019 volume i A Landscape and Habitat Restoration Project, Spring 2019 L andscape plans for the Appleton Lot, mentioned in the previous article, rely on a blend of massed flowering and evergreen shrubs at the lot’s borders. Their dual purpose is to provide an interesting textural backdrop for the newly restored monument and to create a sense of enclosure for the naturalistic fescue grass lawn that occupies the center of this flat-topped hill. The site is mostly shady, and the plants chosen for it—e.g., Witchhazel (Hamamelis vernalis), Bottlebrush Buckeye (Aesculus parviflora), Spicebush (Lindera benzoin), Creeping Oregon Grape (Mahonia repens), and Ninebark (Physocarpus ‘Amber Jubilee’)—will be allowed to grow naturally without much pruning. If we achieve our fundraising goal for this project, planting will be completed in 2019. If you stand on the northwest edge of the Appleton Lot and look north, you will see where an even larger landscape renovation project is planned for 2019. On the slopes that cascade down toward Consecration Dell, this June we will be creating the “North Dell Meadows,” an attractive and ecologically-important habitat of meadow grasses and wildflowers, with massed shrubs used in drifts. This site will feel quite distinct from the Appleton Lot and the surrounding woodlands of the Dell. With its higher sun exposure and broad open slopes that drop down to Walnut Ave; the site offers a golden opportunity to feature a different group of plants and a habitat that complements the woodland habitats adjacent to it. The upper and lower meadows will each be planted with different grass species (Blue Grama grass in the upper; Fine Fescues in the lower), while a variety of wild- flowers planted throughout—including Coneflower, Mountain Mint, Tickseed, Bowman’s Root, and New England Blazing Star—will offer seasonal interest from spring through fall. In addition to some 7,000 herbaceous plants, the plan calls for 10 trees and 319 shrubs. These will be used in ways that emphasize naturalistic massing, a “shrubland-habitat” as described in our 2015 Wildlife Action Plan. Masses of Fragrant Sumac (Rhus aromatica), Virginia Rose (Rosa virginiana), and a prostrate form of Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana) will form sweeping drifts of vegetation that provide food sources, protection, and nesting opportunities for a wide range of animal species. The North Dell Meadows project harkens back to the Cemetery’s nineteenth-century roots. In the mid-1800s, it would have been commonplace to find clearings in the forested canopy of the Cemetery dominated by native meadow grasses and wildflowers; manicured lawns didn’t emerge until the mid- twentieth century. Executing this plan will help achieve some significant goals outlined in our Master Plan, capturing and maintaining all of the different landscape styles from our 188- year history in different areas. It is not always easy to establish horticultural improvements on the grounds, and this project will build on what we learned in the past. Using 100% fescue sods, and a tightly-planted matrix of perennial wildflowers, we hope to avoid the weed problems that plagued us in past projects. The mix of wild- flowers includes a combination of rhizomatous spreading types as well as clumpers, which should form a dense mat of vegetation. The design team includes meadow specialist Larry Weaner, along with landscape architect Craig Halvorson and designers Gary Koller and Nan Sinton. The A.J. & M.D. Ruggiero Memorial Trust has awarded an $80,000 grant to the Friends of Mount Auburn Cemetery in support of this project. This grant only covers a portion of the project costs, and we must raise 25% in matching funding to fully realize our design and associated plantings. If you are interested in supporting this exciting project, please contact Jenny Gilbert at jgilbert@mountauburn.org. 9