Category: Landscape

Support New Improvements to Violet Path

Support New Improvements to Violet Path
August 3, 2023

This fall and into the spring, Mount Auburn is excited to begin improvements to Violet Path, a highly-traversed trail in our historic Consecration Dell. Please read on to learn more about this vital work and how your support can reinvigorate this treasured path!

At the heart of Mount Auburn’s historic core, Consecration Dell has undergone careful restoration and extensive care since 1997, and the area now features native New England trees, shrubs, perennials, and groundcovers that provide year-round horticultural interest, as well as food and shelter for resident and migratory wildlife. As part of our ongoing enhancements to the Dell area, the Mount Auburn team will now be focused on the surrounding Violet Path and its impact on visitors and wildlife by augmenting the infrastructure of the walking path while incorporating new native plantings in the neighboring shady slopes.

Starting this fall, contractors will be working on Violet Path to address erosion control issues related to the path itself.  This will then enable additional work on the slope above the path, which will include planting slope-stabilizing plants such as native shrubs and perennials like ferns. While focusing on stabilizing the slope, the plants will also be chosen to support the wildlife habitat in Consecration Dell. This path remediation will benefit our many visitors who walk along the path to witness Mount Auburn at its most rural, harkening back to Mount Auburn’s first President Joseph Story in his 1831 Consecration Address, when he highlighted the unique, naturalistic beauty of the new cemetery with its “sheltered valley… silent grove… lofty oak… rustling pine… and the wildflower creeping along the narrow path.” Beyond the role that plantings play in erosion control, this project will reinforce our commitment to wildlife by featuring leafy shrubs and ferns that will provide a layering of vegetation to increase habitat for many species of amphibians and mammals.

Due to the naturalistic environment in which these new plantings will be installed, they will require time and maintenance to reach their full size and fit together cohesively, which will be essential for the landscape to look the way it was designed. By supporting the ongoing maintenance, your help can ensure the beauty of Violet Path into the future.  As an essential update surrounding one of the most trafficked areas of Mount Auburn, and an extension of our ongoing efforts to incorporate native plantings for their countless benefits, this significant work on Violet Path is key to our mission and will enrich our treasured grounds further.

What to expect

As work commences towards the fall, prepare for Violet Path to be closed between 3-5 weeks. Further details to come.

We need your help!

This work does not get completed on its own! You can help our commitment to improving and maintaining this much-beloved, historic area of Mount Auburn by donating here!

Help us Complete Phase 3, Indian Ridge Habitat Restoration

Help us Complete Phase 3, Indian Ridge Habitat Restoration
April 21, 2022

This spring and summer of 2022, we are excited to undertake the third and final phase of our ambitious Indian Ridge Habitat Restoration. Read on to learn what to expect this year, and how you can help us complete this transformative project!

If you have visited in the past two years, you may have noticed our earlier work underway, focused on creating plant communities that would provide both aesthetic and habitat value. Our staff and contractors removed invasive species like Norway Maples from the Ridge and the slopes below it. Replacing them with native shrubs and white-flowered Silverbell trees not only brought a more cohesive aesthetic to the area, but also improved habitat resources for resident and migratory birds.

While we have made substantial progress, we still have many areas of plain turf grass in between the replanted sections. We also need to replace the path along the Ridge – currently narrow, damaged in many spots, and made of non-sustainable asphalt. It is therefore time for the final and most impressive phase of this project. Working with the designs and plants already in place (including what has already been added in Phases 1 and 2), we will complete this colorful and diverse landscape for one of our most popular areas, and improve the path for both visitors and staff.

Phase 3 Design – Sedge and Wildflower Meadow

For Phase 3, we turned to Larry Weaner Landscape Associates to create the landscape design. Principal and founder Larry Weaner has been a leading voice in the movement to shift from reliance on turf grass to diverse and ecologically-friendly groundcover. For many years, he has been working with us on the most effective ways to implement turf grass replacement throughout the Cemetery – one section of the landscape at a time, and always with the goal of complementing the monuments, trees, and other features that are already in place.

Larry has worked with Jenna Webster, Senior Associate at Larry Weaner Landscape Associates, to create a native planting scheme that will stretch across the entire 1,800-foot Ridge. It features a sedge and wildflower meadow along with an ambitious series of landscape character zones. These distinct zones – North Ridge Entry, Longfellow Woods, Ridge Meadow, Gardner’s Woods, Auburn Glade, and South Ridge Entry – draw inspiration from the legacy of the Ridge’s historic landscape, including some of its most notable monuments.

Landscape design map
Design scheme by Larry Weaner Landscape Associates

Improving the Path

We will also replace most of the narrow, damaged asphalt path with a permeable paving alternative. Asphalt produces harmful gases during production and installation, and increases the “heat island effect” in urban areas. As part of our commitment to sustainability, we are using a more environmentally-friendly stone aggregate instead. The larger and smoother path can also accommodate more visitors.

What to Expect When

Work on Phase 3 will begin in late spring 2022 with plant installations, which will continue through the summer. Throughout that time, and into the fall, our staff will be providing critical early maintenance for the new plants as needed. Meanwhile, landscape construction company Capizzi & Co. will install the new path at the same time. Please be aware that access to Indian Ridge will be closed during path construction, from June to October 2022.

Support Indian Ridge

You can help make this last step of the Indian Ridge Habitat Restoration a success! By making a gift to this project, you are enabling us to bring this new landscape to life and make the space more enjoyable for everyone. Thank you for your support!

Support our Horticultural Collections

Support our Horticultural Collections
April 1, 2021

Since its founding in 1831 by the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, Mount Auburn has been maintained with the highest regard for horticultural excellence. Today, our landscape is an accredited arboretum and botanical garden, featuring a nationally-significant collection of more than 5,000 trees and 10,000 shrubs and groundcover plants. With specialized gardens showcasing a diverse array of plants, our 175 acres are also as much a study of landscape design.

Four women gardening next to a pond in the spring

Help our staff care for this world-class collection and keep it beautiful for everyone who visits! Your support also makes possible all of the behind-the-scenes research, cataloging, plant cultivation, and design work that allows us to expand the collection across the Cemetery.

Curious to learn more? Visit our virtual plant database, Flora Mount Auburn.

Asa Gray Garden

Asa Gray Garden
January 1, 2021

A Garden to Welcome and Inspire

Situated just inside the Cemetery’s Egyptian Revival Gateway, Asa Gray Garden serves as a focal point and gathering place for arriving visitors. Since the 1850s, this ornamental garden has evolved to reflect changing horticultural trends and landscape design styles. Today, visitors will find a garden that is equally welcoming, comforting, and inspiring, a reflection of Mount Auburn’s best qualities.

More than 170 species of trees, shrubs, flowering perennials, flowering annuals, bulbs, and grasses provide color, texture, and beauty in all four seasons. In the garden’s center, the Pierce Fountain evokes the meditative qualities of the Cemetery’s landscape. A series of radiating paths lead visitors through the garden, while benches encourage visitors to rest and reflect.

The legacy of botanist Asa Gray (1810 – 1888), the garden’s namesake,
is celebrated through a diverse mix of species native to either East Asia or Eastern North America. While working with herbarium specimens, Gray discovered the striking similarities between American and Asian plant species and used his research to hypothesize that these species descended from common ancestors. Several specific pairings within the garden now pay tribute to the “Father of American Botany.”


Asa Gray Garden is located just inside the Cemetery Entrance on Lawn Avenue. Designated visitor parking on Lawn Avenue makes Asa Gray Garden a perfect place to start every visit to the Cemetery.

Until you can visit in person, explore Asa Gray Garden virtually.


Mount Auburn President & CEO Dave Barnett and Landscape Architect Ricardo Austrich discuss the 2018 renovation of Asa Gray Garden with host Jennifer Jewell on her podcast Cultivating Place.