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.
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!
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.
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.
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.”
VISIT ASA GRAY GARDEN
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.
Anna Moir, Grants & Communications Manager
Keeping a landscape like Mount Auburn beautiful and well-maintained does not happen without a skilled team of horticulture professionals. No matter the season, our staff are always putting their expertise to use figuring out the best ways to design, plant, and maintain the Cemetery with both aesthetics and sustainability in mind. We have therefore been highly concerned by recent trends of declining numbers of specialized training programs, especially at the university level, and fewer young professionals entering the field. Our response since 2014 has been to offer our own paid apprenticeship programs, supporting and training talented students and recent graduates seeking careers in public horticulture. Thanks to a group of generous donors, we have been able to expand the program up through to today.
From seasonal internships to year-long immersive experiences, our programs provide intensive practical experience across the different specialties within our Horticulture Department. This has been mutually-beneficial as our participants gain expertise in multiple aspects of our complex horticulture and landscape operations, while also bringing talent, enthusiasm, and fresh perspectives as they support our staff on their projects.
While the Covid-19 pandemic forced many changes to our workflow to ensure everyone’s safety, we were lucky to still be able to host two participants: Alex Wolfe, a recent graduate who had originally started as the 2018-2019 apprentice but extended to a second year, and Katelyn McVay, a student in the class of 2022 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who worked with us for the summer. As they get ready for a new semester and new opportunities, Alex and Katelyn sat down to reflect on their time here, and how it’s shaped them moving forward.
What brought her to Mount Auburn: I had worked in the field of horticulture for a bit in landscaping and greenhouse work, but wanted to learn more about some other sectors of horticulture. I saw that Mount Auburn had a rotating position where you get a taste of each of the departments in a year’s time. So I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to get a better idea of what I would like to specialize in moving forward.
Favorite experiences: I think my favorite projects and highlights of my time here have been when I’m involved in planting projects. The main project I worked on last year and am involved in again this year are plantings in Consecration Dell and the North Dell Meadows. It was a great leadership opportunity and learning experience working with a contractor and using an architectural planting plan. I also loved that the focus of that area involves the use of native plants.
Learning new skills: Since beginning work here, my plant identification skills have exponentially grown, and I have obtained my Massachusetts Certified Horticulturist certification. My favorite department that I worked in was Plant Records. I’ve gained a good bit of taxonomic knowledge, experience working with a database, and exposure to GIS work.
Favorite spot at Mount Auburn: My favorite place is easily the Dell. I loved working on projects for this area, and love that it’s focused on habitat restoration and planting natives.
Future plans: Working with native plants in the Dell got me thinking more about the ecological side of things and working in plant records with taxonomy really sparked my interest in systematics and evolution. This fall I am starting my Master’s in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Conservation Biology at Antioch University New England. I hope to carry out work with the overall goal of plant conservation, in whatever capacity that may be.
What brought her to Mount Auburn: Prior to applying here, Mount Auburn was my favorite natural space to visit while in Boston. I loved how Mount Auburn combined a rich history of landscapes and architecture with beautiful formal and natural gardens. I was extremely excited when I found out about the internship, and I was definitely drawn to the program due to the great opportunities, staff, and landscapes here.
Favorite experiences: I would have to say that one of my favorite projects that I worked on this summer was the garden in front of Story Chapel. My team and I planted everything in that area during my first week on the job, and it was a really exciting introduction to my position here. It was amazing to see how landscape architecture and design and horticulture came together to create something so beautiful and eye-catching in the front part of Mount Auburn.
Learning new skills: During this summer, besides working on the horticulture team, I also spent some time working at the greenhouse. While working there, I was introduced to a variety of plant propagation techniques. Prior to this experience, I didn’t fully understand how interesting and creative plant propagation could be. This learning experience at the greenhouse taught me how cool plants can be and skills that I’ll be able to use on my own plants and in my classes.
Favorite spot at Mount Auburn: My favorite place at Mount Auburn has to be Willow Pond. The scenery around that area is so peaceful, and it’s a place where I often found myself connecting with nature the most. Particularly, I really admire the tree selection and placement around Willow Pond and the sculpture and seating area on top of the hill.
Future plans: I plan to hopefully pursue a graduate degree in the plant sciences or in landscape architecture. This summer really helped me to discover my passion for plants and landscapes, and the professional and personal skills I have learned over the summer have reinforced my academic and career goals. I had such an amazing time here, and I’m so fortunate that Mount Auburn allowed me to pursue my passions and taught me how to apply the skills I learn in the classroom to the real world. For more information, please contact Jenny Gilbert at email@example.com