There is no better time to come and enjoy our impressive evergreens. Mount Auburn’s conifer collection is noted for its size and diversity. With more than 80 different taxa and more than 1,500 plants, it is comparable to the conifer collections at … Continue reading


Now is a great time for a second look at many of our deciduous trees and shrubs. Even without their more showy foliage and flowers, many of our plants have something to contribute to the winter landscape. From the the impressive size and shape of some trees … Continue reading


Early signs of spring appear throughout the landscape in March.  The cheerful yellow blossoms of witchhazel that appear early in the month and the beautiful carpets of scilla  that emerge by month’s end remind us that warmer days are soon on their way. … Continue reading


Mount Auburn is painted in shades of yellow, pink, white and lilac thanks to the daffodils, forsythia, magnolias, and redbuds now blooming.  For many, though, it is the April flowering of Mount Auburn’s 20+ varieites of ornamental cherries that truly signal spring’s arrival. … Continue reading


It is no wonder that Mount Auburn welcomes so many visitors each May.  Flowering dogwoods, crabapples, lilacs, and azaleas are just some of what is on display.  If you’ve never been to the Cemetery, now is the time to make … Continue reading


Though May might be the peak of spring bloom, there is still plenty of interest in June.  Rhododendrons, Mountain Laurel, and Kousa Dogwoods add plenty of late-spring color to the landscape. The annual and perennial plants planted in flower beds throughout … Continue reading


In July, make your way out to Willow Pond for a glimpse of our butterfly garden at its peak. As you walk at to the pond, you’ll notice a number of summer-blooming trees and shrubs adding seasonal interest to the … Continue reading


Late summer blooming ornamentals provide plenty of reasons to visit Mount Auburn, though perhaps the best reason to visit the Cemetery in August is to seek shade beheath the Cemetery’s dense canopy of shade trees.  Maples and oaks are among our shade … Continue reading


As the last of our summer-blooming plants make a showing in September, other plants begin showing the tell-tale signs of autumn’s approach.  Our wildflower meadow, located at  Washington Tower, is now at its peak as we bid farewell to one … Continue reading


By mid-October Mount Auburn’s landscape is awash in color.  As our many deciduous trees and shrubs begin to transform their foliage into jewel-tone shades of red, orange, yellow, and purple, other plants set out their fall fruits and nuts. Here are some … Continue reading


The diversity in Mount Auburn’s collection of trees ensures an prolonged foliage season each fall.  Even in November, there is still plenty of color in the landscape. From our noble oaks displaying autumn color to the fall-blooming witchhzel, there is plenty to see at the Cemetery.  Here are … Continue reading


As our deciduous plants drop their last leaves we welcome the winter season. Now is the time to explore Mount Auburn’s many plants displaying four season interest.  The diversity in our horticultural collections ensure that a visit to Mount Auburn at … Continue reading


Horticulture Highlight: Trumpet creeper

Horticulture Highlight: Trumpet creeper
July 5, 2023

Go north a dozen years

on a road overgrown with vines

to find the days after you were born…

            -Faith Shearin

One vine renown for rampant overgrowth is Trumpet creeper, Campsis radicans. Native of moist woods, roadsides and fencerows from Pennsylvania to Missouri, south to Texas and Florida, it has since been naturalized well beyond its original range. Everywhere it now grows it is vigorous as well as a joyous sight in flower. Renowned plantsman Michael Dirr opines, “If you can not grow this, give up gardening…”.


Horticulture Highlight: Honeylocust

Horticulture Highlight: Honeylocust
May 30, 2023

Horticulture Highlight: Honeylocust, Gleditsia triacanthos


such forms as can extend the flawed earth

and embody us, intact, unaltering, among

the soft surprising trees of childhood,

mimosa, honey locust, willow

            -Ellen Bryant Voigt

During a week-end long Arbor Day celebration, tours throughout our landscape visited our Massachusetts “Champion Trees”. There exist lists designating what are the biggest individuals by tree species, in the nation, state, county/city or perhaps even neighborhood. With a standardized point system, three measurements of tree height, trunk circumference and tree canopy help to determine what is a biggest individual. Near our entrance is the Massachusetts champion Honeylocust, Gleditsia triacanthos, planted in 1939 and measured at a height of 74.5-feet and 105-inches in trunk circumference.

Honeylocust, Gleditsia triacanthos is a large, tough, fast-growing, deciduous tree, with a wide spreading canopy. The Latin name honors Johann Gottlieb Gleditsch (1714-1786), German physician, botanist and director of the Berlin Botanic Garden. This small genus of a dozen different species is within the FABACEAE, the pea family, the third largest terrestrial family (after ORCHIDACEAE and ASTERACEAE) comprising 670 genera and 20,000 species. We reviewed botanical cousins within this family including redbud, yellowwood, wisteria and silktree. This family also includes soybean, common bean, lima bean, chick pea, peanut and carob to mention some of agricultural importance.

In forest virginity, this is a midwestern tree ranging from Pennsylvania to southern Minnesota and South Dakota south to Nebraska, Texas and Alabama. Extensively planted it has become widely naturalized outside of its original range. Its alternate leaves are 6 to 15” long, pinnate or bipinnately compound, with its many fine textured leaflets casting a dappled shade.

If you were a painter, you’d paint the wind

green. It would shake the boughs of the honey locust trees.

It would chase the leaves across the continent…

            -David Lehman

In late spring they produce inconspicuous, greenish-yellow, mostly unisexual male and female flowers on different trees, although some trees may also contain flowers of the opposite gender (polygamo-dioecious). If successfully fertilized, the fruit maturing in early autumn, is a 7 to 18” -long pod, containing numerous oval, hard, shiny dark brown seeds. These pods contain a sugar-rich pulp that has been eaten, even used as a sugar substitute, hence the common name honeylocust. Often these pods become irregularly twisted.

seed pods on red background

what else but to linger in the slight shade of those sapling branches

yearning for that vernal beau. for don’t birds covet the seeds of the

            honey locust

            -D. A. Powell

The species name triacanthos, alludes to bunches of thorns growing on the trunk and larger branches of wild populations. These remarkable triple-branched thorns arise from the tree’s wood and cannot be easily removed. Fortunately, thornless forms have been found. Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis (unarmed) are the source of most of our and commercially available honeylocust trees.

On a future visit to Mount Auburn look for some of our score of Honeylocust, Gleditsia triacanthos at our main entrance, Gerardia Path, Spruce Avenue, Cedar Avenue, Spelman Road, Field Road, Willow Pond Path, Begonia Path, Dogwood Path, Sorrel Path and Petunia Path among other locations.

a factory of blue jays

in honey locust leaves

            -Yusef Komunyakaa

Horticulture Highlight: Columbine

Horticulture Highlight: Columbine
May 2, 2023

…A woodland walk,
A quest of river grapes, a mocking thrush,
A wild rose or a rock-loving columbine
Salve my wounds…

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Referred by some as an old-fashioned favorite, Columbine, Aquilegia canadensis provides a curious and beautiful ornamental interest. The genus Aquilegia comprises 60-70 species found throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Aquilegia is within the RANUNCULACEAE, the buttercup family, which also includes the genera Anemone, Helleborus, and Xanthorhiza which we have discussed previously.


The Flowering Bulbs of Spring

The Flowering Bulbs of Spring
April 2, 2023

The scientific definition of the beginning of spring occurs with the vernal equinox (March 20). But, locally, we have experienced snowfall on the running of five Boston Marathons (1907, 1908, 1925, 1961, and 1967) and two Boston Red Sox games in Fenway Park were snowed out on April 8th and 10th in 1996. Boston had a half-inch of snow on May 10, 1977. For many of us, the lovely sights of the first flowers opening from bulbs are our own “signs of spring”.  Flowering bulbs, corms, and tubers, which are modified perennial, herbaceous plants, are currently coming up in numerous locations, throughout our landscape.