Ruggiero Memorial Trust Awards Grant to support Habitat Restoration Project

January 7, 2020

We are pleased to announce that the A. J. & M. D. Ruggiero Memorial Trust has awarded an $89,000 grant to the Friends of Mount Auburn Cemetery to support our new landscape and habitat restoration project along Indian Ridge Path. Over the years, the Friends has received more than a million dollars from the Ruggiero Memorial Trust for wildlife habitat enhancement projects. You may have seen some of the most dramatic work that the Trust has made possible in recent years in the area around Consecration Dell, where we conducted a multi-year phased woodland restoration (most recently expanding to the North Dell Meadows in 2019). This year, we are moving on to a new section of our landscape, Indian Ridge Path, for our latest series of improvements and habitat expansion.

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 the main entrance, Indian Ridge Path is one of our most popular areas to walk, featuring the burial site of one of our most notable residents, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Indian Ridge is also already a prime birdwatching spot during the spring migration each year, as a destination for neotropical warblers who stop at Mount Auburn to feed before heading north to Canada. Additionally, the path features some of Mount Auburn’s oldest oak trees, which date to the founding of the Cemetery.

Today, however, the landscape along the path lacks any unified design scheme or horticultural sustainability, and is characterized by a few ornamental trees, patchy grass sections, invasive shrubs, and the abovementioned oaks. Given the already high level of migratory bird activity, we have made it a priority to create a landscape design that adds visual appeal as well as plant diversity to the area.

We have already begun work on the area, with the removal of invasive plants that have prevented other native, habitat-friendly vegetation from establishing over the years. These include Norway Maples, one of the most notorious species on the Massachusetts Prohibited Plants list since 2005, as well as Barberry and Honeysuckle. In the spring and summer of 2020, we will move forward with replacing these with native plantings now that they will have the space to thrive properly.

The new landscape has been designed by Mount Auburn’s Horticultural Curator Dennis Collins and horticultural consultant Patrick Cullina, with the help of landscape architect Craig Halvorson, and will take the best features of Indian Ridge as it currently exists – especially its progression of white-flowered trees each spring and its historic oaks – and expand upon these. The trees will be complemented by new thickets and masses of lower vegetation which have been selected to offer habitat benefits to birds and other wildlife.

The grant has brought us halfway to our $305,000 goal as of January 2020, and we need your support to complete the project! Donations will help cover the costs of landscape design, replanting the area with more than 15,000 new plants, and caring for these plants in the critical early years to ensure that the landscape is established.

To make a gift, please contact Director of Institutional Advancement Jenny Gilbert at 617-607-1970 or, or visit and choose “Horticultural Collections.”

About the Author: Anna Moir

Grants & Communications Manager View all posts by Anna Moir →

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