A Trip to Mount Auburn Cemetery

29 Jul

[This is the second in a series of posts by Junzhou Liu, ’17 about her experience as garden manager for the student-run Smith Community Garden and intern for the Botanic Garden this summer.]


All the smith horticulture interns took a trip to the Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Boston today. This cemetery was the first garden-cemetery established in the United States. I used to have the stereotype that cemeteries should be tombs arranged in rows and columns. In my imaginary cemetery, big trees are scattered and weeds knee high create a gloomy and fearful atmosphere. However, the trip today changed my mind sharply. It’s a brand new idea for me to think that a cemetery can also be a garden itself.

The reception building of the Mount Auburn Cemetery

Since a cemetery is usually mostly grass, it seems such a wise decision to turn what might be just a weedy landscape into a garden. This way, when people look out across the city, say, from Beacon Hill where the new State House is, the cemetery will not stand out as different or unsightly. A garden cemetery saves ground resources by having the function of a cemetery on a garden landscape, beatifies the urban area and incorporates beauty and function into the city plan.

The view from the highest point in Mount Auburn Cemetery.

A public monument.

A Victorian garden.

The path that curves in front of the church was originally for chariots to change direction. An increasing number of weddings are held at the church- perhaps because of publicity about the beauty of the landscape? Besides wedding ceremonies, it is also common for people to sit on the lawn in front of the church and have picnics under a beech tree planted by the Prince of Wales.

The purple beech tree, planted on October 19, 1860 by the Prince of Wales (the future Edward VII).

The gravestones have been incorporated into the lawn. The lawn is mowed regularly and great care has been taken.

It is seldom to see such bright colored roses in a cemetery. With the flower petals raining down on the gravestones, the soul lying underneath may even smell the fragrance.

willow lake
Willow Lake.

There are some grave markers settled around the lake. People who love water sports, like canoeing, kayaking and swimming might like to sleep permanently here. Green and blue algae used to be a big problem for the lake. However, a newly constructed drainage system now filters algae out, helping to avoid the eventual flooding that unhampered growth would cause.

-Junzhou is a rising sophomore and a potential biochemistry major and economics minor originally from Beijing, China. This academic year Junzhou is moving from Park House, where she spent her first year, to Hopkins House, where she hopes to continue to meet new people and enjoy making and eating food from different cultures with others.

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