Monday, July 26, 2010

Wildflower Meadow at Mount Auburn Cemetery

If you are in the Boston area and would like to see one of the area’s botanical treasures you should make a visit to the Mount Auburn Cemetery. The collection of trees dates from the early 19th century. Since many of the plants are labeled, it is a great resource for learning about trees and shrubs.  Also, if you are planning a landscape and would like to see some full grown specimens.

One of the newer plantings at the cemetery is a native wildflower meadow located around the Washington Tower, at the highest point on the grounds. The plantings were put in 4-5 years ago using a mixture of grasses and perennial wildflowers native to eastern North America, as well as some common weeds that were already present on the site. Once established, the plan is to allow these plants to spread and intermix naturally with a minimum of human intervention.

The east-facing slope of the meadow (shown here) was planted with a variety of native grasses. This photo shows a concentration of Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium). Other grasses planted in this meadow include Prairie Dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis), Switch Grass (Panicum virgatum), Northern Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) and Indian Grass (Sorgastrum nutans).

From this view from the top of the tower looking west, you can see how some of the plantings were laid out and are beginning to intermix. In the opposite direction there is a great view of the city of Boston, but that wasn’t where I my mind was focused on this day.

Closer up you can better recognize many of the plants, such as Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida), Nodding Onion (Allium cernuum), Beebalm (Monarda fistulosa, center back) and Shrubby cinquefoil (Potentilla fruticosa, at the very front). Some of the many other species that can be found in this meadow are Wild Petunia, Golden Alexanders, Butterfly Weed, Coreopsis and several Northeastern native asters.

Since my particular interest is in short-lived native species, I quickly focused in on a couple of my favorites like Brown-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia triloba) and Spotted Beebalm (Monarda punctata). These species reproduce by seed and, by nature, more around the meadow. I need to keep a watch for them as they do not stay exactly in the same location every year.

If you would like to visit all 176 acres of Mount Auburn Cemetery, they are located at 580 Mount Auburn St. in Cambridge (and Watertown) Massachusetts and are open every day. Here’s a link to their website where you can find directions and listings of upcoming events. You can also visit the Facebook Page of the Friends of Mount Auburn Cemetery site to see many recent photos.


Curbstone Valley Farm said...

Such lovely flowers. The bee balm is absolutely delightful. I tried growing some from seed this year, for the bees mostly, but sadly, it seems to be languishing. I'll try again next year though.

Laurrie said...

Mount Auburn has been on my list to see for some time now, most especially for the trees. I have to get up there!

Curtis said...

Spotted Beebalm is a biennial/short-lived perennial so it may not bloom the first year while it is getting established.

I actually work part-time at Mt. Auburn. For a plant person, it's fantasitic. It's also a great place for birders, history buffs and anyone looking for a quite place.