Friday, March 10, 2017

Shade Trees Beautification Project Aids Durham Cemeteries

 A new 14 ft. Magnolia grandiflora in Beechwood Cemetery. Photo by Shelley Dekker.
By J.S. Corser, Editor
Durham Co. Master Gardener

“Gardens of repose,” i.e, cemeteries, have not had the philanthropic cachet of botanical or community gardens, but anyone who’s visited “The Old Burying Ground,” the historical, sprawling oaks-filled cemetery in Beaufort, NC, or the Spanish moss-laden live oaks of Bonaventure Cemetery of New Orleans, can appreciate the beauty and calming effect of shade trees used in cemetery landscaping as they visit the nation’s ancestors in those gardens of repose.

The historical Durham city cemeteries of Maplewood and Beechwood now have six new shade trees this spring sponsored by a beautification project of the Durham Council of Garden Clubs. Four 14-ft. Magnolia grandiflora 'Edith Bogue,' have been installed at the Beechwood Cemetery, Durham’s historical African-American cemetery on Fayetteville St. and Cornwallis Road. Two oak trees Quercus shumardii will be planted at Maplewood Cemetery to replace deteriorating trees slated for removal near the cemetery entrance off Duke University Road. Both city cemeteries have ongoing capital improvement projects.

Tree selection was advised by Alex Johnson, Durham Urban Forestry Manager. Council President Trish Stewart said her suggestion of the magnolias was a welcome choice since the City of Durham always plants other less "bottom heavy" tree varieties for street plantings. Council Treasurer Shelley Dekker pointed out that tree planting in city cemeteries requires especially careful planning. “There’s very few of those sites available, as you can imagine, because all of that real estate is valuable.”

Maplewood Cemetery will receive two Quercus shumardii. Photo by J.S. Corser

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