Tree Tour of Newton Cemetery
On a Sunday afternoon in late October
2003, with rain threatening, a hopeful group of 15 tree viewers
gathered outside the Newton Cemetery
office to take a look at some of the remarkable specimens in the
cemetery. Newton Conservators board member Doug Dickson co-led the
annual tree walk, along with Larry Burdick, a member of the Cemetery
Board of Directors, Frank Howard, who scouted out the trees with
his wife Deborah Howard the day before the walk, and Peter Kastner
who organized the walk.
group toured the 100-acre cemetery to view 26 specimen trees and
learn about their characteristics. The office graciously agreed
to the tour and supplied a map showing the 26 tree locations as
well as a list of the common and scientific names.
Peter Kastner described the origin of this cemetery at the time
of the Civil War, when residents wanted to provide a grander and
less austere burial environment for those who did not survive the
war. He contrasted the style of this cemetery with older cemeteries
in Newton and elsewhere that are not built in the garden style.
He said the Newton garden cemetery was established in 1855 in the
naturalistic style pioneered by the Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge,
MA. This coincided with the advent of landscape architecture as
a discipline and the emergence of Frederick Law Olmsted, among others.
Larry Burdick provided information about the grounds and ongoing
plans. Deborah Howard, who serves on the Newton Urban Tree Commission
with Doug Dickson, added comments at each of the numbered tree stops.
Frank Howard offered references and readings from authoritative
The serenely beautiful cemetery has four ponds fed by water flowing
from Cold Springs Park. The water from these ponds proceed past
the Newton Free Library into the City Hall lagoons and then to Bulloughs
Pond. Selected trees require the water of Cold Spring Brook and,
in turn, the roots of these trees hold the banks intact.
Carefully chosen trees provide year-round visual pleasure: fall
color of the Marshall Maple, winter snow dusting the cinnamon colored
bark of the Paper Bark Maple, spring yellow flowers of the magnificent
tulip tree and summer color of the Golden Rain Tree. Blue Atlas
Cedar and European White Birch added to the aesthetic treats of
As the tour ended at 4 PM, the rain came down. Some say the most
important product of forests is not wood, but clean water.
article and photo by Frank Howard