Last fall, the Lakewood Heritage Foundation launched a campaign to raise funds to help replace the hundreds of trees that Lakewood lost due to the devastating effects of the emerald ash borer. We’re excited to share that thanks to so many of you who supported this effort, we are planning to plant 150 trees this spring and summer!
New trees will be planted in all areas of the cemetery, with a focus on some of the hardest hit areas. The architect behind the vision for Lakewood’s overall landscape — including where the new trees will be planted — is Paul Aarestad, Lakewood’s Director of Buildings & Grounds. Paul is working to create a proactive blueprint for trees at Lakewood that is inspired by Lakewood’s original design as a Garden Cemetery, more than 150 years ago. He is also looking forward with thoughtful consideration as to how to shape tomorrow’s tree canopy as Lakewood continues to focus on enhancing its landscape in the coming years.
150 Years of Horticultural History
Paul’s inspiration for Lakewood’s future tree canopy comes in part from delving into the cemetery’s history. “I’ve basically done a 180-degree turn back to 150 years ago, to the roots of the Garden Cemetery movement.” This movement, which began in the 1800s, ushered in a new era of cemetery design: Cemeteries were established outside populated urban areas where there was room to create landscaped, park-like settings with winding roads and long views. “When you walk Lakewood’s grounds now, you can see long distances,” Paul says. “Our landscape plan will carefully shape guests’ experience as they move through the grounds by enhancing certain sightlines and viewpoints from different vistas.”
A Diverse Tree Pallet
It’s also important that we consider biodiversity. Paul explains, “There was a point at the turn of the century, when Lakewood stopped looking at trees from an arboretum / horticultural collection viewpoint, and instead went with what was thought to be safer, more common choices, like elms and ash trees.” Sadly, when diseases like Dutch Elm in the 1970s, and more recently, pests like the emerald ash borer hit, Lakewood lost many trees.
To increase biodiversity, we are using up-to-date technological and strategic tools to select a diverse tree pallet both in species and size. In addition to choosing hearty, native varieties such as maples, lindens and oaks, we have selected trees for planting this season that are new to Lakewood, including:
- Katsura, a newer tree species
- Tulip trees, which typically would not have done well with Minnesota winters, but should thrive now that our climate is changing
- Two kinds of magnolia trees
- Sycamores, a majestic shade tree
We will also experiment with a variety of sizes from more mature trees down to saplings. The plan takes into consideration new and potentially threatening diseases and pests that are known to be coming.
As an added benefit, advanced scientific modeling allows us to estimate how much carbon the newly planted 150 trees will remove as soon as they’re installed, as well as how much carbon will be removed as the trees mature.
A Beautiful Future
Lakewood’s intentional, strategic landscape planning not only adds to Lakewood’s beauty, it engages visitors as well. Lakewood has seen a dramatic rise in people walking the grounds since the pandemic started. “More and more people have discovered the serenity of walking though the grounds. People want to connect with nature and horticulture, just the way they did when the Garden Cemetery movement began,” Paul shared.
“This great gift we received, thanks to the generosity of donors, has brought us back to the inspiration of the Garden Cemetery movement,” Paul concludes, “and will lead us into a more modern, intentional, ecologically sound and very beautiful future.”
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