Cemeteries are more than just places of eternal rest. They can be places of eternal beauty and ongoing life.
Recently, I learned about the Old City Cemetery in
This fall, I learned about similar beauty among Norfolk's cemeteries. About a year ago, the city's Department of Recreation, Parks & Open Space's Bureau of Cemeteries began hosting Tours of Trees at Forest Lawn Cemetery, which was established in 1920. The free tours are led by horticulturist Malinda Potier, and take about 35 to 40 minutes to cover 65 different species of trees at the site.
Instead of focusing on technical information about each tree, Malinda talks about her experiences with the different trees and what methods she uses to keep them healthy. Each visitor is given a tree description guide they can use during the tour and then take home to read.
"Part of giving the Tours of Trees is to bring people into the cemeteries to show them how beautiful they are and educate them on restoration and preservation of cultural artifacts in our historic cemeteries," says Bobette Nelson, cultural resource management public information specialist for the department.
"Elmwood is our 'crown jewel' but Cedar Grove,
"We have a Bureau of Cemeteries because we are one of the few municipalities in Virginia that own and operate our own cemeteries — eight of them,"
From Granby Street, I recognize Forest Lawn every time I drive that way to get on the interstate ramp across from its entrance. I notice the cemetery in the
Live oak, or Quercus virginiana, is the "southern symbol of strength," according to the Tours of Trees brochure. These evergreen oaks, which are common sights at
Other trees at Forest Lawn include Bloodgood London plane with broad, maple-like leaves that are large; it grows in almost any soil and tolerates drought. Chinese fringetree, a nice small tree for home yard, also thrives at Forest Lawn; it grows 15-20 feet tall and 10-15 feet wide and bears white fragrant flowers just as the flowers of dogwoods fade.
The Evodia tree forms flat, white to gray clusters of small white flowers that bees like as a late summer food.
You can also see purple-flowering vitex, fern-like bald cypress, fast-growing swamp white oak, Chinese elm, brillant red-fruiting crabapple, gorgeous yellow ginkgo, yellow-flowering golden rain and southern magnolia at Forest Lawn.
In addition to regularly scheduled tours, Forest Lawn is open to special guided tours for groups. Learn about the dates and other events at http://www.norfolk.gov.cemeteries or contact Bobette at 441-2654 and Bobette.Nelson@norfolk.gov.
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