This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V21", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
If my memory is not at fault, it was Father La Chaise who first conceived the idea of a Rural Cemetery. He it was who first invoked the aid of the landscape gardener to make the last resting place of the dead attractive - to divest it of the dreary monotony of the country churchyard described in "Gray's Elegy".
The great cemetery near Paris - "Pere La Chaise " - bears his name. I have not the data at hand to state accurately which American city was the first to inaugurate a rural cemetery - whether it was Philadelphia, with "Laurel Hill;" Boston, with "Mount Auburn," or New York, with " Greenwood." It is enough for the purpose of this article to state that there is not a city of any pretensions in the United States today that does not take a local pride in her rural cemetery. With singular unanimity the founders of these cemeteries have selected locations from which the landscape views are superb, whether one takes "Greenwood," at New York, or "Lone Mountain," at San Francisco; the views from the latter are unrivalled. It is as an educator of the masses in a taste for trees, plants, flowers, and statuary that I wish to write of Rural Cemeteries. In this respect they have taken the front rank. Here the multitude see the two great arts of sculpture and landscape gardening carried out side by side. Without the aid of the latter, the cemetery would lose its individuality and sink to the level of the old churchyard of our ancestors.
In the well-kept Macadamized roads, the beautiful trees, the close-cut turf, the shapely mounds and terraces, the trim hedges, and the brilliant array of flowers, the genius of the land" scape gardener shines forth. Thousands of our people all over the land, in the adornment of the grounds around their homes, have drawn their inspiration from the work of the cemetery. A place of general resort for all classes, its very atmosphere settles the mind down into that thoughtful mood that receives impressions easily. As a disseminator of a taste for floriculture, the cemetery is a thousand fold ahead of the public park. The latter has fallen into the hands of the corrupt local politicians, and its management is behind the age.
The cemetery or public park that secures the services of a first-class professional gardener as superintendent is sure to outrank its fellows in the race who ignore this idea, and think that any man with ordinary ability can manage a park or a cemetery. I have been convinced of this by a recent visit paid to " Washington Park," Albany, N. Y., and to " Forest Hill Cemetery," Utica, N. Y., both managed by plain, practical gardeners. On entering either of those places, one sees in the beautiful flower beds cut in the green sward and planted in the latest style of the art, that the early training of both these gentlemen has asserted itself. They are introducing all the newer evergreen and deciduous trees, and thus spreading a taste for them among the people that one sees reproduced in several suburban homes.
There are several cemeteries near our large cities (three of them on Long Island) that make no attempt whatever at floricultural display, except what individual lot owners do in a primitive way. If I have said anything that will wake them up, I shall be satisfied.