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.
In Mr. Robinson's Parks and Gardens of Paris reference is made to Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, as the first landscape cemetery established in the United States. If mere rural cemeteries as distinguished from the common burial ground of our forefathers be intended, there might be some foundation for this claim, for Laural Hill followed close after Mt. Auburn at Boston, which has to have the honor of being chronologically the first; but as a true specimen of landscape gardening in connection with human burial grounds, Spring Grove Cemetery at Cincinnati must take priority, and though dating back to 1844 is still pre-eminent. In all that constitutes true landscape gardening Spring Grove is as far ahead of those which preceded it as they were an advance on the church yard lots.
In most of the cemeteries established prior to Spring Grove, we find a great gain over old habits in the introduction of trees, shrubs and flowers, a few curved carriage paths or an occasional seat or arbor where some distant view may be quietly examined. The entrance to the grounds have often good architectural pretentions, and here and there are small pieces of well kept grass, with an occasional clump of shrubs, or perhaps a mass of pretty tangled vines. But the lot holders eventually own everything; the rare trees are felled, most of the little attempts at garden art disappear, till in the end there is little left but a mass of graves and grave stones; and instead of a lovely park wherein even the dead may preach to us that the true lesson of life is to love to improve and enjoy it, we have a mass of horror into which few care to penetrate but those to whom it is a luxury to believe that the beautiful earth is a world of woe, and that the grand climax of religious faith is the conviction that man was made to mourn.
But Spring Grove is and always will be essentially a park. It employs in Mr. A. Strauch an eminent artist, one of the most accomplished landscape gardeners in the world. A large portion of the grounds is devoted wholly to landscape beauty, and there is not a single element in landscape gardening - earth sky, trees, or water - that is not pressed into service. Surely if it is a worthy aim so to live that the world shall be better for our having come into it, those who are to die and take their last long sleep in Spring Grove, will have pleasant dreams about the beauty they helped to create above them, and share in the enjoyment of those who wander about their graves. For in this cemetery every lot holder has a share in the cemetery park. The surplus over actual expenses is invested, so that by the time the whole ground is occupied there will be a fund sufficient to maintain the beautiful landscape garden in perpetuity. In this way over $50,000 have been already set aside. We have heard it stated this plan will not find general favor, .that people generally like to have exclusive control over their separate burial lots; but the popularity of the Spring-Grove plan is in ho better way attested than by the fact that lots to the value of $29,000 were sold last year.
It is to be regretted that in a work like Mr. Robinson's, if it were thought desirable to refer at all to American cemeteries, more justice should not be done to Spring Grove,- not in any way to detract from the merits of Laurel Hill as an admirable pioneer in the advance towards more rational modes of sepulture but as undoubtedly the most successful example of a landscape cemetery in the world.