Garden Society picks Bellefontaine Cemetery for annual tour
The Fleur de Lis Garden Society recently held its fifth annual Tree Tour on Saturday, Oct. 6. Pat Halle, 2012 tree tour chairman selected Bellefontaine Cemeteryfor this year’s tour for its historical value and fall color. Earen Hummel, landscape architect, accepted a Citation of Commendation from the society for their stewardship and conservation of the trees at Bellefontaine Cemetery.
Along with being a cemetery, Bellefontaine is also an accredited Level II arboretum and included in the Morton Register of Arboreta. The many trees and shrubs on the property have been a focus from the beginning and the number has grown to include over 4,000 trees, with well over 100 different species. The mission of the Arboretum at Bellefontaine Cemetery is to support and enhance the cemetery as place of perpetual commemoration, as a garden landscape of beauty, inspiration and historic significance. Bellefontaine is an accessible and diverse horticultural collection and is an important natural sanctuary and habitat for wildlife in the urban environment.
Until the mid 20th century, Bellefontaine Cemetery was home to a greater variety of plants and trees than the Missouri Botanical Garden. Today, 1,100 shrubs and more than 4,000 trees represent more than 180 species.
Bellefontaine is home to an international variety of meticulously cared-for trees and shrubs, providing a changing landscape in every season. The Paperback Maple, a native of China, has cinnamon-colored bark that peels artfully from its trunk. The Cucumber Magnolia, notable for its fruit instead of its flowers, is endangered on some parts of North America.
Evidence of times past, the remains of a stand of Osage Orange, once used as a windbreak on countless miles of American fence line, still thrives at Bellefontaine. A Shingle Oak listed as a contender for largest in the state reminds us of the days when early Midwestern settlers relied on it for roof shingles. The Golden Rain Tree was brought to America by Thomas Jefferson and boasts seed pods reminiscent of paper lanterns.
Among other contenders for state honors, along the banks of Cascade Lake stands one of the largest Sugarberry trees in Missouri, while the current State Champion American Elm, with a circumference of 15 feet 11 inches, a height of 102 feet, and a crown spread of 122 feet, shades the James S. McDonnell lot.
For more information regarding Fleur de Lis Garden Society, visit their website at www.fleurdelisgardensociety.org