SALEM — A local 4-H club is working to identify and catalog all the trees in Greenlawn Cemetery. It’s no small task, as many of the hundreds of trees planted in the 100-acre cemetery over the years are quite exotic.
Among the club’s finds so far are Austrian pine, London plane tree, tulip-leaf linden, a ginko tree, two redwoods and a paperbark maple, which is native to China.
The group plans to create a catalog of all the trees in the city-owned cemetery so they can be labeled. Greenlawn’s tree population is so diverse that it has been referred to as an arboretum.
Salem sisters Emily, 12, and Kaitlyn Fabre, 15, say their favorite, so far, is the Japanese maple, which has star-shaped leaves.
“People just see tree, tree, tree. But when they see the name (labels) and stuff, people will understand more,” Kaitlyn
said. “Plus, it helps us know more about trees ... and teamwork.”
The project was initiated by club member Alex Enos, who comes to Greenlawn often to take walks with family.
The teens started cataloging trees in June, visiting the cemetery with horticulture books and collecting samples of leaves and seed pods to take home for further study.
Groveland 11-year-old Zach Proctor said the project is “overwhelming, but doable.”
“I would guess a lot of people here in Salem don’t even know there’s two redwoods here,” said Tammy Fabre, the club’s leader.
“It’s rare to find (redwoods) anywhere else (besides the West Coast),” Zach said.
The club, composed of middle- and high-schoolers from Salem and neighboring towns, has a focus on science, engineering and technology.
The Greenlawn project couples nicely with the club’s focus on science, as well as community service, Fabre said.
Greenlawn, at the corner of Orne and Appleton streets, was established in 1807. Years ago, a tree and shrub nursery operated off Orne Street. When the nursery closed, its stock was brought across the street and planted in the cemetery, said Ron Malionek, Salem’s cemetery superintendent and assistant director of public works.
Quite a few of the cemetery’s trees have been identified and marked in the past, but some of the tags have fallen off or been lost over the years, Malionek said.
He called the 4-H club’s work “a good project.”
Essex Agricultural and Technical High School also often brings students in for lessons on tree identification, he said.
The 100-acre space contains a memorial chapel, Civil War monument and a small pond.
The 4-H club members say the pond’s namesake, a sea captain by the name of Sargent, brought seedlings back to Greenlawn from his travels to far-reaching locales. That, along with the transferred nursery stock, explains why Greenlawn has so many exotic varieties, they agreed.
But just who this Capt. Sargent was is unclear. Malionek said he knew Sargent Pond was named for the captain, whose first name may have been Carol, but he didn’t know much about the man beyond that. The cemetery is also bordered by Sargent Street.
Bethany Bray can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @SalemNewsBB.
FINDING CAPT. SARGENT
After combing ship listings, books and other historical records this week, Salem Public Library’s reference librarians could find no definitive connection between a Capt. Sargent and Greenlawn Cemetery. However, here are a few of the Sargents they came across:
The book “Salem Vessels and Their Voyages” by George Putnam lists a Capt. Daniel Sargent and son, of Boston, who sailed a ship called the Atlanta from Salem in 1797.
A Salem city directory lists an engineer, also named Daniel Sargent, living on Bridge Street in 1869.
The only North Salem Sargent found was a lawyer named Horace Binney Sargent, who lived at Kernwood (now a country club, which abuts the cemetery) and moved from Salem to San Francisco in 1886.
City documents reference a planting of 25 to 30 new trees at Greenlawn in 1881 but give no reference to who planted the trees or where they came from.
Sargent Street begins showing up in Salem city directories in the mid-1870s.
Source: Salem Public Library reference librarians