City Trees

July/August 2013

City Trees is a premier publication focused on urban + community forestry. In each issue, you’ll learn how to best manage the trees in your community and more!

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Page 29 of 39

Treestones: A Grave (and Beautiful) Matter Story and photos by Jennifer Gulick, Senior Consulting Urban Forester, Davey Resource Group, Picture an urban forest of mature trees that provide peace and comfort, educate people, and are historic assets as beautiful as any work of art—but they don't require any maintenance and have lifespans of thousands of years. To municipal arborists that may sound too good to be true, but you could have all of this and more if you managed a cemetery with a population of "treestones." Treestones are grave markers carved in the shape of trees, or more precisely in the shapes of tree trunks, stumps, and logs. Dead men may tell no tales, but their tombstones surely do, and treestones are particularly intriguing for both their history and the stories they tell. The use of the tree motif as a grave marker arose in the 1800s during the Victorian Age and the associated Rural Cemetery Movement, which championed the idea of the cemetery as a retreat for the living. New cemeteries were built on the outskirts of towns with rolling hills, flowers, trees, and water features and were meant to be a place of rest for the dead and comfort for the living. The Victorian Age influenced the style of everything from furniture to clothing to architecture and even gravestones. During this era, grave markers became bigger, more elaborate, and filled with poignant, personalized inscriptions and symbols. And since so many people used cemeteries as parks then, families of means would spend fortunes on large, showy mausoleums and elaborate headstones that told a story, so visitors could admire and remem- 30 The anchor, nautical rope, doves, and a cross represent the deceased's commitment to the Christian religion. The broken branches represent the number of family members buried in the plot surrounding this treestone. The limb at the base of the trunk provided the canvas for the carver to engrave the family's information. City Trees

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