Mount Hope Cemetery Recognized as a Certified Wildlife Habitat
Besides squirrels, chipmunks and groundhogs, there are also deer, red foxes, several types of amphibians, and dozens of bird species found within the cemetery.
Certain conditions are necessary for wildlife, and Mount Hope Cemetery provides these requirements in many ways.
First, food must be available for wildlife. Mount Hope Cemetery has many plants providing a wide assortment of seeds, berries and fruits that many different animals enjoy throughout the year. In addition, pollen and nectar attract bees, hummingbirds and butterflies.
Another essential component is water. Sylvan Waters, a geologic formation called a kettle, is the cemetery's largest source. Many animals and birds can be seen drinking there, and it is also a favorite swimming spot for ducks. In the summer you can find birds splashing in the Florentine fountain and throughout the cemetery there are several shallow bowl-shaped monuments which catch rain and serve as additional water sources for butterflies and birds.
Shelter is also necessary, and Mount Hope Cemetery offers quite a variety. Thousands of trees, patches of dense shrubs, rock piles, burrows, and ground covers are ideal places for wildlife to live and raise their young. Also, volunteers manage over 20 bluebird houses (see Epitaph Volume 28, No.1) and nesting boxes for owls (Epitaph Volume 28, No.4).
Besides providing these three essentials, a Certified Wildlife Habitat must demonstrate sustainable gardening practices. The Friends' Gardening Committee and Adopt-a-Plot volunteers conserve natural resources by choosing drought-resistant plants which require less watering and by using mulch, which has the dual benefit of retaining water and suppressing weeds. Projects such as hillside rock gardens and bank stabilization prevent soil erosion, and the annual fall leaf clean-up yields plenty of nutrient-rich compost for the garden beds.
With its rich history, artistic monuments and a beautiful landscape, Mount Hope Cemetery has so much to admire. The next time you're in Mount Hope, take time to appreciate some of the often overlooked treasures... a rock pile here, a shrub laden with berries there. The wildlife certainly does.