Here at the Arboretum, trees of all ages, from the young seedlings to the veteran giants, define a green and vital living landscape for all those who come to visit our Memorial Park.
Planting and establishing trees for the next generation to enjoy is an important part of the care we provide to ensure the future of our living collection. Also, proactively maintaining our champions to extend their healthy lifespans as long as possible is an essential practice of arboricultural conservation at Cypress Lawn.
But, no matter how proactive we are, we will eventually lose some of our veteran trees, as has been the case for several post-mature individuals in recent winter storms.
Loss is a hard truth in this life, for us and the wooden ones. Cypress Lawn was founded as a grief landscape, a safe place that is here – for you, for anyone – to come and process challenging emotions, grow towards healing, and celebrate the lives gone by.
At the Arboretum, the hardship of death is also becoming a meaningful opportunity for us to foster a special kinship between people and trees. Giving trees a second life, through our newly founded program of wood reclamation, is a way of honoring our past while inviting a future that we may all share together.
In recent months at Cypress Lawn, several wood reclamation projects have taken shape, mostly involving the repurposing of old cypress trees as benches to make the landscape of the Arboretum more inviting for people who come to visit.
The project in the photo to the left is the beginning of our developing Arboretum Center, which will feature an outdoor classroom for hosting on-site tree education for students of all ages.
By embracing a new purpose for the previous generation of our trees, by making benches and other wood furniture to breathe new life – both outdoors and in – to this special place we know as Cypress Lawn Memorial Park, our story is growing in a meaningful new way.
At the Arboretum, the installation of cant benches, such as those shown in the photo to the left, preserves the special character of the cypress wood for all to see, and truly memorializes the living champion that once was.
This set of five benches was crafted out of trees we’ve lost just in the past couple of years here at Cypress. Right in front of Noble Chapel, at the entrance of our foundational East campus dating back to 1892, these wooden ones may now have a meaningful purpose far beyond their own lives, for decades yet to come and generations of families to enjoy, in an ongoing celebration of life.
With this reimagined purpose given to the trees we have lost, the tragedy of death may yet have a silver lining, with lessons to give and stories to tell on into the future. I hope you find a moment soon to visit the Arboretum and enjoy a peaceful seat on a bench by a tree.
May that moment bring you comfort and serenity on your own journey. Maybe I’ll see you there, with another tree story to tell. Until then, be well my friends…