The old city cemetery

sactocemetery2.jpgSpent a beautiful morning at the Sacramento Historic City Cemetery yesterday. The docents leading the tour were both such a wealth of information not only about the cemetery’s history (I was lucky enough to see the archives) and customs (all Muslum headstones must face Mecca), but they could be master gardeners as well for their deep knowledge of plants. The cemetery was opened in 1849 with a gift of ten acres from John Sutter with pioneer families planting wonderful gardens that fell into disrepair in the 1950s. Today it’s been restored by volunteers with historic gold rush era roses, native California plants, bulbs and flowering shrubs. With temperatures in the 70’s and the sun shining and seeing everyone out with their hoses and hoes it was a really beautiful scene and I took a few pictures to share.

They are really trying hard to turn this old cemetery into a park (since it is no longer used for burial—it’s full!), but not a park that focuses on expansive lawns because, as one tour guide said, “grass contributes nothing.” Instead they hope to provide food and refuge for birds and wildlife, cut down on the use of fertilizers and pesticides, and provide a place for the community to gather, picnic, and enjoy nature in the heart of a very large city. I think conservation of old abandoned places is as important as preserving existing open space. Sometimes we lose site of the smaller spaces in our haste to save broad expanses of public land. Readily accessible inner city spaces are just as much in need of care for those who find it difficult to leave the city. I applaud the Old City Cemetery Committee for their dedication to this beautiful public resource.