One of the highlights of the recent American Horticultural Society’s Garden School at Yew Dell Gardens, near Louisville KY, was a trip to see Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville. A cemetery… why? Well, because its 296 acres are home to some magnificent trees.
One of the largest, and most interesting, is a maidenhair tree, Gingko biloba, planted in 1830 – eighteen years before the area was dedicated as a cemetery. Now with a spread of 130ft and a circumference around the trunk of 18ft it has grown into a splendid specimen – with one unexpected quirk.
The gingko usually produces male and female flowers on separate trees and males are usually planted, especially as street trees. This is because the yellow, plum-shaped fruits smell extremely unpleasant when they fall and are squashed by traffic.
The tree at Cave Hill is a male except about ten years ago just one branch mutated to female – so almost the whole of the tree produces male flowers except for one small part which carries female flowers and then fruits.
There are many more fine specimens of unusual trees, and twenty six of them are the largest of their kind in the state. The cemetery is open, at no charge of course, every day. Guided tours are also available. Visit the Cave Hill Cemetery website for more visitor information.