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Friday, June 14, 2024
St. Mark’s cemetery tree garden hits milestone
Donald Combe is the sexton for the St. Mark's cemetary IN NOTL and has been overseeing the planting of trees in the church's arboretum since 1996. The church celebrated the 100th tree planted on May 23. RICHARD WRIGHT
Sexton of the St. Mark's cemetary, Donald Combe popints out some of the trees planted at the cemetary, which is also an arboretum, since 1996. The 100th tree was planted earlier this year. RICHARD WRIGHT

Members of St. Mark’s Anglican Church congregation, the church’s cemetery board and the public gathered on the forest-like grounds of the more than 230-year-old parish to herald in a milestone born out of wood and foliage.

“We are celebrating the fact that we have planted 100 mature trees,” said St. Mark’s sexton, Donald Combe.

Beginning in 1996, the house of worship began a project to remove and replace fallen, diseased and old trees.

They reached the 100 new-tree plateau earlier this year.

“I think that is a considerable achievement because these are mature trees that we are planting, not little twigs,” Combe said at the May 23 ceremony.

The ultimate goal, he added, is to swap out the old trees with new ones that are indigenous to the area. 

“We were losing trees and so we had to do something if we wanted to maintain the look of the cemetery and what has now become an arboretum.”

Among the 100 that have been planted are at least 50 different varieties, including oaks, maples, beech, magnolias, gumwood and metasequoia, to name just a few. 

Many of the trees are memorials, purchased and donated by family members of those who rest in the cemetery. 

In all, there are now just under 250 trees in the cemetery with the oldest dating back to even before St. Mark’s was founded in 1792.

“This is the oldest cemetery in the province,” said Combe. “The first burial here is 1782.”

All the trees are planted under the supervision of the church, which has partnered with arborists from the area to ensure that the transplants are done properly and to provide ongoing care.

“This has all happened because many people have fed into it,” he said.

wright@niagaranow.com

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