An effort is underway to restore Forest Lawn’s original tree canopy. Ever since the October Storm dealt a $1.2 million blow to the historic landscape, the community has rallied to help recreate the forest scape that once graced the cemetery (see photo circa 1941).
On Friday, November 1 and Saturday, November 2, volunteers will plant 300 bare root deciduous trees throughout Forest Lawn’s 269 acres – starting at 8:30 am both days in the meadow next to Forest Lawn’s chapel. The Landscape Renewal Plan*, drafted by Heritage Landscapes, Preservation Landscape Architects & Planners, is an ongoing combined effort to mend the pervasive damage that has affected 700 of the cemetery’s trees (downed or removed after a combination of storm and disease-related incidents).
Overall, 90 percent of the trees have been damaged and are in need of professional care, which is a staggering number, and a tragedy that many people are still unaware of. “The upcoming tree-planting event is yet another step toward our efforts to recreate Forest Lawn’s unique and singularly important landscape,” says Joseph P. Dispenza, Forest Lawn President. “We are grateful to partners like Re-Tree Western New York, The John R. Oishei Foundation and the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, who have made it possible for Forest Lawn to be well on its way to establishing our original, soaring, overarching canopy of very tall trees that create a cathedral-like interior to inspire visitors through the divinity in nature. We are also very grateful to the public volunteers who give up their time to help plant the trees. We could not do this without their cheerful willingness to step in and help.”
This recent effort is part of an even greater charge to plant approximately 4000 trees over a 12-year period (already underway), which would bring the overall number of trees to 6200 – no small task. Forest Lawn is still looking for additional volunteers to assist with the upcoming plantings.
*Original landscape plan created by Joseph Earnshaw, an engineer from Cincinnati, Ohio and Adolf Strauch, a landscape architect.
No prior planting experience is necessary; a brief training session will take place on each day. Tools and refreshments will be provided; however, volunteers are welcome to bring their own tools if they prefer. Participants are asked to wear appropriate work clothing and closed-toe shoes or boots. This event will be held rain or shine. Volunteers are invited to participate on one or both days, depending on availability. While registration is not required, it is appreciated. Those wishing to volunteer should call Catherine Meyer at Forest Lawn at 716.885.1606, ext. 242 or email her at email@example.com.