James G. Marceline Arboretum Has Grand Opening

By: William F. Galvin

Topics: Education , Conservation

Cemetery Administrator Robbin Kelley and Cemetery Commission member Cynthia Eldredge were hosts of the James G. Marceline Arboretum grand opening on Friday at Island Pond Cemetery.  WILLIAM F. GALVIN PHOTO

HARWICH — The warm temperatures and sunshine made a perfect day for the grand opening of the James G. Marceline Arboretum in Island Pond Cemetery last Friday. The 25-acre site is the first on Cape Cod to be accredited by the ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program.

The arboretum honors the late James G. Marceline, a highly respected citizen of the community, veteran known for being kind, generous and always there to assist his neighbors. Marceline, who served the town in many capacities, passed away in 2018.

The arboretum was the result of efforts by the town’s cemetery commission and cemetery administrator Robbin Kelley. A stroll through the arboretum reveals 50 different species of trees and other woody plants. The trees are identified with both the scientific and common names.

The mission of the arboretum is to improve natural resources and engage, educate, and enrich the lives of residents in order to encourage them to become better stewards of local history and the environment. The cemetery is a historic setting, with the first burial dating to 1770. It was officially established as a town cemetery in 1872.

Kelly said the town has contracted with a technology company from Dennis to put a database together with the names and grave location of each person buried in the cemetery, as well as specific information and location about each of the tree species.

There are no Memorial Day ceremonies planned in Harwich this year because of the pandemic, Kelley said. But the graves of the veterans have been marked by an American flag. The cemetery commission has put together a couple of activities designed for youngsters to learn more about those who sacrificed their lives for their country.

The activities include Veterans Bingo, which encourages people to stroll through the arboretum and identify the veteran medals associated with each war while paying their respects to those who served. Another activity asks participants to draw a line from each war to the matching dates of the conflict. The game instructions can be found on the cemetery commission’s webpage on the town website.

The cemetery commission has a couple other events planned for the Marceline Arboretum in the next couple of months. On Wednesday, June 9, the third annual Tree Tour will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., a self-guided, socially distanced tour of the Level 1 accredited arboretum in collaboration with the Garden Club of Harwich.

Art in the Arboretum will be held on Wednesday, July 21, with local artists and musicians at various locations in the arboretum. There will be a Celtic band, a violinist, a botanical artist, painters from the Guild of Harwich Artists and much more, Kelley said.