Most people visit a cemetery for solemn reasons.

But visitors to Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge might also visit to see the beauty and to learn about the history, architecture and fauna that abound there.

On a lovely summer morning, six members and two guests of the Pepperell Garden Club spent an informative morning on a guided tour of this magnificent place.

Mount Auburn is an active cemetery. Did you know that the word “cemetery” is derived from the Greek word for “a place of sleep?” More than 98,000 people rest on the 175 acres in the middle of a big city.

It is not surprising that the cemetery is on the National Register of Historic Places: 60,000 monuments have been placed there since its founding in 1831. Burial sites include features like reflection pools, woodland gardens and scenic overlooks.

The grounds are an internationally renowned arboretum and botanical garden containing over 9,400 trees and shrubs and 1,250 plant varieties that come into bloom at different times of the year. There is an apiary with three beehives. The bees pollinate the thousands of trees, shrubs and perennials.

The cemetery was named an Important Bird Area by the Mass Audubon Society. Birders, with their binoculars, come from all over to view the many species in the area. Spring and fall are especially busy because of migrating birds.

Wild life abounds. While there, PGC members were able to see the resident coyote scurrying about.

The Mount Auburn Cemetery is open every day of the year with more than 200,000 people visiting annually. Weddings, funerals, lectures and programs are held in the two chapels on the property. Audio, group or private tours are available. For information go to

Pepperell Garden Club has approximately 50 members and welcomes new members from all towns. Meetings are held at 7 p.m. on the second Wednesday of the month, from September through June, at the Pepperell Senior Center. Membership is $20 for a year of informative programs and fun activities. And, of course, delicious refreshments are always served. September’s program will a plant swap.

The PGC will host one more garden safari this summer, on Wednesday July 29, visiting Wellesley College Botanical Gardens. Meet at Pepperell Library at 9:30 a.m. for this free event. Bring a bag lunch and drink and enjoy a picnic lunch there. If you would like to attend, contact Marion at 978-433-8312.