Plants of Distinction: Arboretum Guide

Cave Hill Cemetery prides itself on outstanding maintenance and continues to follow the landscape theory of creating a controlled naturalistic environment where trees, shrubs, waterfowl and family memorials blend together to form the beautiful panorama of a traditional rural cemetery.

Cave Hill is Louisville’s only arboretum and maintaining the trees undisturbed is difficult because of the nature of our business. Root damage is prevalent and trees die from this as well as lightning, wind damage and old age. Dead trees are removed in the Fall, and replanting commences in the Spring.

Here is an excerpt from the brochure:


“A proper taste will regulate the character of the trees and flowers, and their distribution and arrangement. It will tolerate nothing in the style of the flower garden or the pleasure ground – nothing, in short, that is inconsistent with the properties of the place. But, reason and taste suggest that it should be decorated appropriately by the beautiful productions of our great Creator. The cypress, the oak, the elm, the weeping willow, the magnolia, the silver-leaved maple, the larch, the mountain and the weeping ash, should adorn the ground with their pale or deeper verdure, and their refreshing shade. As in the frosts of the autumn they cast their leaves, they will admonish us that “we all do fade as a leaf.” The white pine, the juniper, the hemlock, the spruce, the arbor-vitae, the yew, and if possible the Cedar of Lebanon, should lift up their perpetual verdure here, the emblem of a life that passes not away. The English ivy, the Virginia creeper, the glycine and the eglantine should be planted here, to bind together turf and tree and marble.

The green and flowering shrub, the rhododendron, the mountain laurel, and the azalea should be here; the white jasmine, also the daisy, and, first in beauty and appropriateness, the rose, should in the morning shed their fragrance and in the evening scatter their withered blossoms over the graves of those we love: And then let the humbler vines, the violet, the periwinkle, and forget-me-nots creep from grave to grave.”

Reverend E.P. Humphrey, D.D.
Excerpt from Dedicatory Address,
July 25, 1848

Cave Hill Cemetery nominated the following trees for the Jefferson County Big Tree Contest commemorating the Bicentennial of Jefferson County in celebration of Arbor Day 1980. The following trees are the largest of their species growing in the state of Kentucky.

Tree Location Circumference
Japanese Pagoda Tree Administration Office 11′10″
Willow Oak Section P Reserve- Lot 758 16′7″
Sweet Bay Magnolia Section 4 Lot 30 6′8″
Southern Magnolia Section A Lot 209 12′0″
Pignut Hickory Broadway Entrance Lawn 8′0″
Weeping Beech Broadway Entrance Lawn 6′10″
Fern Leaf Beech Broadway Entrance Lawn 11′1″
American Yellow-wood Broadway Entrance Lawn 12′9″
Carolina Siverbell Broadway Reserve ″10″
Pyramidal Japanese Yew Section H Lot 72 5′0″
Red Horse Chestnut Section N Lot 216 7′10″
Katsura Tree Section 5 Lot 179 8′7″
Cucumber Magnolia Section A Lot 329 Reserve 13′7″
Pond Cypress Section C Lot 119 5′3″
Turkish Filbert Section 3 Lot 44 5′10″
Amur Cork Tree Grinstead Entrance Lawn 9′4″
Weeping Norway Spruce Grinstead Entrance Lawn 3′8″
Nordman Fir Grinstead Entrance Lawn ″6″
Weeping Balsam Fir Section 25 Reserve 2′1″
Golden Larch Section 25 Reserve 6′6″
Caucasian Wingnut Section 15 Lotus Pond 21′6″
New Kentucky Big Tree Champions
Shingle Oak- 1996 Section 6 Circle Reserve 13′2″
Willow Oak- 2006 Section P Lot 758 17′8″
New National Champion Big Tree
American Yellow-wood Reserve across from Section B Lot 76 16′0″