November 6, 2021
SALT LAKE CITY – Salt Lake City’s historic Cemetery now boasts a newly-accredited arboretum named after longtime Cemetery Sexton Mark Smith, who died in 2019. The Mark Smith Memorial Arboretum is a formal recognition of the City’s commitment to preserving and enhancing the 122-acre site as both an active cemetery and a public open space.
“As a longtime champion of preserving and expanding our City’s beautiful urban forest I’m thrilled our City now has an official arboretum in one of our most historic and storied public spaces,” said Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall. “To have it named in Sexton Mark Smith’s honor is fitting, as he was a valued public servant who loved the cemetery and its beautiful tree canopy.”
An arboretum is a collection of a variety of woody plants – primarily trees – grown and maintained for educational, scientific, and ornamental purposes. The Cemetery’s arboretum features 80 varieties of trees including everything from an Austrian Pine to a Zelkova. Each tree is marked with a small plaque at its base and visitors can find a map online and at the sexton’s office with locations for each tree.
The idea for the arboretum was championed by Sexton Smith, who for 20 years was a near-constant presence at the cemetery, where he served as its 31st and longest-serving sexton. The arboretum unveiling took place this morning – his birthday – and a sign reading “Mark Smith Memorial Arboretum” was unveiled in the southwest corner of the cemetery, near the main entrance.
“Over the last 170 years, generations of Salt Lake City residents have planted and cared for trees in hopes of cultivating a better quality of life. As a result of those efforts, a forest for people grew. Establishing an accredited arboretum on the Salt Lake City Cemetery grounds signifies the historical and enduring connection between trees and people in our great City,” said Salt Lake City Urban Forestry Director Tony Gliot.
Gliot and his team worked with Arbnet, an accrediting body, over the past year on the recognition. It’s the first formally-accredited arboretum on City property.