Historic Towanda Cemetery Gets New Landscaping

New landscape plantings at the Riverside Cemetery in Towanda include three full-sun grasses, with the taller big bluestem grass at each end, and the shorter sideoats gramma and purple love grass grasses in the center between the two benches, and some on the backside of the benches, as well as African daisies and Dusty Miller plants.

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There’s some new landscaping in the 220-year old Riverside Cemetery. On May 22 and 23, a very talented Bradford County Community Service crew planted 200 ornamental native grass plugs in 11 areas on the 5.5 half acre property.  The grasses were donated by NorthCreek Nurseries, Oxford. Additionally, a flat of African Daisies, donated by Farmer Fred’s, Towanda, was planted around the flagpole. Wysox Sand & Gravel donated two and one-half tons of sand, and Towanda Borough supplied two and one-half tons of topsoil to form the planting beds for the grasses. Arey’s Building Supply, Wysox, donated two dozen pairs of gloves to assist with the project.

All but two of the planting areas are in a full-sun environment at the north end of the property at 122 William Street. The single largest newly planted area is between two backless benches. It includes three kinds of grasses, with the taller big bluestem grass at each end, and shorter sideoats gramma and purple love grass grasses in the center, and some on the backside of the benches.

When the grasses reach their full heights of between two and six feet, this area is expected to  provide an attractive and comfortable conversation setting,” explains cemetery executive director Marguerite Fox Picou.  “The other nine planting areas are designed to add overall visual appeal and elements of soil conservation to the property.”

As might be expected during the course of 200-plus years, a number of trees, bushes and other plants have decreased on the property largely as the results of weather and age.  Plans for the cemetery that were revealed in a 2018 community workshop call for more native landscaping to be added within in the next two-three years. 

The Riverside Cemetery is the oldest cemetery in Bradford County to provide access to the public for burials and it is a key feature in Towanda Borough’s Historic District.  No interments of any kind have occurred in it for 11 years.  As it is no longer considered an active burial location, plans are in place and underway for it to become a value-added historic destination.  

So far, benches are in place to provide viewing sites of the scenic Susquehanna River, its canyon walls, flora and fauna, the Veterans Memorial Bridge and the Bradford County Courthouse, all in downtown Towanda.  For further information, please contact the Riverside Cemetery Association by email at rca122history@comcast.net, phone c/o 570-637-2281; mail c/o 31 Walnut Street, Towanda, PA 18848.

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