The Crown Hill Tree Nursery And The Natural Heritage of Crown Hill Cemetery

Flowering Trees of Crown HillA Mission

In 1863 our founders established Crown Hill as "A Rural Cemetery for Indianapolis" designed for both the living and the dead. They chose a beautiful place in a peaceful, natural setting for burying the dead, while at the same time they planned a place for visitors that would offer the serenity of a beautiful park where tombstones blend with the landscape. We invite you to celebrate with us as we remember the past and inspire the future by preserving and enhancing the natural heritage of Crown Hill Cemetery through the establishment of The Crown Hill Tree Nursery. To do so you may Donate On-line Now or Print This Page and mail it with your contribution.

~ Keith O. Norwalk, President

A Rural Cemetary

"The most important contribution America made to the history of cemeteries grew out of the Rural Cemetery Movement...The cultivation of nature in new cemeteries provided a setting in which to remember the dead and instruct the living...While the lessons taught in this school vary from time to time and place to place, they seek to educate survivors in the art of living rather than the art of dying. The dead are remembered so that we might live better lives."

Grave Matters, Mark C. Taylor and Dietrich Lammerts 2002

A Forest

"It's hard to picture this part of the country as I first remember it. Here and there was a cabin home with a little spot of clearing close by. The rest of the country was jist one great big woods and miles and miles in most every direction. From your cabin you could see no farther than the wall of trees surrounding the clearing; not another cabin in sight."

A Home in the Woods, Pioneer Life in Indiana, Oliver Johnson's
Reminiscences of Early Marion County As Related by Howard Johnson

A Farm and Tree Nursery

"The elevation that gives the name 'Crown Hill' to the cemetery, then familiarly known as 'Strawberry Hill,' was included in the farm of Martin Williams, part of his ground being used as a tree nursery. The hill is the highest point of land about Indianapolis, being nearly two hundred feet higher than the level of the river. It had been used as a resort for picnickers and was especially popular in strawberry season. Recollections among old citizens differ, some saying that they bought the cultivated fruit of Martin Williams, the first cultivated strawberries in Indianapolis; others that wild berries grew in profusion on the hill free to all who came before Martin Williams owned the land. Probably both reminiscences are right."

The Story of Crown Hill, Anna Nicholas 1928



  • Preserve the natural heritage of Crown Hill Cemetery.
  • Enhance the natural beauty of Crown Hill Cemetery.
  • Realize cost savings in tree planting and maintenance.
  • Increase annual tree plantings.
  • Expand educational programs.
  • Enhance The Crown Hill Tree Program.

Site and Stock

  • Two acres on south grounds of Crown Hill Cemetery.
  • Poly houses with drip irrigation system.
  • Bare rooted trees, containers within ground, and containers within containers.
  • Seed harvested from cemetery trees.


  • Superintendent of Grounds, Crown Hill Cemetery
  • Registered Technician with operator's license in tree, shrub, and lawn care.
  • Crown Hill Cemetery grounds keeping crew.


  • Spring 2009.
  • Design and layout.
  • Remove brush, irrigate, disc, auger, and plant.

Crown Hill Tree Program

  • Tree inventory completed by Purdue University Division of Forestry.
  • 4,156 tagged trees with 130 species and 50 trees native to Indiana.
  • Tree maps for guided and self-guided tours.
  • Tree memorial program to adopt, plant, and endow trees.
  • Crown Hill Tree Nursery.
  • Crown Hill Arboretum.


Robert E. Milne
Superintendent of Grounds

Professional Summary

Horticulturist with over 30 years green industry experience with extensive background in business management, sales, P&L, field operations, inventory control, budgets, production, purchasing, staff development, quality control and personnel training.

Professional Experience

  • General Manager Landscape Design/Build & Sales, Greenleaf Landscaping
  • Account Manager, Mainscape Inc.
  • Commercial Sales, True Green/Chemlawn
  • Tree and Shrub Specialist and Branch and Regional Trainer
  • Operations/Services Manager, Chemlawn Services Corporation
  • Zone Landscape Development Manager
  • Regional Safety and Preventative Maintenance Facilitator
  • Landscape Design, Lawnco, Inc.
  • Plant Manager, Lesco, Inc.
  • Operations Manager, Lawnco


  • B. S. in Horticulture, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, 1975
  • Targeted Selection Recruiting Systems
  • Interaction Management (Management Support Workshop)
  • Advanced Training
  • Train the Trainer
  • Six Sigma Training
  • Total Quality Advantage


  • Turf, ornamentals
  • License in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois

Teaching Experience

  • Taught vocational horticulture at Polaris Vocational School; Plant Identification and Diagnosing Plant Problems
  • Landscape Design and Maintenance