TripAdvisor recently ranked Boston’s Public Garden fifth on its 2014 Travelers’ Choice list of 25 top parks.
Boston’s Public Garden is the groomed and formal younger cousin to the more casual and boisterous Boston Common. The first public botanical garden in America, its form, plantings, and statuary evoke its Victorian heritage. This green and flowering oasis in the heart of a great metropolis has become a Boston icon. No visit would be complete without a stroll in the Garden and a voyage on one of its Swan Boats.
The Garden is truly a people’s park and a public pride. It is not only accessible to everyone, but citizens have always played an extraordinary role in protecting and preserving it. Observing the Garden on a peaceful summer’s day with the trees in leaf, the flower beds bright with color, and the Swan Boats tracing their tranquil course around the serpentine pond, you would never think of it as a civic battleground. In fact, it has been an ongoing struggle to keep these twenty-four acres of reclaimed land as a place of quiet beauty for the enjoyment of all.
A giant American elm tree that lived on Commonwealth Avenue Mall between Dartmouth and Exeter Streets for more than 100 years had to be removed due to Dutch elm disease on Tuesday, June 17. The Friends remain vigilant in treating the elms in our parks against this disease, in order to protect the elm tree population. For almost roughly 150 years, trees have been a treasured sight on this historic promenade and in 2013, for the first time in more than 43 years, each planting location on the Mall had a tree. Originally all the trees on the Mall were elms, and the population was ravaged by the disease. They have been replaced with a variety of trees of similar scale and profile, including disease-resistant elms.
Dutch elm disease has been affecting the U.S. elm population since the 1930’s. The disease can kill an entire elm tree anywhere from weeks to years. The disease is brought on by a fungus that is distributed by the Elm Bark Beetle or via a root graft infection.
Signs of Dutch Elm Disease
• Sudden wilting of leaves in branches
• Curling and yellowing leaves
• Branch die-back
When to spot infections
• Spring and Summer
Confirmation of Dutch Elm Disease
• When branches are cut out, look below peeled bark for signs of streaking
• Confirm through lab results
Learn more about the Friends tree care program and how you can help.
The sounds, sights and scents of the season make Brewer Fountain Plaza a popular gathering spot for spring and summer once again. If you have been following the evolution of this area in recent years, you are probably aware that a $4 million renovation project by the Friends has transformed it from a once deteriorated space to a destination of choice for residents, area workers, and anyone looking for a fountain-side retreat in a spectacular outdoor venue. You may have read about the project in our recent blog post What’s Happening on Brewer Fountain Plaza and will be happy to know that the tables, chairs, music, reading room, and Clover Food truck are all back on the plaza ahead of schedule. As for the construction happening just a few feet away, it is where the final phase of the restoration project is taking place. Thank you for your words of appreciation for this project and for your patience as we complete it. If you are interested in receiving updates on Brewer Fountain Plaza and other Friends activities, please sign up for our email newsletter and other alerts, and follow us on social media.
More than 1,000 Boston school students attended the 5th Annual Making History on the Common event sponsored by the Friends of the Public Garden. On Monday, June 2, America’s oldest public park served as an outdoor classroom with a variety of true-to-life learning stations that showcased the hundreds of years of historic events and activities that took place on and around Boston Common.
Students were entertained by New England Contra Dancers and invited to participate in this blend of dance and music that came with Colonials from England, Ireland, Scotland and France. Many participants seemed to be on their best behavior that day; perhaps the sight of the colonial punishments station hosted by the Freedom Trail Foundation was all the encouragement needed? This interactive display demonstrated the use of wooden pillories, a hinged wooden framework used for punishments in Massachusetts in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Apples available for students to snack on, donated by Whole Foods Market commemorated the orchard believed to have been planted on Beacon Hill by William Blackstone in 1623. A learning station new to this year’s event on 20th Century Protests evoked passionate pleas for “no more homework” as students were asked to protest on an issue relevant to their lives
“It was simply inspirational to see kids actively connecting to the rich history of our country while learning in one of America’s most historic parks, the very place where so much history was made,” said Elizabeth Vizza, Executive Director of the Friends of the Public Garden. “Making History on the Common works because it’s simple yet profound.”
Many organizations came together to make this Friends event happen including, The Fifty-Fourth Massachusetts Regiment, The Commonwealth Vintage Dancers, Historic New England, the City of Boston Archeology, The Ancient Fishweir Project and Wampanoag Nation Singers and Dancers, Boston Public Library and Leventhal Map Center.
Thank you to the Motor Mart Garage its generosity as the lead sponsor for this event.
On Friday, May 16, 2014, The Friends of the Public Garden celebrated its annual Green and White Ball with 200 guests at the Taj Boston. This festive black-tie party raised $400,000 provide care for the Public Garden, Boston Common and Commonwealth Avenue Mall, which has been the mission of the Friends since its inception over 43 years ago. Winston Flowers transformed the Grand Ballroom into a garden oasis with oversized “tree” centerpieces and hanging lanterns, while guests enjoyed signature green and white cocktails and event band The Sultans of Swing. A portion of the funds raised at this year’s Green & White will be allocated to restore the George Robert White Memorial Fountain, an angel sculpture and fountain in the Public Garden that honors one of Boston’s greatest benefactors and has been inoperable since the early 1980s.
A monumental milestone recently took place on Boston Common courtesy of the Boston Parks and Recreation Department. Cranes facilitated the re-install of four larger-than-life pieces of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. The four pieces represent Army, Navy, history, and peace. They were were removed 10 years ago for repair and were returned to their perch on Boston Common on May 29. Onlookers watched as they arrived by truck from Daedalus studio in Watertown where the restoration work was performed.
Designed by architect/sculptor Martin Milmore, the neoclassical Soldiers and Sailors Monument, on top of Flagstaff Hill, is a Civil War memorial in the form of a victory column. At its dedication in 1877, Generals McClellan and Hooker were among those attending, along with two Confederate officers. From colonial to modern times, the hill has been a favorite sledding place for children.
During the winter, several members of the Friends visited the sculptures at the Watertown studio to observe the work.
Restoration work will continue at Soldiers and Sailors into summer, including the replacement of pieces to four plaques at the base of the monument, as well as cleaning.
The non-profit Friends of the Public Garden, in partnership with the City of Boston Parks and Recreation Department, celebrated Mother’s Day with Boston-area families during its annual Duckling Day on Sunday, May 11th. Duckling Day celebrates the children’s classic book Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey.
J.C. Monahan of WCVB’s Channel 5 News and Chronicle was the event’s emcee, and was joined for the festivities by her husband and two daughters. Attendance at the event broke a record with well over 2,000 people gathered to enjoy activities for children, mini massages for moms, and a spirited parade led by the Harvard University Marching Band.
“Duckling Day has been a Boston tradition for more than 30 years and the Friends of the Public Garden has been honored to host it since 2006,” said Elizabeth Vizza, Executive Director of the Friends of the Public Garden. “It is terrific to see families participating in activities on the Common, marching in the parade to the famous Make Way for Ducklings statue in the Public Garden, and coming together to celebrate our public spaces in such a delightful way.”
Family entertainment and activities prior to the parade included face painters, a magician, juggler, puppet show, and an active play area for children led by Knucklebones. Participants eventually nestled on the lawn of the Boston Common in front of the Parkman Bandstand as they waited in anticipation of Wheelock Family Theatre’s dramatic reading of Make Way for Ducklings. Following the reading, Mayor Martin Walsh and Friends Executive Director Vizza thanked the crowd for coming out to the event and kicked-off the parade.
The Motor Mart Garage was the lead sponsor of Duckling Day. Proceeds from the event support the Friends of the Public Garden, a non-profit citizen’s advocacy group formed in 1970 to preserve and enhance the Boston Common, Public Garden and Commonwealth Avenue Mall in collaboration with the Mayor and the Parks and Recreation Department of the City of Boston. A model public-private partnership and the first in the region, the Friends number over 2,500 members and many volunteers.
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