By Claire Corcoran
What impact, if any, will the recent late-season snow and sudden unseasonably cold temperatures have on our trees and shrubs in Boston’s parks? It’s an interesting question with several levels to look at. Most visibly, the magnolia blooms that we enjoy each year were burned by the snow and cold temperatures that followed. If you look closely at the magnolias along Commonwealth Avenue Mall and in the Public Garden, they may have flowers, but most of them are not looking great. Many magnolias had already pushed out their flower buds and hadn’t quite opened when the snow and cold temperatures hit them with frostbite. Magnolias are a southern species, very near the northern limit of their range here in Boston, and their flowers simply can’t withstand the cold. The emerging leaves will push off the wilted flower buds, but the trees are none the worse for it, thank goodness.
Many other groups of plants with more northerly ranges have more ability to withstand the cold temperatures. The cherry blossoms have flushed out like any other year, seemingly unaffected by the April snowfall and cold—though this may be more the happy result of naturally later blooming than it is a show of their New England hardiness. Many spring bulbs managed to bounce back from the snowfall impact, and make it look like it never happened. These daffodils in the Public Garden looked unhappy in the snow, but a week later they had completely bounced back. (Photos) My neighborhood Redbud (Cercis canadensis) appears to be on the brink of a record-breaking floral show – a testimony to last springs’ rainfall and snowmelt, rather than present conditions. Apples and crabapples bloom a little later in the spring, and so their flower buds weren’t impacted by the snowfall.
The late season snowfall and subsequent cold temperatures can actually help some parts of plants “wake up” after this mild winter. The dormancy of buds, those bundles of tissue that are the precursors of leaves and flowers, occurs in three phases – the pre-dormancy period in the fall, of warm days and cool nights; the deep cold of winter, and the return in the spring to warm days and cool nights that signals the end of the winter. During a mild winter season, that middle period of prolonged deep cold temperatures doesn’t really occur, leaving a muddied signal in the spring. Perhaps the plants feel a bit like we humans after a night without enough deep sleep. Plant physiologists theorize that a late season period of extreme cold, with warmer daytime temperatures, will allow dormancy in this phase to more readily break, and allow the tree to get off to a brisk start in its growing season. Also, the snowfall from the recent storm was likely a benefit to tree roots during the subsequent below freezing day, providing an insulating blanket to protect the below ground fine roots, which are actually more at risk from the cold, and more essential to the plant than its floral show.
Fortunately for the trees, and those who care for and about them, the snowfall was unlike that memorable Boston blizzard of April 1, 1997—it was far less significant in accumulation, and didn’t cause the extensive damage to trees and shrubs that that storm caused. Magnolias aside, it seems as if the snow and cold temperatures will have little lasting impact, leaving us still several weeks ahead of normal bloom times as a result of our mild winter.
Advocacy and support for the Community Protection Act (CPA) were demonstrated by the attendance of over 160 advocates for green space, historic preservation, and affordable housing at a Boston City Council hearing to champion that the proposed measure be placed on the November ballot.
CPA is a smart growth tool designed to help cities and towns create affordable housing, preserve open space and historic sites, and develop outdoor recreational opportunities. CPA funds are generated by a small surcharge on local property tax bills matched by a statewide trust fund. Without enacting CPA, the state trust monies from Registry of Deeds filing fees will not be available funding for Boston.
The Friends is one organization in a coalition of more than 40 community-based parks, housing and preservation groups who think that the political climate is right for a vote. The coalition is recommending a one percent property tax surcharge, with exemptions for low-income homeowners, low- and- moderate- income senior homeowners and for the first $100,000 of residential and business’ property value.
The City of Boston would generate up to $20 million every year dedicated to CPA projects such as:
- Improving and developing parks, playgrounds, trails, and gardens
- Acquiring land to protect water quality and reduce climate change impacts
- Creating thousands of new, affordable homes for seniors, families and veterans
- Restoring and preserving historic buildings and rehabilitating underutilized historic resources
Since 2000, 160 Massachusetts communities have adopted CPA and have been able to take advantage of over $1.6 billion for over 8,100 projects. Cities that have adopted the CPA include Cambridge, Somerville, Fall River, Medford, and Waltham.
Join the Friends to mobilize support for the November ballot. We will keep you updated and you can learn more about Community Preservation Act here.
A record-breaking, standing room only crowd of almost 200 were welcomed to the 46th Annual Meeting of the Friends by board chair Anne Brooke and vice-chair Colin Zick.
Attendees listened appreciatively to a powerful presentation by Liz Vizza, Executive Director, celebrating the Friends work in 2105 to continue the care and preservation of trees, sculpture, and turf in the three parks. Her remarks also highlighted the success in creating a dynamic park space at Brewer Plaza, continuing renovations of the Boylston Street border in the Garden, and the upcoming restoration of the fountain at the George Robert White Memorial. Liz praised the hard work of the volunteer Rose Brigade and announced the creation of a new volunteer Border Brigade while reminding the attendees of the upcoming fun and engaging public programs, Duckling Day and Making History on the Common. She shared that a Boston Common User Analysis survey will be taking place through the fall, providing real numbers about who, how and when people use the Common and what park users’ needs and issues are.
Advocacy for the parks is crucial, the threats are real and involve public safety, proposed building development on Tremont Street that exceeds the zoned height limit and could set a dangerous precedent, as well as the need to increase funding for the Boston Parks Department. Liz commended the Department’s hard work to keep the Boston Common, Public Garden and Commonwealth Mall healthy and beautiful.
The Annual Meeting served as the occasion to introduce the Henry and Joan Lee Sculpture Endowment in honor of the Lees’ legacy of commitment to the parks and their sculpture. The fund’s mission will be to provide for the long-term care for 42 pieces of public art in the Common, Garden, and Mall, the largest concentration of public art in the city. Regular annual maintenance prevents much more costly restoration.
In keeping with the sculpture theme, David Dearinger from the Boston Athenaeum gave a fascinating presentation about the Common, Garden, and Mall as “Museums Without Walls” and the history of the sculpture in the three parks. Reminding the attendees about the legacy of outdoor art, Dr. Dearinger shared the little-known history of some of the important pieces of sculpture.
The evening concluded with a reception where longstanding and new Friends enjoyed the opportunity to meet.
Photos: Michael Dwyer
At the 46th Friends of the Public Garden Annual Meeting on April 13, Chair, Anne Brooke will announce the creation of the Henry and Joan Lee Sculpture Endowment in honor of the Lees’ legacy of commitment to the parks and their sculpture. The fund’s mission will be to provide for the long-term care for 42 pieces of public art in the Common, Garden and Mall, the largest concentration of public art in the city. Regular annual maintenance prevents much more costly restoration. William Lloyd Garrison should never be green again.
David Dearinger, Curator of Paintings and Sculpture at The Boston Athenaeum will be giving a presentation “Museums Without Walls: The Sculpture Collection of the Boston Common, Public Garden and Commonwealth Avenue Mall .” The Annual Meeting is Wednesday, April 13 at 5:00 p.m. at First Church in Boston, 66 Marlborough Street. Reception to follow. Kindly RSVP by April 6. 617-723-8144 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sherif Nada and his wife Mary moved to their home across from the Public Garden 11 years ago, a home they selected partly because of a connection they felt to the Garden. The couple had always appreciated the Garden for its historical significance, public art, horticulture, and overall beauty but since becoming its neighbor their feelings for this special place became stronger, and for Sherif, his connection evolved over time.
During several years of traversing the paths through the Public Garden and the Boston Common to and from business meetings downtown, something continually captured Sherif’s attention – people. “I always saw people working in the parks. They were caring for these places in many ways, taking care of the roses, fixing statues,” he said.
He learned about special projects and routine maintenance done by the Boston Parks and Recreation Department and the Friends of the Public Garden, and watched first-hand how the two entities worked together as partners. “I was impressed at how well they come together to care for the parks,” he said.
As Sherif got to know the Garden and the Common on his frequent walks, he began to have a deeper appreciation for their unique qualities and gained an understanding of how much care they needed. As he spent more time in them, not unlike how many meaningful relationships evolve, his desire to become closer to them grew. “We are so intimate with these places and I wanted to get even closer to them,” he said.
Soon Sherif was asking people he knew that were Members of the Friends of the Public Garden about opportunities to become involved as a volunteer. He was asked to join the Council and shortly after was asked to join the Board of Directors, on which he currently serves. He is a member of the Governance Committee where he lends his experience working with nonprofits to develop the Friends leadership and plan for its future.
He gives much credit to the many people who have been involved with the Friends for decades, saying “they are involved at a much deeper level than I ever anticipated. They are incredibly sincere about protecting these greenspaces in the city for all to enjoy.”
Sherif brings a wealth of experience to the Friends. He retired as president of Fidelity Brokerage Group and member of the company’s operating committee. Prior to Fidelity, he held executive positions at Salomon Brothers and Morgan Stanley. Sherif received a B.A. from Duke University where he met his wife, Mary. In addition to contributing his expertise to the Friends of the Public Garden, he is currently a trustee of the Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower foundation, a Director Emeritus of Citizen Schools and of the Boston Lyric Opera, and an honorary trustee of the Boston Children’s Museum.
Come to a hearing on the Community Preservation Act at Boston City Council Chambers in City Hall on Tuesday, March 29th at 1:00 pm. The Community Preservation Act (CPA)is being considered for the ballot this November by the City Council.
CPA is a state program that would allow Boston to raise $20 million/year for parks and recreation, historic preservation and affordable housing by adding a 1% surcharge –a $23.09 average annual cost to a Boston homeowner–to property tax bills. Boston can join 160 cities and towns in Massachusetts that have already passed the CPA and have raised a total of $1.4 billion to develop and restore parks and playgrounds, build affordable housing and rehabilitate historic buildings.
You are welcome to attend the Friends of the Public Garden 46th Annual Meeting
Wednesday, April 13, 2016 at 5:00 pm
First Church in Boston
66 Marlborough Street, Boston MA
Anne Brooke, Chair of the Board of the Friends, will convene the meeting celebrating 46 years of preserving, protecting and improving the Boston Common, Public Garden and Commonwealth Avenue Mall.
There will be a business portion of the meeting followed by a Review of the Year by Liz Vizza, Executive Director, Friends of the Public Garden.
David Dearinger, Curator of Paintings and Sculpture at The Boston Athenaeum and member of the Friends Sculpture Committee, will give a talk entitled “Museums Without Walls: The Sculpture Collection of the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall.” David brings impressive expertise to his subject with a Ph.D. in art history from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York with a specialty in nineteenth-century American art. He joined the staff of the National Academy of Design in New York in 1985 and served as Chief Curator there from 1995 until 2004, when he became curator at the Boston Athenæum. He has taught art history at a number of institutions, has lectured and published widely in the field of American art, and has curated and organized a number of exhibitions in New York and Boston. His current projects include the American portraits of the Marquis de Lafayette, the work of the American sculptor Daniel Chester French, and politics and public sculpture in Boston.
With forty-four memorials from plaques to significant monuments, the Common, Garden, and Mall have the largest concentration of outdoor public art in Boston. Come and hear David’s observations and insights into our “museums without walls.” Not to be missed!
Reception to follow. Kindly RSVP by April 6.
617-723-8144 or email@example.com
2015 Annual Meeting Minutes, ByLaws and the Board of Directors nominating slate available at friendsofthepublicgarden.org.