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Celebrating Boston Landmarks with a Spin in Boston Common

March 23, 2015
Friends of the Public Garden Executive Director Elizabeth Vizza, BLC’s Staff Architect Elizabeth Stifel and Director of Design Review William Young at Brewer Fountain Plaza on Boston Common.

Friends of the Public Garden Executive Director Elizabeth Vizza, BLC’s Staff Architect Elizabeth Stifel and Director of Design Review William Young at Brewer Fountain Plaza on Boston Common.

On a recent brisk evening in March, a group of hearty Bostonians relished the opportunity to take a “Spin in the Park” to kick off the Boston Landmarks Commission’s 40th Anniversary. The tour of Boston Common, a designated landmark since 1977, was co-hosted by BLC and the Friends of the Public Garden.

Friends Executive Director Elizabeth Vizza spoke of the nonprofit’s 45-year history of working in partnership with the Boston Parks and Recreation Department to care for one of Boston’s most prized treasures. She noted the challenges of caring for a heavily used urban park and reflected on several challenges America’s first public park has faced since its origins. Today, the park continues to struggle to get the necessary level of funding for care, to match the intensity of its use. Vizza urged everyone to be aware of the needs of this “park of the people,” recalling that it was the citizens of Boston who pitched in to purchase it in 1634 as public space for generations to come.

William Young, BLC’s Director of Design Review spoke about several significant pieces of sculpture on the Common and provided insights into what was happening in Boston and the design community that may have influenced public art at the time. The tour began at the Parade Ground at the corner of Beacon and Charles Streets, and highlights included the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, Parkman Bandstand, the Visitor Information Center, and Brewer Fountain Plaza. Young’s colleague, Staff Architect Elizabeth Stifel, provided an overview of a project she participated in which transformed a restroom into what is now the Earl of Sandwich, a window-service restaurant that is open from spring through the fall.

The evening was intended to end with skating on the Frog Pond, another wonderful landmark; however, due to warm weather earlier in the week it closed for the season. Nonetheless, all enjoyed the twilight stroll through the Common.

Learn more about points of interest on Boston Common at www.friendsofthepublicgarden.org.

BLC XL has several events slated for 2015, including the BLC’s National Historic Preservation Month keynote event, to be held in May; a picnic and talk in Franklin Park, co-hosted by the Boston Parks and Recreation Department, scheduled for July; and a harvest-themed archaeological program coinciding with National Archaeology Month in October. For upcoming event details and announcements, please follow the BLC on Facebook and Twitter (@COBLandmarks), or visit their website at boston.gov/landmarks.

5 Reasons to Attend the Friends’ 45th Annual Meeting

March 23, 2015

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CELEBRATE the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall
LEARN about recent projects and stay current on future plans
ENGAGE in the dialogue with our featured speaker Parks Commissioner Chris Cook
NETWORK and mingle with Friends at a reception following the speaking program
SUPPORT efforts to preserve and enhance three of Boston’s most iconic greenspaces

We look forward to seeing you!
Wednesday, April 8, 2015
5:00 P.M.
First Church in Boston
66 Marlborough Street Boston, MA
RSVP by April 1.
For more information, contact us at 617-723-8144 or info@friendsofthepublicgarden.org.

The Friends Support Skating in the Schools

March 20, 2015
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Coaches Mary Kathryn Maher and Alyssa Blackwell with 4th and 5th grade students from the Mather Elementary School in Dorchester, MA. Photo courtesy of Skating Club of Boston.

The Friends of the Public Garden is a proud supporter of Skating in the Schools. The program, founded by The Skating Club of Boston in 2011, aims to help young students in Boston learn to ice skate while teaching them about the science behind skating. The students are able to take the lessons they learn in the classroom and apply them through real life experience on the Boston Common Frog Pond.

Skating in the Schools was created with the goal of improving local students’ science skills while also allowing them to stay active and participate in an activity they enjoy. Schools are able to choose one of three versions of the program: Skating Lesson, Skating Lesson and In-School Lesson, or Skating and School Lesson Field Trip.

The basic Skating Lesson option includes transportation to and from the Frog Pond, skating lessons, and extras like a year pass to the Frog Pond. The Skating Lesson and In-School Lesson pairs the basic option with a weekly class where students are taught the various sciences involved in ice skating, including physics and chemistry. And the third option, Skating in the Schools Field Trip, gives students a single day trip that includes skating lesson and in-class lesson.

Skating in the Schools is an important program that allows students to be challenged by learning a new sport and applying new lessons in science. The Friends helps sponsor the program led by volunteers at The Skating Club of Boston. They have worked with four local schools and hope to expand the program to all Boston Public Schools.

For more information on Skating in the Schools, visit The Skating Club of Boston’s website.

Friends BOD Requests Relocation of Olympic 2024 Events

March 13, 2015

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The Friends of the Public Garden Board of Directors voted recently to request that Olympic events and ancillary structures proposed by Boston 2024 for Boston Common and Public Garden be relocated.

The Board vote stated that plans to construct a 16,000-seat beach volleyball stadium on Boston Common constitutes exclusive use of what appears to be (according to Boston 2024 documents) three-fourths of Boston Common (calculating the area inside the security fence at 32 acres). The construction timeline estimates seven months, and most likely the areas impacted would be unavailable for as long as a year including post-event restoration. Approximately 35,000 people use this as their neighborhood park, and many thousands more from every neighborhood and beyond Boston use it for various forms of recreation and civic gathering. This use would reverse centuries of tradition in the spirit of Boston Common’s origins regarding public rights to use of the Common and non-privatization of public parks. The Boston 2024 plans also include ancillary structures in the Public Garden to support the Marathon and Road Cycling events, directing people to stadium seating through several gated entrance points, with one quarter of the Garden behind security fencing. The beach volleyball proposal would necessitate removal of over 50 mature trees on the Common, while the use of the Garden poses a threat of damage to this fragile botanical garden. The Boston Common and Public Garden need to be showcases for the international community of visitors, and welcome people as places of respite during this busy three-week event, not gated venues available only to ticket holders. They should be improved over the next nine years to the high standards of excellence we are advocating for them.

Based on an understanding of the materials that have been made available to the community, the Board vote requests that “Boston 2024 alter its proposal and move the Beach Volleyball event out of the Boston Common; and furthermore, that any ancillary structures proposed within the Public Garden or the Boston Common to support the Beach Volleyball event, the Marathon, and the Road Cycling events be relocated. Furthermore, we request that no Olympics-related venues or ancillary structures be sited on the Boston Common or Public Garden.”

Please visit http://www.friendsofthepublicgarden.org/olympics for more information.

45th Annual Meeting of the Friends

March 4, 2015

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Please join us at the 45th Annual Meeting of the Friends of the Public Garden.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

5:00 P.M.

First Church in Boston

66 Marlborough Street Boston, MA

Featured Speaker: Chris Cook

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A Conversation with Boston Parks Commissioner Chris Cook

Reception to follow. Please RSVP by April 1.

For more information, contact us at 617-723-8144 or info@friendsofthepublicgarden.org

Mark Your Calendars for Duckling Day 2015!

March 3, 2015
2014 Duckling Day parade weaves through the Boston Common and Public Garden, led by the Harvard University Marching Band

2014 Duckling Day parade weaves through the Boston Common and Public Garden, led by the Harvard University Marching Band

The Friends of the Public Garden, in association with the City of Boston Parks and Recreation Department and Mayor Martin J. Walsh, will celebrate Mother’s Day with Boston-area families during its annual Duckling Day on Sunday, May 10th. A beloved tradition for more than 30 years, Duckling Day celebrates the children’s classic book, “Make Way for Ducklings” by Robert McCloskey. Every year, over 1,000 people meet up and parade through Boston’s most picturesque parks, dressed like characters from the story. Led by the Harvard Marching Band, the parade will begin on the Boston Common at the Parkman Bandstand and end in the Public Garden near the famous Make Way for Ducklings sculptures. Bring your camera – the parade is possibly the most adorable thing you’ll ever see!

Prior to the parade there will be plenty of family entertainment including crafts, face painters, a magician, and puppet show. Walk on a circus tightrope with Esh Circus Arts, or play on the Common with the Knucklebones crew. Moms are invited to enjoy a free mini-massage thanks to local volunteer Massage Therapists. All families are welcome to bring a picnic and enjoy springtime on the Common!

Mayor Walsh will greet families prior to the parade, and actors from the Wheelock Family Theatre will do a dramatic reading from Make Way for Ducklings. The registration fee is $35 per family in advance and $40 per family the day of the event. Each child who registers will receive a special goodie bag filled with Duckling Day themed items.

Quick Facts:

Sunday, May 10, 2015
Boston Common – Parkman Bandstand
Hosted by the Friends of the Public Garden
10:00 a.m. – Registration begins
11:45 a.m. – Mayor Walsh and Executive Director Liz Vizza greet families
12:00 p.m. – Parade begins
The registration fee is $35 per family in advance and $40 per family the day of the event

Register today!

The Motor Mart Garage is the lead sponsor of this event.

Motor Mart Garage

 

How Trees and Shrubs are Weathering Winter

February 24, 2015
Photo: Caroline Phillips-Licari

Photo: Caroline Phillips-Licari

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.”-Lewis Carroll.

The historic amount of snowfall this winter looks beautiful in our parks, but poses some challenges to trees and shrubs. Some obvious impacts are snow and ice breakage. Species with brittle wood, such as elms and zelkovas, can lose limbs from the weight of the ice and snow, especially during windy snowstorms. Another common impact is from salt, which is commonly spread on roads as ice melt. Salt gets into the water that is taken up by the trees, and can also be blown onto trees by the wind. Most trees cannot tolerate much salt exposure without suffering significant dieback. Some other impacts of the wintery weather are less obvious. Prolonged very cold temperatures can cause root dieback, although the amount of snow we have had does provide insulation. Most winter damage to plants is not caused just by the cold temperatures, but by fluctuations in temperature. Trees can develop “frost cracks” caused by the winter sun, along the trunk of the tree.  And evergreen trees are susceptible to “winter kill”, which happens on sunny winter days, when the sunshine tricks the tree into trying to photosynthesize. The problem is that when the ground is frozen, the tree cannot draw water up through its roots, which is required for photosynthesis. This results in dieback of the tree.

Fortunately for us, the ongoing tree care that the Friends provides in our three parks creates resilience to stress in the trees. The pruning that we’ve undertaken in all our parks reduces the likelihood of snow and ice breakage, and stimulates the trees to grow more vigorously, which enables them to withstand the stress of the cold temperatures. One unknown of this historic winter of deep snowpack – estimated to be the equivalent of 4”-7” of water – is whether our trees will become susceptible to soil and tree-related diseases that are caused by excess water in the ground.

Nevertheless, and although it is hard to believe now, spring really is right around the corner. The trees will shake off their dormancy and many will burst forth their flowers, followed by their new, pale leaves.

Claire_Corcoran_photoClaire Corcoran is an ecologist and member of the Friends of the Public Garden Board of Directors. She is a self proclaimed “tree hugger” and dedicated advocate for greenspace in Boston and beyond. Claire lives in the South End of Boston with her husband and three children.

Claire also wrote the recent post, Explaining the Odd Shape of Trees in Winter – Load Reduction Pruning. 

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