Meet the Friends: Tim Mitchell


Beauty is everywhere in the three parks the Friends of the Public Garden work with the City to care for. We often see the beauty in the natural features of these greenspaces, but public art also calls one’s attention. The art caught Tim Mitchell’s eye and continues to attract this architect and ceramics sculptor to the Boston Common, Public Garden and Commonwealth Avenue Mall. He found out about the Friends through the Neighborhood Association of Back Bay (NABB), and has been a member for at least twenty years. When asked why someone might consider joining the Friends his answer is simple, “You should not just join, but also get actively involved in a specific project.” That is exactly what he did. Tim has served on our Board of Directors and is currently the chair of our Sculpture Committee.

For Tim, the parks act as a creative inspiration that continue to capture and hold his attention. Everything about the art in them, from the artists and craftsmen, to the actual pieces and narratives that the objects evoke, is what give the parks special meaning for him.

He is currently completing a six-month body of sculpture using two kilns that are large tunnel-like structures representative of Japanese-style kilns called Anagama, one of which can load about 1,000 pieces at a time.  In September he will start an artist residency with Watershed Center for Ceramic Arts in Newcastle, Maine. There he will work on a historic brick-making project and a related contemporary art expression.

Tim recently donated a piece of his work to the Friends online art auction. The jar wth lid is stoneware with shino glaze to the interior and wood-ash glaze marks to the exterior. The lid is made of wood taken from one of the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial elm trees, across from the Massachusetts State House, during a preservation pruning on December 13, 2014.

Tim says if there is one thing people should know about the Friends of the Public Garden it would be the advocacy we do for all three parks, not just the Public Garden. He says people may also be surprised by the art in the parks, its “magnitude and provenance, all public…24/7.”

Friends Members Reception is Digging in Beyond Roots of Tree Care

Public Garden_2015_Members Reception_Elizabeth Jordan

Digging In: Beyond the Roots of Urban Tree Care

Join us for a behind-the-scenes exploration into our 45-year efforts to help the trees of the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall persevere in the stressful environment of an urban park. Attendees will learn how these trees show us when they are in trouble and what methods are being used to care for them. Find out what a dramatic difference your support makes to the health of our park trees.

Moderator: Council co-chair & Swan Boats owner Lyn Paget

Panelists: Friends Board member & greenspace advocate Margaret Pokorny and Friends Project Manager Bob Mulcahy

Wednesday, October 7, 2015   6:30 p.m.
Four Seasons Hotel, 200 Boylston Street

Visit our online art auction page for this event to view objects made from Boston Common elm wood.

Event is free for members. Please RSVP by Friday, October 1 at or call 617-723-8144.
Your membership can be renewed at this event.

Reception to follow program

Thank you to the Motor Mart Garage, our generous Lead Sponsor for this reception.

Motor Mart Garage

Caring for Boston’s Outdoor Treasures

Photo: Sarah Hutt

Summer has begun which means the outdoor work of the Friends sculpture care program is in swing. Mr. Hale (pictured) in the Public Garden is one of eight pieces conservators are caring for this year as part of the Friends Sculpture Care Program. Another 10 pieces of public art are in the process of being cleaned and maintained. This work is not only necessary, it is also newsworthy.  The Boston Globe recently ran a piece about the behind-the-scenes efforts involved in caring for these historic works of art in the article, “They get the gunk off Boston’s outdoor treasures.”

Spend an Majestic Morning with Puppets on the Common

FOPG Puppets on the Common, August 22, 2014 by Elizabeth Jordan (5)

The Friends of the Public Garden is pleased to present:

Puppets on the Common
“The Enchanted Castle and the Royal Park”
Boston Common, Parkman Bandstand
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
10:30 a.m.
Children are welcome to join the Friends and Rosalita’s Puppets for a majestic morning of entertainment featuring Fairy Godmother Glitter and Princess Crystal who will be accompanied by their pals Dragon, Wizard, Unicorn and several fairies.

The M. Holt Massey Charitable Trust is sponsoring this show.

Meet the Friends: Sherley Gardner-Smith


Love for our special historic parks inspires many to become members of the Friends of the Public Garden. It was certainly a driving force that prompted Sherley Gardner-Smith, a passionate Master Gardener and lover of nature, to become actively involved in our organization more than ten years ago. For Sherley, however, the other driving force that led to her involvement was a little closer to home. Her husband Fred has been involved with the Friends for many years, and was the first person to introduce her to our work and us.

Anyone who knows Sherley knows of her boundless energy. Happily, we are the beneficiaries of that energy through a number of Friends initiatives that she has become involved with. She has a keen interest in plantings in the parks and is a past member of our Horticulture Committee. In 2014, she became a member of our Communications and Outreach Committee. In that role she volunteered to test a natural science curriculum designed for use in the Public Garden with several local school groups. Children were able to observe natural occurrences and use them as the basis of scientific discovery. It may come as no surprise that this former teacher was attracted to a project that helps students find a new and deeper appreciation for a Garden she loves so much.

Her advocacy for learning continues in what may prove to be her most significant undertaking yet on behalf of the Friends, as co-leader of the newly launched Public Garden Tour Program. Sherley, along with Sidney Kenyon, is overseeing more than a dozen docent volunteers who lead tours of the Public Garden. The pair have spent hours coordinating trainings and implementing the program with the assistance of Friends staff.

We asked Sherley what our parks mean to her, and she said, “Enclosed in the sanctuary of the Public Garden, under the canopy of the magnificent trees, surrounded by the vibrancy of the flower beds, one can contemplate nature with solitary reverence or share in the beauty with fellow citizens.”

We thank Sherley for her many volunteer hours and for taking an active role in sharing her love for our parks with others.

It’s Hot, Humid, and the Public Garden Tropical Plants Love it!

This summer has been hot and very humid, one might even say tropical.The tropical plants in the Public Garden fit right in this year!

IMG_2451 Tropical plants have been present in the Public Garden for most of its history. According to the book, the Public Garden Boston published by the Friends in 2000, they were first planted by William Doogue in the late 1800’s. The palms and other plantings were stored in the greenhouses and brought out to be placed in the Victorian-style garden. Doogue’s horticultural displays stayed true to the Victorian style, however not everyone loved the non-native species. Many considered it odd to have such plants in the Boston Public Garden. However, these plants appeared year after year to continue the tradition and to further educate people on plants from around the world. IMG_2442 Today, the tropical plants continue to educate and honor a tradition started by Doogue over a century ago. A new executive assistant in the parks department, Josh Altidor, has designed beds that attest and expand this practice. The Boston Globe recently featured Josh in a story about this year’s plantings. IMG_2444 IMG_2449 IMG_2447

Meet the Friends: Bob Mulcahy

BobMulcahyFOPG Bob Mulcahy has been working as the Friends Project Manager for the past four years. He came to know the organization through his work as a project manager in the Boston Parks and Recreation Department, where he was employed for five years. As the Friends Project Manager, Bob oversees the direct care of the three parks, including tree pruning, planting, and disease control; turf care; and the organization’s various capital projects such as renovations at Brewer Fountain Plaza and the Boylston Street border of the Garden. His experience working with the City and his love for the parks give Bob a unique perspective on these greenspaces and the people who are involved in their care. Bob works hard to maintain and improve the beautiful, historic green spaces that are so beloved by the city, especially by Bob himself. “These three parks are a direct link to the history of the country and the residents that move through the downtown area,” he says. “To fight for them and beautify them is gratifying and motivating. I’m proud to be part of an organization that is committed to that.” There are many dedicated individuals who work in a variety of stewardship roles to keep the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall in their best condition for all to enjoy. The “Meet the Friends” series was created to showcase these passionate individuals and their significant contributions.