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Action Alert: Parks need your help

March 15, 2016
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Your parks need your voice!

City of Boston officials are working on next year’s budget right now. Please join us in reminding Mayor Walsh how important parks are to you by requesting an increase in the parks and recreation budget.
Parks greatly improve the quality of life and build community.  The time is now to share your voice on their behalf.
Decisions being made right now by City of Boston officials will determine next year’s budget.  These decisions will impact the quality of parks and recreational opportunities. The status quo simply won’t get us the kind of open spaces our community needs to thrive. It’s time for Parks & Recreation to receive a budget increase.
Will you take 5 minutes this week to send an e-mail to Mayor Walsh? 

 

Sample email message:
Dear Mayor Walsh,
I am asking that you increase funding for Boston’s parks in the upcoming budget. (INCLUDE A SENTENCE ABOUT THE PARK YOU ARE INVOLVED IN/USE MOST.)
Having parks that are safe and well-maintained is a basic requirement, and yet some of our park aren’t meeting that standard. It is more cost effective for the City to maintain its parks than to have major capital expenses for deferred maintenance. In addition to these basics, it’s important for city parks to have high-quality programming, to provide community members and visitors of all ages and backgrounds attractive opportunities to come together for recreation, arts and culture events, and more.
Will you provide increased funding for our parks? Please let me know if you will make this one of your top budget priorities.
Thank you for your consideration.
Your name
Your address

Food Trucks Coming to Boston Common

March 15, 2016

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The Friends of the Public Garden is excited to announce that the following four food trucks have been selected for our 2016 rotating food truck program at the Brewer Fountain Plaza on the Boston Common (near Park Street Station).  The program will start in April and run through November. Follow each truck on Twitter to get real-time updates.

Bon Me (Mondays & Wednesdays, 11 am – 3 pm)
Bon Me has been serving bold, fresh, and fun Vietnamese food since they won the City of Boston’s food truck challenge in 2011. Six food trucks and five restaurants later, they’re serving their healthful and exciting sandwiches, noodle salads, and rice bowls to Boston and beyond. Twitter: @bonme

blazing salads on wheels  (Tuesdays & Thursdays, 11 am – 3 pm)
blazing salads on wheels is committed to the long-standing family tradition of serving their customers as if they were family. Using only the best ingredients, they offer a menu of healthy and delicious homemade Mediterranean inspired dishes in concert with traditional salads and sandwiches. Twitter: @blzonwheels

Heritage Food Truck (Fridays, 11 am – 3 pm)
At the Heritage Food Truck, their mission is championing local farmers, fishermen and foragers, with a dedication to cultural diversity and menus inspired by market-fresh bounty and house-made ingredients. Farm to table cuisine, although they’re calling it “farm to truck!”.  Twitter: @HeritageTruck

Cookie Monstah  (Saturdays & Sundays, 12- 6 pm)
The Cookie Monstah truck specializes in fresh-baked cookies and brownies.  All of their delicious cookies are baked fresh every day and they keep it simple, delicious and healthy.  Additionally, they have locally-sourced ice cream to go with their baked goods. Twitter: @MonstahTruck

Berklee College of Music piano performances will be back in late April. Lunchtimes during the week 12-2, and Thursday evening jazz performances at 5 pm.

 

 

Action alert: Gas leak bills need support

March 7, 2016

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Dear Friends,

There is an important bill in the State House that needs to be moved out of committee by March 15, which will have a very important impact on getting gas leaks fixed in Boston. The bill is H2870, An Act relative to protecting consumers of gas and electricity from paying for leaked gas.” (We were pleased to see that H2871 “An Act relative to gas leak repairs during road projects” made it out of Committee.) The Friends of the Public Garden is interested in this as it relates to trees and the greenspaces we care for and the overall urban health of our community. The impact the leaks have on the trees of the Commonwealth Avenue Mall are of particular concern to us because they are at greatest risk of damage from the leaks.

We have reached out to our representatives and are urging you to do the same. We are pleased to be joined by the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay, Garden Club of Back Bay, and several other community organizations from across the city. Please feel free to use the template below.

Template letter:

Dear Representative XX:

I respectfully urge you to contact Representative Thomas Golden, the House chairman of the Telecom, Utilities and Energy Committee, and urge him to report out Representative Lori Ehrlich’s gas leak bill H2870 favorably by March 15. We were pleased to see that H2871 was reported out favorably but your support is still needed.

Gas leaks are a major concern in our neighborhood, throughout Boston and the state. One year ago a Harvard-BU study found that leaks from natural gas distribution pipes cost ratepayers $90 million a year in greater Boston. Gas leaks also cause explosions: they blew one Boston home off its foundation in 2014, displacing 11 residents, and another in 2015. Gas leaks contribute to asthma, a major health problem in Boston; kill trees by displacing oxygen in the soil; and they are probably Boston’s #1 greenhouse gas. Methane, the main component of natural gas, is 86 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide during its first 20 years in the atmosphere. Given that, the Boston Climate Action Network estimates that gas leaks are a bigger climate change factor than all the vehicles in Boston.

The Legislature acted on this issue in 2014. The gas leaks bill it passed that year required gas utilities to report all their known leaks to the Department of Public Utilities and to repair or replace hazardous leaks promptly. Unfortunately, those repairs are not keeping pace with new leaks in Boston’s century-old, leak-prone distribution system. Central Boston, including the Back Bay, started 2015 with 201 known leaks and it now has 232.

Rep. Ehrlich’s two bills would incentivize faster repairs and would fix all the leaks within a decade. The first bill, H2870, would require utilities to pay for the gas their pipes are leaking instead of charging their customers. The second, H2871 would require them to fix all leaks when a street is opened up for substantial repairs.

Please contact Representative Golden and urge him to report these two important bills out of TUE favorably before this session’s March 15deadline. Also please contact Speaker DeLeo and tell him of your concern about this issue.

Yours,

Parks: Cornerstones of Civic Revitalization

February 26, 2016

The Friends of the Public Garden is pleased to be a co-sponsor of the following event. 

FRIENDS OF FAIRSTED LECTURE SERIES 2015-2016

America’s Best Idea: Fairsted, the Olmsteds and Our National Parks
Parks: Cornerstones of Civic Revitalization

The quality of park systems has long been a measure of a healthy and functional society. Our national parks represent a democratic, and increasingly uncommon, commitment to the common good. This talk will focus on how the tradition of public park making initiated by Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr.’s seminal Yosemite Report in 1865 continues today as an expression of national and community ideals.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016
6:00pm Reception | 7:00pm Lecture
Wheelock College, Brookline Campus
43 Hawes Street, Brookline, MA
Seating is limited and reservations are required.
Reserve online or 617-566-1689, ext. 265

Rolf Dimant lecture

Rolf Diamant is a writer, historian and adjunct associate professor at the University of Vermont’s Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources. Rolf enjoyed a 37-year career with the National Park Service as a landscape architect, planner, and park manager. He served as superintendent of Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site and was the first superintendent of Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park, a national park that tells the story of conservation, the evolution of land stewardship and the emergence of a national conservation ethic. As liaison with the National Parks Second Century Commission, he helped re-think the value and function of national parks in a changing world. He is past president of the George Wright Society and his column, “Letter from Woodstock,” addressing the future of national parks, appears regularly in the society’s journal. Copies of A Thinking Person’s Guide to America’s National Parks (George Braziller, 2016) edited by Mr. Diamant and others, will be available for sale and signing by the author.

Thinking Persons GuideA Thinking Person’s Guide to America’s National Parks is a guidebook like no other. In twenty-three essays, richly illustrated with more than 350 color photographs, authors with personal and professional connections to the national parks share their deep and invaluable knowledge. This book illuminates the astonishing diversity of America’s more than 400 national parks, bound together into a single national park system that expresses and preserves the nation’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage.

Performance Added to Leap Year Skating Event

February 26, 2016

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Attendees of our Celebrate Leap Year at Boston Common Frog Pond event will be treated to special performances by competitive figure skaters Ashley Harkins, Elana Sargent, Juliana Bent, and Nikki Montanaro. Skaters will be donating their time and talent to entertain guests.

Our event welcomes skaters of all ages and abilities. Non-skaters are welcome to mingle over hot cocoa and enjoy the show while supporting parks. We look forward to seeing many of you at this event hosted by our Young Friends group. Register today. 

Pedal through Time with Swan Boats GM

February 25, 2016

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Register today. 

 

Meet the Trees: The Beeches

February 25, 2016

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In midwinter it is not uncommon to have intermittent mild days that tantalize us with reminders of spring. Walking through a park on a warm February day, we might even look to the trees for some confirmation that spring is around the corner—a swelling bud or hint of green, perhaps? Alas, all we’ll note are markers not of the season to come but of the season past: some branches retain from the fall a few straggling, brown leaves. In Boston parks, the only trees that do this are beeches and oaks—both in the same family: the Fagaceae. The botanical word for leaves that remain on trees well into or through the winter is marcescent (from the Latin marcere, meaning enfeebled or withered). Such papery leaves hold fast until the wind rips them free, or until the emerging bud of the spring leaf pushes them off. Scientists speculate that the abscission layer, which forms in most deciduous trees to cut leaves off in the fall, is delayed for some of the leaves of beeches, resulting in a characteristically half-dressed look. In the wild, American Beeches (Fagus grandifolia) form mature forest in parts of central New England alongside Sugar Maples (Acer saccharum). These forests are strikingly beautiful as the Beech often reproduces vegetatively, through sprouts from roots or from rooted branches. This can result in a mother tree surrounded by her offspring in a circle, or, if she is dead, a perfect circle of beech trees of uniform age—a fairy circle in the forest.

All but one of the beeches in our Parks, however, are cultivars of European Beech (Fagus sylvatica). There are some striking horticultural forms represented in the collection, including the Pendula cultivar, with weeping, sweeping limbs; the Rotundifolia, with dark blackish-green leaves and a beautiful, round canopy, and the Asplenifolia, or fern-leafed variety, with lacy cut leaf margins: and the Spaethiana,which holds its deep purple color longer and emerges in the spring with a rich burgundy color. It is fitting that the sole American Beech in our parks is found on the Boston Common, just north of the Frog Pond, as one looks toward Beacon Street.

The Friends of the Public Garden cares for 14 Beech trees in the Garden, some of which date back to the original plantings during the 1870s. These older specimens are special both because of their age and size, but also their placement—three of the oldest are near the Bagheera and Triton’s Baby’s fountains near the mid-block Charles Street crossing. One venerable specimen reaches out over the pathway and over the Bagheera fountain, with a large branch that has rooted in the bed beyond and is cabled to its multi-stemmed main trunk. This tree, which may be over 150 years old, is in its decline, but the Friends work seeks to prolong its lifespan. To do so, we may need to reduce the weight of the wood in the crown, since it has significant interior rot and is vulnerable to wind damage because of its weakened wood. Click here to learn more about load reduction pruning in the Public Garden, Boston Common, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall.

One striking feature of ornamental Beech trees is their bark, which is characteristically smooth and light grey, like an elephant’s skin. Their beautiful bark is unfortunately threatened by two major concerns: vandalism by humans, and a suite of fungal diseases. The Friends of the Public Garden works tirelessly on both of these issues. Together with the Parks Department of the City of Boston, the Friends strives to maintain these parks at the highest level of excellence, to inspire the public to love and respect these important public resources (and refrain from vandalizing them!) And most significantly, the Friends hires hard-working professionals who use the latest scientific practices of Integrated Pest Management to treat the beeches for fungal bark diseases, such as the phythoptera canker and nectria.

Across from the Hampshire House and Cheers, one finds a grove of Beech trees, planted in the 1980’s by two significant early Friends of the Public Garden, Polly Wakefield and Westy Lovejoy. Both woman were long-term members of the Board and Horticulture Committee. This cluster of trees, a testament to these two volunteers’ many years of service, is thriving thanks to the careful pruning, disease management, and judicious fertilizing the Friends has provided over the decades. I like to imagine that in 150 years a new generation of park lovers will look up at the marcescent leaves and wonder when spring will ever arrive.

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Claire 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.

 

Photos by Claire Corcoran
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