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Boylston Street Border Renewal Continues

October 31, 2014

Boylston Street border “before” picture (Photo: Toby Wolf)

This fall, the Friends completed the second phase of the Boylston Street border project while also finalizing the first 150-foot pilot area.  The second phase encompassed an additional 200 feet of the border adjacent to the pilot area and included the same scope of work accomplished in the first phase. New plantings were added, and the drainage strip from Phase I was extended. Two new benches will be added that will allow visitors more opportunities to view the garden from this vantage point. Learn more…


Boylston Street border “after” picture (Photo: Caroline Phillips-Licari)

An Evening of Climate Change Preparation and Celebration with Friends

October 31, 2014

More than 100 Friends Members and others attended a reception at Carver Ballroom of the Revere Hotel on Thursday, October 9th for an evening focused on preparing for climate change.  Chair of the Friends Board of Directors Anne Brooke kicked-off the Members Reception event  by thanking members for their involvement and support, providing an update on projects, and thanking the Motor Mart Garage, the event’s lead sponsor.

Executive Director Elizabeth Vizza provided an overview of a generous marketing campaign implemented by Hill Holliday to raise visibility for the Friends. The Boston-based communications firm designed a new logo, and a wonderfully creative campaign that appeared on advertising space they secured for the Friends on MBTA information kiosks, bus shelters, buses, billboards, and in subway cars.  In appreciation of this marketing partnership, the Friends sponsored a bench in Hill Holliday’s name and, to the delight of Hill Holliday staff in attendance and the audience, surprised them with the gift at the event.

Featured speaker Brian Swett, Chief of Environment, Energy, and Open Space for the City of Boston displayed maps, photographs and renderings showing how climate change is expected to impact the city. He explained that 2012 was the warmest year on record in the U.S. by one full degree, and that by 2047, the coldest years will be warmer than today’s warmest. He described several cutting-edge projects Boston has initiated to mitigate the impacts of climate change on the city and its residents. How do parks help? Parks with ample turf areas and trees offer the benefits of soaking up rain water, returning it to the groundwater, and cooling the land.  Swett says that areas with trees can be as much as 10 to 15 degrees cooler than those without; a major benefit of our parks. The tree count in Boston Common, the Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall totals more than 1,700, and they are cared for by the Friends. For more than four decades we have been working in partnership with the city to protect and enhance these parks.  In 2013 alone, under our tree care program, 700 trees were pruned and 1,200 were treated against diseases such as Dutch elm.

Swett encouraged everyone to get involved with Greenovate Boston. According to its website,, a community-driven movement aims to get all Bostonians involved in reducing the city’s greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050.

Conservation Work Begins on Shaw Memorial on Boston Common

September 18, 2014
Conservator Ivan Myjer, Friends Executive Director Elizabeth Vizza,  Kathryn Greenthal; Shaw Committee member; Henry, chair of Shaw Committee, National Park Service Park Ranger Ryan McNabb, Elizabeth Stifel, Landmarks Commission, and Margaret Dyson, Parks Department

Conservator Ivan Myjer; Friends Executive Director Elizabeth Vizza;
Kathryn Greenthal; Shaw Committee member, Henry Lee; chair of Shaw Committee; National Park Service Park Ranger Ryan McNabb; Elizabeth Stifel, Boston Landmarks Commission; and Margaret Dyson, Boston Parks and Recreation Department


The Shaw Committee of the Friends of the Public Garden recently gathered at the Shaw Memorial on Boston Common to observe a project that began in September. The project is being conducted in response to a detailed report outlining the existing conditions and treatment recommendations for conservation of the stone elements of the Memorial. It is very important to comprehensively repoint all mortar joints to prevent water from entering the monument, and to remove biological growth from the stone.

Augustus Saint-Gaudens’s Shaw/54th Regiment Memorial, located opposite the State House, is the most acclaimed piece of sculpture on the Common. Saint-Gaudens was the foremost American sculptor of his day. After accepting the Shaw Memorial commission in 1884, he took almost fourteen years to complete the job. The enormous bas-relief depicts the mounted Colonel Robert Gould Shaw leading the Massachusetts 54th Regiment, the first all-volunteer black regiment in the Union army. Colonel Shaw, together with many of his men, died at Fort Wagner, South Carolina, in July 1863. The monument was finally unveiled on May 30, 1897, with ceremonies lasting most of the day. The military parade included some old soldiers who had left for war from that very spot.

In 1980, the Friends of the Public Garden raised $200,000 to restore and endow the Memorial, which had never been maintained and was in terrible condition. The Friends also established an endowment to ensure its regular care. It was rededicated on its centennial in 1997 with General Colin Powell in attendance.

Friends of the Public Garden Seeks Docents

September 16, 2014



Photo: Elizabeth Jordan

The Friends of the Public Garden is launching a Public Garden Tour Program in 2015 and is actively recruiting docents to lead the tours. We are looking for men and women who are passionate about the trees, plantings, sculpture, and history of the Public Garden and who want to share that knowledge and enthusiasm with others.

Requirements for the docent program include: attending six trainings a month, which will be held in January and February 2015; committing to giving two tours per month between May and October, 2015; joining or renewing membership in the Friends of the Public Garden. Docents should be out-going and eager to engage in conversation with the public; a loud voice would also be desirable.

Information sessions for the docent program will be held at the Friends office at 69 Beacon Street on Tuesday, September 30 and Tuesday, October 14 at 1:00 p.m. Please email or call 617-723-8144 to RSVP.

Friends 2013 Year in Review

September 15, 2014

Friends of the Public Garden 2013 Year in Review

Earlier this summer, we were pleased to share a report on the accomplishments of the Friends of the Public Garden in our first-ever annual review document, the Friends of the Public Garden 2013 Year in Review. We could not do this work without your tremendous support! While our significant contributions to the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall are to be celebrated, the overarching theme and much of our focus in 2013 was about planning for the future.

Ongoing work in the parks continued at a steady pace while we pursued a major initiative to develop a strategy to promote the health and vibrancy of our organization and our parks well into the future. Our vision is to achieve the highest level of excellence in these well-loved and iconic urban parks. The culmination of our year-long planning effort is described in the Friends first Strategic Plan (2014-2018). We are pleased to share the Plan with you, and to work with the City to implement it.

We continue to enjoy a good working relationship with the City of Boston Parks and Recreation Department, as we have for decades. This public-private partnership has been serving our parks and our city well. The Parks Department should be commended for their enormous efforts on behalf of these parks, but the challenges of parks care in an urban environment are many; they simply need additional resources. In our role as advocates we encourage greater funding for the Parks Department to allow it to provide the necessary level of parks care, and in its absence we work hand-in-hand with the City to narrow the gap by investing private funds to enhance our parks.

Developing deeper connections to neighborhood organizations and like-minded entities across the city continued. The Friends served on the steering committee of Boston Park Advocates, a citywide network of champions of Boston’s parks and open spaces, and worked to raise the profile of issues that face our city’s parks. During the 2013 election season, we met candidates to inform them about the needs of the three parks we serve as well as the needs and opportunities for all of Boston’s greenspace. 2013 was certainly a year of successes, the details of which you will read about in this document, yet this is not a time to rest on our laurels. There is work to be done and the future of our parks depends on it, perhaps now more than ever!

As always, we thank the members of our Board, Council and committees who generously spend many hours working to support our organization and its mission. A huge debt of gratitude goes to Hill Holliday, our wonderful marketing partner, for their generous work to design and implement a Friends visibility campaign, and to Council member Ron Druker for making this connection for us. Thanks to Santander’s generosity, we enjoy wonderful office space close to the parks. We thank our members, donors and volunteers without whom our work would not be possible. We appreciate these contributions and ask for continued involvement as we strive to maintain these treasured parks and pursue the excellence that they and their many users deserve.

Anne Brooke, President
Elizabeth Vizza, Executive Director

Friends Members Reception to Focus on Preparing for Climate Change

September 15, 2014


The Friends of the Public Garden Members Reception will take place on Thursday, October 9 at 6:30 p.m. at the Revere Hotel, 200 Stuart Street, Boston.

Preparing for Climate Change in Boston:
The Vital Role of Our Greenspaces

2012 was the warmest year on record in the U.S. by one full degree. By 2047, the coldest years will be warmer than today’s warmest. Brian Swett, Chief of Environment, Energy and Open Space for the City of Boston, will discuss what Boston is doing to prepare for climate change, how urban greenspaces are being impacted by it, and the important role they play in mitigating it.

We will also be celebrating Hill Holliday for raising the visibility of the Friends through a very generous marketing campaign this year.

Speaking program will begin promptly at 6:30 p.m.  A reception will follow.

Please RSVP at 617-723-8144 or by e-mail to by October 3. The event is free for members, but space is limited. You can join the Friends or renew your membership at this event!

Thank you to the Motor Mart Garage for being the lead sponsor for this reception.


Children Delighted by Enchanted Castle on Boston Common

September 11, 2014

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

Throughout an early morning of raindrops on a summer Friday, tots peered out their windows anxiously to see if clouds would part and blue skies would emerge in time for the a scheduled visit of the royals – and they did! The Boston Common, which has hosted world leaders, dignitaries, and even a Pope, on this day would draw a crowd of young princes and princesses who were there to welcome their kin. To the delight of a group of nearly 200, the Friends of the Public Garden hosted a royal cast from Rosalita’s Puppets, which transformed the Parkman Bandstand on Boston Common to present “The Enchanted Castle” puppet show. Children from surrounding neighborhoods, and other parts of the city watched three riveting stories unfold before them as they sang songs and interacted with the performers. The Friends of the Public Garden hosts this event annually, which is made possible by a grant from the M. Holt Massey Charitable Trust.
“It is wonderful to watch the next generation of park users form deeper connections to this treasured greenspace, a space that means so much to our city and our country; it is the first step in helping them to understand why we need to protect it,” said Elizabeth Vizza, Executive Director of the Friends of the Public Garden. “This young group, it seems, is well on their way to understanding the value of trees – when asked as part of the performance what trees give us, hands popped up and they had more answers than one might have expected – and they were really good answers!”


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