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Friends BOD Requests Relocation of Olympic 2024 Events

March 13, 2015


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 for more information.

45th Annual Meeting of the Friends

March 4, 2015

annual meeting final

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

chris cook

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

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 online before May 8 and $40 per family the day of the event

Register today!

For nearby parking, please consider the Motor Mart Garage, 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. 

Running to Support Vital Resources in the Urban Community

February 24, 2015


With only two months until the 2015 Boston Marathon, preparations are in full swing. This year, the Friends of the Public Garden is represented by Team Friends, composed of two dedicated runners: Deb Howe and Lina Hristova. Deb and Lina are working hard to prepare for the marathon: physically, mentally, and charitably. Both of these women are fundraising to benefit our treasured greenspaces – the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall.

We recently learned more about Lina and her reasons for choosing Team Friends. She has been a distance runner for several years and has completed three marathons. This is Lina’s first time running in the Boston Marathon, and she looks forward to “the emotionally charged field, the fun crowds,” and running with her Team Friends partner, Deb, a fellow Mount Holyoke alumna. Of course, the bragging rights that come along with completing the Marathon are just the cherry on top!

Lina works as a project manager for a software company and also operates a diversified forest products business, which includes beekeeping and growing mushrooms. She shares the Friends’ passion for the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall. “The Boston public parks are a vital resource for the urban community,” she says. Lina believes that having these open spaces is beneficial, not only to the surrounding community, but to Boston visitors as well. Lina joined Team Friends to support the work of the Friends: providing the funds and support that are vital to keeping our parks healthy.

If you would like to help Lina raise money to benefit the parks, donate to Team Friends on our CrowdRise page, or to learn more visit or email

Friends Skate on Frog Pond to Support Parks

February 19, 2015

February 11th was a cold night for a heart-warming gathering. The Young Friends of the Public Garden hosted their third annual private skating night for all ages on the Boston Common Frog Pond. Attendees were all smiles, despite the freezing temperatures, while mingling with other skaters, drinking hot chocolate, and enjoying skating with fellow park supporters. Despite more than a foot of snow falling just days earlier, the Frog Pond was miraculously cleared of snow in time for the event, and the great work of the Boston Parks and Recreation Department in clearing paths in the Boston Common made it possible for would-be skaters to reach the rink. Nearly 50 people braved the snowy landscape and chilly weather, united by a love for Boston’s greenspaces and a chance to enjoy a fun evening together. All of the proceeds from the event will benefit our work in the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall. The event was organized with the help of Young Friends leadership: Chair Kate Gundry, event Co-Chairs Rich Hornblower and Anne Mostue, and host group members: Nazli Kfoury, Lara Maggs, and Katherine McCord. The Young Friends group hosts several social events throughout the year in order to raise funds for the Friends work. The Young Friends offers an opportunity for community members to enjoy festive gatherings while helping better the parks. If you are interested in becoming involved with this group or attending an upcoming event, please email or visit to learn more.

Friends Gather to Explore Public Garden History on a Winter Evening

February 17, 2015
Friends of the Public Garden Executive Director Elizabeth Vizza, Liz Morgan, Boston University Professor Keith N. Morgan, and Bobby Moore

Friends of the Public Garden Executive Director Elizabeth Vizza, Liz Morgan, Boston University Professor Keith N. Morgan, and Friends Public Garden Chair Bobby Moore (Photo by Caroline Phillips-Licari)

On February 4th, the Friends of the Public Garden presented “Searching for the Histories of Boston’s Public Garden,” a lecture by Boston University Professor Keith N. Morgan. The event, attended by 75 people at Suffolk University Law School, explored the origin, early designs, and evolution of America’s first public botanical garden.

Morgan traced the Public Garden’s development from its original submersion under tidal marshland through the highly embellished Garden of the Victorian era to the design we know today. He explored the historical significance of the Garden’s most famous statues and shared images of art that was inspired by the Garden, such as Maurice Prendergast’s “Large Boston Public Garden Sketchbook” and Robert McCloskey’s children’s book “Make Way for Ducklings.”

Seventy five people turned out on a brisk February evening to hear Keith N. Morgan discuss the histories of the Public Garden

Seventy five people turned out on a brisk February evening to hear Keith N. Morgan discuss the histories of the Public Garden

More than a dozen audience members were attending the lecture as part of a training program. In spring, Friends of the Public Garden volunteers will be leading tours in the Public Garden and sharing highlights on its history, horticulture, sculpture, and other significant elements. Tours will provide community members with an opportunity to learn about the rich history of one of Boston’s most cherished greenspaces from other members of the community.

Morgan teaches History of Art and Architecture at Boston University where he has taught for over 30 years. He has been published numerous works over the past few decades, including his most recent co-authored book: “Community by Design: the Olmsted Office and the Development of Brookline, Massachusetts, 1880-1936.”

For more information on upcoming Friends of the Public Garden events and the launch of the Public Garden Tour Program, stay tuned to


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