Celebrating the 2016 Rose Brigade

Thank you, Rose Brigade!

As the growing season draws to a close, the magnificence of the roses begins to fade.  The roses were particularly and extravagantly beautiful this year with the emergence of the unique and special sport rose. Each rose bed looked so radiant, it was impossible to choose a favorite.

We want to thank China for her exceptional leadership of – and undying enthusiasm for – the Rose Brigade, along with her wonderful co-leader Carl.  And we especially thank the volunteers who were out on Tuesday evenings to care for those exquisite roses. Experienced volunteers and newbies were welcomed each week with grace, erudition, lemonade, and cookies.  Boston, the Public Garden, and indeed the Friends of the Public Garden are blessed to have the dedication and knowledge of the Rose Brigade, without which we could not imagine the Garden.

Food Trucks Coming to Boston Common

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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

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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,

Performance Added to Leap Year Skating Event

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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. 

Meet the Trees: The Beeches

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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

Open Call for Public Garden Tour Guides

 

Flyer_tour_flyer_generic_2016.jpgThe Friends of the Public Garden is expanding its Public Garden tour program in 2016 and is actively recruiting new 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 would like to share that knowledge and enthusiasm with others. Training will be provided. An information session will be held at the Friends office at 69 Beacon Street on Wednesday, February 24th at 1:00 p.m. For more information or to sign up to attend the information session, email docents@friendsofthepublicgarden.org.