Boston Common Receives Lime Treatment

IMG_1195

The white dusting appearing on the grassy areas of Boston Common over the next few days is not made up of snowflakes that we traditionally expect to see this time of year. Warmer temperatures have made it possible for us to fit in one more needed treatment to help trees, turf and soil on the Common. The treatment will support better root growth and development, provide plant nutrients, increase disease resistance, and correct several conditions that are causing additional stress on the plant life in this heavily used urban park.

Lecture on National Parks and the Fairsted School

Save the date for the December 3rd lecture of the Friends of Fairsted lecture series: Our National Parks and the “Fairsted School”: An Enduring Legacy. We are pleased to be a supporter of this event.

Ethan Carr lecture

Ethan Carr, PhD, FASLA
6:00pm Reception | 7:00pm Lecture
Wheelock College, Brookline Campus
43 Hawes Street, corner of Hawes and Monmouth Streets, Brookline, MA
Seating is limited and reservations are required.
Reserve online or 617-566-1689, ext. 265

The Olmsted firm is famous for the design of hundreds of municipal parks and other landscapes. The achievements of Olmsted and his successors in scenic preservation are less well understood, but park design and scenic preservation were both aspects of the practice of landscape architecture Olmsted developed in the second half of the nineteenth century. This talk explores the role of the “Fairsted School” of landscape architecture and its influence on scenic preservation and the design of state and national park systems through the twentieth century.

Ethan Carr, PhD, FASLA, is a landscape historian and preservationist specializing in public landscapes. He has taught at the Harvard GSD, the University of Virginia, and at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he is a professor. He has written two award-winning books, Wilderness by Design (1998) and Mission 66: Modernism and the National Park Dilemma (2007), and is the volume editor of Volume 8 of the Papers of Frederick Law Olmsted, The Early Boston Years, 1882-1890 (2013).

Limited street parking is available. Public parking is not allowed in the Wheelock parking lot. Venue is easily accessible by MBTA Green Line “C” (Hawes Street) or “D” (Longwood) trains.

Give Back to Boston parks on #GivingTuesday

Save-the-date-blue2-1024x438
#GivingTuesday is a global day dedicated to giving back. Charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give. Make a donation to the Friends on #GivingTuesday, December 1. to support care for some of Boston’s most historic greenspaces – the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall.  Each person who gives to the Friends on #GivingTuesday will be entered to win one of several prizes including, lunch for two at The Bristol at Four Seasons Boston, a $20 J.P. Licks gift card, and a $50 Maggiano’s gift card. We thank these community-minded establishments for giving to us to support this day of giving!

 

Meet the Trees: Mighty Oaks

For November our Tree of the Month is the Oak, one of only a few local trees to be the last to lose its leaves.  Well into the winter season, Bostonians will be able to look up at shivering branches almost uncannily cloaked with tenacious brown oak leaves.

023edited

Oaks are an astoundingly diverse group of trees – there are 600 species all over the world, and 90 species in North America. These mostly deciduous trees hybridize easily and are sometimes difficult to identify.  The wood of oaks, as well as their acorns, is high in a type of polyphenol called tannin—the source of its strength, resistance to rot and insects, and the flavor oak barrels can impart to their contents (well known to lovers of “buttery” chardonnay).

Here on the Boston Common and in the Public Garden, Pin Oaks, Red Oaks, and White Oaks are among the largest trees. The Commonwealth Avenue Mall has over 30 specimens and four species of oaks, the Garden over 20 specimens and seven species, and the Common over 50 specimens and five species.

019

The tree fruit—mostly acorns—carpeting the forest floor this time of year is collectively called “mast”, from the same Old English word (“maest”) that gave us the word “meat.” Bumper acorn crop years are called “mast years” and are directly associated with huge fluctuations in wildlife populations, which can then have ripple effects on populations of other creatures like ticks that feed on oak-dependent wildlife such as mice and deer.

Early humans all over the globe ate acorns, after processing them in various ways (soaking, drying, etc). Until relatively recently in human history, acorns were a significant source of calories for humanity – by some estimates up to 10 percent.

When Europeans came to North America, the old growth oak forests here were an attractive natural resource, as oak was an important building material that had been mostly exhausted in Europe.  Oak was used in shipbuilding, quarter sawn for oak furniture, and prized for barreling wine and spirits.   The old-growth White Oak planks of the USS Constitution withstood so many English shells that the sailors nicknamed it “Old Ironsides.”

Oak forests still thrive in Southern New England, and are characterized by dry, sandy soils, other fire adapted plants such as blueberry bushes and various pine species, and hickory species.  On Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket, the familiar low twisty maritime forests are also dominated by fire adapted oaks and their associated understory species and pollinators, some of which are rare and endangered species of moths and butterflies.

027edit

 

In some parts of New England, oaks face a new kind of threat – overgrazing by deer.  Without many predators, deer populations have exploded in New England, and excessive browse of oak seedlings and saplings by deer is exerting pressure on successional change in the forested landscape.

As you walk through our three parks, look for urban wildlife feeding on acorns—squirrels are ubiquitous, of course, but you might also see crows, jays, ducks, geese, raccoons, opossums, and perhaps even foxes. Then take a moment to look up at the familiar lobed leaves that not so long ago shaded us on those hot summer days. We have so many reasons to feel grateful to the oak!

 

Forget to read last month’s tree, the Dawn Redwood? Read it here!

FOPG_Claire_Corcoran_photo


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.

Imagine Parks, Imagine Boston 2030

Boston Common (Photo: Caroline Phillips-Licari
Boston Common (Photo: Caroline Phillips-Licari)

The future of Boston parks and public spaces is counting on your imagination!

The City of Boston is developing Boston 2030, its first citywide plan in 50 years. We are calling on all parks advocates to share your voices about the importance of parks for the City, and in particular ideas for protecting and enhancing the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall as the city grows. Boston 2030 is developing a vision and creating a roadmap to realize this vision in time to celebrate Boston’s 400th birthday in 2030.

How to participate?

SHARE your vision by answering a few questions at imagine.boston.gov.

  • This is your chance to let the City know that your life in 2030 will be better with great parks and public spaces!
  • If you have a big idea for our parks that will make Boston a better place to live in 2030, submit it!

ATTEND an Open House!

Boston 2030 Open House
Date: Monday, November 16
Time: 4:00 – 7:00 pm — drop in anytime
Location: Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building
2300 Washington Street, Dudley Square

For more information on Imagine Boston 2030, please visit imagine.boston.gov and follow @ImagineBos on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Meet the trees: Dawn Redwood

FOPG Dawn Redwood

The Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) is an Asiatic, deciduous conifer that has a storied past and deep Boston roots. This beautiful tree was well known to science from the fossil record – fossils had been found in North America, Asia, and Greenland– but was thought to be extinct. In 1943, a Chinese forester discovered a living specimen, and in 1946 Chinese scientists realized that it was the same plant as the fossil. In 1948, an expedition from the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University collected seeds from the original tree, of which many ornamental Dawn Redwoods are descendants.

Dawn Redwoods grew widely in the Northern Hemisphere in the Mesozoic era, when dinosaurs dominated the fauna. They date back 100 million years in the fossil record, but are now restricted to several small stands in China. Classified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the fast growing tree is now planted widely at botanic gardens and parks around the world.

Its pale green needles and ferny foliage turn pink and gold to brown in the fall before dropping off. Its conical growth form is distinctive, and it is often planted along waterways or in groves. The specimens in the Public Garden were likely planted in the 1950s.

How amazing that this ancient species, with help from humanity, has recolonized its Mesozoic range after being reduced to a single population!

FOPG_Claire_Corcoran_photo

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.

FOPG Online Auction to Close on Oct. 21

As the Friends online art auction winds down to a close at 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 21, we thought you might like to see which items are currently topping the list for bids. There are plenty of items left to bid on so don’t let a little competition scare you, instead let it serve as the inspiration to compete for wonderful pieces of art and support the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall in the process. www.biddingforgood.com/fopgauction

FOPG Online AuctionHere is your only chance to own a scale replica of Mrs. Mallard. This unique, one of a kind piece was sculpted by artist Nancy Schon, who created the iconic “Make Way for Ducklings” sculpture in the Boston Public Garden. What an incredibly special gift this would make for a Bostonian, or a visitor, who truly loves one of the most popular pieces of public art in Boston.

FOPG Online AuctonFOPG Online AuctonCelebrate the fall season with this beautiful and unique Katherine Houston Porcelain piece for yourself, or give this as a gift to one of your very best friends! A wonderful centerpiece or accent and will bring warmth and elegance all year round. Handmade and hand over-glazed.

FOPG Online AuctonThis large bowl is made with wood from a Boston Common American elm tree by Artist Myer Berlow.

www.biddingforgood.com/fopgauction