Meet the Friends: Sherley Gardner-Smith

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Love for our special historic parks inspires many to become members of the Friends of the Public Garden. It was certainly a driving force that prompted Sherley Gardner-Smith, a passionate Master Gardener and lover of nature, to become actively involved in our organization more than ten years ago. For Sherley, however, the other driving force that led to her involvement was a little closer to home. Her husband Fred has been involved with the Friends for many years, and was the first person to introduce her to our work and us.

Anyone who knows Sherley knows of her boundless energy. Happily, we are the beneficiaries of that energy through a number of Friends initiatives that she has become involved with. She has a keen interest in plantings in the parks and is a past member of our Horticulture Committee. In 2014, she became a member of our Communications and Outreach Committee. In that role she volunteered to test a natural science curriculum designed for use in the Public Garden with several local school groups. Children were able to observe natural occurrences and use them as the basis of scientific discovery. It may come as no surprise that this former teacher was attracted to a project that helps students find a new and deeper appreciation for a Garden she loves so much.

Her advocacy for learning continues in what may prove to be her most significant undertaking yet on behalf of the Friends, as co-leader of the newly launched Public Garden Tour Program. Sherley, along with Sidney Kenyon, is overseeing more than a dozen docent volunteers who lead tours of the Public Garden. The pair have spent hours coordinating trainings and implementing the program with the assistance of Friends staff.

We asked Sherley what our parks mean to her, and she said, “Enclosed in the sanctuary of the Public Garden, under the canopy of the magnificent trees, surrounded by the vibrancy of the flower beds, one can contemplate nature with solitary reverence or share in the beauty with fellow citizens.”

We thank Sherley for her many volunteer hours and for taking an active role in sharing her love for our parks with others.

Celebrating Blooms and Updates on Olympic News

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View from Taj Boston

Greetings,

The greenery and flowers that we have patiently awaited are finally here in full force. Spring was an especially beautiful time of year to stroll along Commonwealth Avenue Mall under canopies boasting thousands of lush leaves, to traverse the Common on paths surrounded by green grass, and delight in the spectacular blooms in the Public Garden. Bravo to the City of Boston and its horticultural team led by Anthony Hennessy on this year’s spring plantings in the Garden; they were a sight to behold. Thank you to all who support these parks through membership in the Friends and your role as stewards.

Our work in collaboration with the Parks and Recreation Department to preserve and enhance these greenspaces continues. We met with representatives from Boston 2024 and were assured that the Public Garden will not be used as a venue for events or structures for the 2024 Olympic bid. This is welcome news. We are also pleased that the temporary beach volleyball stadium and ancillary structures proposed for the Common are being relocated. As we continue to monitor news of plans that will impact our parks, we look forward to discussions with Boston 2024 and City leadership to work toward a plan that is acceptable to all. In addition to advocating for appropriate use of our parks during the Olympics, we are meeting with groups that use the Common for large-scale events, to ensure that their impact is managed and mitigated. Our parks are wonderful places to play, celebrate with community members, and find moments of quiet solitude. We want to make sure that they are in excellent condition and available for all to enjoy. Thank you for sharing your voices to advocate for these irreplaceable greenspaces.

Summer is here and it is time for our annual Summer Party being held at the Taj rooftop on Wednesday, July 22! Thank you to everyone who purchased tickets to make this event an early sell-out. We look forward to toasting you, our members and supporters as we enjoy the view from the Taj rooftop and overlook the parks that you support so generously.

As always, please send us your feedback; we enjoy hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Anne Brooke, Chair
Elizabeth Vizza, Executive Director

Friends of the Public Garden Launches Tour Program

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Bobby Moore (third from right) hosted a tour of the Public Garden for volunteer docents. (Photo: Caroline Phillips-Licari)

More than a dozen people have recently taken a very special interest in the Public Garden and have been studying this iconic greenspace for hours on end. What they are learning about America’s first public botanical garden is not for a class or research for a book. This studious bunch is the inaugural group of volunteer docents of the Friends of the Public Garden that will be serving as guides for a new tour program.

Walking a route that encompasses the northern half of the Garden, tour participants will gain a deeper understanding of the Garden’s special place in the history of Boston and the country. Hour-long tours will include interesting facts and anecdotes about history, horticulture, and sculpture. Casual visitors of the area are likely to find a new appreciation of its significance and neighbors who use it frequently are likely to discover at least a thing or two that might surprise them.

Docents have spent many volunteer hours learning about the Garden and working to craft their tours. In February, their training began with a Friends-sponsored lecture, Searching for the Histories of the Boston Public Garden by Boston University Professor Keith Morgan, held at Suffolk University. Friends President Emeritus Henry Lee gave a talk at the Friends office that traced the Garden’s history as well as the founding of the organization and highlights from its 45 year work in caring for the Garden in partnership with the Boston Parks and Recreation Department. Additional information sessions included trees and plantings by Friends Project Manager Bob Mulcahy; the history of the Swan Boats by fourth generation owner Lyn Paget; and the Garden’s sculpture including the Friends sculpture care program by Friends Collections Care Manager Sarah Hutt.

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

The group also attended two special training sessions. The first (pictured above) took place at the City’s greenhouses, where the City’s Superintendent of Horticulture, Anthony Hennessy and his team hosted the group. On an unseasonably cold day in March, docents were delighted to shed their coats in the 80-degree warmth of the greenhouses to learn about the plantings that would be in the Garden, and throughout the city, in the weeks to follow.

Volunteers were visibly enthralled as Anthony announced, “Right now, there are 35,000 tulips waiting to burst into bloom once the snow melts; most beds have 500 tulips, but the “footbeds” surrounding George Washington have 3500-4000 tulips in them.”

The second session was a guided tour of the Public Garden by Bobby Moore, longtime member of the Friends board and chair of the Public Garden Committee, who also owned a tour company and is an experienced guide. She recalled the years when she would take her toddler-aged children for walks through the Garden, a short stroll from her Beacon Hill home. Moore’s deep love of the Garden was palpable as she shared stories of the poor condition of the Garden in the1970s. Moore told the docents about broken fences and large amounts of litter, and of the important work of the Friends through the years to improve the Garden to where it is today.

Sidney Kenyon of Beacon Hill and Sherley Smith of the Back Bay are champions of the new docent program. They are committed volunteers with a deep love of the Public Garden. In their leadership roles, they are coordinating this inaugural class of volunteer docents that will be guiding groups throughout the summer in teams of two. The guides are eager to share what they have learned with others interested in gaining a deeper knowledge and appreciation of Boston’s special and most iconic greenspace, the Public Garden.

Register for a tour today.

FOPG Launches Photo Contest

FOPG_Contest640The Friends of the Public Garden is inviting Instagram members to visit the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall to take pictures of these remarkable historic greenspaces in honor of Membership Month. Photos can be entered into a contest for a chance to win a membership to the Friends and two tickets to the Summer Party*. It is as easy at 1-2-3:

  1. Take It
  2. Tag It #FOPGContest
  3. Share It on Instagram

Five pictures with the most “likes” by Noon (EST) on April 27 will be declared finalists. They will be announced on social media on April 28th and the finalists will be invited to attend a reception for prospective members taking place at the Friends office on April 30th. The finalists’ images will be on display at the event and attendees will vote to select the winning photo.

How to enter
Tag pictures of the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall with #FOPGContest on Instagram for a chance to win a one-year of membership to the Friends of the Public Garden and two tickets to FOPG’s annual Summer Party on July 22.

Timing
The contest begins on April 13. Five photos will the most “likes” by April 27 at Noon will be contest finalists. They will be announced on the Friends Instagram, and other social media channels by April 28.

Rules
Participants may enter as many photos as they like.

Any photos with inappropriate content, as determined by the Friends, will not be considered. A person may only have one photo in the final five.

If more than one photo belonging to the same person ranks in the final five based on the number of “likes”, the photo with highest number of likes will be considered. Other entrants will be added to the final five based on the highest number of “likes”.

*Must be 21 plus to attend Summer Party.

Questions
Email info@friendsofthepublicgarden.org.

April is Membership Month at the Friends

Photo: Elizabeth Jordan
Photo: Elizabeth Jordan

April is the perfect time to help improve and care for the parks, as it is Membership Month at the Friends! Anyone who joins the Friends this month is entered into a drawing to win dinner for four at Toscano. “Every new member increases our influence and gives us more strength to protect the parks we all love so much. We look forward to welcoming many new members this month,” said Alli Achtmeyer, who is co-chairing Membership Month with fellow Beacon Hill resident Katherine O’Keeffe. Prospective members are invited to a Meet the Friends reception on April 30th to learn more about the organization and its mission while enjoying a wine and cheese reception.

In celebration of Membership Month the Friends launched an Instagram Photo Contest. The Instagram community is encouraged to take pictures of the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall and tag #FOPGContest in the caption. Five participants who get the most “Likes” on their photos on Instagram will have the chance to win a year-long membership to the Friends, as well as two tickets to the annual Summer Party—held at the Taj Hotel rooftop in July. Five finalists with the top number of “likes” will be invited to the Friends reception on April 30th where attendees will cast their vote for their favorite Instagram picture.

Those interested in becoming a member of the Friends can join online, by mail, or by attending the April 30th reception and all will be entered into the drawing for the Toscano dinner. For more information about the Friends, the reception, and the Instagram competition, visit www.friendsofthepublicgarden.org or email info@friendsofthepublicgarden.org.

Celebrating Boston Landmarks with a Spin in Boston Common

Friends of the Public Garden Executive Director Elizabeth Vizza, BLC’s Staff Architect Elizabeth Stifel and Director of Design Review William Young at Brewer Fountain Plaza on Boston Common.
Friends of the Public Garden Executive Director Elizabeth Vizza, BLC’s Staff Architect Elizabeth Stifel and Director of Design Review William Young at Brewer Fountain Plaza on Boston Common.

On a recent brisk evening in March, a group of hearty Bostonians relished the opportunity to take a “Spin in the Park” to kick off the Boston Landmarks Commission’s 40th Anniversary. The tour of Boston Common, a designated landmark since 1977, was co-hosted by BLC and the Friends of the Public Garden.

Friends Executive Director Elizabeth Vizza spoke of the nonprofit’s 45-year history of working in partnership with the Boston Parks and Recreation Department to care for one of Boston’s most prized treasures. She noted the challenges of caring for a heavily used urban park and reflected on several challenges America’s first public park has faced since its origins. Today, the park continues to struggle to get the necessary level of funding for care, to match the intensity of its use. Vizza urged everyone to be aware of the needs of this “park of the people,” recalling that it was the citizens of Boston who pitched in to purchase it in 1634 as public space for generations to come.

William Young, BLC’s Director of Design Review spoke about several significant pieces of sculpture on the Common and provided insights into what was happening in Boston and the design community that may have influenced public art at the time. The tour began at the Parade Ground at the corner of Beacon and Charles Streets, and highlights included the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, Parkman Bandstand, the Visitor Information Center, and Brewer Fountain Plaza. Young’s colleague, Staff Architect Elizabeth Stifel, provided an overview of a project she participated in which transformed a restroom into what is now the Earl of Sandwich, a window-service restaurant that is open from spring through the fall.

The evening was intended to end with skating on the Frog Pond, another wonderful landmark; however, due to warm weather earlier in the week it closed for the season. Nonetheless, all enjoyed the twilight stroll through the Common.

Learn more about points of interest on Boston Common at www.friendsofthepublicgarden.org.

BLC XL has several events slated for 2015, including the BLC’s National Historic Preservation Month keynote event, to be held in May; a picnic and talk in Franklin Park, co-hosted by the Boston Parks and Recreation Department, scheduled for July; and a harvest-themed archaeological program coinciding with National Archaeology Month in October. For upcoming event details and announcements, please follow the BLC on Facebook and Twitter (@COBLandmarks), or visit their website at boston.gov/landmarks.

Mark Your Calendars for Duckling Day 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