With just days before the water was scheduled to fill the lagoon in the Public Garden, Friends Executive Director Elizabeth Vizza and Public Garden Committee Chair Bobby Moore made a muddy trek to the lagoon island to survey the vegetation. In particular, they wanted to find out how a special “Moon Glow” Magnolia virginiana, planted last year, fared through the harsh winter months. The tree was a gift of the Garden Club of the Back Bay and was the first of 50 planted in the neighborhood to celebrate the organization’s 50th anniversary, and the original planting of magnolias along Commonwealth Avenue.
Vizza and Moore were pleased to see that the tree, at the northern edge of its range, survived the winter despite some minor vandalism. The Friends consulting arborist assessed the tree for winter damage and did some corrective pruning. The Friends will continue to monitor the tree throughout the growing season. It is one of 1,700 trees cared for by the Friends in the Public Garden, Boston Common, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall. To learn more about the Friends tree care program, visit www.friendsofthepublicgarden.org.
The 44th Annual Meeting of the Friends of the Public Garden will take place on Tuesday, April 29, 2014 with a reception to follow. Members of the Friends leadership will provide updates on the organization and discuss its plans for the future, including a newly developed five-year strategic plan.
The featured speaker for this event is long-time parks advocate Bill Walczak who will present on “Opportunities for Parks in Boston’s New Political Environment.” Walczak was a candidate for Mayor of Boston in 2013, is Vice President of External Relations at Shawmut Design and Construction, and a member of the Friends Council. He has been a park advocate since the 1970s, when he helped create the Friends of Peabody Square Park in Dorchester, helped to restore the historic Uphams Corner Burial Ground, and became the caretaker of the James Blake House in Dorchester, which included being the guardian of Richardson Park, the park in which the Blake House resides. He was a founder of the Boston GreenSpace Alliance, and in the mid-1980s started the Friends of Savin Hill Park. He served on the Parks Commission for the City of Boston in the 1980s and 90s.
The Friends of the Public Garden has launched its spring membership drive with an enticing incentive: Anyone who joins the Friends by May 1 will be entered into a drawing to win lunch for two at the Four Seasons Hotel’s Bristol Lounge.
“We look forward to welcoming new members to our organization, and we are grateful to the Four Seasons for its generous donation,” said Anne Brooke, president of the Friends.
A membership organization open to all, the Friends was founded in 1970 by concerned citizens. It works closely with the Boston Parks Department to protect and enhance Boston’s three historic parks: the Boston Common, the Public Garden and the Commonwealth Avenue Mall. For four decades, the Friends has funded the expert care of trees and plantings and the maintenance and restoration of sculptures and fountains, and it has been a staunch advocate to protect the parks from misuse and encroachment.
“None of this could have been accomplished without the support of our members,” Brooke said. To cap off the membership drive, the Friends will host a wine-and-cheese reception in the Friends office at 69 Beacon St. on Wednesday, May 1, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. President Emeritus Henry Lee and Executive Director Liz Vizza will speak briefly, and exhibits detailing the Friends work in the parks will be on display.
The drawing for the lunch at the Bristol Lounge will take place at the end of the May 1 reception. Those who join at the reception will be entered twice into the drawing. Those who cannot attend the reception can also be entered into the drawing by joining online before May 1 at http://www.friendsofthepublicgarden.org or by calling 617-723-8144 for a membership form. Membership starts at only $25.
Since last year the Friends have been working with neighborhood organizations, the Parks Department and other interested parties to develop a plan that provides meaningful recreation for dogs in Boston Common, protects turf from overuse and that minimizes interference with other users’ quiet enjoyment of the park. Last week the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission approved a program that includes five rotating off-leash areas. Dog owners will serve as the stewards of the park by following and enforcing the rules regulating use of the space. Consistent with best practices in turf management, the designated space will be rotated to a new location every six-months, and dog owners will fund restoration of the previously used spaces.
Signs will be posted and trash cans added to the new off-leash sites. Park rangers can ticket pet owners for allowing their dog off-leash in non-designated areas or for not picking up after their pets.
“I know it’s a very challenging park to try to do this in, but it’s also a park many, many hundreds if not thousands of dog owners are using” Elizabeth Vizza, Executive Director of the Friends of the Public Garden, told the commission.
The sites range in size from 21,000 to 57,500 square feet. Three of the proposed sites are located near Beacon Street; two are near the Parkman Bandstand by Tremont Street.
While approving the plan, the commission raised concerns about enforcement of the rules and stipulated that it would review the success of the program six months after it begins.
“All of us are sympathetic to dogs wanting to run off-leash and have energy, and what not, but there is common courtesy, and the Common is for people without dogs as well,” said Susan Park, a Parks and Recreation commissioner.
“This is going to require the folks that have come to this agreement help us enforce it, and talk to dog owners and encourage dog owners to do the right thing,” Vizza said.
No date has been set for the program to begin.
Job One this fall will be to restore the turf below the Joy Street stairs that’s been used as a pilot dog recreation area. The Friends are currently working with the city to determine whether this restoration needs to be complete before the other spaces can be opened.
Job two falls in the hands of dog owners. A group of organizers called Common Canine also needs to raise money for signs, dog waste receptacles and other play perks for pooches, she said.
The Friends and Common Canine plan to operate the dog park between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and 9 p.m., eventually on five designated rotating spaces so that no one area gets beaten down by paw traffic.
What a beautiful day to welcome Romeo and Juliet back to the Swan Pond! After spending their winter at the Franklin Park Zoo the swans, who have been nesting together for ten years, were released back into the pond this morning. They enjoyed quite the reception complete with a parade, a few words from Mayor Thomas Menino and cookies shaped like swans to honor the pair’s return. After a few words from Park’s Commissioner Antonia Pollak, Mayor Menino explained to onlookers that these swans symbolize what is at the heart of this great city and said that he considers spring to have officially begun now that they are home safe.
For their part, the swans seemed eager to return to their home, they were hardly able to sit still as they waited for the doors to their crates to be opened. Upon returning to the water they glided serenely away, but under that graceful calm you could tell the swans were happy to be home.
On May 2, 2012, the Friends of the Public Garden, Mayor Thomas Menino and other Bostonians gathered at the Brewer Fountain Plaza to celebrate its historic re-opening in the Boston Common. The new plaza officially opened by Park and Tremont streets.
The renovation of the Brewer Fountain Plaza is just the first part of a $5 million project to restore parts of the Boston Common. The beautiful 22-foot fountain was refurbished with help from the city of Boston as well as private donors. Along with the fountain renovation, the festivities celebrated the new amenities within the Common. This project also helped raise money for benches, pathways and lots of curbs for the area surrounding the fountain. The grass leading from the fountain to the State House of Massachusetts, known as Liberty Mall, was improved tremendously over the course of the project. The Mall now has brand-new irrigation and fresh soil that Parks Commissioner Antonia Pollak compared to the grass at Boston’s beloved Fenway Park.
The Brewer Fountain Plaza also has a few unique additions that will make even more special to the people of Boston. There will be lots of new chess tables with umbrellas as well as newsstands with papers, magazines and books to read! The Brewer Fountain Plaza will also have a fabulous piano available for the enjoyment of Bostonians during the nice weather! The piano, an Ivers & Pond model, was built in 1885 and designed by Ted Furst for the outdoor conditions in the park. It has an electronic keyboard, a mixer and professional speakers–the best part is that they’re all solar powered! The atmosphere of the Brewer Fountain Plaza will be even more fun and enjoyable for anyone who visits.
At the ceremony, spectators heard from Henry Lee, Mayor Menino, Councilor Salvatore LaMattina, Parks Commissioner Antonia Pollak and others, including representatives from the Friends of the Public Garden. The event included placing items in a time capsule, which will be buried in the Common to commemorate the project upon its completion next year. During the event, participants were serenaded by Cettina Donato on the piano and Dana Oakes’s beautiful trumpet.
The Friends of the Public Garden would like to thank Henry Lee, Mayor Menino, Salvatore LaMattina, Antonia Pollak and everyone else who made this amazing event possible! We hope to enjoy the Brewer Fountain Plaza and all of its renovations for many, many years to come
The Brewer Fountain construction project began as a vision to rejuvenate Boston’s public space. The Boston Common is central to the community and has always been an enjoyable public venue. Renovations to the Brewer Fountain and surrounding plaza, which are being completed in several phases, will serve to enhance this already welcoming space.
The first phase of the project is to restore the fountain itself, which was completed in May of 2010, and to construct the surrounding plaza, make landscape and hardscape improvements including a new storm draining system, irrigation system and pathway improvements. This portion of the restoration should be completed in time for Spring. Currently, posted signs provide information about detour routes and the anticipated completion date. Come springtime 2012, the Brewer Fountain Plaza will include folding chairs and tables-some with umbrellas- a reading room, a gourmet food truck and, an additional perk, live piano music during lunch.
In phase two, more hardscape and landscape improvements are scheduled. These changes will match improvements made to the Common along Tremont St and in front of the Lowes theaters and Ritz Carlton. New fencing and a green strip will separate the park from Tremont Street. The original fence that provided a barrier
between the Common and the street was taken down at the turn of the 20th century while the subway was being built. Today the park and street seem to bleed into one another; the addition of a green, grassy strip will restore a sense of separation, defining the Common as its own space and an escape from the city streets. The pathway improvements will enhance the connection from Park St. station to the Brewer Plaza and help define the alignment of the Liberty Mall pathway. This final phase should be complete sometime in spring 2013.
Some of the construction you’ve seen is not related to the fountain renovation. The MBTA is also doing some work on the Common, installing a head house for a new elevator, providing increased handicapped accessibility to the Park Street Station. That project is expected to be finished in fall of 2012.
When the project is complete visitors to the fountain will be able to enjoy a delightful space with an incredible view of the State House.