It was standing room only at the Friends Annual Meeting on April 12. After the usual Board business, Executive Director, Liz Vizza gave an inspiring summary of the year’s accomplishments to the attending members. Thanks to the generous donations of the members, the Friends was again able to make over a $1 million investment in the maintenance of the Common, the Garden, and the Mall focusing on trees, turf, and sculpture while also pursuing notable capital improvements.
These days our parks are quiet, often covered with a blanket of snow, the trees dormant and flowers having long disappeared…is the staff on vacation? Not at all! The winter months are full of activity. Friends Project Manager Bob Mulcahy, Collections Care Manager Sarah Hutt, and consulting arborist and soil scientist Normand Helie are hard at work planning for the year to come, and overseeing winter tree work.
Sarah and Bob evaluate every piece of sculpture throughout the year, planning out the annual cycle of care and cleaning. Together they prepare the budget, receive proposals from conservators, ready contracts for the proposed work, and notify Boston Parks and Recreation Department, the Boston Arts Commission and Boston Landmarks Commission about upcoming annual maintenance. Once the contracts are signed and paperwork filed, Bob and Sarah will work with the conservator contractors to schedule when the Women’s Memorial, among many, will get the TLC they need.
The 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 email@example.com.
Beauty is everywhere in the three parks the Friends of the Public Garden work with the City to care for. We often see the beauty in the natural features of these greenspaces, but public art also calls one’s attention. The art caught Tim Mitchell’s eye and continues to attract this architect and ceramics sculptor to the Boston Common, Public Garden and Commonwealth Avenue Mall. He found out about the Friends through the Neighborhood Association of Back Bay (NABB), and has been a member for at least twenty years. When asked why someone might consider joining the Friends his answer is simple, “You should not just join, but also get actively involved in a specific project.” That is exactly what he did. Tim has served on our Board of Directors and is currently the chair of our Sculpture Committee.
For Tim, the parks act as a creative inspiration that continue to capture and hold his attention. Everything about the art in them, from the artists and craftsmen, to the actual pieces and narratives that the objects evoke, is what give the parks special meaning for him.
He is currently completing a six-month body of sculpture using two kilns that are large tunnel-like structures representative of Japanese-style kilns called Anagama, one of which can load about 1,000 pieces at a time. In September he will start an artist residency with Watershed Center for Ceramic Arts in Newcastle, Maine. There he will work on a historic brick-making project and a related contemporary art expression.
Tim recently donated a piece of his work to the Friends online art auction. The jar wth lid is stoneware with shino glaze to the interior and wood-ash glaze marks to the exterior. The lid is made of wood taken from one of the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial elm trees, across from the Massachusetts State House, during a preservation pruning on December 13, 2014.
Tim says if there is one thing people should know about the Friends of the Public Garden it would be the advocacy we do for all three parks, not just the Public Garden. He says people may also be surprised by the art in the parks, its “magnitude and provenance, all public…24/7.”
The Friends of the Public Garden invites local artists to donate a piece of work for an online art auction fundraiser to be held from October 7-21, 2015. Included in this auction will be artwork made from a fallen Boston Common elm tree and other art objects (paintings, ceramics, etc.) donated by local artists.
Proceeds from this auction will support the work of the Friends of the Public Garden to protect and enhance the Boston Common, Public Garden and Commonwealth Avenue Mall. Each year, the Friends ensures that the critical natural and structural features of the parks receive the vital care they need, including over 1,700 trees; more than 40 pieces of public art; and several newly restored turf areas. For more information about the work of the Friends, visit friendsofthepublicgarden.org
Each auction item will have its own page on the auction website, including information about the artist and links to the artist’s website or other online information (Facebook, etc.).
If you are interested in supporting these green spaces with a donation of an auction item, please contact Mary Halpin at the Friends of the Public Garden at firstname.lastname@example.org or 857-239-8937.
The Auction Committee will review all proposed donations before accepting the item and reserve the right to decline a donation. The Friends is a 501c3 organization and all donations are tax-deductible to the extent provided by law.
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.
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.