Category Archives: lecture

Wednesday, October 21, 7:00 pm – The Mythology of Plants

To enter the ancient Roman Garden and experience its plantings is to immerse oneself in the world of myth and the divine, as all plants, both wild and cultivated, were believed to have an intimate connection to the realm of gods and heroes. In this Tower Hill Botanic Garden hour with Annette Giesecke on Wednesday, October 21 at 7 pm, we will visit a selection of ancient Roman gardens, reconstruct their plantings, and learn the tales of lust, blood, and vengeance behind common garden plants such as narcissus and hyacinth, pomegranate and apple, which still grace our orchards and landscapes, and exotica such as frankincense and myrrh.

Dr. Annette Giesecke is Professor of ancient Greek and Roman Studies at the University of Delaware, and holds her degrees from Harvard (Ph.D.) and UCLA. Her research interests include gardens in the Classical World, Greek and Roman art and architecture, and urbanism and ethics of land use in classical antiquity. For her extensive research on the ‘meaning’ of gardens, Giesecke was the Archaeological Institute of America Jashemski Lecturer for 2013-2014. Her publications include: The Epic City: Urbanism, Utopia, and the Garden in Ancient Greece and Rome and Earth Perfect: Nature, Utopia, and the Garden. Two books recently published include The Mythology of Plants: Botanical Lore from Ancient Greece and Rome and The Good Gardener: Nature, Humanity and the Garden. Free with admission to garden. For more information visit

Wednesday, October 14, 12:30 pm – 2:00 pm – America’s Founding Fruit: The Cranberry in a New Environment

The cranberry, Vaccinium macrocarpon, is one of only three cultivated fruits native to North America.  Author Susan Playfair traces the story of this perennial vine and poses the question of how the cranberry, and by inference other fruits, will fare in a warming climate.  In her attempt to evaluate the effects of climate change, Susan interviewed growers throughout the cranberry’s temperature tolerance range. She spoke with scientists studying the range of health benefits of cranberries, plant geneticists mapping the cranberry genome, a plant biologist who provided her with the first regression analysis of cranberry flowering times, and a migrant beekeeper trying to figure out why the bees are dying  Could the American cranberry cease growing in the United States?  If so, what would be lost?

Susan will speak at the Wellesley College Botanic Garden on Wednesday, October 14 from 12:30 – 2, and her book, America’s Founding Fruit, will be available for purchase and signing.  WCBG friends free, nonmembers $10.  Call 781-283-3094, or email

Thursday, October 15, 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm – Honorary Medals Awards Dinner

Each year, the Massachusetts Horticultural Society presents the Honorary Medals Dinner where the leading lights of horticulture are honored. The event gives us the opportunity to recognize the outstanding contributions of horticulturalists, plant innovators, and those who have made significant contributions to the enjoyment and appreciation of plants and the environment.

Join us Thursday, October 15 at 6:30 pm to celebrate the 2015 honorees, including Kris Jarantoski (pictured below), the recipient of the George Robert White Medal of Honor and Keynote Speaker. Kris Jarantoski is the Executive Vice President and Director at the Chicago Botanic Garden.

Jarantoski develops and directs the horticulture, plant collections, and facilities and planning of the Chicago Botanic Garden. Since joining the Garden in 1977, Jarantoski has played a major part in the creation of each of the 26 distinct gardens and four natural areas on the Garden‘s 385-acre campus.

Register at $130 per plate

Wednesday, October 14, 10:00 am – The History of the Tulip and the Tulipmania Movement in 17th Century Netherlands

Explore the history of this wandering beauty with Ila Cox. The Garden Club of the Back Bay’s October meeting and lecture will be held Wednesday, October 14 beginning at 10 am at The College Club, 44 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston.

From its cradle in the foothills of the Himalayas, we follow the tulip’s journey over the centuries through Persia, the Ottoman Empire and Western Europe in the 16th century. In the Golden Age of 17th century Holland, the tulip takes on larger prominence as it intersects with the burgeoning Dutch economy. It becomes a principle actor in an economic drama of historic proportion. Tulipmania has direct relevance for our 21st century experience with the inflated values of certain commodities and lack of market regulations. The tulip moved west during the 17th century and was introduced to North America and other colonies. Today Dutch tulip production has become a major commercial success as the tulip is marketed to the world.

Ila Cox is a plant lover, gardener, garden traveler, and a student of garden and plant history. She studied flower arranging with Sheila McQueen, has been a church flower arranger, owner of The Potting Shed, and is a member of the Andover and Boxford Garden Clubs, former Chair of the Flower Committee of the MFA Associates, and lectures on flower arranging and horticultural topics.

Garden Club of the Back Bay members will receive written notice of this meeting. Guests are welcome. Please email if you plan to attend.

Saturday, October 10, 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm – Saving the Heirloom Apple

We have a wonderful, diverse history of fruit growing in this country and are fortunate to have many collections of precious fruit types representing cultivation from the earliest times of settlement to the present. Unlike the Svaalbard “Doomsday” seed vault in Norway, fruit collections of heirloom apples, pears, cherries and all manner of fruit are in the ground and subject to climate change, variations in growing conditions and new or old pest pressures. Maintaining these precious collections becomes more difficult with each passing year. What strategies must we consider for these living things in order to be available to future generations. Come to Tower Hill Botanic Garden on Saturday, October 10 and hear Dan Bussey give a free presentation on Saving the Heirloom Apple, beginning at 2 pm.  Visit for more information and directions.

Dan Bussey was born and raised in Wisconsin in the house his father built in the middle of the family farm orchard. Being surrounded by old apple trees since the time he could remember likely contributed much to Dan’s interest in planting trees and having his own orchard. Dan has collected heirloom fruit varieties since 1979. Along with the orchard, Dan operated a community cider press for 24 years and is now the Orchard Manager and apple historian for the Seed Savers Exchange. Discovering information on old apple varieties has been his lifelong passion and he has compiled a soon to be printed, 7 volume encyclopedia of apples that have been grown in North America since 1623. The Illustrated History of the Apple in North America is the largest work on apples of its kind ever published and will be available later this year.  Image from the New York Times.

Sunday, October 4, 11:00 am – 12:30 pm and 1:30 pm – 3:00 pm – Learning from the Wild and The Rock Garden

The secret to growing challenging plants in the garden is to understand and to accommodate their adaptations to conditions in the wild. In this talk, Peter Korn discusses in what ways plants are adapted to specific natural environments: deserts, steppes, forests, mountains and more, and shows how these adaptations can be accommodated in the garden, using a mix of photos from nature and from his own garden. The program takes place at Tower Hill Botanic Garden, 11 French Drive in Boylston, on Sunday, October 4, from 11 – 12:30. Free with admission to the Garden.

Then, from 1:30 – 3:00, Peter returns with a talk about the design and construction of rock gardens, and the cultivation of rock-garden plants. Rock gardens can be successful in almost any environment; the secret to success lies in choosing appropriate plants for your conditions as well as, to the degree possible, tailoring your conditions to the plants you want to grow. Depending on your skills and circumstances, these may range from desert plants through small temperate-zone plants to the most demanding alpines. Illustrated primarily with photos from Peter’s extensive and amazing gardens.

Presented by the New England chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society,

Saturday, October 3, 10:00 am – Therapeutic Gardens: Design for Healing Spaces

On Sunday, October 3, at 10 am at Tower Hill Botanic Garden, 11 French Drive in Boylston, Amy Wagenfeld, co-author of Therapeutic Gardens: Design for Healing Spaces, will talk about why being in nature can support health and well-being, and how healing gardens can be designed to benefit everyone. Using examples from around the world, she will engage in an interactive conversation about how healing gardens support learning, movement, sensory enrichment, remembrance, as well as improved physical and mental health. Free with admission to the garden.
Amy Wagenfeld, PhD, OTR/L, SCEM, CAPS, an occupational therapist, educator, researcher, and master gardener, brings a unique perspective to her work by blending occupational therapy, horticulture, and design to make gardens and gardening possible for a wide range of adults and children. She is on the faculty in the department of occupational therapy at Rush University and has a landscape design consultation practice.

Saturday, October 3, 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm – The History of Apples in Massachusetts

For 300 years Massachusetts was the center of American orcharding. Long before the days of Red Delicious, Fuji, Gala and Honeycrisp there was Roxbury Russet, Garden Royal, Hubbardston Nonesuch and Westfield Seek No Further. Where did those old varieties come from? What were they like? What were they used for? Where are they now? On Saturday, October 3 at 1 pm join apple historian and fruit explorer John Bunker at Tower Hill Botanic Garden for a romp through the history of apples in the Bay State. Learn the answers to these and other questions. Bring your apples for John to identify. Free with admission.

John Bunker grew up in Massachusetts and California, moving to Maine in 1968. He has lived in Palermo on Super Chilly Farm for the past 43 years, where he and Cammy Watts grow vegetables, woody and herbaceous ornamentals, small fruits and tree fruits. He coordinates nursery sales for Fedco, the co-op seed and nursery company in Clinton. His passion is tracking down heirloom fruit varieties, particularly those originating in Maine. He has established the Maine Heritage Orchard at the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association -MOFGA’s- Common Ground in Unity. Eventually the orchard will be home to 500 or more historic pears and apples. The first 100 apple varieties were planted in April 2014. He coordinates an annual series of organic orcharding classes at MOFGA, the spring “Seed Swap and Scion Exchange” and the October “Great Maine Apple Day.” He speaks and teaches in the New England area regularly year round. In 2007 he self-published Not Far From the Tree: A Brief History of the Apples and the Orchards of Palermo, Maine.


Saturdays, October 3 and November 7, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm – Propagating Trees and Shrubs from Cuttings and Seeds

Need to nurture? Then join longtime Arboretum propagator Jack Alexander at the Dana Greenhouses at the Arnold Arboretum to learn basic information and techniques for propagating most woody plants. Session One on Saturday, October 3 from 9 – 4 includes a lecture and workshop on seed propagation and construction of a propagation case. Session Two on November 7 will be a lecture and workshop on hardwood cuttings. You will leave class with numerous cuttings and seeds to care for. To participate, you must sign an Assumption of Risk and Release in order to practice the techniques taught in class. Bring a lunch and beverage. If you own hand pruners, bring them to class. A sharp knife and an apron may also be helpful. You will be collecting propagules from the Arboretum grounds on both afternoons regardless of weather, so dress accordingly and wear comfortable shoes. Fee $180 Arboretum member, $230 nonmember. Register at or call 617-384-5277.

Tuesday, October 6, 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm – The Brother Gardeners

Historian Andrea Wulf will speak at the Hunnewell Building of the Arnold Arboretum on Tuesday, October 6, from 7 – 8:30. Bringing to life the science and adventure of eighteenth-century plant collecting, The Brother Gardeners is the story of how six men created the modern garden and changed the horticultural world in the process. It is a story of a garden revolution that began in America. In 1733, colonial farmer John Bartram shipped two boxes of precious American plants and seeds to Peter Collinson in London. Around these men formed the nucleus of a botany movement, which included famous Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus; Philip Miller, bestselling author of The Gardeners Dictionary; and Joseph Banks and David Solander, two botanist explorers, who scoured the globe for plant life aboard Captain Cook’s Endeavor. As they cultivated exotic blooms from around the world, they helped make Britain an epicenter of horticultural and botanical expertise. The Brother Gardeners paints a vivid portrait of an emerging world of knowledge and gardening as we know it today.
Fee: free for sponsor members, $20 nonmembers. Register at or call 617-384-5277. Offered with the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Monday, October 5, 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm – The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World

Andrea Wulf reveals in her new book the extraordinary life of the visionary German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) and how he created the way we understand nature today. She will speak on Monday, October 5 beginning at 5:30 at the Massachusetts Historical Society, 1154 Boylston Street in Boston.

Though almost forgotten today, his name lingers everywhere from the Humboldt Current to the Humboldt penguin. Humboldt was an intrepid explorer and the most famous scientist of his age. Wulf traces Humboldt’s influences through the great minds he inspired in revolution, evolution, ecology, conservation, art and literature. In The Invention of Nature, Wulf brings this lost hero to science and the forgotten father of environmentalism back to life. Fee: free for Arnold Arboretum and Massachusetts Historical Society members, $20 nonmembers. Register at or call 617-384-5277.

Wednesday, September 30, 12:15 pm – 1:00 pm – Blacklisted: A Planted Allegory

This multi-modal project stems from the ground research of collecting, studying and digging into the histories of invasive plant species in Claremont, California. Restricting her investigation to vegetation classified as invasive by the California Invasive Species Advisory Committee, artist Jenny Yurshansky was able to determine which invasive species have infiltrated the local area. At its root the project investigates the distinction between native versus invasive species. The discourse surrounding a list of “invasive” or “alien” flora species has interesting and fruitful correlations to policies regarding immigration, multiculturalism and evolving ideas about national identities that are inherently tied to the identity of border cultures and specifically California, a location that has carried the name of a number of nations throughout the historical record. Learn about Yurshansky’s process and discoveries in this creative look at invasive species, on Wednesday, September 30 from 12:15 – 1 in the Hunnewell Building of the Arnold Arboretum (bring your lunch.)
Free – Register at or call 617-384-5277.

Tuesday, September 29, 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm – The Himalaya: Global Change in the Land of Primulas and Rhododendrons

Kamal Bawa, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Biology, University of Massachusetts at Boston, and President of the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment, Bangalore, will speak on Tuesday, September 29, 7:00–8:30pm in the Hunnewell Building at the Arnold Arboretum. There is no fee but registration is requested at, or by calling 617-384-5277.

The Eastern Himalaya—land of Gods, of ancient mountain kingdoms, of icy peaks and alpine meadows—is like no other place on Earth. The life and landscapes of the region are as diverse, spectacular and fragile as the mountains themselves. Even today, these mountains hold many mysteries: unnamed species, primeval cultures and the promise of magical cures to heal all of humanity. But development superimposed on global change will have an incalculable impact on this area. Dr. Kamal Bawa will discuss the role and limitations of science in addressing the pressing issues arising out of interaction between nature and society in the Himalaya, and suggest ways to move forward in resolving critical issues. Dr. Bawa is a newly elected Fellow of the Royal Society. His book, Himalaya: Mountains of Life, will be available for purchase and signing.

Wednesday, September 30, 6:00 pm – Living Artfully : At Home with Marjorie Merriweather Post

In this illustrated Jacalyn and William Egan lecture to be held at Rosecliff on Wednesday, September 30 at 6 pm, author Estella Chung will discuss her book Living Artfully: At Home with Marjorie Merriweather Post, introducing us to Post’s life in three magnificent homes. From the opulent glamour of Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach, to the rustic whimsy of Camp Topridge in the Adirondacks, to the elegant and formally furnished Hillwood estate and gardens in Washington, D.C., Marjorie Post brought to her residences a flawless style of living and entertaining. The personal stories of family, staff, and former guests bring to life the formal dinners, charity events, garden parties, and weekend retreats that made an invitation from Post the most sought after in her time. Ms. Chung will reveal not only the splendor of life in these residences, but also the behind-the-scenes efforts necessary to make it all happen.

Estella M. Chung is head of oral history and curator of American material culture and historian at Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, in Washington, D.C.

Admission: $5 for Preservation Society members, general public $10. Advance registration required. Please register online at, or call (401) 847-1851.

Tuesday, September 15, 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm – Eco-Innovation Districts

Please join the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay’s Green Committee to hear guest speaker David Queeley discuss Codman Square Talbot-Norfolk Triangle Eco-Innovation District. Explore applications to Back Bay efforts to reduce our energy footprint. Boston’s first Eco Innovation District is a community-driven project working to create an innovative, sustainable, green, equitable district that meets residents’ needs They are affiliated with local and national organizations such as EcDistricts, a national organization that promotes district scale sustainability across North America and Architecture 2030 initiatives. Everyone is welcome, Tuesday, September 15th, from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Learning Project, 107 Marlborough Street.

Wednesday, October 7, 6:30 pm – Digging In: Beyond the Roots of Urban Tree Care

Join The Friends of the Public Garden for a behind-the-scenes exploration into their 45-year efforts to help the trees of the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall persevere in the stressful environment of an urban park. Attendees will learn how these trees show us when they are in trouble and what methods are being used to care for them. Find out what a dramatic difference your support makes to the health of our park trees.

Moderator: Council co-chair & Swan Boats owner Lyn Paget

Panelists: Friends Board member, Garden Club of the Back Bay past president, & greenspace advocate Margaret Pokorny and Friends Project Manager Bob Mulcahy

Wednesday, October 7, 2015 6:30 p.m.
Four Seasons Hotel, 200 Boylston Street

Visit the online art auction page,, to view objects made from Boston Common elm wood.

Event is free for FOPG members. Please RSVP by Friday, October 1 at or call 617-723-8144.
Your membership can be renewed at this event.  Reception to follow program. Thank you to the Motor Mart Garage, generous Lead Sponsor for this reception.

Wednesday, September 16, 10:00 am – 12:00 noon – Hydrangeas

The Garden Club of the Back Bay opens its 2015-2016 year on Wednesday, September 16, with an emphasis on Collectors and Collections, at The College Club, 44 Commonwealth Avenue, at 10:00 am, with speaker Gail Anderson on the topic of Hydrangeas.

Endless Summer, Snow Queen, Pinky Winky, Incrediball – There has been an explosion of trademarked hydrangea cultivars with cute and quirky names. Gail Anderson will help demystify this immensely popular genus and will include tips for choosing the right hydrangea for your garden. You’ll enjoy an instructional look at the genus brought to popular attention by such disparate personalities as Martha Stewart and renowned plantsman Michael Dirr. Topics covered will include a primer of hydrangea species, cultivars commonly available for sale, flower shape and color, including soil pH, and how to plant and prune.

Gail Anderson is a former teacher and magazine journalist. She earned a Certificate in Landscape Design and Maintenance from North Shore Community College and was certified as a Massachusetts Master Gardener. Gail worked for six years as a staff horticulturist for The Trustees of Reservations at Long Hill, an estate garden in Beverly, Massachusetts known for its woody plant collection. She has also served as a photography judge and jury member at the Boston Flower & Garden Show and has lectured at the Portland, Maine Flower Show. Gail is a member of the Ipswich Garden Club.

GCBB members will receive written notification of the meeting.  If you are not a member but wish to attend, please email  Image of Pinky Winky from

Sunday, September 27, 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm – Culture of the Gardens in the Italian Renaissance

The Massachusetts Horticultural Society is delighted to welcome Princess Giorgiana Corsini in the Hunnewell Carriage House at Elm Bank on Sunday, September 27 at 5 pm, who will speak on the history and culture of gardens in the Renaissance. She brings rich understanding and hands-on experience in gardening and will, no doubt, give ideas to elegantly enhance our New England gardens.

The architecture of the Palazzo Corsini’s 16th century vaulted loggia in Florence is echoed in the structure of the classical gardens it faces. Fifteen generations of the Corsini family have enjoyed the Renaissance symmetry of their private gardens just steps from the center of Florence. The garden is highlighted by symmetrical box hedges, ancient statuary and potted citrus trees. It was recently updated by the famous landscape architect, di Collobiano, who is known for his simplistic elegance. The Corsini have added color and scent with a variety of lavender and other vigorous Mediterranean plants.

Princess Giorgiana and Prince Filippo Corsini come from an historical Florentine family dating back to the 12th century. Their early fortunes were tied to trading with the Court of England. While their political influence declined under the Medici they increased their wealth through trading throughout Europe and providing a postal service. During the 16th and 17th century they built palaces in Florence, Tuscany and Rome including the palace on Via Sul Prato that is home to their classical garden. The family soon regained political power with the elevation of cardinals and Pope Clement X11.

Today the Corsini family maintains Wineries in Marsiliana and Le Corte and other agricultural properties. They also have one of Italy’s finest and most expansive family archives which have recently been moved from Florence to their Tuscan villa, Le Corti, with a great deal of national press.

Giorgiana Corsini is an expert with hands-on experience in both Renaissance Italian classical gardens and aristocratic wineries in Tuscany. She travels and lectures throughout Europe, Canada and the United States.

Registration: $20/Member, $25/Non-member.  Please register by Tuesday, September 22 at|427|430|433/culture-of-the-gardens-in-the-italian-renaissance?filter_reset=1

Thursday, September 17, 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm – Cooking from the Garden

How do we help our children become more confident, able, and independent in the kitchen?  Join cookbook author Alana Chernila at Massachusetts Horticultural Society’s Putnam Building on Thursday, September 17 at 7 for an evening of exciting ideas, strategies, tastings, and simple ways to empower kids in the kitchen.  This night will be useful for parents, caregivers, and educators of children of all ages.  Alana’s new book will be available for sale and signing.  $20 for Mass Hort members, $25 for non-members.  Register at

Thursday, September 10, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm – Northeast Region Perennial Plant Symposium

Join the Massachusetts Horticultural Society and the Perennial Plant Association at their annual symposium, this year’s topic will be “Perennial Inspirations and Concepts.” The symposium is open to all levels of gardeners and professionals. This year’s symposium includes six presentations led by some of the perennial industry’s best focusing on plant selection, native perennials and container plantings.

Featured Presentations:

Native Perennials and Nativars for the Pocket Prairie Garden
Jennifer Brennan of Chalet Nursery and Garden Shop, Wilmette, IL

Jennifer Brennan will highlight the native plants and also native plant cultivars that can be used in various sites including shade, full sun, and half & half shade/sun. Many of these selections are quite useful for nectar and pollen for hummingbirds, butterflies and bees.

The New American Garden: Modeling the Regional Landscape: An Anarchist Primer
Donald Pell of Donald Pell Gardens, Phoenixville, PA

Donald Pell calls his gardens impressionistic models of regional landscapes. Understanding specific plants and how they may integrate into any given landscape is the key to programming these gardens. He will look at how cool and warm season plants are accessed for performance to stabilize soils and create desirable compositions. Donald will discuss the role of ephemeral plants to build desirable seed banks while a garden is evolving and look at the role of aggressive and invasive plants. He will discuss the successes and failures of projects as well as what inspires these gardens. This is a presentation to inspire you to tear out that front lawn and boring boxwood hedges and to create a dynamic and experiential landscape.

Tropical Flair
Jason Reeves of the University of Tennessee Gardens, Jackson, TN

Tropicals work beautifully with perennials, and make a big impact in any garden. The bold foliage stands out whether in large landscape displays or everyday back yard gardens and containers. Get a refresher on tried and true varieties as well as some hot new selections that will make any perennial purist think twice.

Successful Gardening in Deer Country
Ruth Rogers Clausen of Easton, MD

Keeping your beautiful garden safe from deer is as simple as choosing the right plants. Ruth will discuss plants that do not require us to fence the deer out or the gardener in.

Perennials in Pots: Creative Combinations for Jaw-Dropping Containers
Deborah Trickett, MCH MCLP of Westwood, MA

The container gardening craze, which began over ten years ago, shows no sign of slowing down. More than ever these perfectly sized “gardens” are the answer for time-pressed gardeners, down-sizing gardeners, city-dwelling gardeners, aging gardeners and more. The good news is the container gardens of yesterday (think geranium and vinca) have evolved. Today’s containers showcase many types of plants, including perennials. Join Deborah Trickett, principal and owner of The Captured Garden, and learn how to use perennials to transform your containers from “blah” to “aah”. She will share fundamentals of container gardening, “out of the box” design tips, as well as some of her favorite tried and true perennial performers.

Are They Better or Just New??
Paul Westervelt of Saunders Brothers, Inc. Piney River, VA

With so many new perennials released every year, it can be difficult to distinguish legitimately better cultivars from those that are simply marketable. Through production trials, garden visits, vendor visits, and conversations with other growers, Paul works to select the true winners for our region.

Register at

$99 Early Bird, $109 after September 2

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