Category Archives: lecture

Wednesday, February 11, 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm – Edible Native Plants for Your Landscape

There’s an increasing inclination to utilize more native species in home landscaping and in parks and other conserved landscapes, thanks to books like Doug Tallamy’s Bringing Nature Home, which extol the virtues of native plants over exotic ornamentals for attracting and sustaining beneficial insects. Yet, for some property owners/managers, this alone may be insufficient motivation to “go native”. Perhaps knowing that many native species are edible by people too will provide an additional incentive to plant native species. Juneberries (Amelanchier spp.), for example, are equally edible by songbirds and people. Picture below from The taste of the ripe fruit is like a cross between cherries and almonds. Edible wild plants offer opportunities for people to connect to nature via their taste buds, thereby building their enthusiasm and public support for adding edible native plants to their home landscaping, as well as for conserving other lands that offer foraging opportunities. Adding native edible plants to a landscape can boost biodiversity as well as “spice it up” (literally as well as figuratively – i.e., we can have our acorn cake and eat it too). Learn about at least three dozen of the tastiest native species the Northeast U.S. region has to offer. Keys to the identification of each species are provided, along with edible portions, seasons of availability and preparation methods, along with guidelines for safe and environmentally responsible foraging.

Russ Cohen’s “day job” is serving as the Rivers Advocate for the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Ecological Restoration. He has spoken to The Garden Club of the Back Bay as well.  One of his areas of expertise is in riparian vegetation. He has compiled a list of native plant species suitable for planting in riparian areas; wrote nine fact sheets on the ecological and other beneficial functions of naturally vegetated buffers along rivers and streams, intended to aid the effective implementation of the Mass. Rivers Protection Act; and (in partnership with the Appalachian Mountain Club) prepared “Trees, Paddlers and Wildlife”, a set of outreach materials (YouTube video, brochure and PowerPoint presentation) intended to raise the awareness of paddlers, riparian land owners and managers, and others about the ecological and other beneficial values of retaining trees and other woody vegetation (living or dead) in and along rivers and streams. In his spare time, Cohen pursues his passion of connecting to nature via his taste buds. He is an expert forager and the author of Wild Plants I Have Known…and Eaten, published in 2004 by the Essex County Greenbelt Association. Mr. Cohen has been teaching foraging since 1974 and leads foraging walks each year at a wide variety of venues throughout the Northeast. The Ecological Landscaping Alliance’s free webinar with Russ will take place Wednesday, February 11, from 7:30 – 8:30. See more at:

Saturday, February 7, 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm – The Art of Floral Preservation

Come to Tower Hill Botanic Garden on Saturday, February 7 from 3 – 4 as Pauline Bergassi of Petal ‘n Fern Impressions shares The Art of Floral Preservation with a slide show presentation of over 50 stunning flower images and a lecture/discussion on the best method of preservation for specific flowers. Sample flowers preserved in various mediums will be provided.

Keep your favorite flowers to enjoy all year long. Practice this winter, using store-bought specimens and be prepared to save your garden treasures this summer.  Free with admission to Tower Hill.

Saturday, February 7, 1:00 pm – 2:15 pm – Keepsake Annuals

The best old-fashioned annuals for beds and containers and the new versions of some our favorites will be discussed. Whether you like fragrant heliotrope or self-sowing verbena, this Tower Hill Botanic Garden lecture on Saturday, February 7 from 1 – 2:15 will cover the A-Z of easy care heirloom types and showcase combinations that work.

Lecturer Barbara Pierson of White Flower Farm graduated from Cornell’s School of Horticulture and has been the Nursery Manager at White Flower Farm since 1998. A popular guest on television and radio, she is regularly interviewed and quoted as an expert in newspapers across the country. She was featured in a five-part series of articles in The New York Times about home gardening in the summer of 2010. She has been a guest on WNPR’s “The Faith Middleton Show” and Martha Stewart Radio’s “Morning Living”. She is the face and voice of many of the how-to gardening videos available on White Flower Farm’s Web site. Her encyclopedic knowledge of ornamentals and edibles mean her talks are both enormously instructive and highly entertaining. Free with admission, but pre-registration is requested at

Tuesday, February 17, 6:00 pm – The Evolution of the Dinner Party, 1860 – 1954

Etiquetteer (Robert B. Dimmick) will speak at the Gibson House Museum on Tuesday, February 17, on The Evolution of the Dinner Party 1860-1954. “Etiquetteer explores how the way Americans entertained at home changed during the time the Gibsons lived at the Gibson House. The Victorian formal dinner party of many courses and ever more obscure accessories gradually gave way with the social upheavals following World War I, including Prohibition. By World War II, writers like Dorothy Draper were gaily recommending buffet dinners with striking color schemes and other novelties.”

Tickets are $10 for Gibson House members, $15 for non-members. Reception at 6:00 PM, program at 6:30 PM. For tickets, please email Image from

Wednesday, February 11, 10:00 am – New Technologies and Unique Set-Ups

Urban farming is taking off in some of the most densely populated places around Greater Boston in interesting, unexpected ways. Learn about the ever-changing landscape of growing technologies that is making this possible and how to apply these techniques at home or in your community. Jessie Banhazl, CEO and founder of Green City Growers, will join The Garden Club of the Back Bay at The College Club, 44 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, on Wednesday, February 11 at 10 am for this informative talk. Green City Growers are experienced and passionate organic urban farmers who specialize in year-round raised bed urban farms for yards, rooftops, decks, and unused lots. They maintain production-level urban farms for hotels, grocers, and restaurants, and pioneer farming education programs for businesses, municipalities, homeowners and schools. Garden Club of the Back Bay members will receive written notice of this meeting.  If you are not a member but are interested in attending, please email

Sunday, February 1, 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm – Hope Floats on White: History and Future of the White Garden

Tower Hill Botanic Garden will host an illustrated lecture on the history, design and future of the white garden beginning with Sissinghurst in England, then showing lecturer Carol Julien’s 1,000 square foot garden since 2001 and her theory for transferring the sanctuary of our gardens to the busy world beyond.

For reasons known only to a seven year old, Carol began gardening in Canton, Massachusetts, when she asked her mother for a section of the perennial border that she could call her own. While at Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, (on scholarship from the Canton Art Association) she began working as an estate gardener in Sharon. Carol was graduated from S.U.N.Y., College of Environmental Science and Forestry, School of Landscape Architecture, with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1979. Carol’s core belief is that anyone can build a garden if they have spirit, energy and are willing to work hard. And none of this requires formal training. The key to gardening and design is to be a keen observer of much of what is around you.

The February 1 lecture is free with admission and takes place from 2 – 3:30, but Tower Hill asks that you pre-register at

Saturday, January 31, 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm – A Legacy in Blue: Recapturing an Iconic Newport Garden

On Saturday, January 31, landscape historian Arleyn Levee and Sarah Vance, Director of The Blue Garden, will discuss The Blue Garden, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. from 1911 – 1913, with a monochromatic concentration of purples and blues.  The lecture takes place at Tower Hill Botanic Garden, 11 French Drive in Boylston, and is free with admission to the garden.  The lecture takes place from 2 – 3, and a reception follows from 3 – 4 with complimentary refreshments and a cash bar.  For directions and more information visit

Thursday, February 12, 6:00 pm – The Future of Food: How Science, Technology, and Taste Shape What We Eat

Food is as fundamental to human life as it is to the development of civilization itself. It is also a source of pleasure, a celebration of culture, and a foundation of health and well-being. To quote Kurt Vonnegut, “When it comes right down to it, food is practically the whole story every time.” From hunting and gathering to contemporary living in today’s fast-paced, digital world, how we produce food and what we eat is continuously shaped by scientific discovery and engineering ingenuity, which dovetail with our ever-evolving dietary preferences. In this lively and entertaining talk on Thursday, February 12, beginning at 6 pm, part of Boston University’s Pepin Lecture Series in Food Studies and Gastronomy, P.K. Newby, ScD, MPH, MS, reflects on the human journey from farm to fork, science fiction to science, and paints a picture of what our plate will look like as we approach a population of nine billion. Dr. Newby, co-author of the new book Foods for Health: Choose and Use the Very Best Foods for Your Family and Our Planet, is a scientist, educator, speaker, and food writer who teaches at several universities in Boston and communicates regularly with the public via her blog The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen.  $20 fee includes book. Register online at Class is held in Room 117, 808 Commonwealth Avenue, the old Peter Fuller Cadillac building.

Tuesday, January 27, 6:45 pm – Water Features & Fountains

The Norwood Evening Garden Club presents a Panel Discussion about Water Features and Fountains on Tuesday, January 27, beginning at 6:45 pm at the First Baptist Church Parish House, 71 Bond Street in Norwood.  $5 donation – public is encouraged to attend.  For more information contact Nancy Costa at 781-248-4038 or visit Image from

Wednesday, February 4, 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm – Humans and Wildlife: The New Imbalance

Jim Sterba, author of Nature Wars, will give a free talk at the Cambridge Public Library, 449 Broadway in Cambridge, on Wednesday, February 4, from 7 – 8:30, sponsored by Grow Native Massachusetts.

By the late 19th century, North American forests and wildlife were in dire straits. For nearly 400 years, arriving Europeans had removed trees and killed off wild birds and animals to the point that a few enlightened leaders sounded the alarm, and the conservation movement was born. Three slow but remarkable transformations followed. Forests reclaimed huge swaths of abandoned cropland. Many threatened wildlife populations, restocked in refuges and protected, slowly grew back to health. Then, people moved out of cities after World War II, creating a mosaic of suburban, exurban and rural sprawl where family farms once thrived.

Now, this new habitat is filled with people who want to leave nature alone, and many wildlife populations are proliferating out of balance. We have mounting community conflicts over what to do, or not to do, about deer, beavers, Canada Geese, and other species. As the dominant player in our ecosystems, it is time for us to overcome our reluctance and embrace our stewardship role.

Jim Sterba is an internationally recognized author and correspondent who has reported for The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal for more than four decades. His book, Nature Wars, published in 2012, has earned critical acclaim and catalyzed an important national conversation about wildlife management.

Thursday, January 22, 7:00 pm – Apples of New England

Porter Square Books, located in the Porter Square Shopping Center at 25 White Street in Cambridge, will host Russell Steven Powell on Thursday, January 22, beginning at 7 pm, who will speak about his new book Apples of New England. This fascinating and helpful guide will offer practical advice about rare heirlooms and newly discovered varieties, chapters on the rich tradition of apple growing in New England and on the fathers of American apples Massachusetts natives John Chapman (Johnny Appleseed) and Henry David Thoreau. Apples of New England will present the apple in all its splendor: as biological wonder, super food, work of art, and cultural icon.

Apples of New England will also be an indispensable resource for anyone identifying apples in New England orchards, farm stands, grocery stores or their own backyard. Photographs of the more than 200 apples discovered, grown, or sold in New England will be accompanied by notes about flavor and texture, history, ripening time, storage quality, and best use.

Russell Steven Powell has worked for the apple industry for nearly 20 years, most of that time as executive director of the nonprofit New England Apple Association. As its senior writer, he currently writes the weblog

In addition to his two books about apples, Apples of New England (Countryman Press, 2014) and America’s Apple (Brook Hollow Press, 2012), Powell was founding editor and publisher of New England Watershed Magazine, named Best New Publication of 2006 by the Utne Reader. He produced and directed Shack Time (2001), an award-winning video documentary program about the artist shacks in the dunes of the Cape Cod National Seashore. His oil paintings and prints were exhibited in New York City and Cape Cod in 2014.

A native of New England, he lives in western Massachusetts.  For more information about this lecture and book signing visit

Friday, February 6, 6:45 pm – Revising the Classification of Natural Communities in Massachusetts

The February meeting of the New England Botanical Club will be held Friday, February 6, beginning at 6:45 in the Haller Lecture Hall, Room 102, Geological Museum, 24 Oxford Street in Cambridge.  The speaker will be Dr. Patricia Swain, Natural Community Ecologist, Massachusetts Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program in Westborough, Massachusetts.  Her topic is Revising the Classification of Natural Communities in Massachusetts.  The meeting is open to the public.  For more information visit

Wednesday, January 21, 6:30 pm – Garden in the Winter

The garden can be a magical place….even in winter! The richly illustrated lecture sponsored by the Millis Garden Club at the Millis Public Library, Main Street, Millis, on Wednesday, January 21 beginning at 6:30 provides inspiration and tips on designing your garden for winter interest, choosing the best trees, shrubs & perennials and grouping them to create arresting vignettes. The presenter is Joan Butler. Image from

Tuesday, January 20, 9:30 am – Mrs. Thrift Cooks Up a Storm

When Mrs. Thrift (Betsy Williams) cooks, basic home-cooking becomes a palate awakening experience. On Tuesday, January 20, beginning at 9:30 am at the Needham Public Library, 1139 Highland Avenue in Needham, Mrs. Thrift shows you how to make her favorite condiments such as herb vinegars, mustards and herbal butters. Then she teaches you how to use them to lift everyday cooking to a new level of taste. Sponsored by the Needham Garden Club – a $4 donation from non Needham Garden Club members is requested. For more information email

Saturday, February 14, 1:00 p-m – 3:00 pm – Stourhead Garden: The Genius of the Place

The Berkshire Botanical Garden will hold its 2015 Winter Lecture on Saturday, February 14 from 1 – 3 at Monument Mountain High School in Great Barrington. They are honored to welcome guest lecturer Alan Power, the Head Gardener at Stourhead.  Here is what Mr. Power says about the garden and about himself:

Stourhead is one of the finest landscape gardens in Europe, and I would argue, in the world. Wrapped in and protected by the rolling hills of the ancient landscapes of Wiltshire, Somerset and Dorset, Stourhead has evolved over the last 300 years around a valley originally called ‘Paradise’. Before this period, the land was occupied by the Stourton family from 1448 until the early 18th Century. Human settlements have been recorded here since before the Iron Age. Lived in, admired, journeyed to, shared and recorded by millions of people during the centuries, Stourhead deserves the fame and importance it receives. Folk travelled across Europe and from America to admire Stourhead in the early days. Its fame and talk of its beauty spread fast and within 15 years of its conception, before it was fully complete, it had gained national and international recognition from experts at the time.

After almost 20 years working in (and now managing) the garden and estate at Stourhead my love and commitment to the place grows every day. Often referred to as a pleasure ground in the past, the garden at Stourhead has far exceeded the original ambition of the great Henry Hoare in the early 18th Century. Not only is it a pleasure to gaze upon at all times of the year but it is also a wonder to explore and experience with close friends, family and loved ones. It’s an experience to be shared, talked about, treasured and passed on. One part of the work I do that really moves me is when I witness the heart-felt way in which the beauty of Stourhead can take someone over. I am proud of the work we do and achieve at Stourhead, just as I am so proud of the work we, the National Trust, do at all of our properties.

However, it is our vision for the future of Stourhead that I am most proud of. Working in the knowledge that we hope to care for this magnificent place, secure its future, understand more of its past and inspire the next generation through sharing the Stourhead experience makes every day here a pleasure. Our ambition for the garden is a simple yet deeply important one. If all goes according to plan, we will have the landscape garden and its superb architectural features in as good of a condition as possible by 2020. We will also re-introduce some of the missing elements of the plant collection while adding the 21st century layer to the collection in the Pinetum. All this while we continue to re-introduce other lost elements of the plant collection. It’s incredible to think that this process continues 300 years after the Hoare family moved to this beautiful corner of Wiltshire, gave Stourhead its name and created a legacy for the nation.

From Cork (close to the south coast of Ireland) I grew up surrounded by and spending time in one of the most beautiful natural landscapes, walking in the mountains of Kerry and hanging on the cliffs off the Old Head of Kinsale. From an early age, I knew my life needed to be outdoors and close to nature. From my father who worked in the retail business, I learned that interacting with and helping the public was important to me and from my mother I inherited a keen interest in gardening. It was the soil that really got me interested, so much captured in the soil to be released and absorbed by the plants and seeing the giant trees supported and anchored to the soil fascinated me. So I began to study horticulture at Writtle College and subsequently Arboriculture at Merrist Wood College. (Trees and gardens- my heaven!) After a while exploring the industry and working at Marks Hall Arboretum in Essex, I knew that historic gardens were for me. Stourhead had been brought to my attention during my studies as had the tree collection there – it became a dream of mine to work in such magnificent surroundings and eventually the opportunity arose not just to be a gardener but also to climb the trees as the property’s arborist. That’s where it all started for me 19 years ago; as a climber and gardener at Stourhead, then the Assistant Head Gardener. I did however head off for a while to the beauty of Northern Ireland to work at Mount Stewart Gardens – a plant collection second to none! It was there that my interest in garden history, plant collections and plant introductions deepened even further, and I was able to explore and learn about the fascinating family of the Londonderry’s. As much as I enjoyed that position, the job as Head Gardener at Stourhead was advertised and off I went – that was over 10 years ago. I have genuinely loved every minute here as the Head Gardener. I am closer to the garden, the people that created it, the plant collection and the visitors, than I ever thought was possible. It feels like home. My interests now firmly sit in the history of the garden, the plant collection and the people that created it and kept it going through the years. It’s an amazing story and one that continues to expand the longer that I am here.

The fee to attend is $35 for BBG members, $45 for nonmembers. You may purchase your tickets online at


Saturday, January 24, 2:00 pm – 21st Century Herbal: A Conversation With Ethnobotanist Michael Balick, Ph.D, and Aviva Romm, MD

On Saturday, January 24 at 2 pm, join ethnobotanist Michael Balick, Ph.D., as he discusses medicinal botany with Aviva Romm, MD and medical herbalist. This Berkshire Botanical Garden lecture is based on Dr. Balick’s recent book, Rodale’s 21st Century Herbal: A Practical Guide for Healthy Living Using Nature’s Most Powerful Plants, a work that has been inspired by ancient texts known as “herbals”. Dr. Aviva Romm will share her journey using plants as medicines, from simple home remedies to treating complex medical cases with botanicals.

Michael Balick, Ph.D., has studied the relationship between plants and people, the field known as ethnobotany, for more that four decades. Most of his research is in remote regions of the tropics, where he works with indigenous cultures to document plant diversity, knowledge of its traditional utilization and evaluation of the potential of botanical resources for broader application and use. He works closely with healthcare professionals to evaluate and introduce medicinal plants that he and his group have collected, introducing these species into more widespread use.

Dr. Aviva Romm has bridged her interests in traditional medicine with her knowledge of hard science for over 30 years. Most of her focus is on women’s and children’s health, with an emerging focus on stress physiology, food cravings, weight, hormone imbalance and stress, and how natural medicine techniques can help us to develop and express greater resilience and live fuller lives. Dr. Romm is one of the leading teachers in the country on botanical medicine at both medical and herbal conferences. She now lives and practices medicine in the Berkshires.

BBG member price $30, nonmembers $35.  Register online at or call 413-298-3926.

Wednesday, January 28, 1:30 pm – The Parks of Washington, DC

Delight in the charms of gardens and parks on the Mall, in leafy Georgetown and on the grounds of George Washington’s beloved Mount Vernon with garden designer, WCBG docent, and past Garden Club of the Back Bay speaker Maureen Bovet, on Wednesday, January 28, at 1:30 pm at the Wellesley College Botanic Garden Visitor’s Center.  Maureen’s photos and stories will take you on a tour of the green side of the nation’s capitol.   Wellesley College Botanic Garden Friends – free, nonmembers $10.  To sign up call 781-283-3094 or email Photo from

Thursday, February 5, 6:00 pm – Virgin Territory: Exploring the World of Olive Oil

Discover everything you wanted to know about extra-virgin olive oils.  Nancy Harmon Jenkins, author of the just published Virgin Territory, will show you the ins and outs of one of the most important ingredients in the modern kitchen: what extra-virgin olive oil really is, how to choose it and use it, and why it’s critically important for good health and good food.  Together we’ll taste good and bad oils, try some tasty samples of fearless cooking with olive oil, and learn what to look for in the market.  $30, includes copy of book.  Sponsored by Boston University as part of the Pepin Lecture Series in Food Studies and Gastronomy.  Class will take place Thursday, February 5 beginning at 6 pm in 808 Commonwealth Avenue, Room 117, Boston. Register online at

Thursday, February 12, 7:00 pm – Gardner Museum Landscape Lecture: Kathryn Gustafson

The Isabella Stewart Gardner’s Landscape Lecture series continues Thursday, February 12 with Kathryn Gustafson. Gustafson is a partner in both Gustafson Guthrie Nichol in Seattle and Gustafson Porter in London. Her work incorporates the fundamental sculptural and sensual qualities that enhance the human experience of landscape. She is only the third landscape architect to have received the Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize in Architecture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Gustafson is also an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects, and a medalist of the French Academy of Architecture. Along with her partners at Gustafson Guthrie Nichol, she received the National Design Award for Landscape Architecture from the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.

Landscape Lectures begin at 7 pm in Calderwood Hall. Lectures include Museum admission and require a ticket; tickets can be reserved online, in person at the door, or by phone: 617 278 5156. Museum admission: adults $15, seniors $12, students $5, free for Museum members.  On line tickets may be purchased at

When a lecture sells out, the Museum will offer a limited number of obstructed view seats the night of the event via a signup sheet at the admissions desk. The signup sheet will become available at the desk at 6 pm. We will make every attempt to seat everyone but cannot guarantee a seat once we are at capacity. Seats will be assigned 5 minutes prior to the lecture time. These obstructed view seats will be free of charge.

Tuesday, January 13, 7:30 pm – The Bee: A Natural History

The January meeting of the Cambridge Entomological Club will take place Tuesday, January 13 at 7:30 pm in Room 101 of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, 26 Oxford Street, Cambridge.  The speaker will be Noah Wilson-Rich, the founder of The Best Bees Company and author of The Bee: A Natural History.  The meeting is free and open to the public.  Snacks will be provided, and you are welcome to join the group at 6 pm for an informal pre-meeting dinner at Cambridge Common.  For more information email Shayla Salzman at

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