Club Programs and Events

The Prehistoric Garden


Each year The Garden Club of the Back Bay decides on a program theme for the coming season. Last year we explored Collectors and Collections, and the year before that Technology in the Garden. In 2013/2014, members welcomed local authors of important gardening books. In the past we also have looked at the Gardens of America, Japan, water conservation, ethical gardening practices, trees, women garden designers and patrons, garden history, the science of gardening, art in the garden, plant societies, and more. This year, in celebration of our successful planting project of Gingko trees along Clarendon Street, we will present The Prehistoric Garden. Complete details of each meeting will be sent to members prior to each event.


Friday, September 23, 10:00 am – Cycads and Gymnosperms – Field Trip to Wellesley College Botanic Gardens, 106 Central Street, Wellesley

Carol Govan talks about the connections among related plants and how they express their genetic heritage in response to their environments. Discover the beauty of the first plants to produce seeds. A remarkable adaptation to help plants survive on land, we will see many examples of cycads, conifers, ginkgo and plants that were dominant during the age of the dinosaurs. See hands-on examples of various twigs, cones and seeds. After the lecture, visit these plants in the greenhouses with Carol. Cycads are seed plants with a long fossil history that were formerly more abundant and more diverse than they are today, according to Wikipedia. The living cycads are found across much of the subtropical and tropical parts of the world. Carol Govan, a professional artist, botanical illustrator, and teacher, is a graduate of New England Wild Flower Society’s Certificate in Native Plant Studies program, which has helped her gain insight into the connection between art and nature. Her work has been featured by the New England Society of Botanical Artists, Duxbury Art Complex, and most recently at the Ashland Public Library.

Wednesday, October 12, 10:00 am – Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Ginkgo, but Were Afraid to Ask – The College Club, 44 Commonwealth Avenue

Join Dr. Peter Del Tredici of the Arnold Arboretum for an in-depth look at one of the most ancient and fascinating trees on the planet. Peter has been studying the natural history and evolution of this tree for the last twenty-five years and is a world authority on the subject. His travels have taken him to remote areas in southwest China in search of wild-growing Ginkgos as well as to old estates and botanical gardens in Europe and the United States. Peter has also studied the cultivation of the Ginkgo for ornamental purposes as well as for the production of leaves to make an extract that some people take to improve their memories.

Peter Del Tredici holds a BA degree in Zoology from the University of California, Berkeley (1968), a MA degree in Biology from the University of Oregon (1969), and a Ph.D. in Biology from Boston University (1991). He retired from the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University in 2014 after working there for 35 years as Plant Propagator, Curator of the Larz Anderson Bonsai Collection, Editor of Arnoldia, Director of Living Collections and Senior Research Scientist. Dr. Del Tredici taught in the Landscape Architecture Department at the Harvard Graduate School of Design from 1992 through 2016 and is currently teaching a course in urban ecology in the Urban Planning Department of MIT. He is the winner of the Arthur Hoyt Scott Medal and Award for 1999 presented by the Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College and in 2013 he was awarded the Veitch Gold Medal by The Royal Horticultural Society (England) “in recognition of services given in the advancement of the science and practice of horticulture.”

Dr. Del Tredici’s interests are wide ranging and include such subjects as plant exploration in China, the root systems of woody plants, the botany and horticulture of magnolias, stewartias and hemlocks, and the natural and cultural history of the Ginkgo tree. His recent work is focused on urban ecology and has resulted in the publication of the widely acclaimed “Wild Urban Plants of the Northeast: A Field Guide” (Cornell University Press, 2010) as well as a GPS-based mobile app,”Other Order” which interprets the Bussey Brook Meadow section of the Arnold Arboretum (with Teri Rueb). He lectures widely in North America and Europe and is the author of more than 130 scientific and popular articles.

Wednesday, November 9, 10:00 am – Introduction to Ferns – The College Club of Boston, 44 Commonwealth Avenue

Beautiful and flowerless, ferns are among the most ancient plants in the world. Learn to distinguish among the most common ferns of New England through lecture and examination of fresh plant material. Don Lubin will be our featured lecturer. Don has been growing ferns since 1980, and doing field identification since 1991. He reset the fern labels at the Garden In The Woods in Framingham, and has led workshops and field trips since 1998 for the New England Wild Flower Society and others, previously with co-teacher Ray Abair of Middleboro MA. Don has found uncommon ferns and donated more than 100 specimens to herbaria, including a few state and many county records, mainly to the New England Botanical Club collection at the Asa Gray Herbarium at Harvard University. Don assisted Cheryl Lowe and Elizabeth Farnsworth in their revision of Boughton Cobb’s Field Guide to Ferns.

Monday, December 5 – Thursday, December 8, 8:30 am – 7:00 pm – Wreath Making – The First Lutheran Church of Boston, 299 Berkeley Street

Join fellow garden club members and friends for training, decorating and delivery of holiday wreaths throughout the neighborhood and beyond, with proceeds benefiting the many projects of The Garden Club of the Back Bay. Set up will take place Sunday, December 4, time to be determined.

Tuesday, January 24, 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm – Annual Garden Club Member Tea – The Four Seasons Hotel, Boylston Street

Wednesday, March 8, 10:00 am – How the Glaciers Affected New England’s Plants – The College Club, 44 Commonwealth Avenue

Today, Massachusetts is a network of houses, businesses, farms, forests, and wetlands—but how did it get to be that way? What did it look like when the Laurentide Glaciers melted 12,000 years ago? How did a state that was only 25 percent forest by 1850 come to be 64 percent forested today? This broad overview traces how and why the land has changed and what people thought about it—from Wampanoag King Philip to Frederick Law Olmsted to Governor Charlie Baker.

Our speaker Meg Muckenhoupt is an environmental and travel writer. She has appeared on NPR’s Radio Boston and WCVB’s Chronicle, as well as WGBH’s Forum site. Her work has been featured in the Boston Globe, the Boston PhoenixBoston Magazine, and the Time Out Boston guide; her book Boston Gardens and Green Spaces (Union Park Press, 2010) is a Boston Globe Local Bestseller. She currently serves as Executive Director of Community Outreach Group for Landscape Design (COGdesign).

Meg was awarded a certificate in Field Botany by the New England Wild Flower Society and earned degrees from Harvard and Brown University. She lives in Lexington, Massachusetts.

Tuesday, March 21, 9:00 am departure, return by 4:00 pm – Plant Life Through the Ages – Field Trip to The Botanic Garden of Smith College, 16 College Lane, Northampton

Smith College recently installed Plant Life Through the Ages: A Mural of Plant Evolution, and we are privileged to visit the Botanic Garden of Smith College and view the mural with Madelaine Zadik, Manager of Education and Outreach. We will have time to explore the Lyman Plant House as well.   A delicious lunch in Northampton will be planned before returning to Boston in the afternoon.

Wednesday, April 12, 10:00 am – The Evolutionary History of Plants – The College Club, 44 Commonwealth Avenue.

Dr. William E. (Ned) Friedman, Director of The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University and Arnold Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, will address this April joint meeting with The Beacon Hill Garden Club. Along with the origins of vascular plants and seed plants, the origin of flowering plants represents one of the three most significant evolutionary radiations of land plants during the last 475 million years. With over 250,000 extant species, angiosperms are the largest and most diverse group of plants ever to have evolved. Paradoxically, we know less about the early evolutionary history of angiosperms than we do about many considerably older groups of land plants. Indeed, Darwin’s “abominable mystery” continues to challenge evolutionary biologists.

Dr. Friedman’s research program focuses on the organismic interfaces between developmental, phylogenetic and evolutionary biology. Remarkable recent advances in the study of the phylogenetic relationships of organisms have provided the raw materials for critical studies of character evolution in plants, animals, fungi, and all other forms of life. Armed with hypotheses of relationships among organisms, he seeks to explore how patterns of morphology, anatomy and cell biology have evolved through the modification of developmental processes.

Wednesday, April 26, 10:00 am – The Emerald Necklace Parks: 130+ Years and Counting – The Country Club, 191 Clyde Street, Brookline

The Boston Committee of the Garden Club of America will hold its Spring 2017 Lecture and Luncheon on Wednesday, April 26 beginning with coffee and registration at 10:00 am, welcome at 10:30 am, and lecture at 10:45 am, followed by lunch at The Country Club, 191 Clyde Street in Brookline.  The guest speaker is Marion Pressley, FASLA, of Pressley Associates Landscape Architects, who will speak on The Emerald Necklace Parks: 130+ Years Later and Counting.  Marion is a devoted professional who has contributed enormously to the designed landscape through her work in landscape architecture and the restoration of public parks and private historical properties throughout the eastern United States.  Her work has received national recognition in both historic preservation and contemporary design.  Marion’s work in preserving the Olmsted legacy is particularly noteworthy and includes master planning and the implementation of treatment design on the Emerald Necklace Park System.  Her presentation for the Boston Committee will enlighten us on the extraordinary Muddy River project.  Garden Club of the Back Bay members will receive car pool notices.  Open only to members of Boston Committee Clubs.

May 8, 5:00 pm – Annual Meeting –  The College Club of Boston, 44 Commonwealth Avenue

June 6, 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm  – Twilight Garden Party, Sitting Grove, Prudential Center, Boylston Street