Club Events

The Author Year

Each year The Garden Club of the Back Bay decides where to focus its attention for the coming season. In 2012/2013, members examined Great Gardens of America. In the past we have looked at 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 we celebrate the many local (and not so local) garden authors who publish books of interest to us all, plus we take an interesting field trip to the garden of one of America’s most famous authors, Louisa May Alcott. Complete details of each meeting will be sent to members prior to each event.

Thursday, September 26, 10:00 – Field Trip to Orchard House in Concord

We will visit the historic home of the extraordinary Alcott family, where Louisa May Alcott wrote and set Little Women. Amos Bronson Alcott originally purchased two houses set upon twelve acres of land on the Lexington Road in 1857 — both dating to circa 1690-1720 — for $945. He then moved the smaller tenant farmhouse and joined it to the rear of the larger manor house, making many improvements to the home, as explained in his journals of 1857-58. The grounds also contained an orchard of forty apple trees, which greatly appealed to Mr. Alcott, who considered apples the most perfect food. It is not surprising, then, that he should name his home “Orchard House.” Fortunately, there have been no major structural changes to the house since the Alcotts’ time, and on-going preservation efforts adhere to the highest standards of authenticity. Since approximately 80% of the furnishings on display were owned by the Alcotts, the rooms look very much as they did when the family lived here, causing many modern-day visitors to comment that, “A visit to Orchard House is like a walk through Little Women!” Following our tour, those who can stay will enjoy an optional Dutch treat lunch at The Concord Inn.

Wednesday, October 2, 6:00 pm – David Austin Roses, The Union Club, 8 Park Street, Boston

The British Society and The Garden Club of the Back Bay are pleased to present a lecture at The Union Club, 8 Park Street, Boston, on October 2nd featuring Michael Marriott, senior rose breeder at David Austin Roses.  There will be a cocktail reception beginning at 6 pm followed by a one hour presentation by Mr. Marriott.  The cost of $40 per person will include wines and hor d’oeuvre.  A cash bar will be available for spirits.

David Austin is a rose breeder, specialist grower and author.  His first rose, the fragrant Constance Spry, was released in 1961.  Since then he has released nearly two hundred English roses.  David Austin Roses was established in 1969 and remains a family business.  Today his English roses are grown in every rose-loving nation in the world, and win awards in many different countries.  In 1999, the company opened an office in Tyler, Texas, and all roses for the American market are grown in the USA.

After fifty years of intensive breeding, David Austin’s English roses combine the forms and fragrances of old roses with the repeat-flowering of modern roses. Michael Marriott has worked with David Austin Roses for over 25 years.  During this time he has designed private rose gardens and prestigious public gardens in many different countries.  His own garden is run on organic principles and has never been sprayed in the last 22 years.

The British Society was founded in Boston in 1816 as a nonprofit charity to raise funds to furnish emergency relief to British Nationals and their children in the Boston area.  As an all-volunteer organization, almost all of every dollar raised goes to help individuals and families. The net proceeds of this lecture will go exclusively to The British Society.

Please reply no later than September 27.  Reservations, and payment by check (made payable to The British Society) together with your contact details and a list of attending guests may be sent to Mr. Anthony Revis, Treasurer, The British Society, 501 Maple Meadows, 35 Maple Avenue, Sudbury, MA 01776.

For reservations, and payment by credit card:
E-mail with a list of attending guests, and then go to

If you are unable to attend and would like to make a tax-deductible donation, or would like to make a contribution in excess of the subscription amount, it would be gratefully accepted. Please follow either the payment by check or payment by credit card instructions above.

The Union Club does not permit the use of cellular telephones and requires business attire. Please respect these rules. Valet parking is available, payable at the door upon arrival.

Wednesday, October 16, 10:30 am– Boston Committee Annual Meeting with Bill Cullina, The Country Club, Clyde Street, Brookline

The Annual Meeting of The Boston Committee of the Garden Club of America will take place Wednesday, October 16 beginning with coffee and registration at 10:30 am, and the meeting at 11 am at The Country Club in Brookline. We are fortunate to have as our keynote speaker Bill Cullina, Bill is the Executive Director at one of North America’s newest and most exciting public gardens, The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay, Maine. A well known author and recognized authority on North American native plants, Cullina lectures on a variety of subjects to garden and professional groups and writes for popular and technical journals. His books include Wildflowers, Native Trees, Shrubs, and Vines, Understanding
Orchids, Native Ferns, Mosses, and Grasses, and most recently, Understanding Perennials, published in 2009.

Wednesday, October 30, 10:00 am –Michael Wojtech – Bark: Get to Know Your Trees- The College Club, 44 Commonwealth Avenue
As a naturalist, writer, photographer, and illustrator, Michael Wojtech strives to share the science and beauty of natural history in an accessible and compelling fashion. He began his ongoing study of tree physiology and ecology at Antioch University New England, where he earned his Master’s Degree in Conservation Biology and edited the journal Whole Terrain. Michael speaks about and leads workshops on trees throughout the Northeast. Many people know how to identify trees by their leaves, but what about when those leaves have fallen or are out of reach? With detailed information and illustrations covering each phase of a tree’s lifecycle, his recently published Bark: A Field Guide to Trees of the Northeast is an indispensable guidebook explaining how to identify trees by their bark alone.

Chapters on the structure and ecology of tree bark, descriptions of bark appearance, an easy-to-use identification key, and supplemental information on non-bark characteristics–all enhanced by over 450 photographs, illustrations, and maps–will show you how to distinguish the textures, shapes, and colors of bark to recognize various tree species, and also understand why these traits evolved.

Whether you’re a professional naturalist or a parent leading a family hike, Bark: A Field Guide to Trees of the Northeast is your essential guide to the region’s 67 native and naturalized tree species. Following his talk and before our optional lunch is served, we will stroll outside with Michael to the Commonwealth Avenue Mall and take a look at the bark of some of the trees growing in our neighborhood.

Wednesday, November 13, 1:00 pm and 6:30 pm– Thomas Mickey – America’s Romance with the English Garden – The Wellesley College Botanic Garden (day) and Arnold Arboretum (evening)

Author Thomas Mickey will speak on his new book America’s Romance with the English Garden in a program co-sponsored by The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, Friends of Wellesley College Botanic Gardens, and The Garden Club of the Back Bay. Through a grant from the Smithsonian’s Division of Horticulture Services the author spent a year in Washington exploring the archives at the American History Museum, the Natural History Museum, as well as the Department of Agriculture. The focus of his work was to study the connection between marketing and the garden in nineteenth century America. He began by looking at seed and nursery catalogs from that time, and he never left them. He couldn’t get enough of the catalogs. He loved the language the writers used and the images, but especially what the catalogs taught us about gardening.

Monday, December 2 – Thursday, December 5,  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.

January (date and venue to be announced), 3:00 pm – Annual Member Tea

Wednesday, February 26, 11:00 am – Aaron Ellison – The Ants of New England The College Club, 44 Commonwealth Avenue

Aaron Ellison , Senior Research Fellow at the Harvard University Harvard Forest in Petersham, Massachusetts, will speak about his new guide book A Field Guide to the Ants of New England. Edward O. Wilson, University Research Professor Emeritus of Harvard University, has said “This ground-breaking field guide not only contributes to our basic knowledge of ants, but places the ants of New England within reach of those interested in the natural history of the region.” Sean Menke of Lake Forest College said “This goes beyond any ant book that has come before it and puts it in line with the popular and best bird books on the market – readable and easy to use by non-experts.”

Wednesday, March 5, 10:00 am – Larry Millman – Fascinating Fungi of New England– The College Club, 44 Commonwealth Avenue

Let Lawrence Millman escort you on a journey into the amazing natural history of over 150 Northeastern fungi species. Learn how to make spore prints, discover which species are edible and which are poisonous, and find out which mushroom the Vikings ate before their raids. His book Fascinating Fungi of New England will be available for purchase and signing. Guess what we’re having for lunch?

Wednesday, April 9, 10:00 am– Meg Muckenhoupt – Massachusetts Agricultural History – The College Club, 44 Commonwealth Avenue

Meg Muckenhoupt is such an extraordinarily good speaker we just had to have her again. Meg is an environmental and travel writer. Her book Boston Gardens and Green Spaces (Union Park Press, 2010) is a Boston Globe Local Bestseller, and she is co-creator of the Green Spaces: Boston app. She has appeared on NPR’s Radio Boston and WCVB’s Chronicle, and WGBH’s Forum site. She blogs at, and now is a reviewer on She is working on a new book on the history of Boston food, which may not be published by the date of the meeting, but which we eagerly anticipate.

Tuesday, April 29, 10:00 am – Catie Marron – The Gifts of Parks in Our Lives – The Country Club, 191 Clyde Street, Brookline.

The Boston Committee of The Garden Club of America will hold its Spring Meeting and Luncheon on Tuesday, April 29, beginning with registration and coffee at 10:00 am at The Country Club, 191 Clyde Street in Brookline. We are fortunate to have as our keynote speaker Catie Marron,  current co-chair of the Board of Directors of the Friends of the High Line, and editor for Vogue magazine.  Her talk is entitled The Gift of Parks in Our Lives. She has recently released City Parks: Public Places, Private Thoughts, which she created with photography by Oberto Gili.  It is a Best Horticultural Selection of 2013 by the New York Times.


Tuesday, May 20, 5:00 pm – Annual Meeting at The College Club of Boston, 44 Commonwealth Avenue, with guest speaker Liz Vizza, Executive Director of The Friends of the Public Garden.

Thursday, May 29, 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm – A Green Colonnade: The Commonwealth Avenue Mall.

Conceived as the centerpiece of a grand boulevard meant to rival those of Second Empire Paris, the Commonwealth Avenue Mall was an integral feature of the original Back Bay plan of 1858.  Extending ten blocks, from Arlington Street to Kenmore Square, this linear park is today both the verdant heart of the neighborhood and a vital link in the Emerald Necklace, connecting the Public Garden and Common to the east with the Fens and Franklin Park to the west.  One hundred feet wide and studded with distinguished memorial statuary beneath a canopy of ornamental trees, the Mall we know and cherish may, in fact, owe as much to the twentieth and twenty-first centuries as to the nineteenth.  Continuously evolving to reflect the changing city around it, the Mall has been prudently husbanded to absorb the addition of new monuments, the introduction of accessibility and the incorporation of lighting, to say nothing of the vigilant management of its plant materials.  As a result of such tireless efforts, this much-loved place seems only to grow in beauty and meaning from year to year.  Explore the many ways in which the Mall has become not a facsimile of itself but the ongoing fulfillment of a farsighted vision.

The May 29 tour, beginning at 5 pm, will be led by William Young, Assistant Director for Historic Districts, who has staffed the Back Bay Architectural Commission since 1991, and Margaret Pokorny, Chair of the Commonwealth Avenue Mall Committee of The Friends of the Public Garden, and past President of The Garden Club of the Back Bay, Inc.

Meeting place will be confirmed at time of reservation.  Free and open to the public, but as no more than 30 participants may be accommodated, pre-registration is required.  Co-sponsored by the Back Bay Architectural Commission, The Friends of the Public Garden, The Garden Club of the Back Bay, Inc., and The Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay.  Contact to reserve a place before May 22.


Wednesday, June 4– Twilight Garden Party, American Meteorological Society, 45 Beacon Street, Boston.