Wednesday, October 30, 10:00 am – Bark: Get to Know Your Trees

The Garden Club of the Back Bay will hold its October meeting on Wednesday, October 30 beginning at 10 am at The College Club, 44 Commonwealth Avenue, with a lecture on Bark: Get to Know Your Trees.

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 life cycle, 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 took at the bark of some of the trees growing in our neighborhood.  GCBB members will receive written notice of the meeting.  Guests are welcome – please email if you are interested in attending.

Sunday, October 20, 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm – Thoreau and the Language of Trees

The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University will present Thoreau and the Language of Trees on Sunday, October 20 in the Hunnewell Building of the Arnold Arboretum beginning at 3 pm with writer and editor Richard Higgins. Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) wrote about trees as few others have. He admired their beauty and found poetic forms and mythic meaning in them. He studied how they grow and also took them as his spiritual companions, discerning the individual character of each tree’s “soul”. Richard Higgins has studied Thoreau in depth, and in this presentation, pairs his own images of trees and forests with the writing and philosophy of this hallowed figure of the American Renaissance.  Fee $5 Arboretum member, $10 nonmember.  Register online at

From the Archives – The Great Birdbath Robbery

Bud Collins wrote the article excerpted below for the Monday, July 3, 1967 Boston Globe:

James Vorenberg, executive director of the National Crime Commission, warned the nation that crime in the streets is increasing – but he didn’t prepare Bostonians for the foulest deed of the decade: the Great Birdbath Robbery on Commonwealth av. (sic)

Two weeks have passed since the prized William the Conqueror antique granite basin was snatched – along with its pedestal – from a cement mooring in the sidewalk garden at 169 Commonwealth.  There are no clues, not even a ransom note, and the police are frantic.  Police Commissioner McNamara has tried to calm a terrified neighborhood, but flocks of dirty birds are screeching louder every day for relief.

Specs O’Keefe of the Brinks Gang was questioned, and had an alibi.  Teddy Green has been ruled out as a suspect because he was in Walpole the night of the robbery, and Raymond Patriarca can prove he was in Providence.  McNamara has instructed detectives to watch for a heistman with a hernia, since the birdbath weighs almost 200 pounds.

Shaken by his loss, the owner, Dr. William Macdonald, has issued a plea to the bath-lifters not to drop it.  He has also offered a $25 reward for the safe return of his feathered friends’ tub.

Dr. Macdonald, a skin specialist who raises roses redder than rashes in his small, handsome plot facing the Commonwealth Mall, is “saddened” to think that thieves would knock over his garden.  “It’s quite amazing,” said Dr. Macdonald, a short, sprightly man with a thin mustache whose garden is celebrated throughout Back Bay.” …

Within the 12-by-15 foot space between his house and the sidewalk, Dr. Macdonald has created such a splendid floral display. His arrangement of roses, coral bells, pansies, geraniums, a Japanese cherry tree, a yew and an Austrian pine won him first prize ribbons from the Back Bay Garden Club last year and this.

The place became Macdonald Springs to the flighty members of the wing set that came to take the waters.  Rising above the flowers, to about 30 inches, was their pool, a six-sided granite basin where finches, grackles, sparrows, pigeons and an occasional hummingbird gossiped and bathed.  It was L St. for birds.

“…this granite was from Caen, France, William the Conqueror’s hometown, and was brought over by him to England in 1066.” Why William would lug blocks of granite to England is a mystery.  Perhaps he envisioned a granite sink for himself to shave in.

Anyway Dr. Macdonald bought the basin for $100 and paid $60 more to have it shipped to Boston.  The doctor has tended gardens all over the world, in his native Australia and in Egypt where he was stationed during World War I.

Today a Garden Club of the Back Bay magnolia tree enhances the front garden.  The birdbath, we believe, was never recovered.

Saturday, October 19, 11:00 am – 4:00 pm – Pumpkin Day

Celebrate the arrival of fall with Historic New England at Cogswell’s Grant, 60 Spring Street in Essex, Massachusetts, from 11 – 4. Take a hay wagon ride through the fields to choose a jack-o’-lantern from our pumpkin patch. Decorate and carve pumpkins, compete in a pumpkin pie-eating contest, make crafts, play games, have your face painted, and try cider pressing. Enjoy hot mulled apple cider and pumpkin pie. Tour the house and see one of the most celebrated collections of American antiques and folk art. Free to Historic New England members and children under 3, $6 nonmembers, $4 children ages 3 to 12 years. Please call 978-768-3632 for more information, or visit

Wednesday, October 16, 7:00 pm – Climate Change and Birds

As part of a Hingham Church Climate Change lecture series Witness to Change, Andrew Vitz, DFW State Ornithologist, will be giving a public presentation Bird Responses to Climate Change in the Northeast: What We Have Seen and What We Can Expect. The talk will take place at the New North Church, 1 Lincoln Street, Hingham at 7:00PM. Refreshments will be served. For more information, contact John Bewick at (781) 740-1117.

Tuesday, October 15, 7:00 – 9:00 pm – Parks Count!

Now that the preliminary is over, Boston Park Advocates are ramping up to keep parks in the discussion until the final elections in November and beyond.  Learn about the at-large city council candidates’ ideas for budgeting, maintaining, and influencing improvements for Boston Parks on Tuesday, October 15th from 7:00-9pm. The event will be similar to our mayoral forum in August with candidates in the front of the room with a moderator asking prepared questions. Seven of eight candidates have confirmed. A meet and greet with coffee and dessert will begin at 7 pm, and the program will begin at 7:30, at the Franklin Park Golf Clubhouse (for directions visit

Thursday, October 10, 7:30 pm – To Build a National Park

In the heart of wild, but threatened, Chilean Patagonia, Conservación Patagónica is creating Patagonia National Park — 650,000 protected acres that include high quality infrastructure, camping facilities and some 70 miles of built trails.

The park’s grand opening will be in a year, with the donation to the Chilean government planned for within the next five years. It will help to save and restore Patagonia’s wild lands and wildlife, inspire care for the natural world, and generate healthy economic opportunities for local communities.

Join Kris Tompkins, former CEO of Patagonia, Inc. and founder of Conservación Patagónica, for a free slide show and discussion about these pioneering initiatives, this Thursday, October 10 at Patagonia Boston, 346 Newbury Street in Boston, beginning at 7:30 pm. For more information call 617-424-1776.


Ten botanic gardens located across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts have joined forces to make it easier for tourists to discover them.  With the support of the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism, and several regional tourist councils, the gardens have created a new website,, providing descriptions, photos, and directions to each of these horticultural gems.   The participating gardens are:

Berkshire Botanical Garden
The Botanic Garden of Smith College
Tower Hill Botanic Garden
New England Wild Flower Society
Garden in the Woods

Wellesley College Botanic Gardens
Massachusetts Horticultural Society
Mount Auburn Cemetery
The Arnold Arboretum of
Harvard University

Heritage Museums and Gardens
The Polly Hill Arboretum

Monday, October 28, 6:00 pm – Mushrooms, Safe Foraging, Delicious Cooking

Have you ever wondered about safe ways to hunt for wild and exotic mushrooms, or wanted to spice up supermarket varieties like crimini or portabello? If so, join president of the Boston Mycological Club Susan Goldhor, expert forager Ben Maleson, and renowned chef Chris Douglass to explore fascinating fungi at this Boston University Food and Wine course to be held Monday, October 28 beginning at 6 pm at 808 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston. Goldhor has been collecting and eating wild mushrooms—without a single stomach ache—for more than 25 years, and writes a regular column for the magazine Mushroom, the Journal of Wild Mushrooming. Chris Douglass is chef/owner of Dorchester’s beloved Tavolo and Ashmont Grill, and an active proponent and patron of local food producers. Please your palate with mushroom dishes paired with wine while expanding your mushroom knowledge.  $80.  Image below from Register on line at

Thursday, October 17, 9:00 am – 12:30 pm – Therapeutic Landscape Collaborations: Successful Evidence Based Design

The Landscape Institute at the Boston Architectural College and The Underground will sponsor a Commemorative Forum in honor of the late Landscape Institute instructor Michael Weinmayr entitled Therapeutic Landscape Collaborations: Successful Evidence Based Design, on Thursday, October 17, from 9 – 12:30 at The Union Hospital, 500 Lynnfield Street in Lynn, Massachusetts.

Panelists include Harvey Zarren, MD, FACC, Christine Wojnar, Feng Shui Institute of America, Elizabeth (Zibby) Ericson, FAIA, LEED AP, Deborah Gaw, Owner of Garden Scapes Landscape Design, Lisa Bailey, ASLA, BayLeaf Studio, David Jay, ASLA, LEED AP O+M, Weinmayr/Jay Associates, Anna Pelosi, Lead HRO – NSMC Inpatient Psychiatry Services and Manager of the Patient and Family Relations Department.

One can almost say that all gardens heal. So what differentiates a healing garden? The main distinction is in how a healing or therapy garden caters to its targeted user group such as cancer, rehabilitation, psychiatric and eldercare patients. This forum pairs healthcare providers, researchers and designers that focus on creating healing spaces and restorative landscapes to promote health and well-being. These experts will demonstrate down to the cellular level why gardens heal, and we will explore how different aspects to a healing garden can promote healing in the different user groups. Many examples of healing gardens will be shown, and participants will tour the Dr. Harvey Zarren Healing Garden, pictured below, at the site as a case study.  The fee is $50, and you may sign up by calling 617-585-0101.  You may also register online at

Monday, January 20 – Friday, January 24, 9:30 am – 3:30 pm – ON LOCATION: The Kampong

Friends of Wellesley College Botanic Gardens announces the 2nd annual ON LOCATION: The Kampong,  National Tropical Botanical Garden in Coconut Grove, Florida.  All abilities are welcome.  Join Sarah Roche and enjoy five days of botanical art.  Once on location, start to draw with easy field sketches on the grounds of the stunning Kampong historic hoe and garden, where the climate of the southeast shore of Florida affords a natural open-air environment in which tropical species flourish.  Explore rudiments of form from live specimens as you work in graphite studies.  Some plants will be flowering, others will be fruiting, and some may have all stages of development visible.  Then add color with watercolors.  Take homea journal filled with field sketches useful for future art works and fond memories of a unique experience.  The fee includes class instruction, two half-day visits to local botanic gardens, a Thursday evening Kampong member lecture by Sarah Roche.  Travel, accommodations, food, and other expenses not included.  Dormitory accommodations at The Kampong may be arranged on a firs-come basis.  For those arriving on Sunday, January 19, a get-acquainted gathering will be arranged.  Contact WCBG Friends for more details.  WCBG Friens of Kampong Members $495, non-members $595. To register, email or call 781-283-3094. Offered in collaboration with The Kampong, National Tropical Botanical Garden.

Friday, October 18, 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm – Tales and Ales

In the late seventeenth century, the Swett-Ilsley House served the town as Swett’s Tavern, one of three watering holes in Newbury. The huge fireplace and massive beams make a perfect backdrop for an evening of historic fun on Friday, October 18, from 6:30 – 9. Join your friends around a rough tavern table and enjoy traditional local brews from Ipswich Ale Brewery and a hearty tavern dinner while listening to true tales of sword fights, scandalous romances, and bloody brawls, all from Newbury’s storied past. Participants must be over 21. The Swett-Ilsley House is located at 4 High Road in Newbury, Massachusetts, and the program is sponsored by Historic New England. $35 Historic New England members, $55 nonmembers. Registration is required. Please call 978-462-2634 for more information, or log on to

Monday, October 14, 10:45 am – 3:00 pm – Christopher Columbus Day Celebration at Christopher Columbus Park

The Friends of Christopher Columbus Park continues its tradition of marking Christopher Columbus’ arrival in America with a free celebration to be held Monday, October 14 from 10L45 am – 3 pm.  Events will kick off with the annual Kids Parade, where kids of all ages are invited to bring their decorated bikes, scooters, or strollers at 10L45 for a promenade through the Park.  At the conclusion of the parade there will be a short ceremony at the Christopher Columbus statue, including a wreath laying ceremony led by Mayor Thomas Menino and Italian Deputy Consul Luigi Munno.

Entertainment through the day will include performances by Jenny the Juggler, Peter O’Malley the Magician, Boris the Pennyfarthing Bicyclist and T-Bone the Interactive Pied Piper, as well as readings by Eliot School students and a patriotic musical performance by the North End Music & Performing Arts Center.  Other activities include face painting, a crafts table, lawn games with prizes, and tours of a real working fire truck.  For complete details visit

Friday, October 18, 5:00 pm – Application Deadline for Grow Boston Greener’s Fall Tree Giveaway

Due to the overwhelming interest in planting trees in Boston, Grow Boston Greener is giving away 100 FREE trees on Saturday, October 26! The Free Tree Giveaway is aimed at broadening community level tree planting efforts by giving away free trees to Boston residents, non-profits and community groups. We have formally launched the Tree Giveaway on

The Grow Boston Greener Tree Giveaway is made possible through the Boston Urban Forest Program, a partnership effort by the Boston Natural Areas Network, the City of Boston’s Park Department, Office of the Mayor’s Sustainability Initiative Greenovate Boston, and the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation.

Available trees include fruit, flowering, shade, or conifer trees. Trees will be in 5 gallon pots, 6′ in height, and weigh about 50 pounds each. The trees must be planted in the City of Boston. Pick up time and location, one day only, Saturday, October 26 from 10 – 2 at City Natives, 30 Edgewater Drive in Mattapan. On that day also, two half hour training sessions will be offered at 11 and 1, on how to properly plant and care for your trees. You must agree to water and maintain the trees for two years following the planting date, to help ensure the tree establishes itself and survives. The trees must be planted before November 30, 2013.

The application form may be found at, and you may email the completed form to, or mail to Grow Boston Greener, Attn: Linda Ciesielski, Boston Natural Areas Network, 62 Summer Street, 2nd floor, Boston, MA 02110.  Image from

Tuesday, October 15, 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm – A Living Laboratory Tour

The Wellesley College Botanic Gardens have some exciting new research gardens that are engaging students in multiple ways.  On Tuesday, October 15, from 1 – 3, journey along with Kristina Jones, Director of the Botanic Gardens, and explore through the eyes of an ecologist the Creighton Educational Garden, the green roof planted with native species, the Climate Change Monitoring Garden, and the in-progress Edible Ecosystem Teaching Garden, all within a short walk from the starting point at the Greenhouse Visitor Center.  The tour is offered in collaboration with New England Wild Flower Society and Friends of Wellesley College Botanic Gardens.  WCBG members $24, non-members $28.  Sign up at, or call 781-283-3094.

UMass Extension’s 2014 Garden Calendar

For many years, UMass Extension has worked with the citizens of Massachusetts to help them make sound environmental choices about growing, planting, and maintaining plants in their landscapes, including vegetables, backyard fruits, and ornamental plants such as trees, shrubs, perennials, vines, annuals, and grasses.

The annual Garden Calendar continues UMass Extension’s tradition of providing gardeners with ways to reduce pesticides, conserve water, and create habitat for humans and wildlife while also enjoying the beauty of their landscapes. It is their hope that the photos selected for this calendar will not only bring pleasure but will also inspire and educate the gardener. Represented in this calendar are plants that are collector’s plants, some that are not widely known and some that are just ‘great’ plants that deserve increased use. Whether it is a disease resistant apple variety, a drought tolerant perennial, or a pest-free and non-invasive shrub that provides food and shelter for wildlife, the choices we make in our own backyards will affect the larger community that we all live in as we move towards a more sustainable future.

Each year, the Garden Calendar presents a selection of plants chosen by the UMass Extension Landscape, Nursery & Urban Forestry staff for pest resistance, adaptability to specific growing environments, and seasonal effectiveness. A brief description accompanies each photo to help understand these plant choices. Furthermore, daily gardening tips provide information on garden pests and management strategies to help gardeners reduce pesticide usage. Also included are “how-to and when” tips such as dates to plant peas, renovate lawns, prune and fertilize roses, conserve water in the landscape, and many more.

Single copies of the 2014 calendar are $12 each. Visit to order online with a credit card.

Friday, October 4 – Monday, October 11 – Topsfield Fair

The colorful and often exciting history of Topsfield Fair began in 1818 when the Essex Agricultural Society, the non-profit organization that owns the Topsfield Fair, was officially granted a charter on June 12th of that year.

The goal of the fledgling Society, formed by a group of “practical farmers” who first met on February 16, 1818, was “to promote and improve the agricultural interests of farmers and others in Essex County.”

Now, almost 200 years later, the Society still strives to do this, “to encourage, promote and preserve Essex County agricultural activities and to educate the general public regarding their importance in an atmosphere of fun and excitement through the medium of the Topsfield Fair.”   For more information log on to

Wednesday, February 26 and Thursday, February 27 – Sustaining the Living Landscape

Save the dates for the 20th Annual Ecological Landscaping Association Conference and Eco-Marketplace, Sustaining the Living Landscape, on Wednesday and Thursday, February 26 and 27 at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Massachusetts,  Join designers, educators, landscape architects, product suppliers, and other ecologically focused land care practitioners at ELA’s two-day Conference and Eco-Marketplace.  Build networks and connections, discover new products, share firsthand experiences, learn the latest sustainable practices, and get educated and inspired.  Call for more information: 617-436-5838.  If you are interested in exhibiting, call 617-308-7063.  The full brochure will be available in December at Image from

Wednesday, October 16, 6:30 pm – Friends of the Public Garden Members Reception

The Friends of the Public Garden invites you to a Members Reception on Wednesday, October 16, beginning promptly at 6:30 pm, at the Union Club, 8 Park Street in Boston.  The talk will begin promptly and the reception will follow.  During this unprecedented season of political change in Boston, come hear national parks leader Tupper Thomas speak about the critical role citizens can play to ensure the revitalization, protection, and well being of their parks.  Tupper was Administrator of Brooklyn, New York’s Prospect Park for 30 years, during which time the park was restored to its former glory.  She is a founding member of City Parks Alliance, a national urban parks advocacy organization, and an inspiring spokesperson for parks.  Those lucky enough to attend a past Boston Committee luncheon will attest to the power of Ms. Thomas as a speaker.  The event is free for members, but please rsvp as space is limited.  Email by Friday, October 11 at, or call 617-723-8144.  Your membership can be renewed at this event.  Lead sponsor of the reception is Motor Mart Garage.

Saturday, October 19, 10:00 am – Sissinghurst: Portrait of a Garden

Join former Sissinghurst head gardener Alexa Datta at Berkshire Botanical Garden on Saturday, October 19 at 10 am for a first-hand look at the gardening year at Britain’s fabled garden at Sissinghurst Castle in Kent, England. Designed by writer Vita Sackville-West and her diplomat husband Harold Nicolson, this iconic landscape is one of the most renowned gardens in the world. Portrait of a Garden gives a short history of Sissinghurst Castle, the gardens, the creators, its philosophy and a visual tour that is sure to inspire. The gardens at Sissinghurst have certainly evolved over the years since its inception in 1930 and, though being conserved, it is currently being gardened in a dynamic way. Get the down and dirty on gardening from the woman behind the scenes at this classic English garden.

Alexa Datta has been a professional gardener for over forty years and spent twenty-two of them as head gardener at Sissinghurst. She studied gardening at horticultural college in England, and has worked at several private and public gardens. In 1983 she joined the National Trust, which cares for many of Britain’s leading gardens and arrived at Sissinghurst in 1991. BBG members $30, nonmembers $35. Register by calling 413-298-3926, or online at

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