A Message from Vidya Tikku, General Manager
With the winter chill fast approaching, I find myself reviewing all the work for the care and upkeep of our gardens and preparing the lists and budgets for the upcoming year. This season, we invested just over $350,000 in garden infrastructure maintenance and repairs, not counting special capital projects like the new sun-shelter being built for the Leyland garden or the new bulletin boards and signage going into multiple gardens. Our list of care and repairs is long, continuously growing and evolving, and I want to thank you all for the time spent this year working with us and the volunteer groups that join us in the gardens. I am humbled by the amount of work accomplished by our gardeners and garden coordinators, who have already put in approximately $502,000 worth of work this year. Boston's community gardens clearly run on the passion, innovative spirit, will power and hard work of our gardeners, and I am so thankful to all of you. Please look out for an email from me with a small token of appreciation for all the garden coordinators who lead this amazing volunteer effort across the city.
Looking ahead, this is a great time to communicate with our staff team to plan for the coming year. Please let us know of changes in your garden leadership and as well as programs, meetings and cleanups that you may have already scheduled for 2020. We generate all the garden projects based on the infrastructure assessments carried out in the fall but do send Barry or me any critical needs in your garden and we can review together. Please share any program ideas with me or Michelle by the end of December, so we can maximize our efforts across all gardens. If you have any new construction on your street or block, or know of a funding opportunity, don't hesitate to reach out to me anytime at vtikku@... or 617.542.7696 ext. 2113.
Getting Ready for Winter...and Spring!
– Barry Merluzzo, Stewardship Manager
Winter weather is here! As the majority of the gardens in Boston support mainly vegetable and annual flowers, most gardeners are not particularly active past December. However, many gardeners remain active and use this time to cultivate hardy crops beneath season extenders, order seeds and accomplish seasonal tasks such mulching and pruning of woody plants.
Many gardens contain features such as open lawns and public pathways that remain quite active in the winter months. At these locations, volunteer garden coordinators and Trustees staff team up to monitor the elements, access, and activity to make sure conditions remain safe and welcoming for visitors. Common tasks include snow removal, cleanup of fallen branches, pruning trees and shrubs, and collecting trash and debris.
Clearing snow and ice from the public sidewalks abutting the gardens is a primary concern during the winter months. The Trustees is responsible for maintaining the public walkways and sidewalks abutting the community gardens and strives to keep them in safe condition. Accomplishing this for over 50 properties, following even a small storm, can be quite a challenge. Thankfully, many community gardeners rise to this challenge and assist the Trustees at our gardens and parks throughout the city.
In November, Jordan & Barry finished “water blowouts” which involve blowing compressed air into the irrigation to remove excess water thus preventing freezing water lines. They opened December with snow clearing, including the particularly long Berkeley Community Garden sidewalk!
Solstice Illumination Night
Saturday, December 21 | 4-6PM
Governor Hutchinson's Field | 220-224 Adams Road, Milton
Celebrate the return of the light with a fire spinning circle, live music, hot drinks, and campfire cooking. Get your tickets here to help us plan (walk-ins are still welcome).
Master Urban Gardener Winter 2020
Apply now to join our intensive training for community and home gardeners looking to gain new expertise in soil building, organic pest and disease management, edible natives for the garden, community garden organizing, and much more! Eight Saturdays starting January 18, applications due December 26.
SAVE THE DATE!
44th Annual Gardeners’ Gathering
Saturday, March 21
featuring special guest speaker Reverend Mariama White-Hammond, an internationally recognized climate justice activist born and raised in Boston, along with dozens of workshops & exhibitors.
Fallin’ In Love with Seasonal Interest
– Jordan Takvorian, Steward
When selecting new trees, shrubs, and perennials it’s easy to focus on their flowers, however many plants have attractive fall foliage and charming attributes that make them dazzle in the depths of winter as well. With a little planning, your landscape can be colorful all year long.
Hands down, the perennial to plant is Amsonia hubrichtii or Bluestar. Originally from the south and central US, this perennial produces powder blue star-shaped flowers in May and feathery plumes of pure golden leaves in fall that will linger into early winter. Northern Sea Oats or Chasmanthium laterifolium produces delicate, bronzed seed heads in late September that will stand erect, wafting on the breeze, throughout minor snowstorms.
Standout shrubs include Hydrangea quercifolia or Oak leaf hydrangea with big, bold, textured deeply maroon leaves that really pop against their own drying flowerheads. Both Fothergilla and Vaccinium or Blueberry offer flaming red leaves that are stunning year to year. The young stems of blueberry are a fiery red that stand in stark contrast with a blanket of snow. Periodically prune out the older wood to keep them vibrant in winter and producing lots of fruit in summer. Clethra or Summersweet which will delight your nose in late summer turns a golden yellow. Red and sugar maples remain the classic choice for leaf peepers but it would be a shame to overlook their relative Acer pensylvanicum or Striped Maple. This maple is a small tree with lovely muted yellow leaves in fall and striated green bark that catches the eye when other plants go dormant. Sassafras is as fun to say as it is to look at. Throughout the summer you can find three unique leaf shapes on the tree. In fall this beauty continues to be a charming oddball and can’t decide what color its leaves should turn; you’ll often find red, orange, yellow, and plain green all on the same tree.
Blue Cross Workplace Gardens
– Annabel Rabiyah, Blue Cross Blue Shield Garden Coordinator
We’re wrapping up another great season at the Blue Cross Blue Shield workplace community gardens in Hingham and Quincy. We started the season out with the gardens—especially Quincy—completely flooded and nearly impossible to work in. However, great innovations came out of this challenge: we started mounding beds and established pathways to minimize compaction of the soil. They did so well that we hope to establish raised beds for all garden plots next season!
It was a great year for cucumbers and tomatoes, with minimal disease. Some gardeners tried new designs for cucumber trellises (such as the A-frame pictured below) that were very successful! Both gardens' summer squash got attacked by squash vine borer, but a thorough surgical intervention saved about half the plants.
In the communal plots we grew a collection of native wildflowers for pollinators, nativars of strawberries, blueberries, and cranberries, and a three sisters bed of corn, beans, and squash. The red noodle beans were very productive and easy to harvest - a great addition to a gardener's stir fry. Farmers’ markets at both sites provided super-local food to non-gardeners at BCBS and raised money for a local charity.
The garden was a great way for staff to take a break from the office and come connect with nature, and each other. Now, the plots are all ready for winter, with cover crop and garlic planted and a nice layer of compost to feed all the decomposers living underground.
Thanks for all of your support in the gardens!
Give a Gift Membership
Want to give a gift that gets your loved ones adventuring around the state and supports open space in Boston and beyond? For Trustees gift membership information and to purchase, please click here or contact mdelima@... if you'd like your gift to directly support the community gardens.
Winterlights is here!
Naumkeag | The Stevens-Coolidge Place | Eleanor Cabot Bradley Estate
More Lights. More Locations. Back by Popular Demand!