The Friends of the Public Garden recently planted a total of 19 new trees in the three parks the group stewards in partnership with the state – the Boston Common, the Commonwealth Avenue Mall, and the Public Garden. Among them are nine trees on the Common, including four varieties of oak (a pine oak, a red oak, two scarlet oaks, and a white oak); two American Basswoods; and two American Hophornbeams. On the Commonwealth Avenue Mall, the five new trees include a Weeping White Pine, a Blue Atlas Cedar, a Butternut, an American Chestnut, and a Thundercloud Plum.
The five new trees in the Public Garden include three varieties of oak (an overcup oak, a shingle oak, and a white oak, respectively); two hackberries; and a shagbark hickory. Regarding the criteria for choosing different tree species, Rebecca McKevitz, ASLA, director of capital projects and parks care for the Friends group, wrote in an email: “Each of the three parks have a unique character that suggest the use of certain species in order to remain in keeping with the nature of each park. Additionally, we are very thoughtful about the temperature, moisture and level of sun exposure in each location, and choose species that will thrive in each individual planting location. Lastly, we work to create as much biodiversity as possible by planting a variety of different species.” The number of new trees that the Friends group plants in the three parks varies from year to year, added McKevitz. “The number of trees planted each year is determined by several factors – number of available tree planting locations, budget and overall needs of the park,” she wrote. “This year, The Friends were very fortunate to receive support from four tree companies (Barrett, Bartlett, Tree Specialists, and Hartney Greymont) on Arbor Day. Each company donated a tree and the labor to install it. These trees can be found along the MacArthur Mall, adjacent to the ballfields. Additionally, Embrace Boston planted two American Basswoods and two American Hophornbeams near the site of the new Embrace sculpture. The Friends will provide ongoing care for these eight trees, just as we do the roughly 1,700 other trees across the three parks.” As for who cares for the trees, McKevitz wrote, “We work closely with consulting arborist Norm Helie of The Growing Tree to care for all of the trees in the Common, Garden and along the Mall. Norm guides us through tree plantings, removals, seasonal pruning, applications of beneficial elements such as copper, boron and manganese, and the monitoring of both beneficial and harmful insects, such as the Elm Bark Beetle.” For the first time this year, each tree is accompanied by a sign that identifies its species and defining features. “Although the Friends has been planting trees in the three parks for many years, for the first time this year, we installed temporary signage beneath each new tree outlining the common name, botanical name, and some fun facts about each species,” wrote McKevitz. “These signs provide an educational opportunity and a chance for visitors to engage with their parks in a deeper way. The signs also provide an opportunity to amplify the work of The Friends and give the public some insight into our role in these parks.”