Growing Together

‘Growing Together’ celebrates the fact that gardens bring us together at life's important moments. In them we celebrate, remember, mourn, relax, share and play. In every way, as we tend our gardens and each other, we are growing together.” It places people and community at the heart of the garden experience and reflects the commitment of Massachusetts Horticultural Society to do the same.

The garden encourages homeowners to create a space where interior comforts and design elements encourage spending more time in their outdoor spaces with family, friends and community. While we know ample seating and inviting lighting are needed to create entertainment spaces, there are elements that are often overlooked as a piece of purposeful design.

To spark conversation and connection to the land, our herb garden is planted closely to the dining area. Discussing favorite recipes and exploring different flavors are all in an evening’s conversation. You’ll also notice fruit trees are placed on the interior side of the design to add visual interest and another source for outdoor engagement. 

The elevated garden beds surrounding the paved area add height to create a designated space. Adding in various heights through trees and shrubbery completes the sense of a private room while still being able to view beyond the seating area. Elevation also adds a bonus to the herb garden by allowing for an easier harvest for all.

Water Fountains and features have been a part of our lives for hundreds of years. While they may no longer be used as a source of irrigation or fresh drinking water, they create a sense of place and a point of gathering. The sound of trickling water adds an element of tranquility and enclosure as the sounds of outside are excluded. Thanks to an array of sizes, fountains are an element every homeowner can incorporate into their space no matter the allotted area.
The Boston Flower & Garden Show has a century-long history of providing a breath of spring and brief reprieve from the New England winter. The show  inspires educates , and  motivates  the region’s gardeners. It’s a great place to discover new ideas, and have a lot of fun at the same time.

For complete information on the Flower Show including show schedule, directions, horticultural competitions and more click HERE .
Mass Hort is looking for volunteers to help with the Boston Flower & Garden Show. It’s almost here and volunteering grants you complimentary access to the show!
The Flower Show is Mass Hort's largest outreach opportunity of the year is almost here! We would love your help the weekend of March 14 and 15 th !
Please sign up today. We have a limited amount of slots and hope to see you there!
If you'd like more information please contact Julie Griffin at or 617-933-4934
Celebrate Earth Day with Massachusetts Horticultural Society!
2020 Earth Day Clean Up Celebration
Saturday, April 18th, 8 am - 12 pm
We invite you and your organization to get involved. We are looking for volunteers for a variety of projects to get the gardens ready for the visitor season. Support our mission, preserve natural habitats and get involved on Earth Day!

For-profit organizations wishing to volunteer at our Earth Day event are requested to support with a Corporate Membership at the $500 or $1000 level or the equivalent in-kind support in horticultural supplies. Your support is greatly appreciated and will help make the day even more successful!
Volunteer as an individual, family or as a group - all are welcome. Teenagers and minors 14 and under must volunteer with a parent. Corporate team building groups are very popular.

If you wish to volunteer as a group, please contact Julie Griffin at 617-933-4934 or
We're looking for a handful of new faces to join our team, from Visitor Services to Horticulture, Internships to Grounds Maintenance! See the link for all available positions.

This is a great opportunity to share your love of The Gardens at Elm Bank.

Click here for more information.
A Transformation in the Garden

Can you guess which garden item has witnessed more wedding ceremonies than our Director of Events? If you guessed our Italianate’s Copper Beech hedge ( Fagus sylvatica purpurea) then you are correct. And thanks to our friends at Bartlett Tree Experts our 20 year old Beech hedge underwent a much needed overhaul!

Between 1914 and 1927 landscape architect Percival Gallagher of the Olmsted Brothers was hired to redesign the Italianate Garden on the Cheney-Baltzell property. This garden was originally enclosed by an arborvitae hedge , however when Mass Hort arrived the garden was far from beautiful . With hopes of recreating this hedge, 171 Beech trees were planted. These trees now stand 18 ft. tall and continue to wrap the outer edges of our Italianate Garden .

Vice President for Bartlett’s New England region, Paul Fletcher, was hands on last week helping to kick start this much needed prune. Paul let us know this was the ideal time to prune as it was easy to see intersecting branches, but will still allow for optimum foliage growth. Beech tree bark is very thin and can be easily affected by an over exposure to sun. Paul also mentioned this won’t be the only time they visit these trees, two or three more visits will result in an ideal shape as well as a full hedge.

Bartlett’s team worked through the cold weather and rain to help check one very large task off our to-do list and we are very grateful. Be sure to take a special look at the Copper Beech hedge next time you take a stroll through the garden!

P.S. Thanks to Bartlett’s Andrew Podbielski there are some awesome photos of the project, click here to check them out!

Allison Dush
Director of Programs & Education
Upcoming Classes
& Events:

March 24
6:30 pm - 8:30 pm

March 26
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

March 28
10:00 pm - 12:00 pm

April 11
10:00 am - 11:30 am

April 11
10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Check out our  Upcoming Classes page   for all our exciting educational programs.  
March Horticultural Hints

by Betty Sanders
Lifetime Master Gardener
The lack of snow this winter was not good news for our plants. Snow acts as insulation against the cold and sudden temperature changes. Do not be surprised if you lose some plants that are borderline for your zone—and maybe even a few that aren’t.
Use a nasty day to sharpen hand tools such as pruners, trowels and hoes. Clean, sharp tools will make your work easier and, in the case of pruners, ensure no damage to the shrubs you use them on. Send your mower out to be tuned and sharpened before the shops get busy.

When the soil in your yard is dry enough not to leave footprints when walked on, collect the sticks, branches and debris from your lawn. Then, give it a good raking with a steel tined rake to remove dead grass, the dead leaves, and any other debris that accumulated since the end of autumn.

While taking care of those chores, look around your yard looking for plants that have been heaved out of the ground by frost . If it is possible, push them back into the soil. If the soil is still frozen and you cannot replant, cover the roots with four or more inches of fresh soil or mulch. But, make certain you make a note to yourself to plant it properly when the weather allows!
Next, cut back dead plant material that you had left standing over the winter. Remove the old stalks and any debris that accumulated so the new growth will have a clear path for growing, blooming and brightening your yard come spring.

Bring spring indoors . Force branches of witch hazel (which smell wonderful) forsythia, quince, cornus mas, fruit trees and magnolia. Remember when cutting the branches you are actually pruning, so keep the plant’s overall shape in mind. Once indoors, make a fresh cut and place the branches in three inches of warm water with a preservative. Change the water regularly to prevent the growth of bacteria which can inhibit blooming. Once the flowers pop, bring them into a bright room and enjoy your early spring.

You can start planting summer flowers and bulbs—in pots!  Get a head start on tender bulbs such as begonias, cannas, colacassia (elephant’s ear), dahlia and ranunculus. Started indoors in pots. they will be larger and bloom sooner after you put them outdoors when the weather has warmed sufficiently.  Check the planting details for individual bulbs or corms, but most can be potted now in a lightweight, well drained potting mix. When the shoots appear, move them to a site where they get several hours of sunlight a day. As the temperatures increase, increase their sunlight exposure. Once all danger of frost or cold nights are past, move them outside.
Your carefully tended and well-groomed house plants could earn you a ribbon (or two) at the Boston Flower & Garden Show. Bring them into Seaport Trade Center after 1 p.m. on Sunday, March 8 to enter the amateur competition. There’s no fee for entering — or for the bragging rights you’ll earn. Full information on entering is at the bottom of the Amateur Horticulture section of .
To see more of Betty’s horticultural advice, you're welcome to visit .
An Ogre’s Work Is Never Done

by Neal Sanders
Leaflet contributor
As readers of this blog know, Betty and I have been co-managers of our town’s Community Garden for more than a decade. For Betty, it is a wonderful job: her role is to educate gardeners. She freely answers all questions and passes on advice, articles and her abundant horticultural wisdom. In turn, the 75 gardeners who have plots make it a point to say ‘hello’ to her whenever she is in the garden, and to praise her latest missives.

With all the good designations taken, my role is that of the Garden Ogre. I send out stern reminders to keep squash vines in check and keep garden fences taut. I am the Weed Police: when a gardener fails to keep his or her aisles free of weeds, I send out OgreGrams with an ever-increasing level of threats and promises of dire consequences. As a result, gardeners avoid me.

My job description also includes keeping the garden filled. We have an acre of land divided into 55, 600-square-foot plots; many of which are subdivided into a pair of 300-square-foot gardens. These plots are not hereditary. Each year, gardeners must re-apply and pay a fee. Inevitably, there is turnover. People ‘age out’ or they move. Some gardeners have plots to ensure their children know where food comes from. When the kids get to middle school, the lesson is deemed learned and the plot becomes available.
Each January I send out an email to ‘gardeners in good standing’ and ask if they would like to return for the coming season. I also ask if they would like to move up or down in plot size, and if they would prefer a different part of the garden.

This year’s response was about normal. Eleven gardeners indicated they were moving or otherwise not coming back, three gardeners wanted larger spaces and four gardeners asked to move forward or back. (The back gets all-day sun, but it means threading your way through up to four tiers of gardens in front of you.)

I set to work with my plot diagram and produced a draft plan for 2020. The three gardeners got their full plots. Those who wanted to move (including one guy who wanted to be closer to two lady gardeners – who knew?) also got their wish. I sent around the draft, expecting compliments and thanks.
That’s not the way it works in the Ogre trade. One gardener was aghast I had moved her to the ‘wrong side’ of the garden in order to get a sunnier plot. Her friends were on the ‘good side’ and could I please move her back? I had no idea a single acre of land could have ‘desirable’ neighborhoods and agricultural slums. Another said I had moved him too far toward the front and, if the correct row wasn’t available, would I return him to his original space? Yet another didn’t want to be in the back row, having heard there were ‘woodchuck issues.’ (It’s a garden in the middle of a former farm. The woodchucks spend the winter planning their spring campaign of destruction. No garden is safe.)
Then came the second wave. Gardeners who had been perfectly happy with their spaces looked at the plot plan and discovered there were greener pastures available. A prize spot in the center of the garden was being vacated by a long-time pair of gardeners relocating for retirement. Five people emailed me asking if they could claim that spot and give up their own space. I chose the ‘winner’ on the basis of the email’s time stamp, informed the losers, and was immediately told it was ‘unfair’ and should have been decided by a lottery. Another gardener noticed his plot-mate had moved to a full plot and asked if he could have the other half as well. (No, it was claimed by someone who wanted to ‘move back’ for more sun.)
All is quiet for the moment. But, then again, I haven’t opened my email in more than two hours. And this is before I open the floodgates to new gardeners on March 1… and make good on enforcing the deadline of February 29 for returning gardeners to pay for their plot or lose their right to their existing garden.

There are probably community gardens where everyone is deliriously happy just to have a plot. Once upon a time, plots in the Community Garden were assigned by standing in line outside Town Hall on a specified Saturday morning (including in snow) in mid-March and taking whatever space was available. We live in enlightened (and entitled) times. As long as there are computers and retirees willing to take on the running of gardens, we will have the current state of affairs.

I just wish people wouldn’t address the envelopes containing their renewal checks to ‘Garden Ogre’. 
Neal Sanders’14 th mystery, ‘A Murder on the Garden Tour’, has just been published. You can find it and his other books on and in bookstores.
Planting the Oudolf Gardens at Hauser & Wirth Somerset
By Rory Dusoir
Filbert Press in association with Hauser & Wirth Publishers, 2019

When I received a copy of Planting the Oudolf Gardens at Hauser & Wirth Somerset I could not help but wonder if there is anything new to learn about Piet Oudolf's landscapes. His work is widely published, and I have reviewed several books about his projects and planting philosophy. I have visited many of his gardens. The movie Five Seasons: The Gardens of Piet Oudolf , provides an opportunity to experience his creative oeuvre on the big screen. Could I be Oudolfed-out?
So, it was with trepidation that I read  Planting the Oudolf Gardens at Hauser & Wirth Somerset, Rory Dusoir's paen to Oudolf, the grand master of the new perennial movement. The book is described as an intimate portrait of the gardens throughout the seasons and chronicles their creation, evolution and ongoing maintenance. Dusoir visited the gardens at Hauser & Wirth Somerset frequently, fully experiencing the passage of time upon the landscape. 
A pioneering world-class gallery and multi-purpose art center, Hauser & Wirth Somerset is a destination for experiencing art, architecture and the Somerset landscape. It offers innovative exhibitions of contemporary art, educational programs for local schools, young people and families, and immersive artists in residence programs. All are centered around a core belief in conservation, education and sustainability. The site is open to the public, free of charge, six days a week.
In many ways Oudolf's unique design sensibilities were a perfect match for the artistic spirit embraced by the mission of the client. At Hauser & Wirth Somerset he worked without constraint or compromise. The synergy between landscape elements, gallery, and educational spaces, aligned perfectly with his original use of plant materials, where rhythm, balance and meaning coalesce in a painterly fashion to become a landscape that defies seasonality.   
Set within a restored farmstead, the property consists of three distinct garden spaces - a farmyard, the Cloister Garden, and the 1.5 acre Oudolf Field, a perennial meadow of 26,000 herbaceous plants that sits behind the gallery buildings. Used for a changing program of outdoor sculptures, the Oudolf Field contains no woody plants and hard landscaping. It is described by Dusoir as being most complete in autumn when, enhanced by the dramatic effects of light its shifting colors offer a dynamic contribution to the landscape.        
A foreword, by Oudolf reinforces the value of the book's focus on a singular landscape providing an opportunity for an in-depth look at its key elements - design, plant selection and maintenance. These are shared seasonally by garden. Each element is woven into the book's narrative serving as pragmatic examples that instruct and descriptive passages that inspire. This is a landscape of seemingly effortless beauty that was complicated to create and requires continual care. 
Dusoir takes great pains to acknowledge the limitations of his methodology. He has a profound affinity for his subject that evidences itself in his elegant prose. The book's photography, by Jason Ingram, illuminates each page with a mystical beauty. Promoted as the first book on Oudolf plantings for home gardeners, Planting the Oudolf Gardens at Hauser & Worth Somerset, is as meticulously crafted as an Oudolf landscape. An almost sixty-page plant directory, that includes a photograph and description of each, is included. This provides useful source material for translating Oudolf's vision to the home gardener.
While an intimate and personal portrait of one project, Planting the Oudolf Gardens at Hauser Wirth Somerset acknowledges the important contribution that Oudolf has made to the iconography of landscape design. Dusoir places his work within the context of the naturalistic movement, including the work of William Robinson, and the landmark public projects, including the High Line in New York and the Lurie Garden in Chicago that have imagined a new paradigm for public landscapes. 
Dusoir studied for a degree in classics at Balliol College Oxford before deciding to pursue a career in horticulture. His extensive experience includes training at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, serving as assistant head gardener at Great Dixter and head gardener at Howe Mill in Withshire and Stud House, a private estate within the grounds of Hampton Court Palace. He currently practices at 'Kennedy Song Dusoir' a design, maintenance and installation practice in London and is widely published on a diverse field of topics relating to horticulture and design.  
Oudolf designs gardens in four dimensions using plants as his palette. At Hauser & Wirth Somerset his landscape plan integrates discrete gardens holistically, underscoring his mastery of spatial relationships as well as his widely lauded skill as a plantsman. In Planting the Oudolf Gardens at Hauser & Wirth Somerset, Dusoir succeeds, aided by the beautiful photographs of Jason Ingram, to enhance our appreciation for Oudolf's genius.     
(All photographs by Jason Ingram)
Patrice Todisco writes about parks and gardens at the award-winning blog , Landscape Notes.
From the Stacks:

By Maureen T. O'Brien,
Library Manager
Exhibitions are kind of ephemeral moments,
sometimes magic moments,
and when they're gone, they're gone.

Hans-Ulrich Obrist (b. 1968)
Since its inception, the Society held exhibitions year-round to display and reward horticulture excellence. Participants proudly exhibited their discoveries, plants and other creations. In 1871, the Society launched the Annual Spring Flower Show. The Society continued to sponsor the highly anticipated shows for 138 years until 2009. Since 2009, the Society has participated in Paragon’s Boston Flower Show. 

Featured Collection ―Flower Show Posters
Flower Show posters promoted the shows with important information and artful images. These posters are classified as ephemera, created not as a collectible but for a specific purpose. We collect the posters because they are part of our historic records and memory and give valuable information about the times.

Last month, the Library was pleased to receive 2 vintage Flower Show posters: a poster for the 1929 Centennial Show from Agnes Hunsicker and a poster from Ellen Katz for the show’s 125th Anniversary in 1996.

The year 1929 started out with many firsts and the economy was booming. It saw the first Academy awards, the first grand prix in Monaco and the debut of Popeye. It was the year that the Vatican gained independence from Italy. The roaring twenties brought big changes to ladies fashions. Women were wearing knee-length dresses with pleated skirts and dropped waists. Their hair was cut into short bobs, often with finger waves topped with cloche hats. Then in late October 1929, the stock market crashed leading to the 10 year Great Depression.

The 1929 Flower Show was the 57th Flower Show and it celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Society. It was held at Mechanic Hall on Huntington Avenue in Boston from March 19 to 23rd. The poster for the show is in stark contrast to what was happening in the country. It depicts a nostalgic view of what the promoters thought the early 1800s were like. The poster depicts a boy presenting a large bouquet to a woman in an off-the-shoulder dress with a voluminous skirt, akin to the mid 1800’s antebellum fashion. Flowers festoon her dress and large hat. The poster was sponsored by Boston Bank Note Company.
Image: Left: 1929 Flower Show Poster. Right: 1996 Flower Show poster.
The 1996 Flower Show opened in snowstorm and was held from March 9 to 17th at Bayside Expo Center and celebrated the 125 th year of the show. The show’s theme was “Celebrations.” Advertising media depicted an impressionistic view of a garden adjacent to a bench and garden shed.

The poster for the show is not an advertisement for the show but rather a commemorative piece by artist Jan V. Roy , who created collectable posters for the Flower Show from 1982 to 2000. It is a vibrant, contemporary serigraph depicting pussy willows in a bright pink vase before a window revealing the landscape outside. Unlike the 1929 poster, it is indicative of the 1990s.

During the month of March, we are displaying some of our of Flower Show posters in the Library. You can see more posters year-round in the Putnam Building on our Elm Bank campus. Do you have Flower Show ephemera you would like to donate to the Library? If so, please contact Library Manager Maureen O’Brien at
In the Windows – Flower Show Ephemera

Our Collections are Growing…
The Library relies on the generosity of its members to build and preserve its Collections. This month we thank Ellen Katz and Agnes Hunsicker for the posters and Ellen Katz and Anne Kane for the books they donated to the Library. 

Come Visit the Library…
Drop into the Library when the lights are on to browse, research or go shopping. The Library has a section of horticulture books for sale at bargain prices. They make wonderful eco-friendly gifts or additions to your personal reference library. For hours or to make an appointment visit our webpage . - 617-933-4900