New garden opens at Emerald Necklace Parkfest


Parkgoers gather at the Pollinator Garden Saturday, Sept. 24, for its grand opening during the Emerald Necklace Parkfest. They learned information on bees, composting and gardening.

Erin Fine, news staff

Last Saturday, the first-ever Emerald Necklace Parkfest spanned seven parks across Boston with free games, performances and more. The Emerald Necklace Conservancy, a nonprofit stewardship organization that maintains the parks, hosted the event in celebration of Frederick Law Olmsted’s 200th birthday across the 5.5-mile park system he designed.

Events took place across the parks all afternoon, a coordinated effort that showcased the large-scale restoration efforts across the park system, said Karen Mauney-Brodek, the president of the Emerald Necklace Conservancy.

“This is the first time we’ve had simultaneous events at every site so we’re really excited to see everyone come out,” Mauney-Brodek said.

One event took place in the Fenway Victory Gardens of the Back Bay Fens. In a shady clearing near the entrance of the gardens, people and bees alike buzzed with excitement as the Pollinator Garden opened to the public. Years of planning, building and planting finally brought the garden to realization.

“It’s a wonderful addition to the gardens. We’re seeing the fruition of a lot of work,” said Pamela Jorgensen, president of the Fenway Garden Society. 

Jorgensen has coordinated the effort to build the Pollinator Garden since 2018 when the Boston Planning and Development Agency awarded the Fenway Garden Society a grant for an open space for the public.

“It’s a great idea that you have this oasis in the middle of the city,” Jorgensen said. “Everyone has their own little oasis to make their own backyard.”

Parkgoers and gardeners who spoke with The News emphasized the value of dedicated green space in a bustling city like Boston. Many people living in Boston have no yards on their residences and turn to parks for their touch of nature.

“What’s really cool about it is when you walk through [the gardens] it’s all different,” said Adam Jaffe, a hobbyist gardener with a plot in the gardens. “It’s just all different kinds of people that do what they like to do.”

The event wasn’t contained to the Back Bay Fens — Charlesgate held a hip-hop event hosted by Bridgeside Cypher, Jamaica Pond featured cyanotype photography prints of parkgoers and a drag queen story hour and Franklin Park hosted art, puppetry, opera and a parade. The rest of the parks were crammed with even more activities for passersby to enjoy.

“[We’re celebrating] the bicentennial of Olmsted’s birth,” Mauney-Brodek said. “He said parks are a place to see everyone come together. He knew the work to create these spaces was related to democracy.”

Several members of the Fenway Garden Society spoke to The News on Bostonians connecting in the parks — for the Parkfest and year-round.

“We have 475 gardens and we’re kind of like a community that comes together,” said Meredith Babine, the treasurer of the Fenway Garden Society. 

“Our oldest gardener currently is about to turn 104 years old,” said Susan Willow, co-chair of the Garden Society’s tree committee. “We have gardeners out here into their 90s. It’s just incredible proof of what gardening and being out in nature can do.”