Photo by Gene Bolinger

As we take to heart this year’s Earth Day theme, Restore our Earth, the Friends of the Public Garden recommits to the work of caring for the three historic parks in the heart of downtown and living in harmony with all who share them.

Before we dive into the work, we must acknowledge that our parks occupy what was the unceded land, marshlands, and waterways of the Massachusett Nation, today known as Boston. We acknowledge the painful history of forced removal of Indigenous peoples from their land, and that the work of repair is ongoing. In the spirit of the Massachusett people past, present and future, we honor the gifts given to us by this land and return them with our care.

I am a devotee of Robin Wall Kimmerer, biologist, teacher, and member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. Kimmerer weaves her scientific knowledge with the wisdom of Indigenous peoples, who know that we live in a bond of reciprocity with the plant and animal relatives living on the land we also occupy.

A reciprocal relationship with nature means that we give back to the earth what it needs, in gratitude for what it gives us. We cultivate the soil to improve its capacity to support healthy plants. This is our second year of analyzing the parks’ soils for deficiencies and adding lime to enhance the growing environment. Our consulting arborist knows what each tree species needs for micronutrients at different times of the year, and they thrive under this care. The parks’ elms, a tree species threatened by their own pandemic, are still with us because of our work over many years to understand both the trees and the beetles who threaten them, and to manage Dutch elm disease.

These are some of the many ways we continue to give our appreciation to the parks that have been restoring us for the past 14 months of the pandemic, and for centuries before. This commitment to the earth is also a commitment to each other. Our work to care for the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall is grounded in the understanding that these are common spaces held for the public good, for the full diversity of our community.

Since the first Earth Day in 1970, there are now over 1 billion people in 192 countries who participate in Earth Day activities each year. Though the pandemic has made this year’s Earth Day Boston event virtual yet again, we hope you will find some time to get outside and restore your connection with the earth.


Liz Vizza


Join our Virtual 50th Anniversary Celebration next week (April 30) to look back on 50 years of memories, milestones and moments in the Common, Garden, and Mall. Connect with others who care for the parks and renew your own commitment to supporting these important public greenspaces.



One of the things we love most about the Common, Garden, and Mall are the trees, flowers, shrubs, and creatures that call it home. The warm months are a great time to get outside and learn all about the plants and animals that share the yards, streets, and greenspaces where you live. Here are some simple activities to help you look with fresh eyes and get to know your relatives in nature. 

Be sure to snap and share your photos with us from your Earth Day adventures! Tag us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and be sure to use #EarthDayBoston.