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Urban Safari: Boston Public Garden in the Spring

Boston is a beautiful city any time (SpringFall), but there is something extra special about it in the Spring. The rain last weekend had things blooming everywhere. We intended to go back to the Arboretum to see what else had popped, but instead went down to the Boston Public Garden (BPG) and said “Hi” to the ducklings.

The Boston Public Garden, America’s first public botanical garden, was established in 1837. The design (lots of color, showy blooms, etc) was heavily influenced by the Victorian style of gardening. The garden’s large series of formal plantings and the lagoon are maintained by Boston’s Parks and Recreation Department (PRD) and various volunteer groups.

Recently, thousands of tulips of different colors have been planted in the beds flanking the central pathway leading to the bridge. Those beds are replanted on a rotating schedule throughout the year, with different flowers for each season from mid-spring through early autumn. All of the plants used in decorating the Public Garden are grown in their own greenhouses. They cultivate over 80 species of plants for use in the Garden and locations around the city.

Visitors to the Public Garden can enjoy a ride on the famous Swan Boats. The Swan Boat rides in the BPG were created and operated for over 100 years by the Paget family. The story of the Swan Boat’s origin dates back to the 1870’s when Robert Paget was granted a boat-for-hire license by the City of Boston.

Many years ago a summer pastime for many city residents was rowing a small boat in the Public Garden lagoon. Some of us wished we could still do that today! In 1877, with the popularity of the bicycle expanding, Robert Paget created a foot-propelled paddle-wheel powered boat which could carry eight people around the lake. A swan was used shield the peddler. The present-day boats are replicas of those earlier contraptions, but have been expanded to carry up to 20 passengers.

BTW, the Swan Boats share the water with two real swans, Romeo and Juliet. The pair will return to the water this year on May 1st at the 24th Annual Return of the Swans celebration in the Public Garden. The festivities will begin at 11 a.m. We plan to head down for the event. Come and join us if you are in the area!

Spring in Boston is short. Summer (and the humidity) will be here soon enough. Those of us who live here year-round sometimes take Boston’s springtime beauty at the BPG for granted. Many Bostonians cut through the BPG on their way to some place else, but the Garden is a fantastic place for a stroll or to just sit and read a book.

If you have not been to the Boston Public Garden in awhile, we urge you to make time and go check it out soon. The ducklings are are not going to wait around forever!

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