Your own Pocket Park

2, Aug, 2016 Darrah Cole

The newest installation on The Greenway is a wonderful collaboration between our staff, interns and artists.

Asked to come up with possibilities for a small corner property added to The Greenway responsibilities by MassDOT in 2015, we put our heads together this past winter. Tucked between the Leather District, Chinatown, the edge of the Financial District, and near two tunnel exits, this triangular property’s eventual use will be determined over time with the surrounding communities. In the meantime, our goals were to clean it up and make it lively but not inviting to abuse and misuse. Why not do something fun and out of the ordinary?

Renderings from Lincoln

Design rendering for the new Lincoln street parcel

PH Design concept

Early design concepts

The design parameters were similar to all the horticulture areas – low maintenance, resilient plant material, able to be organically cared for, and cautious about creating hidden or unseen areas.  Our questions were  “How can we animate the space?”, and “How to create visual interest without a complex planting scheme?” We considered many inspiring images, ideas and materials. After a number of distinct iterations we landed on a simple combination of circular gardens – edged with CorTen steel, and surrounded by a rock and gravel mulch.


Two thymes and a gravel sample

Gravel gardens have their own history, and are traditionally used in areas with poor soil and an expectation of high drought tolerance.  Many are planted with no irrigation, relying on a plant’s innate survival skills to establish a deep and effective root system underneath the cover of gravel. While the established elm trees on this site create shade areas not typically associated with dry gardens, we altered some plant choices in hopes of accommodating the varied light conditions.

PH install irrigation

Installing irrigation


Finish raking of the large gravel area cover


Installation began on June 6th and was fully complete by June 15th.  Our maintenance team installed the fabricated steel rings, and the Horticulture irrigation crew adapted the existing irrigation. As with many planting projects, this spring we enlisted the aid of our regular volunteers to carefully tuck in the plants, followed by installing the two sizes of gravel. Finally, seating was added to the sidewalk area and, almost suddenly, we have a new neighborhood environment.

PH small circle with glass

Sempervirons and sedum mulched with recycled green glass

PH Thyme and grasses

Everything but the mural

Last to be added was a mural on the ramp wall. Curated by Greenway Public Art curator Lucas Cowan, the mural artist, Kawandeep Virdee  submitted  prototypes and designs for this wall. The installation of the mural was completed in late July.  The Greenway teams from Operations, Horticulture, Maintenance and Public Art have done a fantastic job collaborating, supporting and installing the work in this new parcel. Well done everyone.