Fall Reflections: Horticulture Achievements in Fiscal Year 2014

15, Oct, 2014 Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy

“She had only to stand in the orchard, to put her hand on a little crab tree and look up at the apples, to make you feel the goodness of planting and tending and harvesting at last.”
–  Willa Cather


Autumn marks a season of reflection and here at the Greenway, we have much to look back upon and be grateful for. The organic horticulture team, composed of only ten staff members in the spring and summer seasons, have successfully continued to improve the Greenway with sustainable, award-winning landscape practices. And they couldn’t have done it without the help of an amazing group of volunteers, committed to making their “urban backyard” lush, healthy, and safe.


Our sustainable horticulture practices include weed management, top seeding, and aeration, organic debris composting for fertilizer applications, and efficient water usage. Operating without the use of herbicides contributes to healthier, more resilient plants, better able to withstand and adapt to the stress of public use and the urban environment.  Our compost tea operation has increased in applications, from 1,800 gallons in 2010 to 13,000 gallons annually. In addition, the depth of the roots on the Greenway has tripled since the Conservancy took over park operations and introduced organic methods.



The staff and volunteers have continued to improve Dewey Square’s pollinator, edible, demonstration, and rain gardens.  59 planter containers throughout the park are changed out seasonally with arrangements consistent with their park surroundings.


An important project this year was the spring replanting in the North End Park along Hanover and North Streets. We installed new plants, including evergreens and roses. Plants were selected to screen against the traffic on the adjoining surface streets, to provide four season interest, and for urban-hardiness. Daffodils and other flowering bulbs were replanted back into the garden bed, and remaining removed plants were transplanted elsewhere in the park. This project was informed by community meetings held over the last several years.

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In Chinatown, we significantly filled in garden beds throughout the park, most recently filling them with 300 seasonal mums.  In the Fort Point Channel Parks, we added evergreens for winter interest and structure, a new garden bed to anchor a park entrance, and installed plant signage. In the Wharf District Parks, in conjunction with the new plantings around the Greenway Carousel, we filled in plantings along the promenade. Throughout the Greenway, 21 failing street trees were replaced and an additional 27,000 bulbs were added.


The community of volunteers has grown tremendously (up from 2,183 in 2012 to 3,118 in 2013) to help make horticulture care possible! Bringing people to dig in the soil shoulder-to-shoulder with our horticultural staff is a terrific way to tell the story of our organic care of this roof-top garden. Keelin Purcell, the Greenway’s first full-time Volunteer Coordinator, came on in January to make tremendous efforts in organizing and building a hands-on education and volunteering program.  She has greatly increased and diversified the opportunities and partnerships for the 2014 season, including a  new collaboration with the United Way for the care of the Dewey Square Park gardens. In light of the positive reviews from volunteers, the Conservancy has consistently won the Top Rated Award from GreatNonProfits.org.



Give thanks to all that have helped make this urban garden grow!

See you on the Greenway,