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Press and Media

Welcome to the Massachusetts Horticultural Society's Press Room. Here you will find information about the Society and upcoming events.

For Press Inquiries please contact:

Katherine Macdonald
617-933-4955
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The Gardens at Elm Bank Opens for the Season May 1st

WELLESLEY, MA April 20, 2015 - The Gardens at Elm Bank will open May 1st with a focus on kids and families this season, announced Katherine Macdonald, President of Massachusetts Horticultural Society. This beautiful garden destination, located in Metro West and fifteen miles from downtown Boston, offers over 16 acres of gardens and historic landscapes. The Gardens at Elm Bank are open from May 1 through Columbus Day, Tuesday-Sunday, 10 am – 4pm. Admission is free for Mass Hort Members, for Visitors: Adults: $8, Children under 12 free with adult. The entrance is located at 900 Washington Street (Route 16), Wellesley, MA.

This summer, families will enjoy daily garden tours free with membership or daily admission. Tours meet at 11 am at the new Visitors' Center located in the "Flora" cottage adjacent to the parking lot. Youth and Family Programs will be held on Tuesday-Sunday, 10 am – 11 am, and will meet in Weezie's Children's Garden.

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The goddess statues, Flora, Ceres, and Pomona, overlook the Maple Grove at The Gardens at Elm Bank.

John Forti, Mass Hort Director of Education and Horticulture noted: "I am excited to explore new ways by which we can engage all of our visitors with hands-on outdoor education that can inspire a sense of place shared by the generations. Each year we will be planting the seeds of our intention with an annual theme, beginning with our 2015 theme of "Youth and Family Engagement". This will be evident in our public programs, educational outreach, and most importantly throughout the landscapes and gardens of Elm Bank. When you visit Elm Bank in the coming season, you can explore inspiring, new pathways to learning, including daily garden tours of the site, family discovery guides, and hands-on garden programs in our children's garden."


The Gardens at Elm Bank are a wonderful natural resource for people of all ages to enjoy, whether you are interested in plants or gardening or just relaxing in the beautiful landscape. Located at 900 Washington Street in Wellesley (Route 16), on the 36-acre Cheney estate in the Elm Bank Reservation, the property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The estate includes twelve display gardens, some highlights include the Italianate Garden designed by the Olmsted Brothers, The Bressingham Garden, a magnificent four-season perennial garden displaying a mixture of perennials, trees, and shrubs, the magical Weezies' Children's garden with butterfly garden, and our Garden to Table display vegetable garden. Yet to be restored is an Asian Garden with old boat house and bridge designed by the Olmsted Brothers in an area called the canal. The 36-acres is adjacent to the Elm Bank Reservation's woodland trails that follow along the Charles River.

Check out Mass Hort's web site (masshort.org) for membership information and educational activities and events offered at the gardens. There is something for everyone! A June 2nd Garden to Table program offers an open-air cooking demonstration by area chef, John Lawrence, of Peppers Fine Food Catering where you will learn how to prepare delicious meals using the freshest fruits, herbs and vegetables—and enjoy them too.

Join us on June 7, July 23, and August 13 for a picnic and music in the gardens, sponsored by Wellesley Bank Charitable Foundation.

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Founded in 1829, The Massachusetts Horticultural Society's mission is to develop the public's enjoyment, appreciation and understanding of plants, gardens, design, and the environment. Mass Hort is a 501 (c) (3) educational nonprofit and is supported by membership, sponsorships, and donations.

The historic and contemporary gardens at The Gardens at Elm Bank demonstrate how plants and design are an integral part of everyday life for people of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds. Gardens connect people to plants and to the environment through sustainable design, interpretation, cultural practices, and pure enjoyment. Mass Hort offers educational programming to engage both adults and children so they may learn about plants and gardening, and contemporary issues such as health, sustainability, and stewardship of our natural world.

Come, learn, and grow at the Massachusetts Horticultural Society as we celebrate our 186th year. Please join us in the garden, the exhibit hall or the classroom to enjoy and explore the wonderful world of plants and gardens.

John Forti Named Director of Horticulture and Education at Massachusetts Horticultural Society

August 22, 2014, WELLESLEY, MA.  The Massachusetts Horticultural Society is excited to announce that John Forti has been named the Director of Horticulture and Education, a major step in the implementation of our 10-year strategic plan.

John FortiJohn will be an exceptional addition to our dedicated staff, instrumental in realizing goals for our historic landscapes, teaching gardens, the garden-to-table initiative, education programs, and the development of tourism on our property. A nationally recognized lecturer, garden historian, ethnobotanist and garden writer, Forti comes to us from the Strawberry Banke Museum in Portsmouth, NH, where he created numerous award-winning gardens and educational programs in the role of the Curator of Historic Landscapes. He previously served as the Director of Horticulture at Plimoth Plantation Museum, where he created a gardens and seed program that brought international attention to the preservation of Pilgrim and Wampanoag heirloom crops.
 
John founded and serves as the board chair for Slow Food Seacoast. He serves on the bio-diversity committee for Slow Food USA and recently represented the group as an international delegate among the 150 nations at the Terra Madre or "Farmers United Nations" in Italy. He is chair of the board for the Herb Society of America’s New England Unit, and won the 2014 Award for Excellence in Horticulture from the national office.
 
"I met John soon after I joined Mass Hort, and was immediately struck by his enthusiasm and passion for horticulture and this legacy institution," said Katherine K. Macdonald, President and Executive Director of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society. "John has a wonderful way of engaging with the public, and a clear commitment to helping people of all ages understand the natural world through our relationships with plants."

"For the last 185 years the Massachusetts Horticultural Society has influenced our communities, and fostered a love of horticulture that has touched all of us," John noted. "Since I was a child growing up on the North River in Norwell, MA, our regional landscapes and a passion for gardening (in large part fostered by Mass Hort) helped to shape the course and quality of my life."

Massachusetts Horticultural Society’s legacy continues in the 21st century: improving horticulture for the public good, inspiring gardeners and horticulturalist, and providing a setting, whether in the classroom, the garden, or the exhibit hall, for the public to learn and appreciate horticulture.

"New generations of young farmers, market gardeners and artisanal producers are hungry for mentors.  Young children face even greater challenges in an age when studies show that kids know fewer than 10 animals and plants in their own backyards, but recognize over 1,000 corporate logos.  But there are solutions, and I am excited to help create landscapes and programs that re-engage the generations and help them to learn from one another in the garden.  I look forward to working with garden clubs, master gardeners, school administrators, and our region’s horticultural & environmental groups to build resilient communities around our horticultural heritage and our cultural inheritance of heirloom and native plants," John commented.

Founded in 1829, the Massachusetts Horticultural Society is dedicated to encouraging the science and practice of horticulture and to developing the public's enjoyment, appreciation, and understanding of plants and the environment. Located on 36 acres in the historic Elm Bank Reservation, Wellesley/Dover, MA,  The Gardens at Elm Bank provide a place where people of all backgrounds can come together for inspiration and education. Our public gardens are a place of beauty, discovery, quiet reflection, and appreciation of garden design. Massachusetts Horticultural Society is a 501 ( c) (3) not-for-profit organization.

Mass Hort Exhibit - Eden on the Charles- wins four awards at the Boston Flower & Garden Show!

WELLESLEY, MA. March 22, 2014  The Massachusetts Horticultural Society’s exhibit “Eden on the Charles” at this year’s Boston Flower & Garden Show (March 12-16, 2014), received the Allen C. Haskell Award, The Landscape Design Council of Massachusetts Emily Seaber  Parcher Award, the Ecological Landscape Alliance Environmental Vision Award, and the New England Nursery Association Award, and the Massachusetts Agriculture Ribbon.

Massachusetts Horticultural Society’s exhibit, Eden on the Charles, highlighted two love stories that took place at Mass Hort’s Elm Bank Estate in Dover, MA,  illustrating the show them of “Romance in the Garden”. The exhibit’s design depicts the courtship of Ray and Betty Frost canoeing down the Charles River at Elm Bank and stopping for a picnic along the shore. Descendants and family of Mr. & Mrs. Frost attended the show on Saturday, March 15 to see the exhibit that honored the Frosts.

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 Flower Show 2014 Bridge Mass Hort Flower Show CanoeFlower Show 2014 Fringe Tree

Mass Hort design team, led by Landscape Institute/BAC designers Suzanne Higham and including Heather Heimarck (Landscape Institute Executive Director), Julia Esteves, Piera Sassaroli, with Jeff Dube and Bill Cuddy and Mass Hort staff David Fiske, Charlie Harris, and Clark Bryan did a superb job demonstrating landscape design and horticultural concepts.

Massachusetts Horticultural Society’s exhibit was designed to engage the public in the beauty of plants, gardens, and landscape design and to highlight the talents of landscape designers and green industry professionals in the practice and love of horticulture.

Awards Included:

  • Allen C. Haskell Award: Presented to a professional garden exhibit that shows distinction in landscape design with a heavy emphasis on color  using rare and unusual plant material, mainly new species and cultivars that have been introduced but not readily available to the trade. Presented by the Massachusetts Horticultural Society.
  • Ecological Landscape Alliance Environmental Vision Award: Presented to the exhibit that best demonstrates the design and execution of ecological concepts and ecological principles.
  • The Landscape Design Council of Massachusetts Emily Seaber Parcher Award: The Landscape Design Council of Massachusetts’s Emily Seaber Parcher Award for excellence in landscape design of a naturalistic garden of less than 1,000 square feet. "Garden on the Charles," the winning exhibit by the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, was inspired by two love stories that took place on the organization's property, Elm Bank. The exhibit featured a winding stream with naturalistic plantings, complete with wooden canoe, foot bridge, and artist's retreat.
  • New England Nurserymen’s Award
     

Mass Hort’s Exhibit - A Collaboration with Designers and Organizations

Several skilled designers contributed to Mass Hort’s exhibit: Julia Esteves is a Massachusetts Certified Landscape Professional (MCLP) and owner of Juliagarden Landscape Design, a landscape design, build and maintain business in Osterville, MA;  Heather Heimarck, Landscape Institute, Piera Sassaroli, owner of Piera’s Landscape Design of Boston, is a designer based out of both Boston and Milan, Italy; Jeff Dube will be returning to The University of Michigan in the fall to complete his Masters of Landscape Architecture;  Suzanne Higham is owner of Frog Hollow, a landscape design, installation and maintenance company based in Georgetown, MA; and Bill Cuddy is owner of WJC Services, a full service design, building, and maintenance landscape company in Rowley, MA.

Donations of materials and assistance were provided by Boston Architectural College, the Landscape Institute, Ball Seed, Northeast Nurseries, Inc., Weston Nurseries, Bartlett Tree Experts, Northwoods Canoe Company, Szczechowicz Landscape Services, and Stonewood Products, Inc. Painting by Julia Blake.

Founded in 1829, the Massachusetts Horticultural Society mission is to encouraging the science and practice of horticulture and to developing the public's enjoyment, appreciation, and understanding of plants and the environment. Massachusetts Horticultural Society, a 501(c ) (3)educational organization,  is located at 900 Washington Street, Wellesley on 36-acres in the historic Elm Bank Reservation, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  For more information please visit: www.masshort.org.

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Eden on the Charles - A Love Story from Elm Bank

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

Wellesley, MA February 28, 2014 - Love is in the air at the Boston Flower & Garden Show, where the theme Romance in the Garden will provide the backdrop to this year’s festivities from March 12th to 16th.

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Postcard of Asian Garden at Elm Bank

The Massachusetts Horticultural Society’s exhibit, Eden on the Charles, adds to the romance with two love stories that are close to its heart. The first is that of Dr. William and Mrs. Alice Cheney Baltzell, who established a happy home at Elm Bank. Alice was the daughter of Benjamin P. Cheney who founded the estate in 1875. It was Alice and her husband who transformed the property into the beautiful landscape we enjoy today.

The second story belongs to someone with an equally special connection to the property: Ray Frost, the son of the Baltzell’s estate superintendent, Henry Frost. When the Frosts moved to Elm Bank in 1935 from Beverly, MA., Ray and his childhood sweetheart, Betty, decided to continue their courtship long distance. During Betty’s frequent visits to the property, the two would embark on canoeing excursions along the Charles. This early romance at Elm Bank blossomed into a marriage that lasted seventy years.

Katherine Macdonald, President of Massachusetts Horticultural Society, was contacted in 2011 by Ray Frost of Beverly. Kathy commented: “Ray called to tell me about his connection to Elm Bank and that he lived here a long time ago with his family. He would often help his father with his work at Elm Bank and in competitions at the New England Spring Flower Show, where Henry would exhibit his skill as a horticulturist. Henry was working for Alice Baltzell in 1938 during the horrendous hurricane that battered New England.”

Ray had slides showing the damage to the property and he proposed that he visit Mass Hort to give a presentation to the staff. He was ninety-two at the time and drove down from Beverly to Wellesley to share his treasures. During the presentation, Ray said: “The damage to Elm Bank in 1938 broke Alice Baltzell’s heart.”

What stood out most about Ray’s presentation were the stories about his life as a young man at Elm Bank and his courtship with Betty ― from one misadventure getting his car stuck in the mud when trying to drive Betty back home to Beverly, to another watching their canoe float away down the Charles as they sat enjoying a picnic. The staff was moved by his love story; he called Elm Bank, “Eden on Earth”. Ray’s lifelong sweetheart, Betty, passed way soon after Ray’s visit in 2011, and Ray died in November of 2012.

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The Boat House on the Charles

Inspired by Ray and Betty, the Massachusetts Horticultural Society’s exhibit concept is “Eden on the Charles”, an intimate picnic area on the banks of the Charles River. The exhibit uses plants to evoke both romance and intimacy. Through variations of texture and gradation of hue - white to pink to red – the exhibit creates a mood of romance around the isolated spot on the banks of the river. The exterior pathway mimics the Charles River, and draws the eye through the exhibit to emphasize shapes, unify design elements, and highlight various horticultural features.

Several skilled designers have contributed to Mass Hort’s exhibit: Julia Esteves is owner of Julia Garden, Osterville, MA is a landscape designer and a Massachusetts Certified Landscape Professional (MCLP); Piera Sassaroli of Piera’s Landscape Design, Boston, MA is a designer based out of both Boston and Milan, Italy; Jeff Dube will be returning to The University of Michigan in the fall to complete his Masters of Landscape Architecture; Suzanne Higham is owner of Frog Hollow, a landscape design, installation and maintenance company based in Georgetown, MA; and Bill Cuddy is owner of WJC Services, a full service design, building, and maintenance landscape company in Rowley, MA.

Donations of materials and assistance were provided by Boston Architectural College, the Landscape Institute, Ball Seed, Northeast Nurseries, Inc., Weston Nurseries, Bartlett Tree Experts, Northwoods Canoe Company, Szczechowicz Landscape Services, and Stonewood Products, Inc.

Founded in 1829, the Massachusetts Horticultural Society is dedicated to encouraging the science and practice of horticulture and to developing the public's enjoyment, appreciation, and understanding of plants and the environment. Massachusetts Horticultural Society is located at 900 Washington Street, Wellesley on 36-acres in the historic Elm Bank Reservation, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Please visit us at the show!

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About the Massachusetts Horticultural Society

Massachusetts Horticultural Society LogoFounded in 1829, the Massachusetts Horticultural Society is dedicated to encouraging the science and practice of horticulture and developing the public's enjoyment, appreciation, and understanding of plants and the environment.

2015 Calendar & Courses

Mass Hort Calendar Courses 2015

Latest Mass Hort Events

Thu May 28 @ 7:00PM - 08:30PM
Urban Gardening
Sat May 30 @ 9:00AM - 01:00PM
Reading the Forested Landscape with Tom Wessels
Sat May 30 @10:00AM - 04:00PM
Botanical Art for Beginners
Tue Jun 02 @ 6:00PM - 08:30PM
Garden to Table's Spring Dinner in the Crockett Garden
Thu Jun 04 @ 7:00PM - 08:30PM
Ecology of the Garden
Sat Jun 06 @10:00AM - 12:00PM
Farming Exhibits of the Smithsonian
Sun Jun 07 @ 5:30PM - 08:30PM
Members' Evening in the Garden
Thu Jun 18 @ 7:00PM - 08:30PM
Spring Foraging Walk and Talk With Russ Cohen
Thu Jun 25 @ 7:00PM - 08:30PM
Historic Landscape Stewardship
Sat Jun 27 @10:00AM - 02:00PM
Herb Gardening
Tue Jun 30 @ 1:00PM - 02:30PM
Children's Afternoon in the Garden
Thu Jul 09 @ 7:00PM - 08:30PM
Insects in the Garden: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Sat Jul 11 @10:00AM - 12:00PM
Plan to Harvest: Vegetable Gardening
Wed Jul 15 @10:00AM - 02:00PM
Color Gardens: Learn to Create Three Season Flower Gardens with Winter Appeal
Tue Jul 28 @ 1:00PM - 02:30PM
Children's Afternoon in the Garden
Thu Jul 30 @ 7:00PM - 08:30PM
Seed Saving Basics
Tue Aug 25 @ 1:00PM - 02:30PM
Children's Afternoon in the Garden
Thu Aug 27 @ 7:00PM - 08:30PM
Tour the Trial Garden
Sat Aug 29 @10:00AM - 12:00PM
Bressingham Basics
Tue Sep 08 @ 6:30PM - 08:30PM
Fundamentals of Landscape Design
Sat Sep 12 @10:00AM - 12:00PM
Introduction to Italianate Gardens
Sat Sep 12 @10:00AM - 12:00PM
Fundamentals of Landscape Design

Friends of Mass Hort Events

Sat Jun 06 @12:00PM - 04:30PM
Chestnut Hill GC, "Centennial Garden Tour"