Allston’s New Urban Garden

Oct12th 2012

Imagine a green city. What do you see? I see a blue butterfly skipping along golden daisies and bees busily bumbling along billowy pink flower puffs. Caterpillars feast on an abundance of leafy plantings. Trees burst with flowers. Waves of sun lit grasses ripple on a late summer breeze. Children pick some blueberries, and smile as they burst in their mouth. Flocks of chattering birds busily peck berries off shrubs and the trees. On a cold and blustery winter afternoon, birds nestle beneath the shelter of evergreen shrubs.

Where do I see this? This fall I am looking at the new planting on the slope at the corner of Braintree and Everett Streets in Allston. This newly planted garden is the living vision of students from the University of Massachusetts and Boston University and residents of the Brighton/Allston community.

Site sign on Everett Street, AllstonSite sign on Everett Street, Allston

All of the plants used on the slope were generously provided by Mahoney’s Garden Center. They are native plants chosen for their benefits to insects and birds, ornamental qualities, low maintenance needs, and their ability to cover the slope thoroughly and quickly. Jean Dooley of Mahoney’s, who assisted the community in plant selection, was especially knowledgeable and helpful.

How did a grassy slope with a few trees become transformed into a miniature urban wildlife oasis? With guidance from the Urban Ecology Institute and LOTS of help from one UMass student intern, Lauren Lynch and hundreds of students from Boston University who were involved in the project from the onset. The City of Boston generously donated and delivered huge truckloads of deep rich compost right onto the site! Over sixty incoming BU freshman student volunteers, and their mentors, dug hundreds of holes and spread loads of compost. Over a month’s time, we literally watched the soil come to life under our feet!

Kyle GreavesLeft to right: Volunteer: Kaitlyn Eaton, Intern: Lauren Lynch, Landscape Designer: Michelle Martinat, Director of Sustainable Cities Programs: Kyle Greaves

Dozens more Boston University students, including two BU Environmental Organizations and the Fraternity Sigma Alpha Mu, returned to install hundreds of plants, and maneuver countless wheelbarrows filled with mulch, onto the slope. Residents from the nearby community, and the volunteer organization Boston Cares, also engaged in planting and mulching activities. Bill Wertz, the property manager of 119 Braintree, was extremely gracious in sharing the parking lot and opening his doors to volunteers.

Volunteers from Sigma Alpha Mu at Boston University, Boston Latin Academy, UMass Amherst and Allston/Brighton Community Residents receiving training from landscape Designer Michelle MartinatVolunteers from Sigma Alpha Mu at Boston University, Boston Latin Academy, UMass Amherst and Allston/Brighton Community Residents receiving training from landscape Designer Michelle Martinat

If you would like to get some ideas of how to arrange native plants in your garden, drop by, take a look at the plantings, and watch them grow with us!

Michelle Martinat
Landscape Designer

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