The Public Garden was the first public botanical garden in America.
Established in 1837
Two centuries separate the creation of the Boston Common and the Public Garden, and what a difference that period made.
In 1634 the Common was created as America’s first public park; it was practical and pastoral with walkways built for crosstown travel. In contrast, the Public Garden was the first public botanical garden in America. It was decorative and flowery from its inception, featuring meandering pathways for strolling.
The Victorian Touch
The Victorians ushered in the style of park which featured the gardener’s art. They designed vibrant floral patterns in the Garden which utilized new techniques of collecting, hybridizing, and propagating plants. With access to showy annuals and greenhouse-grown plants they bedded the Garden with colorful displays and planted exotic imported trees. George Meacham used these new techniques to win the public design competition held for the Garden, for which he received a $100 prize.
In the early days, some complained that the unnatural combinations of colorful plants were garish beyond the bounds of good taste. Now Boston calls the Public Garden one of its greatest attractions.
Visit the Garden
The Parks Department maintains the Victorian traditions to the best of their abilities, so you can judge its beauty for yourself. Admire the rich and unusual plants, the Lagoon, the monuments and fountains, and the Swan Boats created and operated for over 100 years by the Paget family.
Boston Parks and Recreation Department grows all the plants used in bedding-out the Public Garden in their greenhouses. Over 80 species of plants are cultivated there for future plantings in the Garden and more than 50 other locations around the city. Due to the wide variety of plants and its romantic setting, the Garden attracts many weddings.
The non-profit citizen’s advocacy group Friends of the Public Garden and Common formed in 1970 to preserve and enhance the Boston Public Garden, Common, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall in collaboration with the Mayor and the Parks Department of the City of Boston. The Friends number over 2500 members and many volunteers, and have also produced a brochure detailing the park’s history.