Skip to primary navigation Skip to content Skip to footer
Back to Blog

America’s First Public Garden is in Boston

The pandemic may have disrupted our everyday lives, but it didn’t stop the tulips from blooming in the Boston Public Garden or the trees from blossoming around the city during this crazy spring of 2020.

The Boston Public Garden traces its origins to marshland that Bostonians avoided in the 19th century. In 1837, a visionary named Horace Gray led an effort that transformed the swampy area into the first botanical garden in America. The first bed of tulips and the first poinsettia in the U.S. were planted in the Boston Public Garden.

Over the next century, the Public Garden deteriorated and was almost beyond saving by the 1960s. Flowerbeds and trees were diseased, the fountains were inoperable, and the bridge over the lagoon was deemed unsafe. In 1970, the Friends of the Public Garden formed and with generous private donations restored the garden’s natural beauty.

The Boston Public Garden is one of the “jewels” in Boston’s Emerald Necklace (a 5-mile string of parkland through Boston, Brookline and Jamaica Plain). It is funded by public and private partnerships and maintained by the Boston Parks and Recreation Department and the Friends of the Public Garden.

The Public Garden consists of 24 acres, has over 50 flowerbeds and many different species of trees and shrubs. Weeping willows surround a 3-acre lagoon, the summer residence of the famous Swan Boats, who are still practicing social distancing this spring until Boston reopens.

(The Public Garden is one of the stops on the 2-hour PhotoWalks Highlights of Boston tour.)