Members Area

The Emerald Necklace


March 30, 2021

Center of Stewardship for the GCA's Boston Committee

Frederick Law Olmsted once dubbed the ribbon of parkland running through Boston as the “Jeweled Girdle.” Now better known as the Emerald Necklace, this area serves as the center of stewardship for the Boston Committee, an Area Committee of The Garden Club of America (GCA). Under the umbrella of the Boston Committee since 1989, the GCA and affiliated garden clubs have joined forces with multiple not-for-profits in the Boston area to support the design and beautification of parks and green spaces in Boston, to encourage civic achievement in horticulture and conservation, and to educate the public on horticultural practices and environmental issues.

The committee’s Blossom Fund was created to help finance projects of horticultural impact. Although the committee’s financial role is important, advocacy is their raison d’être. For example, though Olmsted had originally designed the Necklace to weave through Boston, some areas fell into neglect or were transferred to other uses. The Boston Committee provided $10,000 in seed money for the Arboretum Park Conservancy to restore one such neglected parcel located between the closest public transit stop and the Arnold Arboretum. The city-owned land was used as a dump, and had become an area subject to flooding, sewer overflow and a place for drug addicts to congregate. 

In addition to the seed money, the Boston Committee went into high gear with publicity, including press releases, meetings with the mayor of Boston and the commissioner of Boston Parks and Recreation, and attendance at public hearings. It was this activism that enabled the annexation of the parcel to the Arboretum five years later. 

The current Boston Committee chair said it all: “The Boston Committee is such a critical asset to the city and to the area clubs. It gets us to focus outside of our little club sandbox. We collaborate on something really important while having fun.” 

Currently, The Boston Committee is working on one of its many long-term projects, the Rock Garden within Franklin Park (considered the Jewel of the Necklace) readying it for the celebration of Olmsted’s birthday celebration in 2022. Please visit Olmsted 200 to learn more.

The GCA has four Area Committees, Boston, New Jersey, New York, and Philadelphia, formed to combine the resources and talents of member clubs in a concentrated geographic area to accomplish major community projects that could not easily be carried out by a single club. The Area Committees are composed of representatives of the GCA member clubs and may include representatives from other related organizations who share the mission of the member clubs.  



Historic Franklin Park Rock Garden postcard, date unknown


Historic tower in Rock Garden




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