Talk Topics

1. Boston’s Green Spaces
Meg Muckenhoupt examines public spaces throughout Boston’s historic and contemporary landscape. Why did Bostonians start creating parks, and how has the philosophy behind public spaces shifted over the years? How do Boston’s newest parks balance the challenges of contaminated sites, habitat preservation, botanical interest, and community needs? This journey through green Boston appeals to gardening enthusiasts, nature lovers, and history buffs alike.

2. What do you Plant in a Park?
How did the colonists decide what to plant in Boston Common? What did the Public Garden look like in 1840? Did Frederick Law Olmsted introduce invasive species to Massachusetts? How do Boston’s newer plantings balance urban stresses, habitat restoration, and shrinking maintenance budgets? Learn the answers to these questions and more as we explore how Bostonians have created and transformed their parks over four centuries.

3. Massachusetts 12,000 B.C.-Now
Today, Massachusetts is a network of houses, businesses, farms, forests, and wetlands—but how did it get to be that way? What did it look like when the Laurentide Glaciers melted 12,000 years ago? How did a state that was only 25 percent forest by 1850 come to be 64 percent forested today? This broad overview traces how and why the the land has changed and what people thought about it—from Wampanoag King Philip to Frederick Law Olmsted to Governor Deval Patrick.

4. Eating what you grow 1620-2012
Every home gardener grows tomatoes—but they didn’t exist in Massachusetts in 1620. What did people plant to eat? This overview shows how farmers’ choice of crops has reflected the Bay State’s changing climate, transportation, economics, and food fashions, and reveals just how much has changed since the Pilgrims started stewing succotash. This talk includes a hand-out with lists of heirloom vegetables and recipes worth reviving.

5. Green Cyberspace
Can the internet make you go outside? We can now share content anywhere, anytime, even from a park bench–but popular social media applications like FourSquare largely reward people for visiting businesses. Learn how technology is changing our view of parks and open space, and how individuals and organizations using the internet, smartphone apps, and other technology to help more people connect with parks, farms, and forests

6. Tours
Meg has led tours of the Boston Common, the Public Garden, and the Esplanade.

Recent Posts


The “mountain lion” track in Winchester was probably a melted coyote paw print, but the Boston Globe suggests that mountain lions, aka pumas, aka panthers, aka cougars, aka catamounts are poised to return to Massachusetts, more than 200 years after the last state specimens were killed in 2005. The 90,000 deer in the state are just too tempting for a big, hungry cat to resist.

Mountain Lion

I’m sure coyotes are on the menu too.

The good news is that Massachusetts’ regrown forest cover can support creatures like wild turkeys, deer, lady’s slipper orchids, low bush blueberries… and large predators like mountain lions. The better news is that the word “catamount” might re-enter local vocabularies. Think of what a great and terrible creature this cat must be to spawn so many names.



  1. PARK(ing) Day Comments Off on PARK(ing) Day
  2. Boston Seeks Public Park Input Comments Off on Boston Seeks Public Park Input
  3. May Plant Sales Comments Off on May Plant Sales
  4. Tenshin-En Reopens Today Comments Off on Tenshin-En Reopens Today