From May through October Emerald Necklace docents lead free weekly guided walks in the Back Bay Fens and Riverway. In the winter months, docents offer a range of programming- including talks and tours – at the Shattuck Visitor Center. You can check News & Events for upcoming events or sign up for our monthly e-newsletter so you won’t miss a thing. Tours start and end at the Shattuck Visitor Center, 125 The Fenway, Boston 02115. 617-522-2700.
A Walk with Mr. Olmsted through the Back Bay Fens
Join Frederick Law Olmsted, as portrayed by Gerry Wright, and an Emerald Necklace docent as they lead a walk through the historic landscape of the Fens. Learn how Mr. Olmsted transformed the area once described as, “The foulest marsh and muddy flats to be found anywhere in Massachusetts,” into the first link in his chain of parks we know today as the Emerald Necklace. Hear the story of a remarkable life from the man himself! This tour is offered in May and October (Columbus Day). See calendar for dates.
Evening Garden Stroll
Seasonal, selected Tuesdays in June, July and August | 6:00 – 7:00pm
Our popular Evening Garden Strolls begin with a visit to the Kelleher Rose Garden. Tucked behind a yew hedge in the Back Bay Fens is a serene and inviting garden with more than 1,500 roses surrounding a recently restored 1930’s-era fountain and statuary. The Stroll continues on to the oldest continuously operating WWII Victory Gardens in America. Covering just over 7 acres, the 500 gardens are an eclectic mix of flowers, herbs and vegetables, each one offering a style and design all its own.
History and Landscape of the Back Bay Fens
From foul muddy flats to the parkland of today, the Fens has undergone many transformations in the last 125 years. Join Emerald Necklace docents as they talk and walk the historic landscape. Includes stops at the Kelleher Rose Garden, with its 1,500+ roses, and the oldest World War II Victory Gardens in America.
Hidden Gems of the Back Bay Fens
What do a 17th century Japanese Temple Bell, a historic bridge made of Roxbury puddingstone, the oldest continually operating victory gardens in the country and a tree once thought extinct have in common? They all reside in the Back Bay Fens. Learn about these and other treasures on a guided walking tour of the Back Bay Fens led by Emerald Necklace docents.
The Changing Landscape of the Back Bay Fens
Would Frederick Law Olmsted recognize the Fens of today? What changed and why? Explore the landscape with Emerald Necklace docents as they search for evidence of Olmsted’s late 19th Century “sanitary improvement” project of the Back Bay.
Along the Muddy
The Muddy River – where does it start and where does it go? Learn the answers and more on this guided walking tour of all things Muddy! Once tidal, the Muddy River has been reconfigured, widened, narrowed, dredged and filled. Hear the story of Olmsted’s plan for the Muddy and what the future holds for this waterway. Tour includes stops at two historic bridges that span the Muddy.
Flora of the Fens
Explore the plant life in the Back Bay Fens with Emerald Necklace docents. Stroll among cherry trees and crabapples, see (and smell!) 200 varieties of roses in the Kelleher Rose Garden; view recently planted native species such as oakleaf hydrangea, sweet and hay-scented fern, witch hazel, common snowberry, and mountain laurel on the slope at Mother’s Rest; and meander through the Victory Garden for an eye-popping array of blooms and veggies. You may want to bring along a camera and notebook!
19th Century Women Activists and Reformers and the Back Bay Fens
Several 19th Century women played a part, though often overlooked, in Fens history. Join Emerald Necklace docents on a guided walking tour of the park and hear the stories of Marie Antoinette Evans, Mrs. Johnson, Ida Agassiz and others, while stopping at gardens and historic sites along the way.