MHS 2021 Annual Report

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Massachusetts Horticultural Society 900 Washington Street, Wellesley, MA 02482 |


From the President This past year has been one of great growth thanks to our wonderful members and guests. The Garden at Elm Bank has become the center of a greatly expanding community. We welcomed over 16,000 of you as guests during the regular season, a more than 50% increase from 2020 and three and half times the 2019 season. An additional 12,500 joined us for Festival of Trees, up 70% from the prior year. Combined with educational programming and events we have welcomed more than 39,000 guests in total. Thank you for giving the Garden a place in your life. As we each consider ways to meet with friends, create space for our family, learn or simply enjoy moments in nature, we are grateful that you have found the Garden to answer to some part of these needs. We were delighted with the response to new programs and exhibits in the Garden. Ribbit the Exhibit was both the quirkiest and most loved sculpture exhibit for many years and we were thrilled that, with generous support, two sculptures are staying permanently. Our major exhibit in 2022, Seeing the Invisible, had a trial run in late fall to global acclaim for the partnership of which we are a part. This has been fully relaunched this April and remains for the full 2022 season. Another highlight is the successful relaunch of our monthly membership newsletter, the Leaflet. Under the guidance of our new editor, Wayne Mezitt, the Leaflet has undergone a revival in style and substance that we trust is of increasing interest to our members. The relaunch was greatly assisted by the library and archive team, who have embraced a fresh mandate to celebrate and interpret our history and library, a timely reminder of the importance of horticulture in society. Internally, we focused on our infrastructure and equipment. We replaced roofs on two buildings, refurbished one internally and undertook extensive de-leading in our educational facilities. Through your generous support we replaced our largest gas mower with an electric one and will have a new garden tractor arriving this spring with further fleet replacement planned in 2022. We had a magical year, made possible because of you—supporting us by being our guests, learning with us, sharing your time as volunteers and opening both your hearts and pockets to the Garden. We appreciate you joining us. In 2022, we look forward to a full and growing calendar of horticultural events, exhibits and educational opportunities. Launch events for the initial work to restore and repurpose the Olmsted Asian Garden are underway, with new opportunities for support and volunteering. 2022 is also the year that we will get serious about outreach in our wider community with a target of a tenfold increase in our school program over the next three years. Thank you for your continued support! James Hearsum President & Executive Director

2021 brought a time of adjustment to new ways of operating—as an organization, as a society, as a community. Taking what we learned from the first nine months of pandemic life, we approached new challenges with a mindset of opportunity and optimism. Each department, with its own form of challenges brought on by the pandemic, shows the many ways in which our staff and our community came together, and, as a result, grew together.

EDUCATION Learning in a virtual world was new for our educators and participants, and learning how to educate when we didn’t have the garden to use as a classroom was an even bigger challenge! Working with our marketing team we developed activities for both young and old to take on in their own backyard or local nature space. From creating art using fauna as the medium to sharing free workshops on an array of botanical and horticulture topics, our team was able to collaborate and produce content to inspire all ages and walks of life.


Guest shows Melissa, Garden Educator, his garden discovery during weekly Garden Tails Story Time.

In April 2021, we opened the garden earlier than ever before, with the hope of giving people a safe place to meet and the enjoyment of watching the many changes that come with spring in a garden. Visitors were able to experience the waves of color from our 2019 bulb planting project, a sight that was sadly missed in spring of 2020. As we rolled into May, more colors popped especially those of a green hue, as Ribbit the Exhibit made its debut and brought so much life to the garden. Guests of all ages adored their playful poses and interesting facts.

Visitors set up for Wellesley Symphony Orchestra at Music in the Garden.

Music in the Garden, a new-found staple to our garden season, kicked off in June. These evening concerts welcomed many new faces and we were thrilled to see all the member support for this new adventure! July gave us the opportunity to open Snow Village and pretend, if for only a week, that it was the holiday season. Guests came to see the model railroad display, decorate wooden ornaments, and simply to enjoy the juxtaposition of the event.

As the garden flourished into August, we prepared to say goodbye to Ribbit the Exhibit. But to our surprise, J.A. Cobb, the mastermind behind the exhibit, allowed us to keep

the sculptures until the end of September due to their popularity. With so much love for these sculptures we decided that we had to keep two in the garden and thanks to donations from many generous supporters we now have Cora and Freddie as permanent residents. September created a turning point as flowers began to fade and the signs of fall peaked through. We invited visitors to preview our 2022 exhibit, Seeing the Invisible. Being a part of a one-of-a-kind augmented reality exhibit took us on such an exciting journey, from operating with a team scattered across the world to learning about the technology needed to create such an original experience. We are excited to officially launch this exhibit in April 2022!


Guests experiencing “Forget Me Not” by Ori Gersht, part of Seeing the Invisible.

This was a year when our mission, “Commune Bonum,” for the common good, has never rung so true. In fact, fiscal year 2021 set the stage for strategic growth and expansion. Ribbit the Exhibit was the first of many seasonal exhibits seen at the Garden at Elm Bank. We are grateful to our incredible supporters who donated to keep Cora the frog from Ribbit the Exhibit here in the gardens. She is now a permanent fixture in our Native Plant Garden, bringing a bit of whimsy for children young and old to enjoy. This was also the year that a Matching Gift Challenge and more than 100 donors helped us purchase an electric lawn mower. Not only does our outdoor staff enjoy the quieter, less fumed experience of mowing, but we are—collectively—helping to put less emissions into the air. Because of the work done in fiscal year 2021, you will begin to see new volunteering, education and conservation programs introduced as we launch the exciting project of restoring our beloved Asian garden in 2022. This 5+ year project is a community project, and we welcome your engagement!

The Canal, which will be part of the Olmsted Asian Garden Restoration and Repurposing project.

Our goal is to make a difference in people’s lives through horticulture. A substantial grant in 2021 has helped us plan for “GrowTech.” This program, which will have broad impact throughout Massachusetts, will bring cutting edge science, technology, engineering and

Clockwise: Freddie in Weezie’s Garden for Children; Young guest meditating with Zenny; Emerson, a crowd-favorite, sharing his morning cup of joe with a young visitor; Cora in the Native Plant Garden.

business education to Massachusetts schools and directly addresses food insecurity among vulnerable Greater Boston families. Rolling out in late-2022, this is a relaunch and major expansion of our Plantmobile (MHS’s traveling plant science van) using a commercially productive container farm. We look forward to continued growth and sharing with you that your investment in us is a wise one.

VOLUNTEERS During the holiday season we host our largest fundraiser, Festival of Trees. Helping to support a large part of our operational costs, Festival of Trees has been a staple for MHS the last decade. An event this size requires a lot of hands-on deck and a lot of volunteers who step up to the plate to donate their time to create such a magical event. If you can imagine what it takes to put on an event this size in the middle of a global pandemic, then you can picture the impact our volunteers played in the success of this event! Of our yearly volunteer hours, 65% were contributed during the Festival of Trees. With staffing still at a minimum, we never could have succeeded without the help and dedication of our volunteers! Garden Volunteers hours: 417 Library Volunteers hours: 1044 Festival of Trees Public Volunteer hours: 560

Festival of Trees Committee hours: 232 Total Festival of Trees Volunteer hours: 792 Total Volunteer hours: 2253

FUNCTIONS Despite the restrictions and mandated guidelines from the pandemic, the functions business still closed the FY21 year with $542,187 in revenue. This included 51 weddings, and over a dozen other social, corporate, and memorial events. The department has made substantial progress in staffing dayof events to ensure safety and client satisfaction while enjoying their special event at the Garden at Elm Bank.

LIBRARY The Library is a special horticultural library and archives. In addition to Library Collections, the Archives preserve important records and artifacts of the Society and documents its history. The Library made significant progress in managing, growing and sharing its Collections. There were increased requests for services, new volunteers, projects completed, new projects initiated and changes made in its environment. Eight dedicated volunteers performed various tasks that included filing, data entry, space reconfiguration,

research, etc. In addition, remote volunteers worked primarily on editing and transcribing documents.

Accomplishments • • • •

• • •

Cataloged 1044 new items on the Library’s online catalog. Added 286 books to the Collections. In addition, the Library received donations of periodicals and ephemera. Added 523 contemporary seed and nursery catalogs to inventory. Published on the Library webpage: - A research aid for Honorary Medals of the Society. - A finding aid for Manuscript and Reports. - A finding aid for the Gleason film negative Library Volunteer scanning glass negatives from the Edwin Hale Lincoln Collection, to be uploaded Collection. to the Digital Commonwealth Website. - An updated Seed and Nursery Catalog finding aid. - An updated Pamphlet finding aid. The Gleason Negative Collection of early 20th century country place estates was sent to Digital Commonwealth for digitization and hosting on the Digital Commonwealth website. Undertook management and stocked the “Little Free Library.” Created the Palaeography Project to transcribe the Society’s handwritten correspondence from the first half of the 19th century.

Ongoing Projects

The Library has several on-going projects, including: • • • • • •

Complete the inventory of the second group of Edwin Hale Lincoln negatives (pictured above). Once completed, these will be digitized and published on the Digital Commonwealth website. Continue the Palaeography Project. The documents are scanned and most have received an initial transcription. The next step is the review process. Continue inventory of the biographical vertical files. Digitize and publish The Flower Club project of correspondence and images from Consulates around the World in the first half of 1938. Inventory the vertical files and create finding aids for publication on the Library’s webpage. Update the Plans finding aid and publish on the Library page on the website.

In addition to in-kind donations, the Library received a $1,000 gift for preservation of the Edwin Hale Lincoln Collection.




Volunteer Hours

Adult Class Attendees

70% increase from 960 in 2020


Total Members

11,082 3,700

Facebook Likes

Instagram Followers


books added to the MHS Library Collections


Members who Donated to the Annual Fund


Garden Guests 53% increase in Garden Visitation from 10,601 in 2020




Green Mower Donors

GRANTS & SPONSORS Ahronian Landscaping and Design, Inc.

Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust


Stonegate Gardens

Gretel Anspach

Villa DiCzynski

Bartlett Tree Experts

Volante Farms

Boston Design Guide

Carrie Waterman

Brookline Bank CBIZ MHM, LLC CJC Lighting and Production Abby and Peter Coff in Dorothy Thorndike Charitable Fund Fain Family Foundation FL Putnam Investment Gordon’s Fine Wines & Liquors Elizabeth Gray-Nix J&D Murphy Family Foundation R.P. Marzilli & Company, Inc. Mezitt Horticultural Foundation Richard Saltonstall Charitable Foundation Russell’s Garden Center Samuel Adams

Balance Sheet Total Checking/Savings


Total Accounts Receivable


Total Other Current Assets


Total Fixed Assets


Total Other Assets


Total Accounts Payable


Total Other Current Libabilities


Total Long Term Liabilities


Toal Equity


Board of Trustees

Finley Perry, Chair of the Board Gretel Anspach Lynne K. Bower Dan Daly James Hearsum, President and

Executive Director, ex officio Graham Luce, Clerk

Suzanne McCance Wayne Mezitt Barbara Millen Susan S. Mooney Kenneth Peters Darrol Roberts Bob Smith, Treasurer Helen R. Strieder Thaddeus Thompson Carrie Waterman

Friends Council Jackie Bean Stephanie Chlan John Cronin Chris Duminuco Elizabeth Gray-Nix Richard Hohmann Maureen Horn Frank Hunnewell Penni Jenkins Heidi Kost-Gross Annette Lee Jeanne Leszczynski Betsy Ridge-Madsen Suzanne Mahler Robert Marzilli Marisa McCoy Julia O’Brien Melanie Perillo Holly Perry Greg Rubin Art Scarpa Connie Smith Karin Stanley Paul Steen Suzanne Thatcher Caroline Whitney


Massachusetts Horticultural Society is dedicated to encouraging the science and practice of horticulture and to developing the public’s enjoyment, appreciation, and understanding of plants and the environment.


Massachusetts Horticultural Society’s Garden at Elm Bank is a horticultural jewel of Greater Boston. A place of beauty, contemplation and exploration, the garden welcomes all. A blend of historic and contemporary, like all gardens, Elm Bank is a work in progress. Through it, we seek to engage guests with the importance of plants, gardens and natural landscapes in their lives and help them to become active growers and gardeners themselves. As America’s first established horticultural society, we have been practicing horticulture ‘for the public good’ since 1829.

Massachusetts Horticultural Society 900 Washington Street, Wellesley, MA 02482 |