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Boston’s Gardens and Green Spaces

By Meg Muckenhoupt

Since the time of the Transcendentalists, Bostonians have worked hard to promote gardens, parks, green spaces, and ecological conservation. Now, Boston’s diverse open spaces share a rich legacy and exciting future. Once again ingenious Bostonians are working hard to make their city and its environs green. Invoking the ecological spirituality of Emerson and Thoreau, these neo-Transcendentalists are growing cutting-edge rooftop greenery, building harbor-side sculpture gardens, and tending verdant urban wilds. More than a historic parks handbook, Boston’s Gardens & Green Spaces shows how locals are using, creating, and enjoying their urban landscape today. This lavishly designed guide provides readers with a new way to explore the contemporary and long-revered public spaces of the Boston area. Organized into thematic categories, readers have at their fingertips all Boston has to offer: the suburban wilderness and urban wilds, the Sapphire Necklace and newly created Big Dig parks, pocket parks hidden amid the city’s streets, and living roofs dotting the skyline. Complete with chapters on community gardens, venerable botanic gardens, and grand estates, as well as gardens devoted to art, healing, and children, Meg Muckenhoupt has given every resident and visitor to Greater Boston a reason to get outdoors.

Meg Muckenhoupt is an environmental and travel writer and co-creator of the GREEN SPACES: Boston smartphone app. She has been featured on NPR’s “Radio Boston and WCVB’s “Chronicle,” as well as in an hourlong presentation on WGBH’s Forum Network. Her writing has appeared in the Boston Globe, the Boston Phoenix, Boston magazine, and the Time Out Boston guide. A talented public speaker, she gives frequent talks about Massachusetts landscape history and Boston’s greatest unknown parks to audiences around New England. Her blog about Boston land history and current-day controversies appears at Union Park Press.

Her book Sigmund Freud: Explorer of the Unconscious (Oxford University Press, 1997), won the American Academy of Sciences 1998 Best science Books for Junior High and High school readers, and has been translated into seven languages. She is also the author of Dorothea Dix: Advocate for Mental Health Care (Oxford University Press, 2004) and Cabbage: A Global History (London: Reaktion Books, forthcoming). She is currently at work on a book on New England foodways.

Meg was awarded a certificate in Field Botany by the New England Wild Flower Society and earned degrees from Harvard and Brown University. She lives in Lexington, Massachusetts.


“Boston’s history is written in its land, says Lexington-based environmental writer Meg Muckenhoupt, author of Boston’s Gardens & Green Spaces, an illustrated introduction to the origins and reinvention of public space in the Greater Boston area. The Boston Common was originally used to graze sheep, marshal troops, and hang unpopular people. Many of Boston’s most famous green spaces were constructed in the interest of public health. Today, ingenious Bostonians are growing cutting-edge rooftop greenery, building sculpture gardens, and tending urban wilds. These green spaces not only add to the character of the city, but they support populations of birds, insects, and other creatures who’ve lived here for millennia. Most important, they provide a place where we can feel closer to the earth. …  [Muckenhoupt] takes a different look at the urban wild with this timely inventory of public spaces in Greater Boston, from the newly created Big Dig parks to the living roofs dotting the skyline. This Lexington-based environmental writer also shows how Bostonians use their public spaces with chapters on new harbor side sculpture gardens, community gardens, and estate gardens. There will be plenty in here that is new to you, no matter how long you’ve called Boston home.” The Boston Globe

Boston’s Gardens and Green Spaces
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Union Park Press, 2010

Boston Globe Local Bestseller

Try the innovative GREEN SPACES: Boston locator app for Android!

Read about the book and the author on the publisher’s blog.

Read the interview with Meg Muckenhoupt in The Boston Globe

More about Meg at greenspaceboston.com.

Follow Meg on Twitter @megmuck.

Also by Meg Muckenhoupt

Sigmund Freud: Explorer of the Unconscious
(Oxford University Press, 1997)
American Academy of Sciences Award, “Best Science Books for Junior High and High School Readers,” 1997
Translated into seven languages

“[A] balanced account of Freud’s life, work, and times … Muckenhoupt recounts some of Freud’s famous cases and methods, notably, allowing patients to use free association. [A] good introduction to a still-controversial figure.” Kirkus

Dorothea Dix: Advocate for Mental Health Care
(Oxford University Press, 2004)

Oxford UP, 2004

“Muckenhoupt references several personal situations from Dix’s life [and] crusade to document atrocities in the care of the mentally ill, present the information to legislators, and lobby for change. Numerous black-and-white illustrations and primary sources enhance the clear text.” School Library Journal