Fitzgerald Park in Mission Hill is close to becoming a level I arboretum, thanks to the help of Northeastern students and staff.  

Five new species were planted at the second annual Arbor Day hosted on April 28. Students, Mission Hill residents and volunteers planted trees and celebrated.  

The planning for the event was done through a coalition of Northeastern co-ops including Madison Rosen and Jonathan Bacdayan, the NU Arboretum co-ops and Meghan Reardon, who works for the Mission Hill Neighborhood Housing Services (MHNHS), as well as Northeastern Director of Horticulture Steve Schneider and the arboretum team. Patricia Flaherty, the executive director of MHNHS also helped support the event.  

Rosen was impressed with the turnout from both Northeastern students and Mission Hill residents of all ages. Attendees were divided into small groups and each group planted a bush or a tree. Meanwhile, the Northeastern Jazz Ensemble played a concert in the background to entice park goers who may not have heard about the event. Northeastern Arboretum donated the plants, and the NU grounds crew did a demonstration on how to plant them.  

Volunteers planted three inkberry holly bushes, four white pine trees, two Carolina allspice bushes, two buttonbush plants, and an eastern hop hornbeam. All plants are native and will work well with the pollinators and bees in the park. One common misconception is that because the plants are native, they do not require any care or upkeep. Rosen says that the plants will still need watering and care; last year, they lost a few of the plants that were planted on Arbor Day because of the summer drought. 

Reardon helped organize the event with the arboretum co-ops. MHNHS has about 180 units with even more residents, all of who Reardon helps engage in activities. Reardon got a lot of positive feedback from attendees, one of which was a senior citizen who enjoyed the opportunities to socialize.  

“We are trying to make Fitzgerald Park Arboretum a space to hold community-building activities, such as the Arbor Day event, but also to have the park itself build community by being a common space for all those who live, travel through, and visit Mission Hill,” Reardon said.  

Fitzgerald Park is a greenspace for residents and a cut-through for people commuting to work. The new plants will welcome visitors and enrich the neighborhood. It is a short walk from campus, and for Northeastern students living at Mission Hill, it provides a welcoming environment to relax, exercise and enjoy nature. 

This valuable partnership between Northeastern and MHNHS is important for the land and the people in bridging the university and nearby communities. Reardon said that Schneider and his team have made this whole thing possible and is appreciative for his support.  

Attendees had the opportunity to take home seedlings and educational pamphlets detailing the bees in the park, information on the arboretum and upcoming events. There was also a raffle to take home bundles of seedlings and granola from rooted living, a company founded by a Northeastern alumna that is completely sustainable.  

The Fitzgerald Park will be certified as an arboretum through ArbNet once the application is finalized thanks to the addition of new plants. 

In the future, the Northeastern arboretum is going to implement pollinator plants onto the campus in anticipation of bees arriving and is in collaboration with the Emerald Necklace Conservancy to someday make the Back Bay Fens an arboretum. 

Written by Renée Abbott, May 25th, 2023
Photos by Alex Gritsinin