Arbor Day Celebration

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the first Arbor Day here in the US! Trees are vital to our ecosystem, and encouraging the planting of trees is more important than ever today. In honor of Arbor Day, there will be a display at the Holliston Public Library about trees set up through May 5th.

Stop by to learn more about trees, grab an informational brochure, and pick up a guide for a walk through Washington Street that highlights a few of our beautiful trees here in Holliston. The Washington Street Tree Walk may also be found online here, as well as a fun crossword puzzle and articles on native trees and sustainability. Happy Arbor Day!

How Do I Love Native Trees

by Barbara Gardener (Holliston Garden Club)

Ever since I’ve read two tree bestsellers during the pandemic – Richard Powers’s 2019 “Overstory” and German forester Peter Wholleben’s “The Hidden Life of Trees”, trees have taken on a whole new and marvelously mysterious significance.  I notice and appreciate them in an entirely new, organic and exciting way – how old are they, how tall are they, how are they communicating with each other and the rest of the natural world in this very moment, how many organisms are feeding off their roots and do they breathe all day and all night?  These thoughts monopolize me as I walk under their cover and through the forest or landscape. This examination has led me to question why we’re always talking about the importance of just native plants but rarely discuss or promote the importance of native trees. 

A native tree is a species that was growing here before the arrival of Europeans and before the introduction of invasive species of trees like Norway maples or Buckthorns which have seriously dwindled the number of standing native trees.  Reintroducing native species of trees and shrubs helps to re-establish the original eco-system of the region and improves their chances for survival and, by extension, all the critters that depend on their unique and local properties.

Native trees are a perfect fit for our specialized environment – they are happier here than their non-native counterparts and consequently require less water and fertilizer and have built up natural defenses to counter pests and fungal infections.  All of these reasons translate into a lower cost of maintenance for the homeowner.

Long living trees like native oaks and maples are very effective at soaking up greenhouse gases.  They absorb airborne pollutants such as carbon dioxide, ozone, carbon monoxide, and sulfur dioxide.

Trees breathe by releasing moisture into the air and cool the air by spreading the sun’s rays.  Shade trees keep our lawns greener longer which in turn requires less water.  Reforestation of urban heat islands with native trees now covered in asphalt is one of the most important ways to mitigate the kind of excessive heat we have experienced here and throughout the country in June of this year.  Trees are natural regulators of heat and cold, shading and cooling our homes throughout the summer and, depending on placement, acting as a wind break, lowering heating costs in the winter.

Many species of wildlife do not recognize non-natives species and cannot use them for food or shelter.  Native trees and shrubs are especially important to all forms of native wildlife, including birds, mammals, and insects.  Just think about it – they are a resource for nesting, fruit and leaves for food, shelter from prey, height for safety and shade for comfort and protection.  Trees support the lives of hundreds of organisms in a complicated network that cannot be duplicated in commercially planted environments.

Carol Stocker, long time and respected garden columnist for the Boston Globe, admits, “A mature native tree is more valuable than anything I can plant….though native asters, sunflowers and goldenrod are good providers, trees are the true heroes….”..  She cautions all of us to do a better job preserving them – developers should think again before they clear cut century old stands of native trees for convenience’s sake, home gardeners should not cut down native trees to expand their lawns or plant non native species because they are pretty as opposed to the right choice for our local ecosystems or cut down a native shade tree because it’s encroaching on their flower beds.

Given their essential nature, isn’t it time we re-examined how we treat native trees?

Accepting Applications for our Grant and Scholarship

We are pleased to announce that we are accepting applications for our scholarship and our educational grant now through April 15! Our $1,000 scholarship is awarded annually to a high school senior or college student who is a Holliston resident and planning to major in Horticulture, Botany, Landscape Design Forestry, Environmental Science, Land Management, or other garden-related field. It was founded by Dorothy (Dot) Stevens, a former Club president, who recognized the importance of preserving our natural world and whose dream it was to encourage young people to pursue careers in horticulture.

Educational grants are awarded annually to Holliston residents or organizations that seek to provide children with educational projects in horticulture or garden-related subjects. Funded grants over the years have supported the planting of tulip bulbs in the Placentino School courtyard, several High School greenhouse projects, window box planting projects with elementary special needs students, materials for the butterfly aviary, and the installation of a pollinator garden at Placentino Elemetary.

If you are interested in applying for an educational grant or scholarship, please visit our scholarships and grants page and send in your application by April 15.

Holiday Activities

It’s a busy week for some elves at the Holliston Garden Club! We’ve been busy putting up decorations at the Holliston Public Library and preparing for this Saturday’s Children’s Ornament Workshop. Registration is currently full, but you can sign up to be placed on the waitlist. We are so happy to have this event back this year and to be able to make ornaments with the kids again!

A few ornaments from previous years

On Sunday afternoon, you can visit the Open House of the Holliston Historical Society, and see the Asa Whiting House all decorated for the holidays! Enjoy some light refreshments and then head on over to the barn for our Holiday Craft Bazaar. Handmade decorations and gifts will be for sale.

If you happen to be passing by the historic Wayside Inn in Sudbury, you can check out its holiday decorations, including a couple rooms that have been decorated by our members. A big thank you to all our volunteer elves! We wish everyone a very merry holiday season!

Holiday Craft Bazaar – save the date!

On Sunday, December 5, from 2:30pm-5:30pm, the Holliston Garden Club will be holding a Holiday Craft Bazaar at the Holliston Historical Society’s barn!

During that time the Holliston Historical Society will also be having an open house for the public to come and enjoy the Historical Society house all decorated up for the holidays by volunteer elves from our Garden Club!

pictures from 2019 decorations

After enjoying the lovely decorations at the historical house, head on over to the barn to browse a selection of handcrafted ornaments, wreaths, swags, and other holiday decor. Handcrafted gifts such as baby hats, framed watercolors, and notecards will also be for sale.

a sampling of picture notecards for sale

We look forward to seeing everyone there!
Happy Holidays from the Holliston Garden Club!

Educational Grants and Scholarships

The deadline of April 14th is fast approaching for anyone who is interested in applying for an educational grant or scholarship from the Holliston Garden Club.

Educational grants are awarded annually to Holliston residents or organizations that seek to provide children with educational projects in horticulture or garden-related subjects. Funded grants over the years have supported the planting of tulip bulbs in the Placentino School courtyard, several High School greenhouse projects, window box planting projects with elementary special needs students, materials for the butterfly aviary, and most recently, helped fund the installation of a pollinator garden at Placentino Elemetary.

photos of projects funded by education grants
(photo source: Holliston Agricultural Commission)

Our scholarship was founded by Dorothy (Dot) Stevens, a former Club president who recognized the importance of preserving our natural world and whose dream it was to encourage young people to pursue careers in horticulture. The scholarship began small, with money raised from raffles, plant sales, and donations. The $1,000 scholarship is awarded annually to a candidate planning to major in Horticulture, Botany, Landscape Design Forestry, Environmental Science, Land Management or other garden-related field. High school seniors or college students who are Holliston residents are eligible to apply.

If you are interested in applying for one of these, please visit our scholarship and grants page and send in your application by April 14.

Register Now for our April Event: Creating and Enjoying Kitchen Gardens


Save the date! Our April presentation will be about kitchen gardens. This talk will explore a little about the history of kitchen gardening from the colonial era – less has changed than you think! – and offer fun design ideas for small and large spaces. We’ll move on to an overview of culinary herbs and edible flowers discussing their uses and growing preferences.

When: April 6th, 2021, 7:30 PM EST.

Where: Zoom. Register here:

#gardening #garden #herbs #greenkitchen

Register Now for Claudia Thompson’s Talk: The Power of Native Plants and Ecological Gardening

Save the date! We are delighted to host a virtual talk on Tuesday, March 2, at 7pm on ‘The Power of Native Plants and Ecological Gardening’ by Claudia Thompson, the founder of Grow Native Massachusetts. Please register here to join!

Our garden can be both a thing of beauty and a benefit to the local ecosystem, supporting life for birds, butterflies, and pollinators. Claudia will give an overview of native plants and just why they are so important! Using her 7,000 square foot garden in Cambridge, MA, as a case study, she will discuss being a steward of landscapes that are both beautiful and places of biodiversity, with a special focus on creating a welcoming habitat for birds.

Claudia Thompson has extensive experience in the field of ecological gardening. She founded Grow Native Massachusetts in 2010 and has become a nationally recognized leader in the native plant movement. She has had an extensive career in the environmental sector. Some of her notable roles include serving as Director of Education for the Appalachian Mountain Club, Director of Drumlin Farm for Mass Audubon, and board member for the New England Wildflower Society (now Native Plant Trust). She is a strong advocate of the importance of land stewardship and believes that conservation begins at home.

Everyone is invited to join us for this talk on such an important topic. We look forward to hearing Claudia’s tips on using native plants in our own gardens and learning more about ecological gardening!

Artists’ Gardens in New England

This month we were pleased to welcome Jana Milbocker, a landscape designer, speaker, and author, to our club to give us a virtual tour of artists’ gardens in New England. Jana, who is also a member and past president of the Holliston Garden Club, has published two books on touring destination gardens and nurseries in the Northeast. This talk focused on gardens that were created by well-known painters, sculptors, and authors. These artists were inspired by their gardens in turn.

Through Jana’s talk, we learned more about the history of such well-known figures as Edith Wharton, Julian Alden Weir, Childe Hassam, Daniel Chester French, Emily Dickinson, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, and Celia Thaxter, among others.  We were also treated to beautiful pictures of their gardens.

These gardens are open to the public for visiting, and some still feature in-house artists or highlight artists’ sculptures or paintings. Jana’s talk definitely gave us a bucket list of gardens to visit at some point in the future! If you missed this excellent presentation, she will be giving it again in the near future. You can visit Jana’s website at to see her schedule of upcoming talks.

Climate Change Talk

Last month, we welcomed Dr. Jay Turner, a professor of Environmental Studies at Wellesley College, to join us via Zoom to talk about climate change. Climate change is a very important and pressing topic, and many of us are concerned about the effect of rising temperatures on our ecosystem. Dr. Turner started off by showing how scientists use different types of logical thinking along with measurable data to show how the increase of greenhouse gases caused by human activities is linked to an overall rise in temperatures.

He also talked about how once certain things happen in regards to climate, it can snowball. For example, the rise in temperatures has led to the melting of Arctic sea ice. Arctic sea ice is very reflective, and serves to reflect the sun’s rays back. Just like a black car absorbs more heat than a white car, the ocean now absorbs more heat in the spots where the sea ice has melted away. Thus the loss of Arctic sea ice can lead to an even faster increase in ocean temperatures… which then melts sea ice even faster, and so on.

Dr. Turner also brought up the idea of climate justice in regards to climate change. Rising temperatures lead to such things as rising sea levels and more severe storms. The communities most affected by climate change are not usually the communities responsible for most of it.

So how do we help slow down and mitigate the effects of climate change? Dr. Turner discussed how policies enacted at the federal level can make the most difference. Renewal energy was brought up, and the question of what we could do as individuals to help was discussed. Dr. Turner shared tools such as Berkeley’s CoolClimate calculator, which helps determine our own carbon footprint.

This was a very enlightening and helpful talk, and we are thankful to Dr. Jay Turner for sharing his expertise on such an important topic.