By Beth Treffeisen
Mayor Martin Walsh announced the winners of the Mayor’s 2017 Garden Contest on Thursday, Aug. 3, with many reigning from the Fenway neighborhood. This year, four winners hailed from Fenway along with three inductees into the distinguished Hall-of-Famers.
Now in its 21st year, the contest recognizes gardeners who have landscaped, planted flowers, trees, and shrubs and, in the process, helped beautify Boston’s neighborhoods.
A team of distinguished judges viewed the finalists’ gardens over a two-day period. Judges included members of the Garden Contest Hall of Fame, Boston Parks and Recreation Department staff, and local open space advocates.
First-place winners will receive the coveted “Golden Trowel” award from Mayor Walsh and prize packages from the Parks Department, Mahoney’s Garden Centers, and other sponsors at an awards ceremony on Aug. 15 in the Public Garden.
First-place winners will also be entered into a drawing for JetBlue Grand Prize consisting of roundtrip flights for two to any nonstop destination from Boston.
Kristen Mobilia, the third-place winner for vegetable or herb garden and District 8 candidate for City Council, believes Fenway did so well because more people applied than haven’t in the past.
“We also have a very equipped population of gardeners that exchange information and swap plants with one another,” said Mobilia. “Maybe we did so well because we have a wealth of knowledge and a lot of working and sharing together. We also have the largest garden that is 7.5 acres big. You can do so much more in that space than in a smaller community garden.”
Mobilia said the Victory Gardens has a lot of mature plots saying that all of the winners had their garden for at least five years or longer, with some close to being two decades old.
“Maybe that is part of the secret,” said Mobilia. “But really everyone is very involved in the community and in the garden.”
Bonnie Thryselius, who helped bring the Fenway Victory herb garden to second place this year, said it was due to a group effort and a lot of hard work.
Open to the public to enjoy, this herb garden is only 1 year old. Planted by community gardeners last July and maintained by the membership of the Fenway Victory Garden the herb garden has become a tranquil place to stop, relax, and enjoy bubble bees buzzing.
“Everyone is very pleased with it,” said Thryselius. “Visitors stop by from all over the world and talk to us about the garden. It stands out because of all of the stone work, and it is right in front.”
Thyrselius continued, “We are just so lucky – I can’t tell you how fortunate we are in this city to have this.”
Elizabeth Bertolozzi, who is vice president of the park, said that Fenway did a great job probably because a number of the gardeners have been here for generations.
“We’ve had some gardeners for a long time and they’re gardens are gorgeous,” said Bertolozzi. “Even in my garden that I’ve had for four years, and each year some things don’t change because they really work and other things I put in the mix to juice it up and make it more interesting.”
She continued, “I love the fact that we have a lot of winners in the Fenway Victory Gardens. There are a number of community gardens in Boston. I live in the South End and I see them – they are all very nice too.”
After gardeners have won three or more times they are automatically entered into the Hall of Fame and will be recognized at the upcoming awards ceremony. Once a Hall of Famer, the gardeners are ineligible to enter as contestants but are welcome to return as judges.
The 2017 Hall of Fame Inductees include are Marie Fukuda and Tim Horn of the Fenway, Daphne Georges of Jamaica Plain, Ronald H. Dion of the Fenway and Martin Grealish of West Roxbury.
“I think we were lucky – we entered three times over the years and are happy to retire with three first place awards,” wrote Fukuda. “We have to thank our judges. There are many amazing gardens and gardeners across the city, and not everyone enters the contest.”
Since Fukuda and Horn can no longer participate as contestants, they hope to focus their attention on encouraging other gardeners, whether it is to enter a contest or to help increase their enjoyment of their gardens and gardening community.
Fukuda said that they are very fortunate in the Fenway to have access to the garden plots in the Victory Garden. The city and Parks Department does a lot to support them and they are grateful for that help and it is a big part of why their gardens thrive.
“I think we have a great group of motivated gardeners, and a close-knit garden community here at the Fenway Victory Gardens,” wrote Fukuda. “It’s particularly nice to have so many Fenway gardeners win during our 75th anniversary.”
This year’s winners are:
Storefront, Organization, or Main Street District Garden
First Place: D Coal Pot, Hyde Park
Second Place: Loring Greenough House, Jamaica Plain
Third Place: Ripples of Hope Volunteers and Pine Street Inn Tenants, South End
First Place: Tom Keller, Fenway
Second Place: Marguerite Sharkey and Alison Moppett, Fenway
Third Place: Carmen Musto, Roslindale
Vegetable or Herb Garden
First Place: Aspasia Bakolas, Roslindale
Second Place: The Fenway Victory Gardens, Fenway
Third Place: Kristen Mobilia, Fenway
Porch, Balcony, or Container Garden
First Place: Ric Cirace, Back Bay
Second Place: Kathryn Cantrell, South End
Third Place: Maria Lopez, Dorchester
Senior Yard Garden
First Place: John Govoni and Dorothy Giarla, Roslindale
Second Place: Diane Spears, Jamaica Plain
Third Place: Tom and Barbara Van Dyke, West Roxbury
First Place: Ngaio Schiff, Roslindale
Second Place: Courtenay Loiselle, East Boston
Third Place: Christine Langhoff, Dorchester
Small Yard Garden
First Place: Rick Kuethe, Dorchester
Second Place: Art’ Gill, Jamaica Plain
Third Place: Edward Gugliotti, South End
Medium Yard Garden
First Place: Judy Ulman, West Roxbury
Second Place: Nasim Parveen, West Roxbury
Third Place: Amanda Blicharz, Charlestown
Large Yard Garden
First Place: Jim Anderson, South End
Second Place: Carolyn Becker, Jamaica Plain
Third Place: Daryl Johnson and Rick Smith, Dorchester