Join us for A Nighthawk Watch at Washington Tower in 2018!

July 28, 2018

The Nighthawk is a member of the nightjar family which include the Whip-poor-will. All members of this family are rather cryptic in color with tiny bills and huge mouths. Join us for a Nighthawk Watch this summer at Washington Tower:

Nighthawk Watches

Nighthawks on TUE, AUGUST 21, 2018, 5:45 PM – 7:15 PM 

Nighthawks on WED, AUGUST 22, 2018, 5:45 PM – 7:15 PM 

Nighthawks on TUE, AUGUST 28, 2018, 5:45 PM – 7:15 PM 

Nighthawks on WED, AUGUST 29, 2018, 5:45 PM – 7:15 PM 

The flight of the nighthawk is unmistakable as it wheels erratically chasing insects. The Nighthawk nests most often on open cultivated fields, gravel beaches, rocky outcrops and burned over woodlands.  It is also well known to nest on flat gravel roof tops especially in cities. Locally birds have nested in a number of different places in Cambridge and Somerville as well as the Back Bay and South End sections of Boston. The roofs of many of these buildings have been converted to rubber and are no longer appealing to the nighthawks. (more…)

Horticulture Highlight: Asa Gray Garden

July 5, 2018

And all rare blossoms from every clime

Grew in that garden in perfect prime.

            -Percy Bysshe Shelley

We encourage all to visit our newly renovated Asa Gray Garden. In collaboration with the award-winning Halvorson Design Partnership and R. P. Marzilli Landscape Contractor, this garden includes a diverse mix of 130 taxa of trees, shrubs, perennials, grasses, annuals and bulbs which will provide four-seasons of color, texture and interest. An enlarged central water feature and reflecting pool help create a sense of calm within this newly re-designed meditative landscape.

made him feel as if the fountain were an immortal spirit

that sung its song unceasingly

and without heeding the vicissitudes around it…

-Nathaniel Hawthorne

In lieu of specific plant discussion, we recall this garden’s namesake, the preeminent nineteenth century botanist, Asa Gray (1810-1888). The eldest of eight siblings of a farmer/tanner in Sauquoit, New York, he graduated from Fairfield Medical College in 1831. Lynn Barber in The Heyday of Natural History 1820-1870 states, “At the beginning of the nineteenth century, all laymen and most scientists believed that the earth and all the species on it had been created by God in six days towards the end of October in the year 4004 B.C.” Gray eschewed an incipient medical practice for a botanical life that led to decades of research and publishing. Later botanical renown positioned him to become the foremost American advocate of Charles Darwin (1809-1882), when in 1859, Origin of Species revealed the then heretical theory of evolution and the process of natural selection. (more…)