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The Best 5 Public Gardens in New England

The Best 5 Public Gardens in New England
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Tower Hill Botanic Garden
Photo/Art by Tower Hill Botanic Garden
Tower Hill Botanic Garden

When Virginia Small isn’t gardening at her home in Litchfield County, Connecticut, she’s writing about gardening. A former senior editor at Fine Gardening magazine, she’s the author of Great Gardens of the Berkshires (Down East Books, 2008). Here she prunes her list of favorite gardens to five of the best public gardens in New England.

Inspiring and intimate displays include vegetable, herb, daylily, and rock gardens; perennial and mixed borders; and seasonal installations. The region’s hub for gardening info since 1934. 5 West Stockbridge Road (jct. Routes 102 & 183), Stockbridge, MA. 413-298-3926;

This stunning seaside setting merges historic and modern gardening. Rose, rock, and water gardens, specimen trees, and a woodland (“the Bosquet”). A popular site for weddings. 101 Ferry Road (Route 114), Bristol, RI. 401-253-2707;

Largest public garden site in New England (248 acres), this newbie features exceptional rhododendron, native-plant, and children’s displays, plus a “Garden of the Five Senses.” Pristine woodlands and waterfront (on the tidal Back River) afford views of unspoiled nature. Barters Island Road, Boothbay, ME. 207-633-4333;

Home of the venerable New England Wild Flower Society, this intimate strolling garden features more than 1,000 native plants in their habitats. It’s best viewed in spring and early summer. The meadow shines in late summer. 180 Hemenway Road, Framingham, MA. 508-877-7630;

A horticultural feast with cutting-edge plantings, fragrant secret garden, heirloom apple trees, hardwoods, woodland “folly,” plant evolution display, wildlife garden (a birder’s paradise), and three miles of woodland trails. The “Orangerie” hosts winter displays. 11 French Drive, Boylston, MA. 508-869-6111;

Please Note: This information was accurate at the time of publication. When planning a trip, please confirm details by directly contacting any company or establishment you intend to visit.

Updated Friday, June 11th, 2010

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3 Responses to The Best 5 Public Gardens in New England

  1. Joseph Oliveri August 7, 2010 at 7:38 am #

    has Yankee Magazine ever featured one of New England’s best kept secrets: cemeteries?

  2. August 17, 2010 at 1:02 pm #

    Thuya Gardens in Northeast Harbor is my favorite

  3. Bruce Gaylord March 29, 2011 at 5:16 pm #

    I have been to two of these, #2 and #4, but Stanley Park in Westfield MA beats them easily.

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