Tower Hill Botanic Garden | A Colorful Showplace in Central Massachusetts
Tower Hill Botanic Garden in the inviting town of Boylston, Massachusetts, earned a spot on Yankee’s “Best Public Gardens” list in the Mar/Apr 2014 issue, and was also named an “Editors’ Choice” selection in Yankee’s May/June 2014 issue. Hmm. Seems it must be worth a drive over to investigate, which is what I did, albeit on a blustery and slightly overcast early May day, with point-and-shoot Canon in hand.
Tower Hill is the home of the Worcester County Horticultural Society, which traces its origins back to the 1840s. However, it was not until 1986 that the Society settled into this 132-acre hilltop site overlooking the Wachusett Reservoir and distant mountains and began creating their inspirational gardens. More than just a pretty place, Tower Hill is a fantastic resource for gardening enthusiasts offering an extensive library (8,000 volumes, some dating back to the 1800s), flower shows, talks, and tours—and just for fun, there are also concerts and family events. Here, you’ll find an array of plants fit for cultivating in central New England. In fact, check out the spring plant sale held on May 31, 2014 for the opportunity to choose from numerous indoor and outdoor varieties, including rare specimens.
On this day, I was simply hoping to enjoy the sweet scents and sights of spring. So it was most convenient that a daffodil show was going on at the far end of the Visitors’ Center. My nose led the way to the judging room…
Continuing on to the next sight, it seemed even the expansive space and cathedral ceiling could not diffuse the pleasing smell of citrus within The Orangerie—a popular venue for weddings and other events, and a wonderfully warm place to be on a raw, cool day.
Back outside, the path leads to the Systematic Garden, designed in the Italianate style, presenting a collection of plants arranged according to their evolutionary relationships. It was all very educational, but there was also a mountain view to my left, and a field of blooming daffodils to my right—very distracting.
The wooded trails presented sculptures and informational placards along the way, and even an unexpected bit of company…
Now, when I received my property map, it listed some guidelines of “garden etiquette.” Among the expected (don’t step on the plants) and the less obvious (youths under 16 must be accompanied by an adult), the list stated that visitors should leave their pets at home. So, what could this be for…?
Apparently, if you purchase a membership to Tower Hill, you can also purchase one for your four-legged friend, allowing your dog to accompany you on certain trails at set times. See all the details by clicking here: Tails n’ Trails Dog Membership.
The trail continues it’s loop—down to the wildlife pond, and up to the farmhouse that’s adjacent to the Cottage and Vegetable Garden, and overlooks the Lawn Garden.
Beyond the decorative pergolas, a stone staircase leads to the (not so much) Secret Garden, an oval-shaped space with assorted fragrant perennials, and a view to the edge of the Frank L. Harrington Sr. Orchard—238 trees of which 119 are heirloom varieties (visitors can sample the fruit of these unusual varieties during Tower Hill’s harvest celebration).
Clearly, spring was just emerging on the day of my visit. But, since they’re open year-round, Tower Hill Botanic Garden remains not just a gardening resource, but also a scenic, serene escape in all seasons.