If you are looking for the New England Wildflower Society’s headquarters, do not be daunted when your search leads you to a suburban neighborhood outside of Boston. Just follow the lead of all those other cars parked on the side of the road and walk on up to the woods after parking. Tucked away in the bustling city of Framingham, behind neighborhood homes, you will find the Garden In The Woods – a 45 acre native wildflower sanctuary and home to the Society’s offices.
Created in the 1930’s by an enterprising plant researcher named Will Curtis, the Garden In The Woods is home to over 1,000 native New England plants and wildflowers cultivated in a variety of natural settings from woodlands, bogs, and lily ponds to meadows. Many plant varieties are rare and the Society works hard at conservation and education. We paid a visit on Mother’s Day which was not a very original idea since it was packed. But with plentiful meandering trails throughout the sanctuary, there was enough of room for all of the visitors to enjoy the scenery.
There are informal guided tours that are presented daily, but it is nice to also wander around at your leisure with numerous signs to educate you along the way. In addition to seeing the plants in natural settings, you can also visit spots like the Idea Garden which displays concepts for gardeners to implement in their own homes, patios and flower beds. A selection of plants can be purchased on your way out at the Garden Shop to take home with you, knowing they were cultivated with special TLC.
It is a gardener’s dream to see such a large variety of plants, shrubs, trees and flowers, but it is also terrific for photographers. It is hard to not capture a good image here. Especially in August when the meadow is bursting with color and visited by butterflies. But the little ones will find plenty of fun here too.
The Lily Pond is larger than it sounds, and is home to turtles, frogs, fish and all kinds of bugs. Kids will enjoy looking for critters camouflaged on the fringes or watching turtles and salamanders sunning themselves for all the world to see. The trails are wide and not challenging, so there are plenty of opportunities to dart up and down them. Just be sure to teach children not to stray off the path or pick the flowers.
The Garden In The Woods is an inspiring place to visit when plants are budding in the spring, a cool reprise in the hot summer months, and beautiful in the fall. It is fun for all ages and you don’t need a green thumb to enjoy the scenery. But if you are so inclined, you might just pick up a few gardening tips too.
- COST = Adults: $8, Seniors: $6, Youth (A3-A18): $4, College Students: $6. Free under Age 3.
- DURATION = Allow 2 hours for a relaxing walk through the different regions of the grounds.
- HOURS = April 15th-October 31st – Daily, 9AM – 5PM, open until 7PM Thursdays & Fridays through July 4th.
- ENVIRONMENT = Limited handicap access, though cart tours are available with advance reservation. Daily informal tours are at no extra cost. Scavenger hunts are available upon admission to keep kids entertained during your visit. Strollers are allowed but paths are bumpy. Dogs are not allowed.
- ACCESSIBILITY = By car 40 minutes outside of Boston or Worcester. Near Routes 9 & 20. Free parking though lot space is limited – overflow allowed on neighborhood street.
- WEBSITE = http://www.newfs.org/visit/Garden-in-the-Woods
- FUN FACTS = The Society offers classes for adults and children throughout the year at the Garden In The Woods as well as field trips to other locations throughout New England on everything from planting tips to how to photograph flowers. Cost is minimal for the lessons learned.
By Molly G. @ The Bumbles Blog
All photos credited to Molly G. @The Bumbles Blog