A stroll in MA’s public gardens soothes the body and lifts the spirits

The gardens at Elm Bank
The gardens at Elm Bank –Maggie-Hearsum

By Mary Lhowe

Many public gardens in the Bay State are open now, even though indoor spaces, like visitor centers and rest rooms, usually are closed because of COVID-19 protections. Still, a walk in any garden is all about being outdoors, isn’t it? Here are some gardens to visit and refresh your soul:

The Gardens at Elm Bank in Wellesley is a dense horticultural adventure among dozens of acres of modernistic and classical garden styles and architecture. The many individual garden plots, with names like Temple and Asian Gardens, Botanic Victorian Lodge, and Weezie’s Garden for Children, take visitors into distant times and places as they esplore along dainty paths and ornate bridges. Statues of goddesses make their home in one of the individual gardens. An early owner planted elms along the Charles River on this land in the early 1700s, hence the name. Open every day. Visitors must reserve a timed entry ticket. Map


Polly Hill Arboretum, on Martha’s Vineyard, began in the mid-20th century as a scattering of seeds by the garden enthusiast for whom the property is named. Sixty acres of garden beds and preserved forest now includes collections of various flowers, shrubs, and trees from magnificent magnolias and monkey puzzle trees to a dazzling white (when in bloom) dogwood allee.  A What’s in Bloom page offers a preview of your visit. Open daily. Map

Ashintully Gardens is in the town of Tyringham in western Massachusetts, not far from the storied towns of Stockbridge and Great Barrington. It is an elevated property with glorious views, especially from a site where a row of classic columns stands as the last remnant of a mansion that burned down in the mid-20th century. The property has formal and natural areas linked by rocky paths and steps and bridges, moving along a stream and among meadows. A forested trail takes visitors from the main garden area to the site of the destroyed mansion, where photographers will glory in the panoramic vistas. Open summer months, Wednesday and Saturday afternoons. Map 

Acton Arboretum is a short distance northwest of Boston, on the way to the town of Harvard and its fascinating Fruitlands Museum. The Arboretum is open and accessible to everyone, including dogs and people who use wheelchairs. The variety of plant life to see here is boggling: a butterfly-attracting garden; a bog walk on a boardwalk; a garden specializing in beautiful scents; an avenue of crab apple trees; a wildflower walk that wanders through the woods. Three loop trails make it easy to move around the property and see highlights. Open daily; bring a pup if he or she is well-behaved. Map 


Maudsley State Park near Newburyport is a prize that is loved and supported by local volunteers. Expect to find gardens from the 1800s, meadows, lofty pine trees, and mountain laurel, which is especially beautiful in late spring. There is lots of guidance to finding and using hiking and bridle paths. Map


Provided By Visit New England

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