Where are the best public gardens in New England? From coastal Maine to Berkshires, here are five of our favorites.
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.
1. BERKSHIRE BOTANICAL GARDEN
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; berkshirebotanical.org
2. BLITHEWOLD MANSION, GARDENS & ARBORETUM
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; blithewold.org
3. COASTAL MAINE BOTANICAL GARDENS
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; mainegardens.org
4. GARDEN IN THE WOODS
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; newenglandwild.org
5. TOWER HILL BOTANIC GARDEN
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; towerhillbg.org