Summer in New England is the perfect time to explore the many gardens we have to offer. From a topiary filled with animal designs, to an archway of interwoven trees, to the oldest public arboretum in North America, there’s something for everyone. Read on for locations, descriptions, and pricing of 14 New England gardens.
Boston Public Garden
The Boston Public Garden was created in 1837 (the Boston Common in 1634) and features flowers, plants, monuments, fountains, the Lagoon, and the Swan Boats that have been operating for more than 100 years.
The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University is the oldest public arboretum in North America. It was established in 1872.
Check out some of the family activities planned at the Arnold Arboretum this year.
Open year round. Free, but donations are appreciated. Arnold Arboretum, 125 Arborway Boston. 617-524-1718. www.arboretum.harvard.edu.
Polly Hill Arboretum
This living arbor of interwoven hornbeam trees is one of the notable features at the Polly Hill Arboretum. The late Polly Hill grew thousands of woody plants from seeds and kept meticulous records for half a lifetime on 20 acres of this former farm, creating an arboretum in the process.
Open year round. $5 adults; kids 12 and under free. Polly Hill Arboretum, 809 State Road West Tisbury, 508-693-9426. www.pollyhillarboretum.org.
Massachusetts Horticultural Society
Located on 36 acres in the historic Elm Bank Reservation is the Massachusetts Horticultural Society’s several gardens including Weezie’s Garden, The Bressingham Garden, The Italianate Garden, and more.
Open year round, $5 adults. Massachusetts Horticultural Society, 900 Washington St., Wellesley, MA 617-933-4900. www.masshort.org.
The Botanic Garden at Smith College
he Botanic Garden at Smith College has thousands of plants, including those grown under glass in the Lyman Conservatory and outdoors in the campus arboretum. There are 60,000 pressed specimens available for research in the herbarium.
Open year round. Free, donations are accepted. The Botanic Garden at Smith College, 16 College Lane Northampton. 413-585-2740. www.smith.edu.
Tower Hill Botanic Garden
Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston is only an hour’s drive west of Boston. This thriving site has color year-round, thanks to its indoor gardens, antique apple orchard, and hilltop views. It has frequent festivals and special events.
Open year round (closed Mondays unless a holiday), $12 adults; $9 seniors; $7 kids age 6 to 18; kids under 6 free. Tower Hill Botanic Garden, 11 French Drive Boylston. 508-869-6111. www.towerhillbg.org.
Blithewold Mansion, named Yankee Magazine’s “Best 5 Public Gardens in New England’’ in 2010, is a 33-acre estate on Narragansett Bay in Bristol, R.I. Explore diverse gardens, specimen trees, and a 45-room English style manor house filled with antiques and artwork.
Gardens open year round. $11 adult; $10 seniors; $3 kids age 6 to 17. Blithewold Mansion, 101 Ferry Road Bristol, R.I. 401-253-2707. www.blithwold.org.
Heritage Museum and Gardens
The best time to visit the Heritage Museum and Gardens in Sandwich is the last week in May and the first week in June, when the famous rhododendrons bred by former owner Charles Dexter are in bloom. But there are 100 acres of other attractions.
Opens in April. $18 adults; $8 kids age 3 to 12; kids 2 and under free. Heritage Museum and Gardens, 67 Grove St., Sandwich. 508-888-3300. www.heritagemuseumsandgardens.org.
Garden in the Woods
New England Wild Flower Society’s Garden in the Woods will offer a Family Activity Area this year, as well as more than 100 rare and endangered species.
Opens in April. $12 adults; $9 seniors; $56kids age 3 to 17; kids under age 3 free. Garden in the Woods, 180 Hemenway Road, Framingham. 508-877-3658. www.newfs.org.
Strawberry Banke Museum
The gardens at Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth, N.H., range from a raised bed of 17th-century kitchen vegetables to an orchard of heritage fruit trees and a WWII era Victory Garden.
Opens in May. $17.50 adults; $10 kids age 5-17; kids 4 and under free; $40 family rate (two adults, two kids under 17). Strawbery Banke Museum, 14 Hancock St., Portsmouth, N.H. 603-433-1100. www.strawberybanke.org.
Berkshire Botanical Garden
f you are a hand’s-on gardener, you’ll find plenty to like at the Berkshire Botanical Garden in Stockbridge. Here are more gardens in the Berkshires.
Opens in May. $15 adults; $12 seniors and students; kids under 12 free . Berkshire Botanical Garden, 5 West Stockbridge Road, Stockbridge. 413-298-3926. www.berkshirebotanical.org.
Green Animals Topiary Garden
Green Animals Topiary Garden in Portsmouth, R.I., is great for children. This is the most northern and oldest topiary garden in the United States, started just after 1900. There are more than 80 pieces of topiary throughout the gardens, including animals and birds, geometric figures, and ornamental designs.
Opens May. $14.50 adult; $5.50 kids age 6 to 17; kids under 6 free Please note: No strollers or carriages allowed. Green Animals Topiary Garden, 380 Cory’s Lane, Portsmouth, R.I. www.newportmansions.org.
Naumkeag in Stockbridge is widely considered the most iconic public garden in New England. The famous Blue Steps with their white railings and half-moon waterfalls are framed by birches. Here are more gardens in the Berkshires.
Opens in May. $15 adults; Kids 12 and under free. Naumkeag, 5 Prospect Hill Road, Stockbridge. 413-298-3239. www.thetrustees.org.
Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site
Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish, N.H., was the summer home of one of the country’s greatest sculptors, Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907). The 150 acres include studios and a number of galleries.
Opens Memorial Day Weekend, $5 adults; free for kids under 16. Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, 139 Saint-Gaudens Road, Cornish, N.H. 603-675-2175. www.nps.gov.