Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Largest Wildflower Garden in New England - in Spring

One of the best places in the Northeast to see a huge variety of wildflowers is at the Garden in the Woods, located not too far from Boston in Framingham, Massachusetts. This 45-acre woodland botanical garden is also the headquarters of the New England Wild Flower Society, which focuses on the promotion and conservation of native plants of the region.  I first visited the Garden in the Woods last fall, and I was very excited to visit it again a few days ago when many of its spring-blooming plants were in flower.

Bee enjoying Claytonia virginica, aka Virginia spring beauty.
The Garden in the Woods boasts over 1700 types of plants, including over 200 rare and endangered native ones, making it the largest wildflower garden in New England.

A sunny spot filled with wildflowers!
The different plants are spread out in different micro-habitats throughout the woods, including slopes,  pine barrens, sunny meadows, swamps, and wetlands.

Painted turtles enjoying the garden's pond.
Walking paths offer a very enjoyable stroll throughout the wooded grounds.


Informational signs placed along the paths tell about each habitat and the plants found there.  Usually there are guided tours of the woods each day as well, which are very helpful and educational.  Unfortunately when I went this time, the guide had called in sick, but (thankfully!) many of the plants are labeled.

Red-flowering Trillium cuneatum next to yellow Uvularia grandiflora (Larger-flowered Bellwort)
I was delighted to come in time to see the Garden in the Wood's impressive collection of trilliums in bloom!  I had no idea there was such a variety of these lovely spring ephemerals.  Most trilliums are native to North America, and several species are endangered or threatened.

Trillium flexipes - Bent Trillium
Trillium cuneatum - Little Sweet Betsy
Trillium luteum - Yellow Trillium
Trillium simile - Sweet White Trillium
Trillium recurvatum - Prairie Wake Robin
Trillium grandiflorum - White Wake Robin
Did you know there were pink trilliums?

Trillium grandiflorum forma roseum - Rose-colored Wake Robin 
Trillium sulcatum - Barksdale's Trillium
And one with doubled petals?
I've never seen a trillium like this before!

Trillium grandiflorum forma petalosum - Double White Trillium
There were also many other horticultural treasures there, some of which we don't get to see very often anymore.  I think this was the first time I've ever seen a Jack-in-the-Pulpit, a plant that my Mom talks of often finding in the woods as a kid.

Plants clockwise from top left:  Swamp pink (Helonias bullata), Marsh marigold (Caltha palustris), Double rue anemone (Thalictrum thalictroides 'Shoaf's pink'), Jack-in-the-Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum),  Goldseal (Hydrastis canadensis), Dutchman's breeches (Dicentra cucullaria), Golden-club (Orontium aquaticum
Committed to educating people on native plants, the New England Wild Flower Society also offers many classes there at Garden in the Woods, as well as at other locations throughout New England.  The kids aren't even left out - a part of Garden in the Woods holds an activity area for children to explore and learn.

A structure at the activity area where kids can make their own little 'habitat' for critters.
And if the gardens and classes aren't reason enough to visit Garden in the Woods, the garden store would be.  Garden in the Woods also contains the largest retail native plant nursery in New England!  While still not as huge as regular nurseries, it has a good number of native plants that are hard to find anywhere else.  They sell everything from tree saplings to specialty plants such as native pitcher plants and lady slippers.  I have yet to go home from a visit there without a treasure of some kind stashed in my car...

A pollinator on Virginia spring beauty
So if you are passing through the greater Boston area, I definitely recommend you check out this great horticultural gem.  Just make sure you leave room in your suitcase or car for a horticultural find of your own!

31 comments:

  1. Darn: We missed it when we visited Boston several years ago. I guess I'll have to go back now! ;-) Interesting about the pink T. grandiflorums. Actually, the white ones turn pink as they age, too. Thanks for the tip on this beautiful place. :)

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    1. I didn't know the white ones age pink. I bought and planted a bare root white trillium this year, but it hasn't really taken off, sadly, unlike the red one I planted. They are so pretty!

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  2. Magical... and so are your photograps. I saw on their site that they are looking for botanic images of New England native plant species...

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    1. I didn't even see that. Maybe I should send some :)

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  3. Indie this is a trip I should make next spring....I have an addiction to trilliums and have 6 different ones myself...they are so gorgeous...and I love to learn about so many more wildflowers...wouldn't it be great to have a meet up of some us bloggers there.

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    1. Definitely! That would be so much fun. I think a garden bloggers fling in this area would be totally awesome one of these years, too. (One of these years I'd love to make it to a fling!)

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  4. Oh that looks fabulous. I wish we had somewhere like that near us, I'd get so much inspiration from it.

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    1. It is so great to see a place devoted to and selling native plants. I wish there were more places like that!

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  5. Wonderful post, loved the photos. Especially like the second picture. Great idea teaching kids to help wildlife.

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    1. Thanks! It's so important to teach and pass on the love of nature to the next generation, I think!

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  6. I love the bee hotels at the end!

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    1. Aren't they so cute? There are a couple of those things in the area. The empty bottom ones are for kids to build their own habitat for animals in, using natural materials they find around in the woods. Such a great idea!

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  7. Hello Indie and thank you for dropping by my blog !
    What an amazing place this is and how I wish I was near such a stunning native driven "garden" .. and to be able to buy plants there on top of it all ? HEAVEN ! .. I have been trying to grow trillium (standard white single flower) each year we get a chance to buy "native" plants from a small selection provided by garden centers .. I have not found the perfect spot for them yet but I am not giving up ... and WOW ! on the double flowered one .. I would love to have that one ... we never stop wanting plants do we ?
    I hope one day to be able to sit back and just admire my gardens .. but I always find something to work on .. it just never stops on that front either LOL
    Joy

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    1. I planted a white trillium this year that was supposed to be 'easy to grow' and it didn't come up, while the red one I bought did. There must be something about that white trillium! :) I think that the benches that gardeners put in the garden are usually just for looks and for others to sit on - a gardener is usually too busy puttering about the garden to sit!

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  8. Indie, Thanks so much for stopping by my blog. Oh, I would love to visit this garden. Your photos are amazing. A few years ago, we had a home on 3 acres near a creek in north Georgia. The trilliums were beautiful each Spring! Hope you have a nice weekend.

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    1. Oh, north Georgia is a beautiful area! I'll bet you had lots of gorgeous wildflowers there!

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  9. Oh wow. What a great place to be able to visit....

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    1. It's definitely a wonderful garden! I visited again the other day :)

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  10. Oh I wish I was closer...wow. This seems to be a real must have it on my list of a garden.

    We have pink, and also white Claytonia growing here, it's been a early and very hot spring, so they are finished up quickly. Right now it's the Dame's rocket, and sadly the Hoary Cress which is taking over.

    I just looked up and saw Joy's comment...LOL. If you ever get to her blog, go and look at what she has planted in her garden...now that's a collector.

    Jen

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    1. Oh, I'll have to go look! I love gardens of collectors!

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  11. Garden in the Woods is a beautiful place that I too would love to visit. I am headed that way in October with a friend that both collects (buys) wildflowers and adores them. Even though it is past the time (or before - depending on how you look at it) I will tell here we should stop in. Lovely tour, Indie.

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    1. I went at the end of last summer, and, while there is not a lot in bloom, it is still a nice place to walk around and buy some plants. I've never been in the middle of summer, so I'd be interested to see what they have then. Most of their labeled plants seemed to be spring ephemerals. I went just the other day, and the lady slippers were starting to bloom, which was such a treat!

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  12. What a beautiful place. To think that one could see these treasures and then stop by the garden shop and take some home is very exciting! It's a good thing for my wallet that there are a few thousand miles between it and me! Thank you for sharing this gem!

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    1. It's not so great for my wallet either :) I try to restrain myself!

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  13. Sounds like a wonderful place! And even better that you can actually buy native plants right there. Local sources for native plants here are very limited, so I usually wind up ordering a few from online nurseries. But I prefer to buy plants that I can see and actually touch...I'd probably get a little carried away if I was able to visit this wildflower garden:)

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    1. Having ordered from various online nurseries in the past, it is such a treasure to have a native nursery in the area! At least it's a little bit of a drive, or else I would visit the nursery a little too often and spend way too much money!

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  14. What a great place! It would be wonderful to see so many wildflowers in one spot. :o) I love those trilliums.

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    1. It's nice to see them in a more natural setting, too. It makes me think that I can grow them :)

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  15. I have heard of this garden; what a wonderful place! I love trilliums and other woodland wildflowers. Wish this place were close to me; I would visit the garden and its nursery regularly!

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    1. I loved seeing the trilliums and other spring blooms. I also went a week later to see some of the lady slipper's blooming. I can't wait to go back in the summer and see how it looks!

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