Many of you have probably heard of the famed Arnold Arboretum in Boston. When we were living in town, we frequently made trips there and the highlight was the annual lilac festival, the one time of the year you were allowed to bring in food. Probably less famous, even to those who live around here, and certainly smaller, is the Acton Arboretum. Situated on 64 acres near Acton Center off Taylor Road and Route 27 (Main Street), it's an oasis even for an area that has lots of conservation land. It's also inspiring. The gardens have given me ideas for what is possible on my own property and it may do the same for you. For those of you looking for prime portrait locations for your family, this place cannot easily be beat. There are a fair number of apple trees which is a first hint of the history of the land. There are daylily, hosta, herb, wildflower, and rhododendron gardens as well as a newly planted lilac garden. Specimen trees dot the landscape, though they aren't as rare or numerous as their cousin in Boston. There are small ponds, climbable trees, stone benches, and more.
The upper gardens are most active and visible. The paths that wind into the woods and transport you to other beautiful gardens are somewhat hidden and add to the mystery of the place. There's also a relatively new footbridge that winds over streams and through wooded wildflower garden that is currently being worked on. This trail connects to the Highland Loop which leads to a secluded bog (another piece of history). Further hints of its rich history are the stone walls and the old foundation surrounding the herb garden.
I have heard some comment on dogs running loose. They should come to Stow's Delaney Project where you cannot help but step into dog poop and the trails are rundown and dusty. This is absolutely not the case here. The people are friendly and the dogs are friendly and mostly they are on leashes and if not they are responsive to their owners. People pick up after themselves as there is no litter anywhere even though picnics are allowed and there are several picnic tables available for use. It's completely free to the public.
The arboretum has a rich history which you can find on the member application on the site linked below. In short, during the American Revolution it was owned by Joseph Reed who fought at the North Bridge and the Battle of Bunker Hill and came home to a heroes welcome: most of his land was sold for nonpayment of taxes! It seems like we are doomed to repeating history as our heros of today frequently come home from war with similar tales. What was left of the land was later sold to the Tuttle family who grew and sold cranberries and apples for over 100 years. The Town of Acton bought the property in the year our country celebrated is bicentennial (1976) and in 1986 at Town Meeting it was designated as an arboretum. It turns out the two arboretums, Boston and Acton, are somewhat related. I am told by Joan Yatteau of the Friend of the Acton Arboretum that the former director of the Arnold Arboretum, Dick Howard, retired to Acton and helped in the early stages of development. In addition, two students at the then Landscape Design seminar at Radcliffe College helped to develop the master plan as part of their degree program. What a wonderful story of a wonderful project!
Image: Allium is a member of the onion family and is particularly attractive to shoot. Here, I was giving my friend Larry some pointers on how to use his new Nikon D200 with my Tamron 90mm/2.8 Macro lens.
External Link: Acton Arboretum Official Site