Acton Aboretum

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Acton Arboretum Massachusetts

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

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Stow Celebrates 325 Years!

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If you've ever been to a Stow SpringFest, you know it usually rains (or snows)! This year we got lucky. It was a very special year for us because our town celebrated its Tercenquarternary. What's that word you say? Well the word was "invented" for this occasion and simply means we celebrated our 325th anniversary. We had a huge parade this year. We had the Stow and Sudbury Minutemen, bagpipers, tractors, trucks, antique cars and fire trucks, a replica of the Stow West School (the 1-room schoolhouse still standing on Harvard Road), and a hayride. We even had ourselves a clown on a bike! The girl scouts carried the flags belonging to Stow over the years and the parade was closed by the famed Belgian horses of Rockbottom Farm.

The parade ended at Center School where the real festivities began. There were huge cakes to celebrate the Stow Community Chest's 25th anniversary, students playing instruments at the Stow Friends of Music booth, encampments of minutemen, animals, an old-fashioned broom maker, a blacksmith, spinning and weaving demonstrations, firemen playing "water polo", 20 information booths, and activities galore.

The afternoon gave us a wonderful children's play at the Old Town Hall. "The Time Trap" was a unique lesson in Stow history from a kids' point of view. The play was inspired by books by Stow's Martha Perkins and chronicled the lives of modern day Stow kids who got caught in a parallel existence with 18th, 19th and 20th century Stow kids. The portal in time was an old outhouse.

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Stow SpringFest

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Welcome to the Stow 2008 SpringFest gallery slideshows. This was a special year because we celebrated Stow's 325th anniversary. A new term was coined to mark this occassion: Tercentenquarternary.

The first slideshow is of the parade. I started by taking an image of an old tractor in front of the Old Town Hall and moved on to the antique cars display in front of the library where I met pre-schooler Alton Miles and his grandfather John Beusch. I tried to capture some interesting faces in the crowd watching the parade. The parade was really fantastic! I got a million of the clown, but only put the best one in here. My daughters Molly and Elena dressed up as a pirate and clown for the kids' costume parade which joined the main parade at the library.

The second slideshow features the field activities at Center School. I went over to Sue Allaire and Elaine Peterman of the Stow Community Chest who were handing out cake in honor of the organization's 25th anniversary. Next to them was the Stow Friends of Music booth where George Tierney, 5th grader at Center School, was entertaining his friends with some Green Day. The Stow Minutemen were busy doing their thing. Carole Dunlap organized this year's Lego contest; the theme was "Legos in Literature". After about 50 frames, I got a good one of Teddy on one of the bounce houses. After about another 50 frames, I got a good one of the Stow Firemen's Water Polo Muster. The Stow Council on Aging had marvelous displays of artwork for sale. Thruston Hammer displayed his talents at the broom-making display. The blacksmith sold my daughter a wonderful spear that she is using in her backyard campsite. Center School third grader Anna Moffat was demonstrating her weaving skills.

From there, we went home for a breather and then off to "The Time Trap"; a unique lesson in Stow history from a kid's point of view. The play was inspired by books by Martha Perkins. The play chronicled the lives of modern day Stow kids who got caught in a parallel existence with 18th, 19th and 20th century Stow kids. The portal was an old outhouse. The play was written and directed by Jean Caviness with the help of Lynne Juster and many others. It was performed before a packed Old Town Hall and was recorded for broadcast on StowTV.

See also Dwight Sipler's Images and Greg Troxel's Images.

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