Author Archives: maureen

Winter Garden at Wellesley College Greenhouses

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January and February are the months for us Bostonians to find indoor gardens to luxuriate in and to bring to mind that spring will come again. Wellesley College Greenhouses in Wellesley, Massachusetts is my go to place to breath in the smell of wet soil and to pretend I am in Florida surrounded by the blossoms of tropical plants.

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The Wellesley College Botanic Gardens Visitor Center is adjacent to the Science Center and the Greenhouses are open 8 am to 4 pm every day of the week except in the summer when the greenhouses are closed on weekends. I most enjoy the progression through the different greenhouses from the dry heat in the desert house to the very moist heat in the tropical house. There are even some benchs to rest awhile and enjoy siting amongst the plants.

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In my dream home I would have the sandy propagation beds they have with bottom heat and misting heads going. But then what would I do with all the new plants? Better to come visit this unique Boston area asset where I can visit anytime for free and enjoy the horticultural sights of the tropics in a cold New England winter. Groups can also arrange for docent lead tours by calling the Botanic Gardens office. I am doing a bit of publicity for a place I have had the luck to be associated with for many years as student and volunteer. After a visit I always get so energized about plants that I come home and repot one of my begonias or one of my other too numerous houseplants.

Wellesley greenhouse 101

New Garden at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

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The monks garden path

The monks garden path

Gardenergarden#1One of the great pleasures of living in the Boston area are the wonderful museums. Interesting garden spaces often are part of the package when museum visiting. The new Monks garden at the Gardner Museum is a tiny bit of paradise for me. It is another superb example of the design work of Michael Van Valkenburg,whose firm has offices in Cambridge and NYC. What I liked most about the garden is the sure hand when choosing the plant material. Everygreen leaves of hellebores and European ginger look good in the winter time and the trio of tree types with interesting bark will look stunning all season long. Stewardia planted in groups of three will also provide early summer flowers, paperback maples planted at the turning points of the paths are shining beacons of bronze beauty and the elegance of the white bark of the birches make this a lovely forest to walk thru.

Coastal Maine Botanical Garden

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We love to go up to Maine for the lobster rolls at the oceans edge but these days our trips north always include a visit to this newish (2007) botanical garden at the waters edge. Boothbay Harbor, Maine is the picture perfect seaside town to visit on a summer day and now it is even better with the nearby Botanical Gardens. wedding and Maine June 2013 153 I was in a gardeners paradise the first day I visited and could hardly keep myself from running to see what was around the next corner in this well planned landscape. And you do need comfortable shoes to cover the different areas of the 248 acre property. The great green lawn as you exit the visitors center always seems to be filled with kids running around, some with fairy wings on! Maine Botanical, June
There are flower beds galore ablaze with blossoms and interesting foliage. The labels make it a very useful place to find plants you may want to add to your garden or to identify ones you have but forgot what they are. The pathway down to the rivers edge has amazing sculpture pieces as well as great ideas for home gardens. Down at the bottom is a meditation garden with a spectacular water feature. If it is a quiet day you can see and hear the birds chirping away. Farther along this woodsy path by the river is a summer gazebo and many fairy houses build by kids using the sticks and rocks, cones and bark they find there. You have to look closely at the ground level to make them out.
woodland path by the waters edge
I have to say the childrens garden is the most spectacular aspect of this place. Maine childrens garden
My grandchildren are too little at the moment and live too far away to enjoy this now but I will get them there someday. This garden has kid sized places to see vegetables growing. They can enter the little house to read books about nature. I enjoy seeing kids getting excited as they stand on the stepping stones over the creek and see the tadpoles swimming there. I especially like the little bog that is planted nearby with native pitcher plants that are thriving. boys by bog

The little dock at the edge of the pond lets them practice throwing lobster buoys into the water. Down below the path they can run over to a cave made of huge rocks while above their heads is a wooden structure with a rope walk that can test balancing skills.
This garden has become a major attaction in the area and eavesdropping on what other visitors are remarking on reminds me of the wonderfully eriudite garden enthusiasts at the Chelsea Flower Show

Winter flowers

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MBovet-white camellia at Lyman EstateEven as the 2 feet of snow are still on the ground here in New England it is possible to be among beautiful blooming plants. Lyman Estate Greenhouses in Waltham, Massachusetts is one of my favorite places to go visit on a frosty winter afternoon. The ancient camellias are at peak flowering in January and February and in these old greenhouses one can imagine you are a wealthy 19th century estate owner proudly looking over your collection of camellia plants brought over from China. These flowers look like roses with many different flower forms but you won’t find any scent when you put your nose up to one. Be sure and dust the yellow pollen off your face!