Thursday, March 17, 2011

spring fever

As I promised in my last post, as soon as I began setting up for the Paradise City Arts Festival this week-end spring came. Now obviously part of the reason is that I am in a warmer area than Shelburne Falls. Of course. A few hundred feet lower and closer to the ocean. There is almost no snow here. Also as luck would have it, the weather did turn delightfully warm and sunny.

So what is a quiltmaker who is tired of winter to do? Well I decided that I just had to set up as quickly as possible and head out to the Tower Hill Botanical Gardens in Boylston, MA--less than 10 minutes from the show. Now I confess I had driven by the sign for Tower Hill many times--even picked up their brochure once or twice--but I had never been there. However, I couldn't think of any reason not to go. Sometimes when spring comes you just have to enjoy it--right?

So I got the directions and drove--it really did not take long until I got to the entrance--what was it going to be like. The volunteer taking my money smiled and said just enjoy it. I drove up the road--past the apple orchard--it turns out they have 115 varieties of heirloom apples and there it was.
Wow. This place was so much more than I expected. Beautiful vistas. So many different gardens. The lawn garden itself has 350 different varieties of trees and shrubs--almost all of which are very carefully labeled. Outside there were snow crocuses and snowdrops. 

I headed for the Orangerie. I must say I love those large horticultural buildings with lots of glass and plants. Isn't it wonderful?

Inside so many types of oranges--most of them bearing fruit. And yes, lots of sculptures everywhere in many different styles.

Trees almost to the top of the roof. And color. Look at the bright red on this bromeliad. There was an entire area that emphasized red. Bromeliads, coleus. Red palms. And they were all bright and alive.

There were fountains with exotic flowers floating in them. Wonderful arrangements made with the patterns of the leaves. Of course I loved this fan palm. So simple and elegant.

This succulent had great designs too--I forgot its name.

Outside a lovely courtyard with two turtles as fountains in the pond. Another pond in the courtyard--the algae pond had rock that was once underneath Lake Erie in Ohio. Such great texture.

Then time to explore a bit outside. Of course I had to hike to the summit of Tower Hill. Now don't think I overextended myself--the summit is only 640 some feet high but look at this view of Mt Wachusetts with the Wachusetts Reservoir. And of course throughout there were lots of benches for sitting.

Then off to see The Folly. Follies I knew were once built in castles in England--to look like abandoned architecture. This one was built by a woman to commemorate her husband. On my way there I learned that Henry David Thoreau was actually the first to write about the succession of growth in forests. He was actually working on a book about Forest Ecology at the time of his death. His office had been near the Worcester Horticultural Society which runs Tower Hill. I learn something new every day.

Isn't that fun? Then alas I realized that I still needed to price my work but not before deciding that I may just have to get an Alaska Weeping Cedar--what a wonderful tree that is. And I know I will now have to come back soon. I saw so many daffodils just peeking their heads up out of the ground. So many shrubs and perennials. I never made it to the Rustic Pavilion or the Moss Steps. I even have a daylily group that meets here once a month--I may have to start attending their meetings.

But then until today I had also never made it to Tower Hill. Have you? Don't you just love little adventures like this? Do you have any finds to share?


  1. Lovely outing, Ann! Thanks for taking us along. (And I hope the show is great.)

  2. Ann, I discovered your blog earlier this year while looking for advice on fine craft show preparation and participation, and I have been enjoying your posts since then, including some from your archives. Sorry it has taken me this long to say 'hello'!

    You are my kind of person -- checking out the local botanical garden while visiting a new place! Here in New York, we are at the NY Botanical Gardens (in the Bronx) a lot, and I have really enjoyed visiting the botanical gardens in San Diego and Madrid, too. They don't ever top the lists of 'must-see' attractions but I find that you do get a great feel for the place while visiting the local bot. garden. A nature escape is also always welcome while playing a busy tourist.

    I have heard good things about Tower Hill before, so especially after reading about your visit, I know I need to add it to my list of places to see :)

    I do have a local find to share -- if you are in the NY area, be sure to visit Wave Hill (, it's a beautiful urban oasis. I'm a bit partial to it because a few years ago I had a photography exhibition there but Wave Hill is truly a very special place.

    I am sorry I wasn't able to make time and stop by your booth at the ACC. As someone very new to the show circuit (I was a first time exhibitor in the 'alt craft' section), I was, unfortunately, too consumed with my little display area before, during, and after the show to explore the show floor well. I hope there is a next time, and I hope to be better prepared and more relaxed next time.

    Anyway, just wanted to drop you a note and tell you I really enjoy your blog. You have provided much food for thought and inspiration -- thank you.

    Warm wishes,


  3. Thanks Susan. It was fun although I confess my feet are tired already.

  4. Thanks Elena. Sorry I missed seeing you at Baltimore also--it is such a big and crazy show I barely had time to explore myself. Wave Hill does sound wonderful--I will add it to my list.