Friday, November 19, 2010

Berries and Bark at Tower Hill

I just attended the annual 'Trees in the Urban Landscape Symposium' at Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylsten, MA, yesterday.  It was a beautiful (but windy) day at a beautiful location.  I'll talk about the symposium in a later post, but for now I'd like to show you the site.  If you haven't been there recently, or at all, they have just opened a new Winter Garden and Limonia, which are great places to visit as the weather turns cold.

View of the Farmhouse across the Lawn Garden at Tower Hill
The last part of the symposium was a walking tour of these new areas and their Lawn Garden by Joann Vieira, Horticulture Director, Tower Hill Botanic Garden and Executive Director, John W. Trexler.  Most of the leaves are gone from the trees and deciduous shrubs to reveal some of the highlights of the plantings.

Beautyberry with Paper Birch and Winterberry Holly
This scene was really lit up by the afternoon sun, with the native Paper Birch and Winterberry Holly, Ilex verticillata, in the background and Purple Beautyberry, Callicarpa dichotomata, up front.  The bright red berries of the Ilex are very popular with the birds, especially later in the season, while the non-native beautyberry is less favored, providing more visual interest than wildlife value. 

Another striking planting with a lot of winter interest was this cluster of 3 Paperbark Maples, Acer griseum, surrounding a mass of 'Brower's Beauty' Pieris.  Some other interesting plants in this garden include some of the most luxurious Japanese Plum Yew, Cephalotaxus harringtonia 'Prostrata', and Siberian cypress, Microbiota decussata, that I have ever seen. Alas, no photos of these.  These two plants do show some resistance to deer browsing, a problem in this area.  There was also a large Boxwood, Buxus sempervirens ‘Newport Blue’, at 5-6’ tall and wide that seems to be doing quite well at this zone 5 location. There was also a native Inkberry, Ilex glauca f. leucocarpa, that had white berries and a form more like the species than a compact cultivar.  These berries do show up much better than the black berries that are normal to this species.

Winter Garden at Tower HIll
The new Winter Garden was designed to hold as much interest when viewed from the inside of the building as it is close up outside.  This row of Bloodtwig Dogwoods, Cornus sanguinea 'Midwinter Fire', really shows well as the leaves are lost and will not interfere with longer views across the garden, even as they grow taller.  This garden features a lot of low growing and other 'specialty' conifers. 

Leucothoe fontanesiana 'Scarletta'
One of the native plants used here is a low growing cultivar of Fetterbush, Leucothoe fontanesiana 'Scarletta'.  When protected from winter winds this plant is expected to grow 18-24" tall and have the scarlet tinged foliage in spring and fall.  I find this a much more appealing plant than the 'Girard's Rainbow' cultivar, that is common in the trade. 

So far my visits to Tower Hill have been limited to the Urban Tree Symposia in the fall, but I will need to make the 45 min drive from Boston in spring or summer so that I can appreciate more of what this garden has to offer.  Tower Hill Botanic Garden is currently open Mon-Tue,Thu-Sun 10am-5pm and Wed 10am-8pm.


Laurrie said...

Tower Hill is one of my favorite places, and we go every year. I love the photos you've taken of some its highlights. The heirloom apple orchard is also a treat to visit, especially on one of their tasting tours in the fall. Not sure I like all the new construction though!

Linda said...

Curtis - next time you're at Tower Hill, stop by to say hello. I have the small herb store on the corner of French Drive & Route 70 and am fortunate enough to live next door (literally - we share a property line ) to the Botanic Garden. I walk there year round, and I think the winter is one of the most beautiful times in the garden. It is a beautiful place, although I often come home from my walks and shake my head sadly at my gardens in comparison, but then, I don't have staff :-)