History

  • Tower Hill is the first and only comprehensive botanic garden in New England.
  • Tower Hill is easily accessible from Routes I-495 and I-290.
  • Tower Hill is designed to accommodate 150,000 visitors each year.
  • Tower Hill features a Lawn Garden, which can accommodate an audience of 1,000 for outdoor events. The garden is surrounded by more than 1,000 trees and shrubs and is underplanted with more than 200,000 spring bulbs.
  • A field of daffodils, between the Systematic Garden and the Wildlife Refuge Pond, was mostly planted by volunteers, and now contains nearly 25,000 bulbs, with several different varieties of daffodils that bloom in succession from April to May.
  • Tower Hill has eight distinct gardens, dedicated to woody plants, vegetables, plant systematics, winter interest, fruits, perennials and wildlife.
  • The Orangerie and Limonaia house non-hardy plants from around the world, with an emphasis on those from the southern hemisphere and Mediterranean region.
  • Tower Hill offers a Secret Garden, entered through a classically designed double pergola, from which proceeds a pair of curved stairs that flank a water feature, and lead into a secluded area overlooking the orchard.
  • The Tower Hill Library presently has more than 6,000 books and periodicals. The oldest book in the collection dates to the 15th century.
  • The Stoddard Education and Visitors Center contains a theater, an exhibition area, three classrooms, a library, Great Hall, offices, a garden shop and café.
  • Tower Hill is the site of the Frank L. Harrington, Sr. Preservation Orchard, which contains the Davenport Collection of more than 119 pre-20th century apple varieties.

Present features include the Entry Garden and Court, Lawn Garden, Secret Garden, Cottage and Vegetable Gardens, Inner Park, Limonaia, Orangerie, Systematic Garden, Winter Garden, Frank L. Harrington Orchard, and Wildlife Garden and Refuge Pond. The Belvedere provides a spectacular overlook of Mount Wachusett and the Wachusett Reservoir along a one-mile Loop Trail that circles through 132 acres of natural beauty. The more adventurous may continue north along the trail to the top of Tower Hill, named for the survey tower erected there when the Reservoir was built at the turn of the century.

1840

(September 18) Worcester County Horticultural Society (WCHS) organized

1842

(March 3) WCHS incorporated

1846

Society receives its first bequest, $3,000 from Daniel Waldo, one of its founders

1851

1st Horticultural Hall built at 16-20 Front Street, Worcester

1861

All exhibitions canceled due to poor growing season (first and only time in Society history)

1928

Second Horticultural Hall opened at 30 Elm Street, Worcester

1983

Trustees vote to establish a botanic garden

1986

Tower Hill botanic garden officially opens

1987

Tower Hill designated a Special Environmental Site by Executive Office of Environmental Affairs of MA

1988

(September 25) - Master Plan for Tower Hill unveiled

1990

(September 16) - Lawn Garden and Harrington Orchard dedicated at Tower Hill

1991

Tower Hill voted the Gold Medal for 1992 for excellence in service to its constituents and for the vision of developing a Botanic Garden,by the MHS

1992

(March 3) - WCHS celebrates its 150th Anniversary

1992

(April 1) - New half-mile entrance road, Fuller Drive, opens

1992

(September 9) - Groundbreaking for the Entry Garden and Stoddard Education and Visitors Center

1994

(January) - Stoddard Education and Visitors Center opens, with a library, classrooms, gift shop, theater, and management and administrative offices.

1996

(Fall) - Parking Lot completed, Entry Garden hardscaping completed.

1997

(Spring) - Entry Garden to be planted, entry pavilion will be constructed.

1997

(Fall) - Groundbreaking for 4,000 sq. foot Orangerie (glass house) Planned to house temperate plants for year- round, winter interest.

1999

(February 28) - Public Opening of Orangerie

2000

(September 9) - Public opening of the Systematic Garden

2001

Construction of the Folly completed in the Inner Park

2002

Construction of the Hope H. Spear Wildlife Refuge Pond completed

2002

Construction of the Temple of Peace completed in the Inner Park

2002

Construction and installation of the Moss Steps completed on the Loop Trail

2006

Capital Campaign Phase IV fundraising begins and progresses

2010

(November 14) - Public Opening of The Winter Garden and Limonaia

REVISED 04/05/2011

The Worcester County Horticultural Society, the third oldest active horticultural society in the United States, is a nonprofit "educational organization for the purpose of advancing the science, and encouraging and improving the practice of, horticulture."

During the fall of 1840, 24 male professionals, merchants and public officials staged a fruit and flower display at the annual cattle show of the Worcester Agricultural Society. Its enormous success spurred the incorporation of the Worcester County Horticultural Society in 1842. Members grew their showpieces on extensive farms and estates surrounding the city. For nearly 150 years, a busy schedule of flower shows and educational programs took place in downtown Worcester. A new Horticultural Hall housed weekly summer shows highlighting the produce and gardens of this thriving agricultural community. An 1855 schedule lists one exhibitor alone showing 200 varieties of pears! By 1867, exhibitions had already outgrown the building and were moved to Mechanics Hall. A library and a winter lecture series were initiated. Doors opened on a larger Horticultural Hall in 1928. During the 1940s, the demise of the large 19th and early 20th century country estate gardens evaporated an abundant supply of enthusiastic exhibitors, and slowly, the Society turned its sights toward cultivating gardens.

In 1986, the Society pulled up its 144-year-old roots in downtown Worcester and began to create a garden at Tower Hill Farm in Boylston. The farm was purchased with the belief that the Society could best fulfill its goals by developing a garden open to the public. Two years of collaboration with Environmental Planning and Design of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, produced a 50-year Master Plan for the Tower Hill Botanic Garden.

Today, Tower Hill Botanic Garden is a year-round display of the finest plants for cultivation in central Massachusetts, with appeal for the amateur and professional gardener as well as the general public. Carefully planned gardens and trails enhance the natural features of this beautiful 132-acre property. Enjoy outstanding collections of ornamental, edible and native plants that thrive in our climate. Emphasis is on ease of care and extended season of interest.