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New England Botanic Garden

Jenny Pacillo

It’s the official opening weekend for the Ramble, the New England Botanic Garden at Tower Hill’s new garden, and you’re going to want to check it out. Designed by award-winning landscape designer W. Gary Smith, the Ramble has been over a decade in the making. The garden features hundreds of plants, trees, and greenery to immerse visitors in an easily accessible space that allows everyone to interact and engage with nature. 

“It’s a 1.5-acre beautiful whimsical garden geared towards children but really anyone will find something wonderful that they love about the ramble,” NEBG’s CEO Grace Elton tells me, “It’s first and foremost a garden and it really is a gorgeous garden. If I brought you into this space and didn’t tell you it was for children, you would think it was for you.”

Smith’s exhibit “Uprooted” will also be at NEBG until November, and features sculptures, mixed media paintings, and land art installations with materials collected on the grounds, like sticks, grass clippings and stones . “It’s really going to get visitors to go into parts of the garden they may not have traveled before,” Elton says. 

While I loved hearing about the Ramble, there is so much more going on at the NEBG both on their beautiful hill in Boylston and in the surrounding communities. Elton explained that their name change from simply Tower Hill to the New England Botanic Garden at Tower Hill was a way to illustrate their push into the future as a regional destination while honoring the garden’s history. A quick look at NEBG’s monthly calendar (available at shows a wide range of yoga options, photography and art classes, as well as mindfulness walks in the forest. 

NEBG is focusing on the regional community with outreach work “off the hill”, specifically with the Worcester Tree Initiative. “We can do so much on our own site, but many people can’t get to us. We’re not on a public transit line, we’ve worked with other groups to bring constituents out, but not every group has transportation,” Elton explains. “Getting off the hill gives us a chance to get into the communities. We do a lot of education in the schools, we’ve planted trees in almost every public school in the city of Worcester, we’ve added trees to local community gardens and parks, and we give trees away to people to plant in their own yards.” Elton and NEBG are champions for environmental stewardship and creating lifelong learners who care deeply about nature and will work to protect the environment, as well as enjoying the beauty of nature. 

NEBG feels like you’re in a different world, but it’s so close to Worcester. It’s a great way to relax while soaking in the changing landscape of flowers and plants. “The plant palate of New England is so unique and so interesting, and we have examples of the best specimens throughout the region,” Elton explains, adding, “There’s something for everybody.”