The Arboretum boasts a trail system through open meadows, beside woodland ponds, along a glacial esker, and through a bog. A handicapped accessible trail provides access to the herb garden, butterfly garden, hosta garden, daylily garden, rhododendron garden, lilac fragrance garden, and a pond planting. The Wildflower Trail provides access to a wide range of woodland habitats.
Parking is available at the Arboretum's main entrance, off Taylor Road. Much of the area adjacent to the parking lot is handicapped-accessible, and is open, with graveled paths, gardens, bridges, and picnic tables. Trails and paths crisscross the entire area.
What's new in January 2016!
Tree experts from Axe Bros. came in this month, while the ground was frozen. They removed non-native, invasive honeysuckle and multi-flora rose that dominate the understory along the wildflower trail. This work was intended to be performed last winter, but it was precluded by vast quantities of snow. Removal of the invasive plants made room for new understory plantings such as amelanchier; white halesia; styrax (whitebells); witch hazel (hamamelis); kousa dogwoods; Florida dogwoods; Japanese maple; Eastern redbuds, various colors; viburnum; fothergilla. Axe Bros also removed 13 young black walnut trees which are becoming so prevalent in the Arboretum that they represent a monoculture. Black walnuts deposit a phytotoxin (juglone) into the soil that retards the growth of certain species of plants. There are a great many black walnuts within the Arboretum; so there is no risk this species will be underrepresented. Removing these trees will improve biodiversity, increase wildlife food and habitat value, and provide visual and horticultural interest. That's what arboretums are all about!
Thank you volunteers! Dozens of volunteers worked from April to December, 2015 to make the Arboretum beautiful and accessible. Clients from NuPath, a supportive day service for adults with developmental disabilities, autism spectrum disorders and acquired brain injury came every Monday to rake paths, weed and mulch gardens and trees, prune overgrowth, paint picnic tables, and rake stone dust trails. Students from ABRHS and RJ Grey came out for community service workdays and helped maintain trails, mulched gardens, watered and planted shrubs. Oak Meadow School students removed invasive honeysuckle and invasive multiflora rose from the Wildflower Trail. Groton School students came twice and worked hard improving stone dust trails. These students really put their backs into it! Our trails would not be so accessible without their volunteerism. Volunteers were out working to clean up apple tree branches on a cold January day after an arborist pruned our lovely apple trees.
And thank you to the Town of Acton Natural Resources Department who keep things looking tip top.
Spring tours for the sight-impaired:The Town of Acton Natural Resources Department in coordination with the Friends of the Acton Arboretum will be offering spring tours in May and June for students and clients of various non-profit schools and organizations with sight impaired members. Visitors will be guided to visit the flowering magnolias and the herb garden, then proceed to the fragrance garden where they may touch, taste and smell different plants (including many species of lilac scents to compare and contrast), hold a frog or an earthworm.
Grants and Improvement Projects: The new Taylor Road parking lot is nearly complete. The grading was done by Lenox Landscaping and the paving by Lazaro. Acton Highway Dept. painted the lines and Natural Resources spread loam and installed sign posts. In the spring we will complete signage, build a new kiosk and install more plantings. A new bioretention "rain garden" will be constructed to filter stormwater run-off and will be filled with gorgeous shrubs, grasses, sedges and perennials that will provide beauty and ecological value.
- Irrigation: The new irrigation well will be dug this winter, weather permitting. This will enable volunteers to keep gardens, new trees and plantings watered.
- Bog Boardwalk Project: The new boardwalk was completed in June 2015. It is made of pressure treated yellow pine, has fiberglass decking and aluminum poles. There is a teak bench and viewing platform in the middle. The new boardwalk is elevated above the plants and water so that animals may pass underneath and more light will get to the plants. The old boardwalk is being slowly dismantled by volunteers. The Town of Acton Highway Department will begin work on the new sidewalk from Minot Ave. in the spring. An Eagle Scout will build a more gradual wooden ramp and wheelchair turn-around at the esker end of the boardwalk.
- Fern Boardwalk and tree removal project: The trees have been removed along the Wildflower Trail. A new fern boardwalk will be built over Mary's Brook next summer, 2016.
Eagle Scouts: Thank you Liam Jones for building a new 100' trail around the rhododendron garden. Thank you Jacob Crowley for removing massive honeysuckles and multiflora rose shrubs, preparing the ground and planting 15 new wetland shrubs near the sun pond. This area will mature beautifully and provide gorgeous flowers on azaleas and other wetlands species.
Volunteer Helpers Wanted Two Workdays Each Week. (Workdays will resume in April) Show up to help on Thursday mornings from 9 am to 12 noon; or on Tuesday afternoons (drop-ins ok) from 2:30 to 6:30. We provide tools, or you can bring your own. Be a part of the many volunteers who help tend this town treasure! Please contact Bettina Abe, Town of Acton Natural Resources Assistant at email@example.com
Wonder why a trail was paved? Read about how & why the trail was paved.
WildAware Program: The Acton Natural Resources Department has begun a 1-year program called WildAware. The program's purpose is to educate the community about the existence and habits of wild creatures with whom we share our natural resources. The goal of WildAware is to increase awareness of shared habitats to protect and conserve our wild and native animals. Look for monthly WildAware articles in the Beacon and Action Unlimited. Submit your local wildlife photos to firstname.lastname@example.org for our seasonal wildlife posters displayed at the libraries. “Like” Acton WildAware on Facebook. Next summer we will have a 24 hour “Bioblitz” where everyone takes inventory of all the wild creatures they see around town. We will have a WildAware party at NARA Park with food and games next summer. Watch our 30 minute film on Acton TV:
- Make some popcorn and view our 30-minute WildAware educational video that includes interviews with 3 key community members about local wildlife and habitat!
Welcome to the Acton Arboretum is a 28 minute, educational documentary intended to give the audience an overview of the history, gardens, trails, geology, horticulture, accessibility and volunteerism of the Acton Arboretum. You can find it on YouTube