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Celebrating Native Plants

June 24 @ 12:00 pm EDT - 4:00 pm EDT

|Recurring Event (See all)
Once on August 12, 2017

Two Tour Dates – Saturday, June 24, 2017 or Saturday, August 12, 2017

From paths, to ponds, to pocket gardens – from borders, to backyards, to botanical gardens, native plant gardens are a growing trend! Join the Ecological Landscape Alliance (ELA) as we Celebrate Native Plants at designer-guided, homeowner-guided, or self-guided tours of private and public gardens that celebrate the beauty and ecosystem value of native plants and ecological practices.

These two ELA Eco-tours will:

  • Feature gardens designed entirely or primarily with native plants.
  • Educate attendees about the increasing options and applications for native plants.
  • Demonstrate that native plant gardens can be beautiful as well as functional.
  • Share insights into native plant combinations and gardening techniques.
  • Discuss strategies for transforming sections of lawn into a biodiverse landscape.
  • Promote native plant gardens as a safe haven for birds, butterflies, and native pollinators.
  • Answer questions about native plants and habitat restoration.

Thanks to generous homeowners, landscape designers, and area organizations, ELA invites you to join us for inspiration and education on these special tours to native plant gardens.

The tours are free, but pre-registration to each garden is required. Some gardens have limited access, so register early. Registration is at the very bottom of the page, below Event Details and Venue.

Additional gardens are being added to the tour. Check back soon to  learn about new gardens and register for additional tours of interest.

Weybridge, VT – Bonus Vermont Garden Added to Tour
Tranquil Gardens

Mowed lawn and dense colonies of invasive honeysuckle surrounded the house, when purchased. These have been replaced by native shrub drifts, fern and perennial gardens, and stone terraces. A large lawn area is still maintained for production of grass clippings used exclusively for vegetable garden mulch.

The concept of the garden started as a way to work with existing infrastructure, take advantage of mature trees with plans to accommodate for their life cycle, future use of the property, and to celebrate native plants. However, prior to living here the owners ran a cut flower farm, so they moved with many non-native perennials instead of tilling them under. Flowers and foliage provide seasonal variation within perennial gardens that complement hardscaped outdoor living areas. Design components on the property refer to a variety of principle elements from landscape architecture’s history.

Conway, MA
Landscape Architects Private Botanic Gem

Located near the center of Conway, MA, this .8 acre property has been developed as a mini botanic garden providing beauty and learning experiences for children and adults. The property (created by two landscape architect/owners) includes 29 species of canopy trees, 13 understory tree species, 26 shrub species, 7 types of vines, 130 herbaceous species, 16 ferns, and more than 17 grasses and sedges. The wide array of native plants provide abundant habitat so the gardens are rich with pollinators that are further supported by two ponds that collect stormwater. Throughout the gardens, meadow paths beckon visitors to explore. A small selection of seed-grown plugs will be for sale (list available upon request to registrants).


North Andover, MA
Native Plant Enthusiasts’ Private Gardens  

Spring blooms excite, changing daily before trees leaf out in this native plant habitat. Texture, later season blooms, and fruiting continue to provide comfort and interest to birds, insects, and people. Frogs bring the children.  A backyard nursery, created to reinforce work with Bill Cullina at Garden in the Woods, keeps this woodland garden ever-changing.


Dennis, MA
Nonprofit Organization Landscape

Established in 1968, the Association to Preserve Cape Cod (APCC) is a non-profit science-based advocacy organization with a mission to preserve, protect, and enhance the natural resources of Cape Cod. In 2016, APCC found a home in Dennis where the grounds of APCC’s new office serve as a Living Landscape Laboratory to display ecological land care principles and native plants appropriate for Cape Cod. Cape Cod is a fragile land of unique habitats and sensitive natural resources. The use of native plants is the healthiest landscape choice to protect these habitats.


Andover, MA
Landscape Designer’s Private Home

Beginning in 2009 when he purchased this property in Andover, MA, this landscape designer began removing lawn and non-native plantings and started replacing them with native and edible plantings. Eight years later, the front lawn has been completely removed and replaced with native shrubs, native grasses, and perennials including Achillea, Echinacea, Helianthus, and more. The landscape includes over 150 species of native plants, a streambank restored with native species, and a large area for vegetables.


Newton, MA
Landscape Designed for Private Facility

This senior housing project features a natural woodland edge garden that was developed to stabilize a steep once-failing slope. The project replaced a deteriorated railroad tie wall with an integrally planted stone gabion wall and compost-mulch tubes. The habitat-enhancing design includes the re-use of cut trees on the slope and extensive native plantings to secure and beautify this highly visible slope.


Framingham, MA
Botanical Garden

Only 21 miles from Boston, this botanical garden is a living museum of both rare and common native plants, set on 45 acres. Two miles of paths meander over glacier-sculpted ridges and through narrow valleys. A pond, a wooded bog, several springs, and a brook bring a diversity of wildlife into the garden. Established native plants specimens and groupings offer a unique opportunity to experience and learn how to incorporate native plants in your own landscape. From spring ephemerals, to flowering shrubs, trees, and perennials, this garden is bursting with inspiration. An on-site, native plant nursery is also available to pick up native plants for your garden.


Concord, MA
Avid Gardener and Environmental Activist’s Private Home

This chemical-free garden is a one-acre, whole ecosystem restoration, transformed from a monoculture of lawn to native habitats, including pond, wetland, meadow, forest understory, and riparian flowers and shrubs. Garden beds are planted with natives, including flowers that bloom in each of the months from April through October. With the addition of many native flowering plants, wildlife have returned to the landscape in abundance, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and pollinators. It is a climate-friendly yard, with net storage of carbon, and the resident beavers, with whom we co-exist, retain water on the landscape and make our yard drought resistant.

Lincoln, MA
Over an Acre of Native Plants Displayed at this Native Plant Enthusiast Private Home

Over thirty years in the making, this native plant enthusiast has created a series of home gardens that pay tribute to native plants. This landscape was lovingly created by a homeowner who is an accomplished gardener and volunteer at the New England Wild Flower Society. This beautiful, mature landscape includes mixed perennial borders, a large vegetable garden, and a delightful woodland garden that encompasses an acre of native plants. A visit to this garden will inspire even the seasoned gardener with surprises.


Rose Kennedy Greenway
Boston, MA

The Rose Kennedy Greenway is the crown jewel Boston’s Big Dig project that replaced the elevated Route 93 with an underground highway system. The series of parks that make up the Greenway provide a lush and relaxing oasis in the middle of downtown Boston. Each park that makes up the Greenway is different, with its own character and plant aesthetic. The best place to celebrate native plants along the Greenway is in the Wharf park area. Red Maples: native New England trees that are highly adaptable to various conditions and their bright red leaves add a feeling of warmth to the Greenway in autumn. Magnolias: small trees ideal for landscaping with attractive, semi-evergreen foliage and fragrant, white flowers. River Birch: small (often clumping) tree with distinctive bark and outstanding yellow fall color. Giant Hissop: a great nectar source attracting bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies. Butterfly Milkweed: an orange flowering native milkweed, Asclepias is a valuable garden addition for pollinators. Blazing Star: with its unique flower shape, this native has become a fast favorite of Greenway visitors – both 2- an more-legged.

Wayland, MA
Professionally Designed Native Plant Meadow
August Tour Date – Registration Available in July

Native wildflower and grass meadows are becoming an increasingly popular way to bring nature-based landscaping into people-oriented spaces. Modeled on naturally occurring plant communities, meadows provide a range of ecological services including pollinator support and food for birds, along with sensory delight for property owners and visitors. Meadows or meadow-like plantings can be adapted to a range of scales and site conditions.

Join us to visit a one-acre, seeded meadow at a condominium development in its second year. While still not mature, there will be a number of species in bloom. We can discuss site preparation, seed mix design, maintenance, managing client expectations, and any other topics of interest to attendees.

Amesbury, MA
Landscape Designer’s Private Home
August Tour Date – Registration Available in July

Though overrun with invasives when the property was purchased in 1994, this homeowner and landscape designer was hooked by the natural setting; a freshwater tidal marsh, a stream, and overlooking the Merrimack River. The reclamation started with small foundation plantings in 1995, when native plants were scarce. With vision, tenacity, and two decades of loving care, the property has been transformed into a private retreat. Now there are shade gardens filled with a mosaic of groundcovers and understory trees and shrubs; a greenhouse flanked by grasses and wildflowers; a streamside wildflower garden; a sunny meadow-based garden; a vegetable garden with a grape-covered pergola; a steep front hillside of clay where invasives continue to taunt; and a cozy fire-pit overlooking the Merrimack River.

Needham, MA
Landscape Designer’s Private Home
August Tour Date – Registration Available in July

As this landscape designer moved into her Needham home 10 years ago, she started to remove lawn and create garden beds. Each bed showcases some of the most beautiful, beneficial and sustainable native plants. She eagerly anticipates each season’s “show” which begins with the late winter blooming Hamamelis, followed by the early spring Serviceberry with gorgeous white flowers to welcome in the new season. As a Certified Native Plant Designer and Horticulturalist, she emphasizes ecologically sound ideas that include great textures, colors and a variety of sizes. The gardens include a long list of native plants including: Aesclepias tuberosa, Spigelia, and Fothergilla gardenii. In these gardens, the “season” never really ends.


Manomet Wildlife Sancturary
Plymouth, MA
Tour max: 40

This wildlife sanctuary is nestled within 40 acres of farm land, woodland, and meadows It is located in Plymouth, Massachusetts, overlooking Cape Cod Bay. First planted 100 years ago with many exotic species, the garden of today features a more sustainable habitat of (mostly) native trees, shrubs, and perennial gardens which provide food, water, shelter, and nesting for local wildlife.


June 24
12:00 pm EDT - 4:00 pm EDT
Event Category:


Penny Lewis


Public and Private Gardens in Massachusetts
Locations to be sent after registration.
Various, MA
+ Google Map