Starting with a 100 acre woodlot, Sanctuary founder and benefactor- Monson, Massachusetts native Arthur D. Norcross Jr. (1895-1969) – bought, bartered and traded to amass over 2,000 acres that he dubbed the Tupper Hill Sanctuary. Today, the Sanctuary is operated by the Norcross Wildlife Foundation and has grown to over 8,000 acres of forests, meadows and wildlands in Massachusetts and Connecticut. The Sanctuary is managed and maintained for the benefit of native plants and animals of New England, as Mr. Norcross originally directed.
There are just under three miles of walking trails that traverse a variety of habitats and naturalistic wildflower gardens in the 75 acre Pocket Sanctuary, which represents the diversity that can be found at Tupper Hill. Plants grown here are native to the eastern seaboard, from the Carolinas to Canada.
Hundreds of plant species can be found in the various habitats and 14 gardens maintained at the Norcross Wildlife Sanctuary. Among the wildflower collection are also a variety of ferns. Over 50 species of native ferns can be found along the trails ranging from the small, Dissected Grapefern (Botrychium dissectum), to the very large, Log Fern (Dryopteris celsa), and from the wetlands Netted Chain Fern (Woodwardia areolata) to the rock garden Wooly Lipfern (Cheilanthes lanosa). There is a variety of ferns growing in various habitat gardens. A walk through the gardens can help you identify ferns for every garden situation.
Part of the conservation mission includes rescuing plants destined for destruction. Probably the most remarkable salvage operation involved rescuing the flora of a parcel in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey and transporting it lock, stock and Gentiana autumnalis (Pine Barren Gentian) to Massachusetts, where it still sits today. White cedars, gentians, cattails, pitcher plants, cranberry bushes, sphagnum moss, grasses and sedges, and several species of orchids all made the trip.
You are welcome to bring a lunch to enjoy in the picnic area at the conclusion of the tour.
Tour guide, Leslie Duthie will lead this inspiring walking tour through many gardens and wildlands and will provide detailed information about the wide array of native ferns that make their home in the Norcross Wildlife Sanctuary.
Leslie Duthie, is a horticulturalist at Norcross Wildlife Sanctuary. She has been working in native plant horticulture and propagation for over 35 years. Her devotion to ferns started the first time she grew a fern from spore.
Leslie is a life-long gardener starting with her BS in Plant Science and includes experience in greenhouse growing, both landscape plants and native plants.
Directions to the Norcross Sanctuary
The Sanctuary is located in Wales, MA between Rt. 32 and Rt. 19 on the Monson-Wales Road.
If you use a GPS, enter 30 Peck Road, Wales, MA 01081. Turn onto Peck Road and then turn left into the parking lot.