Marsha C. Salett
When the prospect of braving bone-chilling winds along the coast is less than appealing and local ponds may be frozen, birding at Elm Bank Reservation is a fine way to spend half a winter's day outdoors. If there is little or no snow on the ground, the trails through the woods along the Charles River offer birding sheltered from the wind. Alternatively, if the trails are icy, you can bird along the paved main road and on the accessible paved or crushed gravel garden paths of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society's (Mass Hort) Gardens at Elm Bank. Or you can bird a combination of natural habitats and landscaped grounds.
Elm Bank Reservation is a 182-acre recreational area that is owned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and is under the auspices of the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). In 1996 the Commonwealth gave Mass Hort a 99-year lease of 36 acres for its Gardens at Elm Bank. (Read about the individual gardens at https://masshort.org/the-gardens-at-elm-bank/.) The access is in Wellesley, but most of the property is located in Dover. In addition, the Town of Natick has four soccer fields at Elm Bank. Mass Hort has fenced off the area that contains its gardens and buildings, and charges admission—$10 per person for nonmembers; free for children 12 and under—from the beginning of May through Columbus Day, when the gardens are open from 10 am to 4 pm, Tuesday through Sunday. The gardens are then closed to the public until the Festival of Trees in December. In winter, if the gates are unlocked, you can wander through the gardens. The Education Building is open weekdays year-round. Mass Hort announced its new president in October 2019 and also its new master plan, so changes may be forthcoming. Check the website masshort.org or call 617-933-4900 for current information about the Gardens. You can explore the rest of Elm Bank Reservation and all of the nature trails for free all year long.
Map of Elm Bank Reservation
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