The Acton Arboretum is situated on 64 acres of town conservation land in the heart of Town Center, Acton, Massachusetts.

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.

Latest News

Garlic Mustard Removal in Acton's Conservation Areas Spring 2014. Garlic Mustard is an invasive plant that is moving in to Acton conservation lands. Together, we can get it out of there. For more information about Garlic Mustard and to sign up for picking sessions, visit the Acton Invasives website or visit the Acton Invasives Facebook page.

Acton Arboretum Yankee Plant Swap and Horticultural Hat Contest! (Poster) On Sunday Sept. 22 we held the first annual Yankee Plant Swap and Horticultural Hat Contest. About 15 people attended. All proceeds support Arboretum projects directly. Guests brought one potted, outdoor zone-hardy plant to be swapped. Guests wore decorated horticultural hats and won gift certificates to Cucurbit Farm, a local agricultural business. Keep an eye out for postings of our second annual Yankee Plant Swap next summer!

Acton Arboretum now a member of ArbNet (July 2013) The ArbNet Arboretum Program and the Morton Arboretum are pleased to announce that the Acton Arboretum has been awarded a Level II Accreditation. By achieving particular standards of professional practices deemed important for arboreta and botanic gardens, the Acton Arboretum is now recognized as an accredited arboretum in the Morton Register of Arboreta. This program is sponsored and coordinated by the Morton Arboretum in cooperation with American Public Gardens Association and Botanic Gardens Conservation international. Arboreta are recognized for various degrees of development, capacity and professionalism. Accreditation is based on self-assessment and documentation of particular standards including planning, governance, labeling of species, staff/volunteer support, public access, tree science, planting and conservation. More information is available at www.arbnet.org.

Grape Arbor Trail Update The new wooden grape arbor, built by Eagle Scout, Brandon Sides was completed in May, 2011. Rusty poles and wires from an original grape arbor had been obscured by overgrowth over several decades. Volunteers had cleared the overgrowth in preparation for Brandon's reconstruction. Many of the grape vines growing on the old arbor were re-attached, and have made themselves at home on the new arbor, feeding birds and other animals. Town of Acton Natural Resources Crew dug out both a tree stump and an obstinate root last winter, 2013. This spring they also prepared a bed for a new trail with the backhoe. Volunteers dug a trench and buried a drain pipe in the summer. This fall, Tom Tidman designed the curves of the trail, and helped volunteers get started lining the trail edges with granite cobbles. Layers of stone dust have been shoveled in and tamped down. Boy Scouts will help spread and compact another layer of stone dust before winter. In the spring, a wooden bench will be installed under the arbor and a flower garden created in the corner. Wetland shrubs will be planted around both the side, and back of the arbor.

Magnolia Yellow Lantern (located next to the herb garden) recovered from fungus disease last year, producing full and fragrant flowers this spring.

New Sunny Meadow by the pond A previously overgrown area near the little pond and bridge is being rehabilitated and converted to a meadow for sun-loving wildflowers, grasses and forbs. This November, the Natural Resources crew dug out many woody, undesirable stumps of multiflora rose and black walnuts with the backhoe. Morene Bodner and David Carlisle donated and delivered two very generous loads of rich compost from their horse farm! The Friends have donated dozens of plants and seeds, such as little blue stem, butterfly milkweed, purple coneflower, lobelia, bee balm, asters, daisies, digitalis lutea, black-eyed Susan, sunflower, and ironweed. Salt marsh hay will be spread over the garden for the winter, and an orange snow fence will be installed to keep dog and people foot traffic out! More native grasses and flowers will be added in spring.

Rhododendron Garden update This garden is located along the paved trail. Take the second trail on the left just past the stone reading circle. In June, the Town of Acton Natural Resources crew dug out witch grass and poison ivy at the back of the garden, deposited new loam and spread it. That thick mat had been presenting gardeners with an enormous weeding challenge, now eliminated. A Thick layer of mulch was added to keep weeds down. Faithful volunteers weeded all summer. A new Franklinia was planted at the front of the garden in addition to some epimedium sulphureum and pubigerum, lavender, Christmas and maidenhair ferns, omphaloides verna (creeping forget-me-not), wild columbine and European ginger as attractive ground cover. The Friends purchased one Enkianthus 'showy lanterns,' 2 Golden showers fragrant azaeleas, and a Calsap rhododendron, which will have white flowers and a purple blotch inside. Most exciting was the generous donation of 7 rhododendrons by Mr. Fred Knippel this fall! The rhododendron collection now boasts 2 big (20 year-old!) rhododendron Ken Janeks, a mist maiden pink parasol, a hybrid between the bureavil and yakusianum (nicknamed "Bureyak", a rhododendron degronianum, boroviae and hyperthrum. Thanks to the Natural Resources crew for helping dig and transfer the big ones. That garden will be spectacular come spring! Be sure to start visiting the first week in April!

The Fragrance Garden was beautiful all summer and well into the fall, thanks to dedicated volunteers!

The Wildflower Boardwalk was torn down by 30 Vertex Pharmaceuticals volunteers, and rebuilt by Fred Given Construction this fall. The new boardwalk was made possible by a Community Preservation Grant, the generous donation of the Friends of the Acton Arboretum, and generous donations from the public.

Wondering what the "Next Big Project" will be? A new, handicap accessible bog boardwalk with paved ADA ramp from Minot Ave. Please come to town meeting in April to vote "Yes" for funding this project!

New Taylor Road sidewalk This project will be completed in stages. See the first section being built alongside the Acton Arboretum parking lot.

Thank you volunteers! Dozens of volunteers toiled this spring, summer and fall to make the Arboretum beautiful. Adults, ABRHS students, RJ Grey Students, Colbrook Classroom students, Temple Beth Elohim members, BSA Troop 32 Scouts, Many adult volunteers from the Acton Community, Acton Garden Club.

And thank you to the Town of Acton Natural Resources Department who keep things looking tip top.

Boardwalk Rebuild Fund: Please donate to help with the cost of our old boardwalks. If you are interested in helping with the cost of replacing the boardwalks, please make a tax-deductable donation and send your check to The Friends of the Acton Arboretum Boardwalk Fund, PO Box 2607, Acton, MA 01720. Make checks payable to the Friends of the Acton Arboretum, Inc.

Would you like to "Adopt A Garden, Tree, or Boardwalk" at the Acton Arboretum? Volunteers work in the gardens and trails of the Arboretum. Groups meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays and some families and individuals volunteer on their own schedule after an "orientation."

Recent Eagle Scout projects at the Arboretum:

  • Grape Arbor re-built by Eagle Scout, Brandon Sides. This new, pressure-treated, wooden, grape arbor located near the hosta and butterfly gardens replaces a decades-old, metal, rusty one that had been overgrown by shrubs. The antique grape vines are already growing on the new structure and produced grapes this summer. Eventually a trail will meander through the arbor and the area will be landscaped.
  • New Split Rail fence at farm pond rebuilt by Jonathan Che.
  • Portion of stone dust trail at rhododendron garden improved by Kevin Ren and another portion of the same trail improved by Matthew Robbertz.

Thank you Eagle Scouts!

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 from 2:30 to 4:30. 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 babe@acton-ma.gov

Wonder why a trail was paved?   Read about how & why the trail was paved.

"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 along with other Acton videos at http://www.actontv.org/vod_public.html

Pam Resor is the host and she interviews several key members of the community and town staff. If you would like to order a copy of the DVD for $7.00, please email info@actonarboretum.org.