14 October 2013

Tower Hill Botanic Hill Harvestival

Heirloom apple varieties.

Hunt Russet, Roxbury, Titus Pippin, Black Gilliflower, Pewaukee,  Blue Pearmain, Pomme Grise - what are these words and phrases? Elf names dreamed up by J. K. Rowling? Decorator colors concocted by a feverish employee of Benjamin Moore Paint Company? No, these and others refer to pre-20th century apples in the S. Lothrop Davenport Preservation Collection at Tower Hill Botanic Garden, near the Wachusett Reservoir in central Massachusetts.

Roman profile on Roman Stem apple.

The cute-ly named Harvestival drew us hither on a crisp autumn day.  (Autumn in New England almost compensates for winter in New England.)  Inside the visitor's center  dozens of antique apple varieties burdened the air with a delicious wine-y tang. Between deep inhalations of apple air, we purchased Pomme Grise and Black Gilliflower samples to try at home, as we couldn't stay for the apple-tasting part of the festivities.

Apple guru and harvest.

Courtyard and Conservatory at Tower Hill.

In addition to apple education, there were lots of activities. Sadly. we had no young children in tow, so were relegated to shopping among the arts and crafts vendors. We found Patti Powers of Cheshire Garden and bought several bottles of her excellent hand-made vinegar.

Pumpkin painting.

Fortunately it was a good year for pumpkins, those Halloween essentials.

Yes, we will pose for you.

Another highlight was a pen of three mother-cria alpaca pairs, visiting from Great Rock Alpaca farm. (Baby alpaca are called cria.) In their dark brown, golden brown and white coats they were beyond cute. Calm also, and a few visitors at a time could enter the pen and meet the alpacas.

Got hay?

Heading out on the loop trail.
Of course, it's the outdoor gardens and trails that remain the must-see attraction.

The Summit! - all 645 feet of it.

Above is a distant view of the Wachusett Reservoir. Below we find traces of wee folk, with up-to-date technology. The Wood Sprite Village has a building code - only natural material and nothing from a living plant, please. Use only fallen branches and leaves, stalks, pine cones, etc.

Oberon and Titania will be right back.

On our walk back we passed the hay ride...

No horses, but still fun.

Autumn palette.

... and a maple tree showing off its fall colors.  I find the subtle browns and taupes, the colors of the dead stalks below, pleasing too.

Seed heads and stalks.

Picture-perfect pumpkin, with admirer.

Season of mists, mellow fruitfulness and giant orange gourds! (apologies to Keats.)