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By Laura Drinan
Hometown Weekly Reporter
During the warmer months, the Massachusetts Horticultural Society’s Gardens at Elm Bank is a popular place for those seeking a place to relax amongst nature. As the weather gets colder, though, and Elm Bank’s plants and blossoms retire until next spring, the sanctuary’s visitors are fewer and farther between, as well.
However, just because the flowers may not be blooming in December, doesn’t mean there aren’t activities to enjoy at Elm Bank. In fact, the ninth annual Festival of Trees made its way to Wellesley’s Horticulture Center for all to enjoy from November 24 to December 10.
The Festival featured 75 decorated trees donated by groups and individuals in an around the community, as well as the amazing Snow Village – a massive display of miniature Christmas villages and trains that Needham resident Bill Meagher has been working on for thirteen years. Snow Village, permanently housed at Elm Bank, showcases vignettes with the themes of winter and Christmastime. The display, which has eight running trains, includes scenes of Christmas in Boston (featuring Fenway Park), an Alpine ski resort, London’s Tower Bridge and Big Ben, and a candy village.
“You could come here every year for 10 years and still see something new each time, that’s been here the whole time,” said one of Snow Village’s amazed visitors.
“This is a big fundraiser for the Massachusetts Horticultural Society,” said Lifetime Master Gardener and Trustee of the Society, Gretel Anspach. “The goal is to have a really family-friendly place to go that’s not super commercial and brings people to Elm Bank during a season when most people wouldn’t come, because the gardens are mostly dormant.”
While few were strolling through the gardens, all were making their way into the Hunnewell Building to see the variety of decorated trees. The Christmas trees included ones of all sizes and were decorated in accordance with an array of themes. One tree was decorated to be Peanuts themed, while another mixed up the holidays with a Halloween theme, and others stuck to specific color palettes.
To raise money for the Horticultural Society, the visitors bought raffle tickets to vote on their favorite trees, in the hopes of winning one of the beautiful trees and its decorations in the drawing on December 10.
“It’s just a wonderful thing. Last year, we got about seven thousand people here, and we’re hoping to do at least as well this year. What we’re really hoping is that a lot of people who have never been to our property before will come and take the time to walk around a little and say, ‘Boy, I really want to see this in the summer,’ and come back then,” said Gretel.
Despite December being his busiest month, even Santa took time from his schedule to visit the Festival of Trees. “It’s very nice weather we’re having,” he said, comparing Wellesley’s frosty conditions to those of the North Pole, “and the kids really enjoy it. Seeing all of these trees just lights up their faces.”