arboretum

WILDWOOD WALKING TOUR


After you have entered the grounds of Wildwood cemetery by either the main entrance or the pond entrance, you will arrive at the office, which is an old mid-1700's brick house. From this point, there are many choice areas and trails for walking.

If you amble out the Northwest main road between the two large spruce trees, you might see deer eating apples dropped from the tree behind the cobblestone and granite columbarium - or one of the resident woodchucks may scurry in front of you to get back into its hole by the spruce tree. In addition, there are usually many types of birds around the large lilac planting and the larch tree as you continue on. It is also not unusual to see the red-tailed hawk circling low over one of the mowed areas, and occasionally one of the Quabbin eagles circles by.

From this road, you can either go left into the woods or continue past other mowed burial areas and plantings of azalea, rhododendron and laurel. Squirrels abound and come in many variation; gray, red and black, accompanied by chipmunks scampering among the shrubs. If you choose the wooded path at your right, it takes you by the scattering garden under some large beech trees. To the left of the garden is a field that returns you to the pond entrance. To the right, you pass a working storage area and the firewood pile to meander past bittersweet and woodbine covering the sides of the path and hanging from tress. There are many unique plants within these woods, such as Chinese globe vibernum and swamp pink azalea. At your left a field opens up, retaining an area used as a tree nursery. The trail continues around to the right and joins back with the Northwest road which has brought you past one of the older burial areas on one side and a newer one on the other. Beautiful shagbark hickories and sugar maples line the road, and you can truly feel like you are in another century as you have been here long enough to relax into the surroundings.

Wildwood is a place of choices, and as you turn up the hill into the woods, the road again forks. If you take right fork, you will pass a beautiful Celtic cross and meander along the top of a knoll that leads through the woods.

Forest rhododendrons If you continue straight, after a sweeping curve in the road you will pass some of the oldest stones in the cemetery. Wildwood is unique in that there are many burials and monuments actually in the woods; and that is what you see on the road across the knoll. Many natural boulders of native rock composition and intriguing shapes are spaced between the trees, as well as more conventional monuments. Wildwood is one of the few places to use natural boulders as monuments, and it is the only cemetery to use many of them. We feel this is appropriate, as the grounds were originally an eighteenth-century farm and the rocks of New England were the first crop to be harvested before any planting was done. Continuing along this road, you will eventually return to the large expansive mowed areas, which lead to the main gate. The road going past the old sections has beautiful large oak and hemlock framing benches of stone used as monuments, old slate tablets with etched floral edges, obelisks, and some understated monuments and footstones of some of the Wildwood cemetery founders.

House view If you leave from the office and take the road up the hill to the right, as you start to crest the hill between two formally mowed areas the depth of view will strike you. Even the woods are pruned, so that you can see into them, through them, and out of them when you are within. Usually in the early morning you can catch a glimpse of the resident fox coming home from its nocturnal wanderings. Flags dot the large mowed area in front of you, marking veterans' graves. This area was one of the old hay fields and only employs markers flush with the ground to preserve that old look and feeling of open space. The islands of plantings and diverse species of trees, as well as the edging created by the many large mowed areas make Wildwood one of the best sites in New England to see migratory birds, particularly warblers. At last count, there were twenty resident and nesting species and ninety migrant species, some of which possibly nest here on Wildwood grounds. As you continue in this direction, you come to the main entrance once again with the beautiful large granite bench and a view of the hills to the South out the main gate, framed by large mature hemlock.

Wildwood takes pride in its historical landscape and host of native flora and fauna. If you did not manage to locate all of the features mentioned above, you would have at least found a quiet spot for reflection and a pleasant example of New England's charm.

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