Fernwood Botanical Garden

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The Fernwood Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve, 105 acres (42 ha), is an arboretum, botanical garden, and nature preserve located at 13988 Range Line Road in Buchanan Township, Michigan. It is open to the public daily Tuesday through Saturday plus Sunday afternoons. An admission fee is charged.

The Garden is located on the St. Joseph River and contains landscape gardens (8 acres), woodland nature preserve (50 acres), an arboretum of trees and shrubs from temperate regions around the world (40 acres, started in 1971), and restored tallgrass prairie (5 acres, started in 1976), as well as a conservatory (greenhouse) featuring more than 100 kinds of tropical ferns.

The landscape gardens include a Japanese “dry” garden designed by Mr. Ben Oki (1979), a hosta garden with dawn redwood and Ginkgo, a tufa rock garden started in the 1950s, a fern garden with more than 50 types of hardy ferns, a boxwood garden, a lilac garden (1940s), a lily pond (1977), and an herb garden featuring over 200 types of herbs.

Fernwood originally began as the home of Kay and Walter Boydston, who purchased its first 12.5 acres (51,000 m2) in 1941, and became a public garden in 1964 through the efforts of Lawrence and Mary Plym. Additional land purchases have increased the site to 105 acres (42 ha), providing space for the arboretum, prairie restoration, and newer gardens.

The nature center displays exhibits about the ecosystems and animals of Fernwood and items of seasonal interest, as well as live animals including an active beehive and local reptiles and amphibians. Environmental education programs are offered year round.

Fernwood is dominated by moist soil hardwood forest leading down to the banks of the St. Joseph River. Four miles of hiking trails pass by numerous springs and seeps. This site also features botanical gardens and a prairie reconstruction.

Wildlife Viewing

High probability of viewing songbirds and small mammals at the nature center feeding station year-round. Bluebirds are plentiful in open areas during summer. The harmless and beneficial black rat snake (species of special concern in Michigan) is commonly seen throughout the property. Spring wildlflowers are outstanding from April through May, while the tallgrass prairie comes into full bloom by the end of August.

Visit the nature center to see the displays on local wildlife and to enjoy the bird feeding station.

Educational programs are offered year-round for school groups and the general public.


From US-31 Bypass, take Walton Road Exit west to Range Line Road. Turn right (north) and travel 2 miles to Fernwood entrance on the left (west) side of the road.

Ownership: Fernwood Botanical Garden

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