Pioneer Valley Fern Society

Favorite Fern Places

Norcross Wildlife Sanctuary

Braun’s Holly Fern

Randy & I recently revisited the Norcross Wildlife Sanctuary in Wales, and found it as marvelous as ever. It was established in 1939 by Arthur Norcross, to preserve, protect and propagate native flora and fauna. Although the museums and some of the trails are not open during this time of the pandemic, some trails are, and there is plenty to see. The property consists of 8000 acres, with 75 open to the public. The area has fantastic gardens with all sorts of flowers, ferns, trees and shrubs, with many special recreated habitats. These include a Coastal Kettle Hole, Cedar Swamp, Wildflower Meadow, Limestone Cobbles and Acid Rock gardens with appropriate native flora. There are common and rare plants plants throughout the area, with most plants labeled. There are over 2 dozen ferns growing in naturalized gardens. Trails are open Tuesday-Saturday 9-4. Admission is free. Their website ( has lots of information on their plants, gardens and history of how they created the site. Prior to the pandemic they offered a number of naturalist programs as well. This is a wonderful place to visit for a morning or afternoon.

This photo is of the Braun's Holly Fern, a very rare fern for Massachusetts. It is doing very well in the Norcross gardens.