If the cold is getting you down and all you want is for spring to come, wait no longer. Escape to Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston this weekend to be surrounded by healing plants.

"We've all sort of forgotten what spring feels like. It's the furthest thing from your mind, but as soon as you walk through the door at Tower Hill and you're hit with this wave of smells of flowers and floral arrangements, it's just really rejuvenating," said Robert Burgess, public-relations manager for Tower Hill.

The staff of Tower Hill Botanic Garden, 11 French Drive, Boylston has gathered thousands of blooming bulbs and fantastic medicinal plants from their apothecary gardens for the program "Apothecary in Bloom -- Healers and Killers."

It will be open Saturday, Feb. 9, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, Feb. 10, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $15 for adults, $10 for seniors ages 65 and older, $5 for ages 6-18, and free for children 5 and younger. Additional classes cost extra and can be reserved online at towerhillbg.org.

"Each February, we have a tradition to have a weekend that celebrates floral displays and flower design," Burgess said. "So we're going to have floral designers of all different levels -- from people who are getting to know floral designs all the way up to professionals -- create beautiful bouquets and floral collections."

The designers will mix in plants from Tower Hill's apothecary garden to make creative and inspirational displays.


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Apothecary plants are used medicinally and can be used to bring mental or physical wellness. The displays will be open all month so people can learn about herbal plants and plants through time.

Some plants are helpful, but others can be harmful, depending on their usage.

"Plants from the nightshade family can be beneficial because it includes things like tomatoes, but it also includes tobacco," said Burgess, adding that other plants that are considered beautiful, like poinsettias, can be harmful to pets.

"Get to know them a little better for how they can be used for beneficial reasons and how they can be harmful if not used right," he said.

Visitors will also have a chance to explore the garden's two large conservatory greenhouses that are filled with all kinds of bulbs, like daffodils and camellias, that the staff tricked into thinking it's spring.

"A lot of these plants and blooms have beautiful fragrances, so when it's all white outside like a frozen tundra, the chance to come face to face with stunning, vibrant colors and really beautiful fragrances really helps you beat the winter blues and gives you that extra boost to through," Burgess said.

There will be children's activities, including a floral-arranging class Sunday and scavenger hunts. If you're willing to brace the elements, there is a tracking program for all ages Saturday, from 10:30 a.m. to noon on Saturday. Walk Tower Hill's trails in search for signs of wildlife while putting tracking skills to the test.

If the cold is too much, though, consider taking the Introduction to Essential Oils on Sunday, from 1 to 2:30 p.m., to learn all about the health benefits of essential oils, which are a natural derivative of plants.

Burgess said there's something for the whole family to enjoy.

"Everyone gets something out of it, and it gives you the chance to get out of the house," he said. "I have little kids, and the chance to get out and not get frostbitten is great."

Tower Hill also broke out books on herbal remedies and plants from its apothecary collection to be on display in the library, some dating as far back as the 1800s, to learn what people thought about the healing powers of plants hundreds of years ago. 

"It's important to me, personally, to try to get through winter," Burgess said. "Any reminder that spring is right around the corner is very welcome this time of year -- it's like a winter oasis."

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