Stop and smell the roses in the best gardens of the U.S.

Travelwise

Spring is springing! The crocus and hyacinth have emerged from their winter hibernation. Daffodils are popping up en masse and trees are budding. Spring is an exciting, colorful time in Virginia and the perfect time for garden lovers to visit one of these top gardens in the U.S.

Biltmore Estate Gardens, Asheville, North Carolina

The grounds surrounding the magnificent Vanderbilt estate are a must-see for any garden lover. The gardens were designed by famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead, who was also responsible for New York’s Central Park. Acres of formal and informal gardens offer paths to stroll and niches for quiet reflection. A highlight is the formal statuary and reflecting pools of the beautiful Italian Garden. Another is the four-acre walled garden with geometric flowerbeds, live borders and a butterfly garden. TIP: Visit April–May to see one of the country’s finest azalea gardens in its full glory, or June–September when more than 200 varieties in the Rose Garden bloom.

Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix, Arizona

The Desert Botanical Garden showcases the wildflowers and herbs that thrive in the Sonoran Desert. Five walking trails guide visitors through 50,000 indigenous plants and educate people about how to use them to live in the desert. A Music in the Gardens concert series offers a diverse lineup of musicians performing in the stunning surroundings of the garden on Fridays from February through June. TIP: Visit March–April to catch the two-acre wildflower exhibit explode in a riot of color.

Portland Japanese Garden, Portland, Oregon

Embrace Japanese culture and design at this compact, 50-year-old garden nestled at the edge of the city. Eight tranquil spaces honor Japanese garden history with bridges, pagodas and an authentic teahouse. Find your Zen in the Sand and Stone Garden and marvel at the miniaturized landscape of the Bonsai Terrace. At the new Cultural Village, you can immerse yourself in traditional Japanese arts through seasonal activities, performances and demonstrations. TIP: Visit in spring to see cascades of delicate pink blossoms on the weeping cherry in the four-season Flat Garden.

Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania

Industrialist Pierre duPont left a living legacy of one of the world’s great gardens. West of Philadelphia, more than 1,000 acres of manicured gardens and serene woodlands were inspired by his love of horticulture, education and the arts. Highlights include an intricate fountain system, a historical conservatory and centuries-old trees. A summer concert series includes a 10,000-pipe concert organ in a grand ballroom. TIP: In April, the crocus and trillium carpet the forest floor. In fall, Norway maples surrounding the 130-foot Main Fountain erupt in a blaze of gold.

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Miami, Florida

If you want to be instantly transported to the tropics, Fairchild is your garden. Stroll through flowering tropical vines in every color, scintillating fragrances of flowering spices, rare tropical fruit trees, towering palms and ancient cycads. A two-acre rainforest is filled with waterfalls, orchids and lush foliage, and the Spiny Forrest of Madagascar showcases the wonderful world of succulents. TIP: Don’t miss the twice-daily butterfly releases in Wings of the Tropics to see rare and exotic species up close.

Garden visits can be the sole purpose of your travel or a pleasant excursion during any trip. You certainly aren’t limited to just these five premier examples. You’ll find interesting gardens featuring different kinds of plants—and often art, music or education—in hundreds of cities across the country. Ask your travel advisor to help you incorporate a garden into your next trip so you can stop and smell the roses along the way.

Beverly McLean
About Beverly McLean 3 Articles
Beverly McLean, CTC, is affiliated with Covington Travel and can be reached at 757-286-5233 or e-mail BeverlyM@covtrav.com.

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