Gardens of the World

Do you have a passion for gardens? I love them. My best friend bought me a membership to the exquisite Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, Florida two years ago when I was in the area on a sit. Being able to visit her was an added perk. The plan was to use this membership and its reciprocal privileges to visit gardens in all the locales of my future sits. Then Covid brought things to a halt. I never got to go anywhere and my membership lapsed. But traveling is gearing back up, albeit in fits and starts, so I would like some recommendations.

Homeowners, are there any not-to-be missed gardens in your area? Sitters, have you visited a garden or two or three in your travels that took your breath away? I am interested in the lesser known, best-kept-secret kinds of recommendations, as well as those that are more famous.

A few that I recommend in Pennsylvania are
the annual Philadelphia Flower Show, America’s version of the Chelsea Flower Show. It has traditionally been held in March in the Philadelphia Convention Center but because of Covid, it moved outdoors to South Philadelphia last year and will be in the same space this year. Besides the extraordinary plantings and fabulous displays, there is a free alcoholic tasting station that puts you in a lovely mood to enjoy the blooms.

The Scott Arboretum on the campus of Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, PA has an enormous display of tree peonies in late April to early June.

Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA (the mushroom capital) is vast. I love the Orchid House. It’s not a garden, but nearby is the Brandywine River Museum with the art of Andrew Wyeth and his son, Jamie and father, N. C. Wyeth, also not to be missed.

Any other recommendations?

5 Likes

A lovely topic for opening up “colourful conversations” @mars even if one isn’t a knowledgable gardener I don’t know anyone who doesn’t appreciate the beauty not just of formal gardens but even a patio garden and some bright window boxes.

We’ve sat some homes with truly spectacular gardens, one in particular was in Chelsworth, a village in Suffolk, England whose residents have been opening their gardens to the public for over 50 years.

“It was 1967, and the tiny village of Chelsworth (population less than 140) in the Brett Valley between Constable country and Lavenham, was the first of its kind: the first to open its gardens to the public. Admission to the five gardens was half a-crown (12.5 pence) and a total of £150 was raised – helped by plant sales, and, of course, teas. Water for the teas served in the village Victory Hall was drawn from a standpipe, and the washing-up was achieved in bowls on trestle tables. Today, Open Gardens Day raises several thousand pounds. As well as wandering through more than 20 gardens with tea stops en route, visitors can buy from specialised nurserymen, local food specialists and artisan crafts.”

The owner was the president of the association and his garden, crafted with love (plus a lot of sweat and tears) from a one acre field was just stunningly beautiful, my husband who has green fingers and loves gardening, was in his perfect space.

A favourite garden of mine and I visit whenever I go home to BC is Butchart Gardens, Victoria, Vancouver Island, Canada.

I’m not a knowledgable gardener and plants tend to hide from me but like most I appreciate the beauty, serenity, nature’s perfection and the skill and dedication that goes into creating and maintaining “Gardens of the World” for our joy and pleasure.

5 Likes

A subject I can muse over for hours.

Yet again I will promote my birth country, Scotland. Yes, we have beautiful gardens even though our winters are terrible and it rains most of the summer. Three of the most spectacular are managed by the National Trust for Scotland - Falkland Palce, Threaves and Inverewe. Each totally different but have a unique layout which keeps the visitors coming again and again.
Falkland Palace in Fife is mostly a formal garden with little wild sections. It once was a hunting lodge for the royals and has a long history. The real tennis court is the one of the oldest in the world and they sometimes put matches on with players in period costume.
Threaves is the training garden for the National Trust apprentices. Diverse and very beautiful. A garden for the garden connoisseur. My sister trained there and can still reel off all the Latin names of the plants and as well as looking after them she can tell the history of most plants. It is at Castle Douglas in The Borders.
Inverewe, well Inverewe is on the same latitude as Moscow and Hudson Bay but has exotic plants thriving there. The Gulf Stream creates a microclimate and makes this area an exotic paradise. If you only had time to go to one garden in Scotland make it this one.
They brag they have a different rhododendron flowering every day of the year. It has quite a history of how it was conceived.
There are many more in Scotland but that’s the three that all gardeners should visit. The National Trust for Scotland is well worth joining if you want to spend some time touring grand houses and gardens, woodland walks and hikes or even just park free in some areas. Some of our pet owners had left us with their membership card and we visited many beautiful places.

4 Likes

I travel great lengths to see beautiful gardens . If you pet sit for me my recommendations would be Bellingrath Gardens in Alabama. I also highly recommend Atlanta Botanical Garden . While your in the Deep South add Huntsville and Birmingham Botanical gardens . Remember Spring comes early here :house_with_garden::heart:

5 Likes

I’m not into gardens or gardening but I visited a beautiful spot when I did a house sit in Dublin a few years ago. B The couple I sat for twice now were within walking distance from the National Botanic Gardens of Dublin which is just under 50 acres and houses 17,000 different species. It was a lovely way to spend an afternoon and the admission was free!

3 Likes

Great idea! I had that same thought of visiting green spaces in my travels. I had two great sits with wonderful experiences in San Antonio , Austin Botanical Gardens and The Woodlands (30 miles North of Houston) in Texas. San Antonio has the Japanese Tea Gardens and The Riverwalk. The Woodlands is a residential community, not a public garden although you could drive through it if you are in Houston. I went on daily walks never knowing if I could find my way back. it was a new adventure everyday. If you are directionally challenged, as I am, I recommend you walkback the same way you came or you may end up walking for hours. A word of reassurance: it’s all circular so just continue walking and you will come back to where you started. It may be an 8 - 13 mile walk.
Japanese Tea Garden,Japanese Tea Garden2,River Walk, San Antonio TX
Woodlands1 Texas,Woodlands2, Texas

2 Likes

I also want to recommend the Brooklyn Botanic Garden by Prospect Park. Especially beautiful are the wisterias in bloom, the Japanese garden and the water garden. I was a member for many years and have many of the excellent reference and instructional materials they publish.

1 Like

Keukenhof, just outside Amsterdam is one of our favorite gardens we’ve visited.

It is open from March to May and you have a long layover in Amsterdam it is the place to visit. They have busses from the airport.

If you are ever in Southern California, these some very nice botanical gardens with free admission.

Thousand Oaks
Gardens of the World http://www.gardensoftheworld.info/

Connejo Valley Botanical Garden ( Thousand Oaks)
https://www.crpd.org/park/conejo-valley-botanic-garden/

Balboa Park Gardens (San Diego)
https://www.balboapark.org/explore/gardens

3 Likes

England - One of my favorites in England is The Savill Garden in Windsor Great Park. I grew up with this on the doorstep so it was a favorite place to be taken for long walks as a kid (both parents avid gardeners), so I’ve watched it develop over many, many years.

“Since its creation in the 1930s, The Savill Garden has been an inspiration for all. This natural haven of beautifully designed gardens and woodland can be enjoyed by everyone, from dedicated horticulturists to those who just want to spend a relaxing day out with family or friends. The 35 acres of interconnected gardens include the Hidden Gardens, Spring Wood, the Summer Gardens, the New Zealand Garden, Summer Wood, The Glades, Autumn Wood and the Winter Beds.”

Here are a few pics from our last visit :

My other favorite is The Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall - absolutely fabulous.

3 Likes

And the Eden Project. It’s not really a traditional garden but very interesting visit if you are in Cornwall

4 Likes

When traveling, I’ve always visited gardens, but with Covid, started more regularly - outdoors and much easier to keep my distance. A few highlights -
On the southern edge of Seattle, just east of I-5 are 2 adjacent gardens - the Rhododrendron Species Garden and the Pacific Bonsai Museum. The Bonsai Museum is small but wonderful - not only bonsai but stories of the people who raised them and their experiences during WW2 relocation.

Rhododrendron Species Garden

Bonsai Museum



And Portland, OR has the Rose Garden


3 Likes

If you are in Southern California, The Huntington Library in San Marino is beautiful. The desert garden and the field of many-colored California poppies are standouts.

2 Likes

I would love to get to California to see the explosion of poppies in Antelope Valley in mid-March to late April


and to Tahoe in late spring to see the lupines in bloom.

4 Likes

Thanks for this fantastic topic! :hibiscus: :evergreen_tree: :lotus: :deciduous_tree: :tulip: :shamrock: :sunflower:

My favorite garden in the world (so far) is at the Alhambra, in Granada, Spain:
Alhambra of Granada. Information about the monument, how to buy tickets, guided tours, photographies, guide of Granada. - AlhambraDeGranada.org

.
I also love the San Francisco Botanical Garden: https://www.sfbg.org/
.

On my list to visit in the U.S.:

The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden: https://www.sbbg.org/

The Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix: https://dbg.org/

The Huntington Gardens in L.A., as mentioned above: Gardens | The Huntington

The Denver Botanic Gardens: https://www.botanicgardens.org/

2 Likes

One of my favorites is the Lan Su in downtown Portland, Oregon, USA:

“…A result of a collaboration between the cities of Portland and Suzhou, our sister city in China’s Jiangsu province that’s famous for its beautiful Ming Dynasty gardens, Lan Su was built by Chinese artisans from Suzhou and is one the most authentic Chinese gardens outside of China.”

Lan Su is very accessible via mass transit (incl. MAX light rail).

Enjoy an elegant repast in their lovely teahouse next to the water!

5 Likes

@MtnSk8tr , funny you should mention Suzhou. When I was in China years ago, I asked our Chinese guide what her favorite city was and she said Suzhou City because it’s the garden city. I have wanted to go there ever since.

2 Likes

Anyone sitting in the UK over summer at least,should consult the National Garden scheme website ( informally used to be called the Yellow Book as that’s how it appeared pre internet)
This is a great arrangement whereby keen gardeners both large and small open up their gardens for charity on specific days ( often weekend afternoons) As well as seeing large formal gardens you can visit much smaller spaces where individual hobby gardeners have done amazing things with limited resources.My absolute fave was a guy in Walthamstow,NE London from I think Guyana, who grew all sorts of fabulous stuff in around and hanging off his tiny semidetached house- like bananas,tomatoes in hanging baskets, nasturtiums in clay pots set into the walls, peas growing up the front of the house on trellises.Often they have plants for sale and/ or delicious tea and homemade cakes,all for modest money. Often a group of friends or neighbours will open at the same time so you get a joint ticket. You can search by times/days/areas/accessibility etc. A great idea to see more lovely green spaces!

5 Likes

Lovely to see you back in the forum @Gillyflower (with your topic appropriate name :slight_smile: ) - Great suggestion and here’s the website link for anyone interested:

I for one had totally forgotten about this since the pandemic, but spent a lot of time when living in Bristol visiting open hobby gardens. A great way to connect with the local community too. Thank you for this lovely reminder of a fabulous organisation!

2 Likes

Portland, Oregon (USA) has a wonderful Japanese garden. It is huge – 12 acres – so prepare to linger many happy hours there.

"When His Excellency Nobuo Matsunaga, the former Ambassador of Japan to the United States, visited Portland Japanese Garden, he proclaimed it to be “the most beautiful and authentic Japanese garden in the world outside of Japan.”

The Garden sits nestled in the hills of Portland, Oregon’s iconic Washington Park, overlooking the city and providing a tranquil, urban oasis for locals and travelers alike. Designed in 1963, it encompasses 12 acres with eight separate garden styles, and includes an authentic Japanese Tea House, meandering streams, intimate walkways, and a spectacular view of Mt. Hood. This is a place to discard worldly thoughts and concerns and see oneself as a small but integral part of the universe…"

Does this Japanese Maple look familar to you? It may: famous for its beauty, photos have been published innumerable times in books, calendars, & more.

3 Likes