1. Butchart Gardens; Vancouver Island, B.C. Created in 1904, the 55 acres of display gardens are the centerpiece of a visual paradise. Visit for the day and wander through stunning rose gardens, secret alcoves, teahouses and towering trees. You will learn why the horticultural gem has been designated a National Historic Site of Canada. More than 1 million bedding plants are used throughout the year, and in springtime the gardens, large and small, are ablaze with color. There are several dining spots on the premises and a gift shop. Check the website for the schedule of concerts and other special events that add value throughout the year.
Contact: (250) 652-4422; butchartgardens.com
2. Winterthur; Wilmington, Del. As a boy, founder Henry Francis du Pont wandered the expansive property’s rolling hills, forests and meadows, developing a deep appreciation of nature that would serve as the underpinning of his lifelong commitment to this extraordinary 60-acre garden. The careful planning that went into its development means visitors are treated to rich color almost year-round, thanks to the unique blend of exotic and native plants. The family was made famous by its chemical empire, DuPont. In addition to the landscape, their family life at Winterthur as well as pieces reflecting early America combine to make the estate a premier museum of American decorative arts.
Contact: (800) 448-3883; winterthur.org
3. The Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden; Onomea, Hawaii. The 40-acre valley on Hawaii’s Big Island provides a natural greenhouse for more than 2,000 species of tropical plants that attract the interest of families, photographers and scientists from around the world. Colorful gold dust day geckos dart about as visitors learn about the plight of the world’s rain forests and the importance of the garden’s living seed bank. Wander along pathways that provide stunning views of the ocean, waterfalls and winding streams.
Contact: (808) 964-5233; htbg.com
4. Niagara Parks Botanical Garden; Ontario. Just 10 miles from famed Niagara Falls, you’ll find 99 acres of meticulously planted gardens that include more than 2,400 roses, colorful azaleas and vegetable and herb plantings. Established in 1936 as a “training school for apprentice gardeners,” the grounds are cared for today by horticulture students. During the warmer months, climb aboard a comfortable carriage for a horse-drawn tour of the pristine surroundings. Nearby, visit the Butterfly Conservancy, where an entrance garden, designed to attract the beautiful winged creatures, serves as a fitting welcome. Admission is free.
5. Dumbarton Oaks; Washington, D.C. These historic gardens, located on Georgetown’s highest point, provide a peaceful respite from a hectic tour of our nation’s capital. In 1920, Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss described their new 53-acre country home as standing on “neglected grounds.” They hired Beatrix Farrand to plan what would become the extraordinary setting, including roses, boxwoods and clematis, that visitors relish today. Free tours are available.
Contact: (202) 339-6401; doaks.org
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