I’m going to continue that theme this week, but instead of patio designs I thought I’d expand it a bit, looking at some of my all-time favorite gardens I’ve visited.
There are tons of great gardens across the country, across the world for that matter. Whether it’s your neighbors’ bedding areas, your local community park, or a larger horticultural showcase, you really don’t have to go far.
I’m keeping this list to five, but I could probably go on with dozens and dozens more. But these five each struck me in various compelling ways.
Nearly every major metropolitan area has at least one great world-class public garden, and Philly’s certainly no exception. There are a number of great gardens throughout Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley, and Longwood Gardens has to be one of the finest. Dating back to the original land grant of William Penn, the land was eventually acquired by Pierre DuPont of the famous family (Yes, that Dupont) who used his fortune to create the gardens.
The gardens are situated on more than 1000 acres of land about 25 miles southwest of Philadelphia. There are a number of great display gardens throughout the park, but one of the more popular (and perhaps my favorite) is the amazing water lilly collection on display every summer. Some of these platters reach a diameter of 6’! The insect-catching plant display and bonsai gardens are some other cool ones to check out. Whatever your taste, it’s a great place to get inspired.
When we lived in San Francisco, Golden Gate Park was just a quick 5-minute walk from our apartment. And while the entire park has all sorts of fun stuff to do and explore, the Japanese Tea Garden is one of the more popular. And understandably so. If you ever want to see what careful cultivation of plants can achieve, you needn’t look any further than the Mt. Fuji-shaped or Dragon hedges near the garden entrance. And they also have one of the largest most established Wisterias I’ve ever seen, checking in at more than 100 years old! Be sure to check out the waterfall display and koi ponds as well. As far as peaceful tranquil gardens go, this one has to be near the top of any list.
While we’re out on the West Coast we might as well as swing down south and check out the native plant garden in Balboa Park in San Diego. This is an awesome urban park, with many gardens (and other attractions) throughout. I’m picking the native plant garden just because it reminds me of my California days and the unique plants that grow on the west coast. But you really can’t go wrong anywhere in the park. Plus you’ll be in beautiful and nearly always perfect weather San Diego. Can’t really complain about anything out there.
There are many childrens’ gardens located throughout the country, but I have a soft spot for this one in the Finger Lakes Region of upsate New York. Maybe because it’s just a few miles from 215’ high Taughannock Falls. Maybe because its nearly impossible not to be inspired by all the amazing gorges and rock formations throughout the area. Or maybe its because of their awesomely stated goal of inspiring the next generation of environmental stewards. Whatever the reason, in my opinion this is exactly what a garden should be. Inviting. Interactive. Fun. None of that “stay on the path, don’t touch” mentality. Nope. Just kids playing in the dirt, exploring, getting involved, and most importantly having fun. Grown-ups too. And oh yeah, they’re host to International Mud Day events, where kids (of all ages) are actually ENCOURAGED to play in the mud. Imagine that. Cool indeed.
Just to show you that you don’t need to be a world-class traveler to
enjoy world-class gardens, I’m including this one located less than a mile from my house. I wrote about Scott Arboretum in more detail in an earlier post last year, but its worth mentioning again, if for no other reason than just to illustrate that great gardens can be located anywhere and everywhere. But there are plenty of other reasons to include it on this list as well, like the world-class holly, magnolia and oak collections, idyllic Crum Creek, and the absolutely amazing amphitheater, with its masterfully created stone bench walls and majestic tulip tree canopy.
Admittedly this is just a sampling, but hopefully it’ll provide a bit more inspiration to anybody thinking about an outdoor project this year. And even if you’re not, these are still great places to visit. Go out and get inspired!