We couldn't find that.
Let's go back home and try again.

5 Great Gardens to Visit Now


Since “April showers bring May flowers,” this is a good time to include garden visits in your upcoming trips. Throughout the Northern Hemisphere, spring displays include budding trees and colorful blooms from bulbs that lay dormant all winter. Here are some of my favorite places to enjoy this month’s botanical bounty.

Chicago: After enduring the Polar Vortex this winter, tulips that bloom in spring throughout the city will be an especially welcome sight. Hundreds of thousands of them fill beds along Michigan Avenue (the “Magnificent Mile”) and throughout Millennium Park. Within the park, take time to walk through Lurie Garden and notice the 15-foot-high “shoulder hedge” that is the physical representation of Carl Sandburg’s description of “the city of big shoulders.”

If you have time to go farther afield, I recommend The Morton Arboretum (in Lisle, about 25 miles west of Chicago), which offers guided tram tours, 16 miles of walking trails, and nine miles of paved roads within an oasis of beautiful trees. (www.mortonarb.org)

New York: I like the Conservatory Garden at the north end of Central Park, but for an even bigger display, take the Metro-North Railroad from Grand Central Station to The New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. These gardens, some of the best in the world, sprawl over 250 acres and include vast plant collections and 30,000 trees. Many of these bloom in spring, creating a visual wonderland.

In addition to flowering magnolia, cherry, and crabapple trees, this is also the best time to enjoy NYBG’s collection of 3,000 azaleas and rhododendrons, which begin to bloom in the first warm days of spring. And don’t miss the landmark Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, the nation’s largest Victorian-era glasshouse. This beautiful palace opened in 1902 and was named a New York City Landmark in 1973. It’s home to A World of Plants, a permanent ecotour of the world, including tropical rain forests, carnivorous and aquatic plants, and the world’s most comprehensive collection of palm trees under glass. (www.nybg.org)

Bainbridge Island, Washington: Seattle’s best gardens can be found on Bainbridge Island — a 35-minute ferry ride across Puget Sound. Sunset Magazine says this community is home to writers, artists, craftspeople, and “the most passionate gardeners in the world.” Here, Bainbridge in Bloom is the Northwest’s version of The Secret Garden Tour of La Jolla.

If you want to do this tour of private gardens on the island, plan to be on Bainbridge on July 11 or 12 this year. However, the 150-acre Bloedel Reserve is open Tuesday to Sunday year-round. At this botanical park, thousands of perennials, bulbs, and wildflowers bloom among the rhododendrons in late spring and early summer. Well-maintained trails wind through 84 acres of second growth forest, and the grounds also include ponds, meadows, and a bird refuge that is home to trumpeter swans. (www.bloedelreserve.org)

Giverny, France: For fans of Claude Monet, Giverny is Mecca. Here, about 50 miles west of Paris, the artist lived with his family, built a garden, and painted. If you’ve seen his water lilies on canvas and are ready to view them in person, visit Giverny. The garden, open April 1 through November 1, is exquisite and easily recognizable as his.

There are minibus daytrips from Paris to Giverny, and trains from Paris to the village of Vernon that connect with a shuttle bus to Giverny. However, I recommend the DIY option, which means renting a car. I say this because the garden gets very crowded and the only way to have a private peaceful moment here is to remain after the bulk of visitors have departed on public transport. (www.giverny.org)



Nevis Island: This jewel of an isle in the Caribbean is naturally beautiful and blissfully untouristy. We stayed on the beach at Nisbet Plantation and toured the island by rental car. Best sight: The Botanical Gardens of Nevis, which offer a wide selection of tropical plants amid innovative landscaping punctuated with Asian sculpture. I loved the collections of bromeliads and palms and became enamored of the rainbow eucalyptus trees. (www.botanicalgardennevis.com)

No time for a trip? The Secret Garden Tour of La Jolla, taking place May 17, is just one of many spring garden events in our area.    ELIZABETH HANSEN





Visitors to Balboa Park are enthralled by the magnificent rose garden at the east end of the Prado. Officially known as the Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden, this exquisite spot has recently been inducted into the Great Rosarians of the World (GROW) Rose Garden Hall of Fame. As a member, it joins other Hall of Fame gardens, one of which is the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden at the New York Botanical Garden. Quite a compliment.


The Balboa Park rose garden, which sits on three acres, has 1,600 roses of almost 200 varieties. The Hall of Fame honor confirms the high regard in which the garden has been held over the years. As far back as 1978, it was named outstanding rose garden in the United States by All-American Rose Selections. In 2003, the garden was given the Award of Garden Excellence by the World Federation of Rose Societies.


No one encounters this inspiring and restorative area without being affected in some way. Many selfless volunteers work countless hours each year to meticulously maintain the myriad rose bushes. Praise goes to Dick Streeper, who played a big part in the creation of the garden. Fittingly, he accepted the GROW Rose Garden Hall of Fame award at the Huntington Library.


A visit to Balboa Park is incomplete without the Balboa Park Rose Garden experience.   DARLENE G. DAVIES


Julia Child
Julia Child
Joseph's Coat
Joseph’s Coat





Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *