Top 10 Gardens / Botanical Vacations in North America
Escape the bustle of New York and stroll in Central Park, indulge in California’s Redwoods or Hawaii’s tropics. The gardens of North America are a real opportunity to get off the beaten path and explore the remaining nature and wilderness in a land of big cities.
- Central Park, New York
Take sanctuary from the hustle and bustle in the Big Apple in its most iconic urban space. Central Park is the soul of the city. This 341-hectare park attracts people from all walks of life. The main paths are flanked by maples and gentle ponds. Cyclists, rollerbladers, walkers and joggers take advantage of secluded tracks and courses while jazz performers entertain the more sedate. It’s the perfect way to relax in such a busy city.
- Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens, Canada
These parks, just 10 minutes drive from the famed Horseshoe Falls, are an attraction in their own right. One million visitors come to the 100 acres of manicured beds and plantings each year. Wander the footpaths past the Butterfly Conservatory and butterfly garden, the ponds and arboretum or take a horse and carriage tour. The grounds are maintained by students from the Park’s horticultural school.
- Reford Gardens, Grand-Métis (Québec) Canada
These gardens are recognized worldwide as one of Canada’s more outstanding for the historical efforts of the passionate gardener Elsie Reford who inherited the estate, and the world’s most avante gardening through the annual International Garden Festival. Today the gardens are home to more than 3000 species and varieties of native and exotic plants.
- Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, Onomea, Hawaii
In Hawaii, onomea means "the best place", a fitting description for this garden of tropical plants. There are over 2000 tropical species represented here in the 40-acre valley that was created through the untiring efforts of the Lutkenhouses who cleared the formerly impenetrable jungle over eight years by hand. Trails were hewn from hard lava rock with picks and shovels and a three-tiered waterfall was discovered. Garden trails now curve and wind their way through the jungle.
- Vancouver Island, Canada
A vacation on this island could simply become a garden trail. The moderate climate has helped plants, shrubs and trees flourish and made the entire region a horticultural paradise. The gardens range from small private plots of less than an acre through to grand estates. April and May are the best time to visit when the gardens are in full bloom. Amongst the garden’s highlights is the Abkhazi Garden, an exquisite heritage home and garden. Another is the 55-acred Butchart Garden, one of the main attractions of Vancouver and recognized as one of the most famous sunken gardens, garden teahouses and rose gardens in the world.
- San Francisco Botanical Garden, USA
Come to this garden to explore one of the most remarkable and unique plant communities in the world with over 7500 species. One of the most popular ways to tour the 55-acre gardens is to follow the Redwood Trail and discover more about the world’s tallest living trees.
- Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Sarasota, Florida
This seven-acre estate garden is dedicated to the research and collection of tropical plants, especially orchids and bromeliads and their canopy ecosystems. The 20 000 plants here are located on the grounds of the former home of Marie and William Selby (of the Texaco Oil Company) and open to the public. Amongst the amazing collections are 6000 live orchids. The site borders Sarasota Bay and the Hudson Bayou.
- Branch Brook Park, New Jersey, USA
Come to this hidden treasure in Newark for the biggest collection of cherry trees anywhere in the world. The best time to come is spring when the reddish-pink large white blossoms flower.
- Huntington Botanical Gardens, Pasadena, California
These gardens were first developed in 1903 and now span 120 acres. The sweeping lawns and vistas contain 15 000 plants from around the world and are landscaped into a series of theme gardens. Visit herb, desert, rose, palm, jungle, Chinese, Japanese and Australian sections.
- Biltmore Estate, Asheville, North Carolina
This estate is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest single-family home. This 8000-acre estate and the 250-room house were built by George W. Vanderbilt and attract one million visitors each year. While the house is indeed marvelous, the gardens were built to match. There are 75 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens and a winery. Highlights include a 20-acre azalea garden, a four-acre walled garden, a conservatory and reflecting ponds.