Horticultural Attractions Across The U.S.A.

tulipWooden Shoe Tulip Farm

By Josephine Matyas

Wiarton Willie has predicted six more weeks of winter - not a happy thought for much of Canada, as it has been a cold and snowy season. But for large parts of the United States, early spring is a season of warming soil and early blooms. April is also National Garden Month and, with gardening being one of the top hobbies in North America, travellers may be looking for a little "spring therapy" by visiting some of America's top spots to see plants and trees in bloom.

Try Louisiana

A subtropical location on the Gulf of Mexico spells extended periods of warm weather and mild winters, ideal for gardening.

In New Orleans, Longue Vue House and Gardens has 14 garden areas featuring native and adaptable plant and tree varieties. The New Orleans Botanical Garden at City Park features more than 2,000 plant varieties from around the world.

In Shreveport, the American Rose Center (official home of the American Rose Society) has 20,000 rose varieties in 65 individual gardens. The city's R.W. Norton Art Gallery showcases 100 varieties of azaleas.

Jungle Gardens on Avery Island (home to Tabasco) is a 68.7-hectare botanical park and bird sanctuary with alligators roaming the site.

Rosedown Plantation State Historic Site, an antebellum plantation in St. Francisville, has an 11-hectare maze-style garden that requires a map to successfully navigate.

Try North Carolina

Extensive gardens on the 3,232-hectare Biltmore estate come to life with wave after wave of blooms. During Biltmore Blooms (March 20 to May 23) visitors can learn tips and techniques from gardening experts.

Try Massachusetts

Massachusetts Horticultural Society Gardens at Elm Bank (near Wellesley/Dover) has 12 display gardens, including The Bressingham Garden, a magnificent four-season perennial garden displaying a mixture of perennials, trees and shrubs, and a magical butterfly garden.

In New Bedford, the Rotch-Jones-Duff House & Garden Museum is the best example of the "brave houses and flowery gardens" described by Herman Melville in Moby-Dick. The property encompasses a full city block of gardens, which include a boxwood parterre rose garden, a boxwood specimen garden, a woodland garden and a cutting garden.

In Lenox at Edith Wharton's home, The Mount, the passionate gardener envisioned her gardens as an elegant series of outdoor rooms and created unique architectural compositions planned in concert with the house and the surrounding natural landscape. Just over a hectare of formal gardens surround the house.

Try Oregon

The Portland Japanese Garden features five distinct styles of traditional Japanese gardens on 2.2 hectares. Spring is the time for fresh greenery and cherry blossoms, azalea, camellia and wisteria. Free, guided public tours are available with paid admission. No need to book in advance for groups of less than 10.

Walk through 16 hectares of tulips at the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm's Annual Tulip Fest near Woodburn just south of Portland (March 28 through May 4). Activities include wine tasting and u-pick tulips. Every year the varieties are arranged differently in a new pattern of colour as tulip fields are rotated to a new location.

Try Colorado

Spring and summer are the prime seasons to celebrate Colorado in bloom.

The 9.7-hectare Denver Botanic Gardens is considered one of the top botanical gardens in the U.S. From leafy tropics to dry tundra, the gardens showcase plants chosen to thrive in Colorado's semi-arid climate, such as orchids, cactus and alpine plants. From June 14 through November 30, visitors can enjoy an outdoor exhibition of artwork by celebrated American glass artist, Dale Chihuly. Ranging from small water floats to large vertical installations, Chihuly's elegant sculptures add bold colours and dramatic beauty to the gardens.

Every August, America's largest outdoor sculpture show is held at Benson Sculpture Garden in Loveland. More than 100 artists showcase their prized work throughout the manicured grounds and amid the towering trees and blossoming flowers.

Try Florida

The Casements is the late John D. Rockefeller's winter mansion in Ormond Beach. The Rockefeller Gardens include a promenade along the river enticing visitors to stroll along the water. These gardens are peppered with seasonal flowers, but consist of mostly greenery, creating a serene setting for relaxation.

Mounts Botanical Garden in Palm Beach is a 5.6-hectare urban oasis with more than 2,000 species of tropical and subtropical native and exotic species. Mounts displays tropical and subtropical plants from around the world, including plants native to Florida, exotic trees, tropical fruit, herbs, citrus and palms.