The Mid-Atlantic and Washington metro area offer many lovely gardens to enjoy. Some are special in a particular season, such as the Brighton Dam Azalea Garden. Others are appealing from March-October, such as the cutting garden at Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, which offers more than 1,000 different cultivars during the growing season.
Other member favorites
Chanticleer, Wayne, PA. Love it for the spirit of innovation, one member said. “Although it is a former estate, it is anything but stuffy. This is due to the leadership of its two directors. The first director, Chris Woods, boldly took down one of the three houses on the estate and turned it into a ruin garden. Under Bill Thomas, each of the seven gardeners designs and maintains his or her own sub-garden, which means new ideas are constantly implemented.” A caveat: Limited parking space, so book ahead.
Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens, Washington, DC. Go mid-June through August, when the lotus are putting on a fabulous display.
McCrillis Gardens, Bethesda, MD. Excellent, old well-established garden with mature specimens, especially the Japanese umbrella pine and Chinese climbing hydrangea vine.
Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library, Winterthur, DE. The March Bank, which starts its bulb show in late February, will brighten your spring well into May. Check the handy bloom report on the Winterthur garden blog.
Farther afield, members have recommended
Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn, NY.
Hershey Gardens, Hershey, PA. Particularly for the massive tulip display in spring and roses in summer.
Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve & Garden, Papaikou, HI.
New York Botanical Gardens, Bronx, NY.
Portland Japanese Garden, Portland, OR.
Untermyer Park & Gardens, Yonkers, NY. Old estate with fascinating history, amazing structures, and spectacular layout.
Washington Park International Rose Garden, Portland, OR.
Wave Hill Public Garden & Cultural Center, Bronx, NY. Gorgeous location overlooking the Hudson River.
Resources for garden visits
The Most Beautiful Public Gardens in the United States. Culture Trip. September 11, 2017.
America’s Most Beautiful Gardens. Travel & Leisure. May 9, 2014.
23 of the Most Beautiful Gardens in America. Reader’s Digest. June 8, 2020.
These Are America’s Most Gorgeous Botanical Gardens. Thrillist. April 9, 2021.
America Public Gardens Association. Champions and advances public gardens.