4 of our favorite public gardens
By: Garden Gate staff
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4 must-seepublic gardens
Public gardens are treasure troves of inspiration, beauty and knowledge. Whether you’re looking for new design ideas to freshen up your garden’s style or wondering which plants will grow best your area, they’re worth a visit. Let’s take a look at a few beautiful public gardens to see what you’ll find there. Click to the next slide to learn more about this beautiful garden in Maine.
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Thuya GardenNortheast Harbor, Maine
Thuya Garden sits next to Acadia National Park and is packed with color every summer. The original property, an orchard, was donated by Joseph Curtis to the nearby town in 1928. Charles Savage then became the trustee of the property and added the Gertrude Jekyll-inspired flower borders you see in the photos at right. The park opened to the public in 1962. The borders range from 30 to 130 feet long and peak in July and August with a mix of annuals and perennials. The last original apple tree in the smaller photo creates the shade bed that includes beautiful astilbes and foxgloves.
15 Thuya Drive
Northeast Harbor, Maine
Admission: Suggested donation of $5 per person
Open 7 days a week during daylight hours from May to October.
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Ganna Walska LotuslandSanta Barbara, California
Ganna Walska Lotusland® started out as a nursery in the 1880s, later became a private estate and was purchased by Madame Ganna Walska in 1941. An opera singer and theater owner, she began focusing her creative talent on horticultural endeavors instead of just musical ones. Her love of the dramatic is evident in the scale and diversity of the gardens on this 37-acre property. Big plants and large collections make a statement but aren’t too busy and don’t look overplanted. Because each garden has its own distinct personality, you get a sense of intimacy even in this large space. Winding paths flow naturally from one to the other, providing cohesiveness. Though Madame Walska passed away in 1984, a foundation she established carries out her vision.
695 Ashley Road
Santa Barbara, CA
Admission: $48 for adults
and $24 for ages 3 to 17
Because of limited parking in this residential neighborhood, you need a reservation to visit. Call or make one online. Allow 2 hours for a guided tour, which covers 1½ miles.
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Missouri Botanical GardenSt. Louis, Missouri
The Missouri Botanical Garden is one of the oldest in the country, opening to the public in 1859. Businessman Henry Shaw built his country home in 1849 with the intention of adding gardens and later donating it to the public for education and enjoyment. You can visit the home, called Tower Grove, today in the Missouri Botanical Garden’s Victorian District. The garden now covers 79 acres, has thousands of plants spread through numerous gardens and plenty of activities, including festivals and classes.
4344 Shaw Blvd
St. Louis, MO
Admission: $12 for adults,
ages 12 and under free.
Open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower CenterAustin, Texas
If you are charmed by wildflowers, put a visit to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the top of your list. Founded in 1982 by Lady Bird Johnson and Helen Hayes, the center promotes the conservation and use of native plants in natural and designed landscapes. While there is a strong focus on Southwestern natives, anyone can enjoy its beauty, and many of the plants featured grow well in other regions, too.
For the classic wildflower experience be sure to hike the trails. Check out the new arboretum trail and have some fun on one of the tree swings you’ll find there. It’s a 1-mile walk that’s wheelchair accessible. For a shorter hike, take the quarter-mile-long Savanna Meadow Trail. This one winds through several meadows and crosses a small creek.
4801 La Crosse Ave.
Admission: $10 for adults,
$4 for ages 5 to 17
Open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.