Garden Ideas: Seven Must-Visit Gardens Throughout America

Visit These Beautiful Gardens to Inspire Your Own Garden Ideas

Whether you travel to the beach in mid-summer, the mountains in winter, or take advantage of the milder spring and fall seasons, you can learn a lot from studying gardens and scanning for ways to create landscapes that are easy to care for as you age, and are aesthetically pleasing to the eye. As an avid gardener, this is one of the best ways to learn and have fun while doing it!

So, for this post, it's time to travel – and grab new garden ideas from coast to coast that can enliven your own garden.

If your Elderyard® is already in great shape, or you’re just building your understanding of your nature’s heartprint, take time to experience and enjoy what's on offer in unique gardens in other states, soils, and climates across the United States.

Use your camera to capture garden structures and plant combinations that are visually appealing to you. You may not be able to grow exactly the same plants, but here's where mindfulness comes in. Take the time you need to immerse yourself in the moment. Study what's especially intriguing about the scene that grabs your interest.

Is it the texture contrast? The arrangement of shapes? The combination and contrast of colors? The lines of the plants or plantings? THAT'S what you can take away from the experience and bring back to your garden.

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Here are seven incredibly exciting gardens and one fantastic garden tours worth seeing:

1. Peckerwood Garden, Hempstead, TX 

Open the last Saturday of each month, plus check the calendar for extra open days in October and November. Peckerwood Garden is a Garden Conservancy treasure that was started by Texas A&M architecture professor and painter John Fairey. Just two hours from Austin, it's an extraordinary mix of plants, including many gathered during Fairey's expeditions to Mexico with the renowned Texas plantsman Lynn Lowrey.

2. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx New York

In the midst of the iconic skyscrapers and urban bustle of New York lies a 250-acre jewel. The New York Botanical Garden is a National Historic Landmark that boasts a 1902-era conservatory and century-old conifers in addition to touches like the winter train show and a rose garden featuring over 650 rose varieties.

3. Hillwood Estate, Museum, and Garden, Washington DC

With 13 acres of formal gardens designed by landscape architects Umberto Innocenti and Richard Webel, this fabulous garden is shaped into “rooms” to complement the home's interior. You can guide yourself, or take one of the guided garden tours. Don't miss the French parterre with the ivy-colored walls. This quiet green space has enough contrast to be delightful no matter the age of your eyes!

4. Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden, Coral Gables, Florida  

Palms, cycads, plants from the Bahamas, plants that love the deep sand and swamplands the Floridians call soil. Texans can discover tree-sized relatives of our favorite splashy bloomers like red Bird of Paradise. Check out their seasonal festivals, too. In the fall, their celebration explores what the change of seasons looks like in a warm climate and what to do with pumpkins when heat and humidity don't play well with carved and candled versions.

5. Blitheworld Mansion, Gardens, and Arboretum, Bristol, Rhode Island

This 33-acre summer estate sits on Narragansett Bay in Bristol and is nationally significant as one of the most fully developed and authentic examples of the Country Place Era. The mansion is framed by a series of gardens ranging from mysterious to exotic and from poetic to practical. The gardens feature an exceptional collection of rare and unusual plants, specimen trees, an accessible greenhouse and whimsical stonework that is romantic, fresh and inspiring. Beautifully designed by landscape architect John DeWolf, the concept reflects both Colonial Revival and the Arts and Crafts movements. 

6. Boyce Arboretum, Globe, AZ  

Globe is a tiny town in the mountains east of Phoenix, still heavily dependent on the mining industry. Once you’ve visited the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, visit Globe. Here, the fascinating Boyce Arboretum sits in this dry Sonoran desert country. The 3200 plants here are glorious examples of arid climate-vegetation from across the world. Want to see a baobab tree up close? It’s here. What's a serendipitous surprise is that if you visit in the late fall, the brilliant colors on the trees and shrubs rival the fall landscape in New England!

7. Ruth Bancroft Garden, Walnut Creek California  

The Ruth Bancroft Garden is an outstanding example of a water-conserving bold Mediterranean dry garden full of beautiful agaves and succulents. Bancroft was a self-taught gardener who fell in love first with irises and then with succulents. She collected all she could get her hands on and experimented with how best to grow them. She developed many unique approaches to protecting, and combining succulent and other drought-tolerant plants that are admired and copied today. The book The Bold Dry Garden details the story of the garden and this amazing woman.

A Wonderful Garden Tour 

The Dallas Master Gardener Association, offers a fall tour each year in October showcasing five very different member gardens from native plants to Southern formality to grasses and a bee-loving, pollinator-friendly garden. Master gardener groups across the country always showcase amazing gardens and freely share advice on what works – and what lessons they've learned. This particular tour is a lovely way to see garden ideas and designs implemented at a realistic scale for the homeowner. Look for master gardener tours wherever you live to learn more about how plants really grow!

Whether you're an enthusiastic gardener on your own or are working with a landscape architect to install or improve your home's landscape, discover the value of other designs and translate what you've seen for a yard that can sustain you agelessly!

Ann Yakimovicz