8 Enchanting Botanical Gardens Showcasing Plant Life
Sometimes the environments in which we reside seem to be sprawling, concrete jungles with hardly a living thing in sight. Fortunately, there are places one can go that are respites from this, where the natural world can be appreciated and examined. In no particular order, here are some sites where plants are cultivated, collected, and displayed.
#1 on the list is the New York Botanical Garden, a National Historic Landmark sited on the northern half of Bronx Park. NYBG functions as a museum of plants, a scientific research organization, and an educational institution with programs in horticulture and botany. The Garden also offers adult education and virtual workshops for kids.
Some of the notable areas at NYBG include the LuEsther T. Mertz Library, the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden, the Nolen Greenhouses, and the largest Victorian-era glasshouse in the United States, the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. There's also the Steere Herbarium, which houses plants and fungi from around the world.
Coming in at #2 is Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden, a hub for visual and performing arts, horticulture, and educational outreach in Staten Island, New York. Distinctive spots on the grounds include the Carl Grillo Glass House and the Chinese Scholar's Garden, which has bridges and idiosyncratic zigzag pathways that tradition says are designed to ward off evil spirits.
Other places to go include the Staten Island Museum, which explores natural science, art, and history in a 19th-century Greek Revival building, and the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art, which includes a salvaged sculpture of Neptune. The campus also has a music hall, a pond, a Tuscan garden, and a small farm that operates a community-supported agriculture program.
#3 is National Tropical Botanical Garden, headquartered on the island of Kauai in Hawaii. NTBG is a not-for-profit institution comprised of gardens, preserves, and research facilities dedicated to discovering, saving, and studying the world's tropical plants. It is committed to sharing its findings, with a priority to conserve endangered and threatened flora.
One part of the institution is the Juliet Rice Wichman Botanical Research Center, a facility that houses a seed bank, laboratory, herbarium, and library collections. The Breadfruit Institute at NTBG is where scientists respond to global food security issues by analyzing and planting the eponymous tropical tree, which bears nutritious, starchy fruit.
Continuing the overview at #4 is the United States Botanic Garden. Established by Congress in 1820, this Washington, DC institution is dedicated to demonstrating the aesthetic, cultural, economic, and therapeutic importance of plants to the well-being of humankind. The USBG carries out this mission by cultivating and exhibiting ordered collections of flora, along with some displays and educational programming.
The Conservatory at the USBG is a plant museum, while Bartholdi Park is an informal space centered around an illuminated, cast-iron fountain. There's also the large National Garden, which has among its many sections a collection of roses that thrive in the Mid-Atlantic when grown using organic methods.
At #5 is Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. This center for horticulture, education, and research strives to offer people of all abilities an immersive and dynamic experience. An example of this approach is CMBG's universally accessible Lerner Garden of the Five Senses, where a creative, holistic therapy program uses the setting to stimulate participants' senses.
Another notable site at the Gardens is the Native Butterfly and Moth House, home to countless lepidopteran species. CMBG has been known to have a Caterpillar Lab Residency, an exhibit highlighting the incredible diversity and ingenuity of some of New England's most unusual caterpillars. An additional insect-related element of the Gardens is the Learning Apiary and its related exhibits, which provide a window into the lives of bees.
Entering the list at #6 is the Idaho Botanical Garden, located in the Boise Foothills in the core of the Old Penitentiary Historic District. The IBG boasts sections specializing in categories like heirloom roses, herbs, and vegetables. The area named for the explorers Lewis and Clark displays plants native to the region, while the English Garden exhibits a formal horticultural style.
The IBG also has a Children's Adventure Garden, where youngsters are encouraged to explore the outdoors through play in a naturalistic setting that includes tree houses. In addition, there's the Water Conservation Landscape, an area that focuses on plants that are attractive to humans, as well as insect pollinators and hummingbirds, and don't require much moisture to survive.
Our #7 is Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. The Richmond, Virginia-based institution contains a classical domed Conservatory with a collection of palms, cycads, and tropical plants such as orchids. LGBG also has multiple themed gardens and a Woodland Walk, which offers visitors shady, winding paths featuring perennials, shrubs, and trees.
The Children's Garden at Lewis Ginter allows kids to observe wildlife, dig in the dirt, and climb a one-hundred-year-old mulberry tree. It also has a universally accessible space called the Klaus Family Tree House, and during the summer there are cooling fountains and sprays. Meanwhile, the Asian Valley has conifers, irises, and Japanese maples. Guests can also enjoy the cherry blossoms while walking around Lake Sydnor.
Rounding out our overview at #8 is Ithaca, New York's Cornell Botanic Gardens. It contains cultivated plots, an arboretum, and natural areas, which serve as outdoor classrooms for instruction across seven Cornell colleges. The organization also hosts research, stewards Cornell's gorges and other natural spaces, and conducts conservation efforts.
The Gardens, a unit of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, seeks to inspire people to understand, appreciate, and nurture plants and the cultures they sustain. Notable aspects of the Gardens include ponds, an area for herbs, a spot where vegetation grows in a bioswale, and collections of shrubs and nut trees.