Ten top spots to see a spectrum of America's plant life.
Hundreds of botanical gardens dot the United States, showcasing a profusion of plant life from desert cactus to tropical orchids. Here are 10 of the finest.
The nation’s first botanical garden, now a 45-acre National Historic Landmark, was established in 1728 after Quaker farmer and naturalist John Bartram purchased land along the Schuylkill River.
IF YOU GO: Walk the mile-long trail to the riverfront for a view of the Philadelphia skyline.
Denver Botanic Gardens
The 24-acre garden showcases alpine and high plains plants such as bristle- cone pine, buffalo grass, prairie wild- flowers and other species native to the West and Rocky Mountain region.
IF YOU GO: Take the kids to see the animals and plants that live together on Marmot Mountain in the Mordecai Children’s Garden.
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
Coral Gables, Fla.
Coconut palms and flowering orchids are among the attractions at one of the world’s leading botanical gardens dedicated to conserving plants from the Earth’s tropical regions. Home to the American Orchid Society, the 83-acre garden features a bamboo collection, butterfly garden, palm glade and rainforest.
IF YOU GO: Check out the African baobab tree planted during the garden’s 1938 dedication ceremony.
Kennett Square, Pa.
Longwood began as an 18th-century farm, evolved into a public park and by 1850 boasted one of the finest collections of trees in the nation. Today, it features both indoor and outdoor gardens.
IF YOU GO: Tour the house once inhabited by industrialist Pierre S. du Pont, who purchased the estate in 1906.
Huntington Botanical Garden
San Marino, Calif.
Railroad magnate Henry Huntington developed the gardens, today a show- place for more than 14,000 varieties of rare and exotic plants, after he purchased the San Marino Ranch in 1903.
IF YOU GO: Tour the Japanese Garden and avocado trees, believed to be the last surviving members of California’s first commercial avocado grove.
International Peace Garden
Straddling the U.S.-Canadian border at a point along the world’s longest unfortified political boundary, the garden serves as a symbol of the lasting friendship between the two nations.
IF YOU GO: Check the time on the 18-foot floral clock, adorned with thousands of blossoms and plants, and salute floral representations of the U.S. and Canadian flags.
Desert Botanical Garden
The only botanical garden focusing on desert flora and fauna was founded in 1939 by environmentalist Gertrude Divine Webster and showcases 50,000 plants—including agave, aloe and cactus—native to the world’s arid lands.
IF YOU GO: Pose for a photo in front of a saguaro cactus, the armed and towering icon of the Sonoran Desert.
Missouri Botanical Garden
Covering 79 acres, this National Historic Landmark features dozens of flower, specialty and international gardens and more than 4,800 trees, including remnants or progeny of bald cypress and Osage orange planted by founder Henry Shaw.
IF YOU GO: Explore the 1882 Linnean House, the oldest continuously operating public greenhouse west of the Mississippi River.
National Tropical Botanical Garden
Hawaii and Florida
Headquartered in Kalaheo, Hawaii, the open-air garden encompasses nearly 2,000 acres at four locations on the islands of Kauai, Maui and Hawaii, and one in Coconut Grove, Fla. View thousands of tropical species from around the world, including the largest collection of native Hawaiian plants and breadfruit cultivars.
IF YOU GO: Book guided or self- guided tours at ntbg.org/tours.php.
U.S. Botanic Garden
Established in 1820, the garden opened to the public 30 years later and today serves as a rescue center for rare and endangered plants, some confiscated at the U.S. border.
IF YOU GO: Stroll though the National Garden and Bartholdi Park, featuring a historical water fountain and a two-acre demonstration garden
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