Looking to tiptoe through the tulips? Stop and smell the roses? Well, no matter how fabulous your own garden is, visiting a local public garden is a great way to spend the day with the family or simply enjoy a quiet day by yourself, enjoying nature’s glory. Many public gardens also offer educational seminars and classes so that you can learn more about plants and flowers and perhaps take that knowledge and put it to work in your own garden back home. Here are a few of our favorite public gardens in Maryland and Southern Pennsylvania. Be sure to call ahead to verify times open.
A quarter-mile boardwalk trail meanders through a 100-foot canopy of trees that can
reach an age of over 1,000 years in this 100-acre nature sanctuary.
The Battle Creek cypress stand is at the northernmost natural range of bald cypress in the United States.
This 50-acre garden is a blend of formal and informal spaces, permanent displays and
changing displays of innovative plants and design ideas. The gardens are equally inviting to
casual visitors and dedicated gardeners seeking inspiration and ideas. Garde
spaces include two conservatories; formal, aquatic, azalea, rose and fragrance gardens;
plus a Japanese-style landscape garden, known as Gude Garden.
This treasure in the city sprawls over 207 acres with more than two miles of woodland
trails through mature native forest. Display gardens include a Formal Garden,
several woodland and shady gardens, an All-American Selections display garden
and many others. The Cylburn Mansion, circa 1888, houses a nature
museum, a bird museum and horticultural library.
The former residence of Ambassador John Work Garrett and his wife,
Alice Warder Garrett, Evergreen is a 48-room historic house museum located on
26 acres on North Charles Street in Baltimore. The gardens include manicured lawns,
flower gardens, meadows and woods with several unique outbuildings, statuary and walkways.
The Maryland-in-Miniature theme of this garden makes it unique. Displays
include a Western Maryland forest, a streamside environment and an Eastern Shore
peninsula. Plus, a barrier-free garden contains ponds, several raised planters and cultivated plantings. Security required.
Ladew Topiary Gardens Monkton, Harford County 410-557-9466, www.ladewgardens.com Hours: Open daily mid-April-October 31, 10am-4pm
This is considered to be the most outstanding topiary garden in America, featuring
15 thematic flower garden “rooms” on 22 acres, nestled in Maryland horse country.
The Nature Walk is a 1.5-mile trail through woods and fields with a boardwalk
through wetland forest and marsh. The Manor House, circa 1747, is also open for tours.
A café with pleasant outdoor seating and a gift shop round make this a wonderful destination!
London Town House and Gardens Edgewater, Anne Arundel County 410-222-1919, www.historiclondontown.com Hours: Mon-Fri, 9am-4pm; Sat, 10am-4pm; Sun, noon-4pm
A 23-acre park with eight acres of gardens designed to thrive in a wooded tidewater setting,
overlooking the South River. These “gardens within gardens” feature native
and exotic woody plants and perennials suited to the Chesapeake Bay.
The 18th century kitchen garden and medicinal garden take you back in time.
Mount Harmon Plantation House & Gardens Earleville, Cecil County 410-275-8819, www.mountharmon.org Hours: May-October, Thurs-Sun, 10am-3pm
The manor house is a three-story Georgian brick structure built about 1730.
It stands on a knoll virtually surrounded by Back Creek and McGill Creek,
branches off the Sassafras River. There are boxwood gardens, nature trails
and, along the water, the early tobacco shipping barn.
Mt. Washington Arboretum Mt. Washington, Baltimore City 410-215-9527, www.miniarboretum.org Hours: Open daily dawn to dusk
Over 100 types of trees, shrubs and wild flowers – most of which are native to Maryland
– are on display in this small arboretum that was formerly a one-acre overgrown
site until it was renovated by a group of community volunteers. Highlights include
bald cypress, pine oak, red maple trees and dawn redwoods.
Two years of construction and renovation are evident with the new look
of the conservatory and gardens located inside of Druid Hill Park. Year-round displays
of plant material are situated in five distinct areas of the facility: the
1888 Palm House, the Orchid Room, Mediterranean House, Tropical House
and Desert House. Thirty-five flowerbeds and seasonal
flower displays make this a green jewel in Baltimore City.
Built in 1756, the large sandstone house is the oldest building in
the city of Frederick and among the best examples of early German-Colonial
architecture in the country surrounded by heirloom gardens.
Over 80,000 tulips highlight this seven-acre garden during peak
blooming season, mid-April to late May. Other plants featured include azaleas,
English boxwoods, flowering cherries, dogwoods, magnolias and
wisteria. Located at Greenway Street and Stratford Road.
This incredible garden features a walled and terraced garden that is a
re-creation of an 18th century garden. Four informal parterres are
planted with historically accurate flowers, shrubs and trees.
PENNSYLVANIA PUBLIC GARDENS
Brandywine Conservancy’s Wildflower and Native Plant Gardens at the Brandywine River Museum Chadds Ford, Delaware County 610-388-2700, www.brandywinemuseum.org Hours: Open daily 9:30am-4:30pm
Designed by horticulturist F.M. Mooberry and begun in 1974, these gardens
feature indigenous and naturalized plants of the greater Brandywine region
displayed in natural settings. Wildflowers, trees and shrubs dot the landscape,
and plants are selected to provide a succession of bloom from
early spring through the first killing frost. The gardens are
well known for placing each plant in its natural setting.
Hershey Gardens Hershey, Dauphin County 717-534-3492, www.hersheygardens.org Hours: April 15-October 31 9am-5pm
Twenty-three acres of seasonal displays, theme gardens and the popular
outdoor Butterfly House make this a popular garden destination for
the whole family. Hershey Gardens also features a new Children’s Garden
with 30 theme gardens geared specifically toward children.
Longwood Gardens Kennett Square, Chester County 610-388-1000, www.longwoodgardens.org Hours: Open daily 9am-5pm; Winter hours vary
Self-dubbed as the world’s premier horticultural display garden, Longwood Gardens
was created by industrialist Pierre S. du Pont and offers 1,050 acres
of gardens, woodlands, and meadows. Spectacular fountains, educational
programs and an array of special events throughout the year are some
of the reasons why Longwood attracts more than 900,000 visitors annually.