Gardens to Visit for Inspiration

Posted by Growing Solutions

The best way to improve your garden is to visit other gardens. Expand your gardening horizons with a day trip or a stop while on vacation. Great gardens open your eyes to new worlds of plants, design, art and history. Over the years we have met great friends and met many local gardeners while touring. We’ve heard stories of world travels and gardens visited from Italy to India. Many gardens include tours of houses, structures, home decor and art of great beauty.  Here are a few of my favorite spots.

Day Trips

Stone Crop Garden is by far the most interesting public garden for a day trip. An easy trip up I84, the garden is an hour or less drive time. Picnicking is allowed in some areas of the garden.

If you are travelling with companions who are not that “into” gardening, Stone Crop is a good choice for a day trip. Its landscape design includes views from its 1,100 perch in the Hudson Highlands, delicate structures, rocky walks, alpine slopes and brooks that run down to ponds and gazebos. Those guests just along for a good walk, will be just as delighted as those wanting to know the name of every plant along the way.

The garden is approximately 12 acres, you will be constantly surprised as you walk the garden paths. There are many areas of interest, a pavilion, a glass conservatory, gravel garden, alpines, pond gardens, woodland shade gardens and most interesting to the student of gardening, systematic order beds. These beds contain plants representing over 50 plant families, they are a great way to study, and learn plant names quickly.  Rare seeds are available for sale.

For those looking for an education in horticulture the garden offers intensive internships for serious students of all ages.

Some of the gardens are located on steep slopes, wear outdoor shoes. Allow for at least two hours to explore the garden.

Garden Information
81 Stonecrop Lane Cold Spring, NY 10516 Phone (845) 265-2000
Visit the website for detailed information:
Open days are Monday through Saturday, from 10am to 5pm.
Admission is $5.00 per person for a self-guided tour

Hollister House Garden a charming classic English garden set around a Connecticut house dating from the 1760’s. This garden has been featured on the Martha Stewart show, and is well worth the hour or less drive up I84 into the Litchfield Hills. The heart of the garden is the walled garden with a quiet reflecting pool. The plants in this area are a succession of blooms from spring to autumn.   The Grey Garden is a formal parterre with views of the property and hills in the distance all surround by a babbling brook. Allow at least an hour to explore. Be sure to visit the website as this garden offers many interesting special events.

Garden Information
294 Nettleton Hollow Road, Litchfield, CT
June through August, 8 – 10 AM and 3 – 6 PM
September, 10 AM – noon and 2 – 5 PM
Phone (860)868-2200
Fee $5/person.


Vacation Stops

Chanticleer Garden the most creative public garden on the east coast in my opinion, and that of many of our gardening and landscape design friends. It is of a scale that is translatable to the home gardener.   You walk away from Chanticleer talking to yourself, thinking “I can do that”. It inspires you to go home and explore your creativity in the garden. It is a harmonious, gem of a garden tucked away not far from Philadelphia.

A trip to Chanticleer is easily combined with visits to two other well known gardens, Longwood Gardens and Winterthur.  Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA,, is a huge, showy public garden with massive fountains, glass houses, and firework shows. Winterthur, 5105 Kennett Pike, Wilmington, DE 19807,, is a 60 acre naturalist woodland garden and museum house. All three gardens are within a 45 minute drive from one another.

The Ruin Garden is fascinating, surprising, a little shocking and a bit scary, not words you usually associate with gardens. The cut flower and vegetable garden is reminiscent of Giverny, Monet’s garden in France. The Tea Cup Garden and Chanticleer House garden are overflowing with tropical’s, fountains and espaliers. The Serpentine garden, is a delightful stroll. Cool off in Minder Woods and as you walk by the Pond Garden. Allow at least two hours to tour the gardens.

Garden Information
Chanticleer Garden
786 Church Road, Wayne, PA 19087
(610) 687-4163
Open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 am until 5pm. The garden is also open on Friday evenings until 8:00 p.m. from May through Labor Day.
Fee $10
Chanticleer is approximately a three hour drive from Connecticut.

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens is a 250 acre botanical garden in Boothbay Maine with costal views, sculptures, a delightful children’s garden and a garden for the five senses. Get out of the car on a long trip to Maine and walk the long gravel paths that descend from the Burpee kitchen garden and the children’s garden down to the shore. The children’s garden has a delightful fairy house village. The garden has a permanent collection of sculpture including the not to be missed, chiseled glass orb by Henry Richardson and the Three Spraying Whales by Carole Hanson – in the Children’s Garden. The garden is set atop a steep slope, visitors walk down wide paths to the water where a shuttle bus waits to drive you back up to the visitor’s center at the top of the hill.

After you have enjoyed the shopping in Freeport and the lobster rolls and whale watches in Boothbay, enjoy Maine’s nature at its best at one of the newest botanical gardens on the east coast. Allow at least two hours to visit.

Garden Information
Free docent-led tours are offered at 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. every Thursday and Saturday from June 1 until Columbus Day weekend.
Pets are welcome at the garden, with a special Dog Walking Trail, water spigots and dishes and a deeply shaded parking area.
Located just off route 1, it is a 4 ½ hour drive from Connecticut.
Boothbay is a 45 minute drive north of Freeport and three hours south of Bar Harbor.
132 Botanical Gardens Drive (or 200 Barters Island Road), Boothbay ME 04537
Open daily from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. year-round. Fee $12/person.


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