Our American Gardens Bucket List


This summer, we're making time between beach getaways and poolside barbecues to visit some of America's best gardens. From a tropical paradise to a century-old pleasure garden in our own backyard, these remarkable landscapes are enlivening our summer travels. It was tough to narrow down our picks, but here are six gardens we can't miss this season.

1. Chanticleer | Wayne, PA: Our hometown favorite, century-old pleasure garden Chanticleer was a private residence until 1990, when the property opened for the public to explore and enjoy. The garden is divided into distinct zones, each one designed and cared for by a dedicated and creative horticulturalist. Chanticleer's gardeners come from diverse and often artistic backgrounds-- former jewelers and furniture-makers have helped to shape the clever embellishments that define the landscape. Their hand-crafted bannisters, distinctive bridges, and even leaf-shaped drinking fountains can be found tucked among the plants, offering surprises at every turn. 

2. Magnolia Plantation & Gardens | Charleston, SC: Founded in 1676 by Thomas Drayton, Magnolia Plantation has a remarkable history; it has been owned by members of the Drayton family for more than 300 years, and open to the public since 1870. Some sections of the garden are over 325 years old, and it is the last example of a "Romantic Garden" in the United States. Inspired by the nineteenth century Romantic Movement, this style of garden design prioritizes untamed beauty and emotion, with the goal of transporting the viewer away from everyday life. With year-round blooms, iconic Live Oaks, and striking architecture at every turn, Magnolia offers a peaceful retreat for plant lovers

3l. Desert Botanical Garden | Phoenix, AZ: Founded in 1937, the Desert Botanical Garden is a unique showcase of desert habitats, animals and plants, both native varieties from Arizona's Sonoran Desert and specimens from deserts around the world. With over 50,000 plants across 140 acres, the garden works to protect and preserve the natural beauty of the desert. Along with a notable collection of agave plants, sections of the garden represent the desert regions of Australia, Baja California, and South America.

3r. Limahuli Garden & Preserve | Kaua'i, HI: Nestled in a verdant, tropical valley on the north shore of Kaua'i, Limahuli Garden and Preserve is bordered by Makana Mountain and the Pacific Ocean. 'Limahuli' is the Hawaiian word for "turning hands," honoring ancient Hawaiians who cultivated taro in terraces on the island. Early crops and native plants are the center of the garden's collection, along with the Limahuli Preserve, where conservationists study this remarkable environment.

4l. Missouri Botanical Garden | St. Louis, MO: In continuous operation for 154 years, the Missouri Botanical Garden is a National Historic Landmark. A 79-acre oasis in St. Louis, it includes a Japanese strolling garden, a remarkable collection of rare and endangered orchids, and the historic estate of founder Henry Shaw. Summer visitors can enjoy open-air music every Wednesday evening as part of the garden's ongoing Whitaker Music Festival.

4r. United States Botanic Garden | Washington, D.C.: Established by Congress in 1820, the U.S. Botanic Garden is one of the oldest in North America. Its massive conservatory offers an abundance of rotating exhibits and permanent collections to explore, from medicinal plants and orchids to tropical oases and a "primeval" garden of ancient plant groups. This summer, the Botanic Garden celebrates the centenary of the National Park Service with an exhibit on Flora of the National Parks. 

Photo Credits: Chanticleer; Magnolia Plantation; Desert Botanical Garden; Limahuli; Missouri Botanical Garden; US Botanic Garden

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