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The jewel of Richmond’s historic 50-acre Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardenis the classical domed Conservatory, the only one of its kind in the mid-Atlantic United States. The genesis of the property can be found in Major Ginter’s military experience in Australia, where the attractively landscaped suburbs of Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne inspired him to work towards the same for his home.
About 100 years ago, William Bourn and his wife Agnes arrived at a name for their 16-acre garden by combining the first two letters from key words in William’s credo: “Fight for a just cause; Love your fellow man; Live a good life.” Set in a 654-acre wooded estate near the town of Woodside, hedges and brick walls provide contrast for a profusion of hardy shrubs and enclose a series of formal gardens behind the stately house, making it an outstanding example of the late 19th-century gardening style that reintroduced Italian formality. Filoli has served as the setting for several Hollywood films, such as Warren Beatty's Heaven Can Wait, and the 1980s TV series Dynasty.
St Louis’s Victorian-era Missouri Botanical Garden is known locally as Shaw’s Garden after founding botanist and philanthropist Henry Shaw. Its show stopper is a geodesic dome called the Climatron (pictured). Covering half an acre, the conservatory is home to a rainforest-themed collection of 1,400 species of plants, such as banana, cacao, coffee and many wild-collected orchids, as well as a river aquarium with exotic fish. Pools and waterfalls complete the feel of a lush tropical rainforest, and glass sculptures by Dale Chihuly float in the lily ponds leading to the Climatron.
The five gardens set across a modest 5.5 acres in the Portland Japanese Garden make up a place of tranquillity and contemplation in the city’s west hills. Influenced by Shinto, Buddhist and Taoist philosophies, designers make use of the three essential elements in traditional Japanese gardens: stone, the “bones” of the landscape; water, the life-giving force; and plants, the tapestry of the four seasons. The pond below Heavenly Falls (pictured) is filled with koi that help bring the landscape to life.
The Rosengarten Estate marks both its centenary and its 20th year as a public garden in 2013. Pharmaceutical business owners Adolph and Christine Rosengarten chose land 30 minutes northwest of Philadelphia as their country retreat to escape the heat of the city. As the private estate was converted to a 35-acre public garden, designers transformed the tennis court into a five-bed garden – each with a distinct flower arrangement – while the large vegetable garden became the source for cut flowers. Head to the Teacup Garden (pictured) where black stemmed bananas are draped in clematis vines.
About 25km south of Puerto Vallarta, the Vallarta Botanical Gardens is perched on a hillside at the edge of a tropical wilderness. Head past the orchid and vanilla conservatory to the Hacienda de Oro Visitor Center (pictured) for excellent views of the surrounding mountains, forests and rivers. The desert and rainforest gardens are dedicated to native habitat and biodiversity, as well as colourful birds such as squirrel cuckoos, trogons and military macaws.
The Butchart Gardens – Canada At the turn of the last century, Jenny Butchart set about beautifying the bleak pits her husband’s limestone mining company had left on their Vancouver Island property in British Columbia. Still owned by the same family, most of the 55 acre property is open to the public, including Butchart’s first creation, the Sunken Garden (pictured), as well as those that followed – the Japanese Garden, the Italian Garden and the impressive 300-species rose garden. Visit on a summer Saturday evening for a creative fireworks display set to the music of show tunes.
The Montréal Botanical Garden is a quiet 75-hectare oasis at the heart of Quebec’s largest city. With more than 22,000 plant species and cultivars, an insectarium, biodome, planetarium and themed greenhouses and gardens, like the popular Chinese Garden (pictured), a visit to the Montreal Botanical Garden lives up to its motto: “a trip around the world”. Of course, visitors can also just stroll the grounds and enjoy the stellar views of gardens, ponds and trees.
Created in 1976 by civic-minded Atlantans, the Atlanta Botanical Gardens welcomed just 50,000 visitors in its seventh year. But by 2004, annual visitation had increased to almost half a million, thanks to popular holiday light shows such as Musical Orbs (pictured), hands-on garden and art classes, a plant help hotline and the Orchid Display House, with its more than 2,000 spectacular flowers. From May to September 2013, see Imaginary Worlds, an exhibition of 19 living sculptures made of hundreds of thousands of plants.
The botanical gardens at the Springs Preserve, located just three miles north of the Las Vegas Strip, light up each December like the city itself when the rose trellis (pictured) and other gardens are decorated for the annual Holiday Spectacular with more than half a million sustainable LED lights. The 110-acre grounds are home to more than 1,200 species of native and desert-adapted plants in several themed areas such as Cactus Alley and the Palm Garden. More than just a garden, Springs Preserve also has hiking trails, interactive science and nature exhibits and indoor galleries dedicated to art and travelling exhibitions.