America’s Best Botanical Gardens, Part 2: The South and Northeast

In the second part of our series highlighting some of the best botanical gardens from across North America, we look at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, the Dallas Arboretum, Mytoi Gardens, and the Brooklyn Botanical Garden.

You can see more images by viewing our gallery. You can also check out our first installment, America’s Best Botanical Gardens, Part 1: The West

The South

Wikimedia Commons
Atlanta Botanical Garden (Georgia)

Most gardens ask visitors not to step in flowerbeds. In the Atlanta Botanical Garden, they warn you. This is because it has one of the largest carnivorous plant collections around, making it a place where guests with poor manners learn the hard way.

In reality, these plants are no threat to anything larger than a bug (or the occasional mouse or frog), but they are very cool. They capture prey in a variety of ways- from snapping shut to pitfall traps- and fascinate visitors of all ages.

There are of course other attractions, like the Rose, Rock, and Southern Seasons gardens. The Fuqua Orchid Center houses lots of the flowers, and the Center for Conservation and Education does just that. For a special treat, visit after dark.

Courtesy Fairchild Botanical Gardens
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden (Florida)

Florida is home to the greatest tropical plant center in mainland U.S.- the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden (FTBG). Named for David Fairchild, who traveled every habitable continent studying plants, it is a global conservation leader.

FTBG’s 83 acres harbor over 4,000 plant species. Thematic areas include the National Palm Collection (the world’s greatest living collection of palms and cycads), Simons Rainforest, and Whitman Tropical Fruit Pavilion. Events like the Chocolate, Orchid and International Mango festivals add to the appeal.

FTBG’s conservation efforts extend beyond its grounds. It oversees research, development and renovation projects in over 20 countries. More than 150 classes are taught here, including graduate courses for tomorrow’s conservationists.

Courtesy of the Dallas Arboretum
Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden (Texas)

Plants have unique challenges in North Texas – searing summer heat; severe winter temperature drops; drought possibility all year. The Dallas Arboretum (DA) meets this climatic challenge, maintaining a model in regional gardening excellence.

The garden’s relative youth (founded 1982) has been key in its success. Planners used modern information to select flora that endure and thrive in the harsh conditions. Today, DA is a leader in climate-specific plant knowledge and operates trial gardens to provide private plant companies info.

In spring, DA puts on two signature events. In “Dallas Blooms,” 500,000 bulbs create the South’s largest floral display. In Artscape, artists show photos, jewelry, woodwork, and more.

The Northeast

Photo by T. Kates / Courtesy of The Trustees of Reservations
Mytoi Gardens (Massachusetts)

Located in Martha’s Vineyard, one of the most scenic locales in the U.S., the Mytoi Gardens are a sight to behold. Here, the pristine beauty of the Massachusetts coastal island seems to be captured and amplified with a Japanese twist.

Guests enjoy tranquility and self-reflection during their visit to Mytoi, which includes a camellia dell, stone garden, and pine grove. All of these center around the signature feature: a reflection pond and island accessible by elevated bridge.

Mytoi is free to the public, making it an easily accessible and affordable item on any Martha’s Vineyard travel itinerary. A hurricane destroyed much of it in 1991, and the Trustees of Reservations charitable organization has restored and maintained it for everyone since.

(Wikimedia Commons)
Brooklyn Botanical Garden (New York)

This 52-acre “living museum,” located smack dab in the middle of Brooklyn, makes visitors rethink what an “urban jungle” is.

Over 700,000 come annually to see the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, which celebrates its centennial in 2010 and is home to 11,000 plant species and several specialty areas. The cherry orchard is a famed destination during Hanami, the Japanese holiday for cherry-blossom season. An enchanting landscape takes center stage during this event- hundreds of  cherry trees bloom overhead and millions of fallen petals carpet the path below- while Japanese culture is shared with all. Other thematic areas include a Rose Garden, Conservatory, and Fragrance Garden. Year round art shows, tours and plant sales, and programs like the Chili Pepper Fiesta and Street Tree Stewardship Initiative, make this botanical garden world-class.