Spring brings blooming flowers around the South, from backyards to botanical gardens. Wandering these spaces is the perfect way to spend an afternoon, soaking up the sunshine and natural colors. Until we get the chance to visit in person, here are some places to daydream about from the comfort of home.
Editor’s Note: Obviously, a lot of places are closed during the Coronavirus pandemic. We are aware that the situation is continuously changing and all are encouraged to stay home. But we will continue to write stories to inspire you for when places are open again.
Compton Gardens and Conference Center, Bentonville
The Northwest Arkansas town of Bentonville is home to Compton Gardens and Conference Center, which is connected by a trail to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. The 6.5-acre garden and event center contains champion trees designated by the State of Arkansas Forestry Commission as well as sculptures and outdoor artworks.
Botanical Garden of the Ozarks, Fayetteville
The college town of Fayetteville is home to the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks, a 44-acre park that opened in 2007. It contains 6 cultivated acres, including 12 display gardens. There’s also a butterfly house where four seasons of flora and fauna exist simultaneously.
Garvan Woodland Gardens, Hot Springs
Hot Springs has plenty of nature but Garvan Woodland Gardens is one of its most stunning landmarks. Local philanthropist Verna Cook Garvan established the gardens as a place for locals to come to see natural beauty. It also protects land on Lake Ouachita for future generations to enjoy. The Anthony Chapel is a popular spot for photos.
Birmingham Botanical Gardens
Birmingham is home to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, a 67.5-acre green space near Red Mountain. There are 30 themed gardens organized by genus, by region of origin, or by types like the Japanese garden and vegetable garden.
Huntsville Botanical Garden
Huntsville may be known for its rockets, but there are also incredible natural landscapes. The Huntsville Botanical Garden Society has unique species of wildflowers and plants. The garden has themed sections including the Children’s Garden and Nature Center with its adjoining butterfly house.
Mobile Botanical Gardens
Mobile has many charming homes with their own gardens. But the Mobile Botanical Gardens feature dozens of species of plants in one convenient location. Set on 100 acres, the garden features azaleas, camellias, and a longleaf forest.
Kanapaha Botanical Gardens, Gainesville
The college town of Gainesville is home to the Kanapaha Botanical Gardens, a 68-acre space with 24 major collections. A 1.5-mile paved parkway cuts through the garden. The butterfly garden and bamboo forest are two of the popular spots to photograph.
Florida Botanical Gardens, Largo
The town of Largo, located west of Tampa, is the site of the Florida Botanical Gardens, a sprawling 182-acre garden. Themed areas include a tropical fruit garden, vegetable garden, and cactus and succulent garden.
Miami Beach Botanical Garden, Miami
Miami has plenty to see, especially museums and beaches. But until my most recent visit, I’d never heard of the Miami Beach Botanical Garden. It’s free to visit and is a short walk from Lincoln Road Mall, featuring two acres of South Florida’s native plants as well as sculptures and artwork.
Harry P. Leu Gardens, Orlando
Orlando has so much to see beyond the theme parks. Henry P. Leu Gardens in downtown Orlando spans 50-acres. Admire the dozens of species of plants and sculptures sprinkled throughout. Best of all, admission is free!
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Sarasota
Sarasota is more than just beaches. The incredible Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is like a “living museum” showcasing tropical species, including orchids and other bromeliads. There’s also an art museum with works on plant life.
The State Botanical Garden of Georgia, Athens
Athens is home to the University of Georgia, which manages The State Botanical Garden of Georgia. The over 300-acre horticultural conservatory is free to visit and has walking paths and educational programming.
Atlanta Botanical Garden, Atlanta & Gainesville
The Atlanta Botanical Garden is located inside Piedmont Park, Atlanta‘s largest green space. They have glass sculptures by Chihuly and seasonally changing exhibits. The orchid house is a favorite location. They also have a campus in Gainesville and host concerts.
Gibbs Gardens, Ball Ground
Gibbs Gardens in North Georgia is considered to be one of the finest privately owned gardens, founded by a successful landscaper. The 292 acres surround his residence, complete with daffodils and a Japanese-inspired garden.
Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens at the Historic Bamboo Farm, Savannah
The Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens at the Historic Bamboo Farm in Savannah are operated by the University of Georgia. Set on 51 acres, the gardens have pick your own berry fields and coastal species of plants.
Bernheim Arboretum and Research, Clermont
The incredible Bernheim Arboretum covers over 15,000 acres in Clermont, a town south of Louisville. It was founded in 1929 by Isaac Wolf Bernheim, a German immigrant turned brewer and whiskey distiller.
The Arboretum, State Botanical Garden of Kentucky, Lexington
Managed by the University of Kentucky in Lexington, the State Botanical Garden of Kentucky boasts over 100 acres. One of the themed gardens showcases the state’s seven regional landscapes, including native Pawpaw trees.
Jungle Gardens, Avery Island
Located an easy day trip from Lafayette, Jungle Gardens on Avery Island span over 170 acres. The botanical garden and bird sanctuary has dramatic moss-covered trees and colorful azaleas. While you’re there, be sure to tour the TABASCO Factory.
Biedenharn Museum & Garden, Monroe
The Biedenharn Museum and Gardens in Monroe is like three museums in one. There’s a house museum, Bible museum, and Coca-Cola museum, but it’s the manicured English-style gardens that are the true showstopper.
Rip Van Winkle Gardens, New Iberia
Set in the town of New Iberia is Rip Van Winkle Gardens, named for the fairytale character that slept for 20 years. The tropical-style gardens have lakefront views, a historic mansion, and a bird rookery home to over 200 species.
Mynelle Gardens Arboretum & Botanical Center, Jackson
Jackson‘s Mynelle Gardens are a laid-back place to enjoy a walk. Located outside of the city proper, it began as the flower shop of Mynelle Green in the 1920s. The family home still stands alongside the azaleas, camellias, birds, and turtles.
University of Southern Mississippi Rose Garden, Hattiesburg
The University of Southern Mississippi Rose Garden in Hattiesburg opened in 1974 with 800 separate bushes. Set on the front entrance of campus, there are 36 different varieties to admire. The garden is open to the public seven days a week and is free to visit.
The Crosby Arboretum, Picayune
The Crosby Arboretum is located in Picayune, a short drive from the Gulf Coast. The over 100 acres run by Mississippi State University include three habitats found in the region as well as the stunning Pinecote Pavilion, pictured.
Asheville Botanical Gardens, Asheville
Asheville has no shortage of stunning green spaces, especially at the Asheville Botanical Gardens. The ten-acre garden studies the plants of the Appalachian region. The North Carolina Arboretum and Biltmore Estate also have incredible gardens if you haven’t had your fill.
Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, Belmont
Set in Belmont, near Charlotte, is the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, which boasts over 300 lakefront acres. There’s a conservatory with orchids and tropical plants as well as plentiful walking trails.
North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill
The 700-acre North Carolina Botanical Garden in the college town of Chapel Hill was first planted by a professor in 1903. It grew over the years as the university added land. Around half of the species are native to the Carolinas and it’s free to visit.
Sarah P. Duke Gardens, Durham
Sarah P. Duke Gardens is set on 55-acres on the campus of Duke University in Durham. Opened in 1934 in honor of the wife of benefactor Benjamin N. Duke, the gardens include native species like the Venus flytrap and an Asian arboretum.
Airlie Gardens, Wilmington
Wilmington‘s Airlie Gardens sit on 67 acres inland and were originally surrounding a private home. The path winds with whimsical sculptures and artwork. It’s also been used as a filming location for television shows and movies.
Hopeland Gardens, Aiken
Aiken‘s Hopeland Gardens is a 14-acre green space in the heart of the city. Paved paths wind through the shade of 100-year-old oak trees. It surrounds the Thoroughbred Museum, which tells the history of Aiken’s racing legacy.
South Carolina Botanical Garden, Clemson
The South Carolina Botanical Garden in Clemson boasts one of the largest collections of nature-based sculptures in the United States. It has nearly 300 acres of trails, gardens, a historic home, and two museums.
Riverbanks Botanical Garden, Columbia
Columbia‘s Riverbanks Botanical Garden is a massive space featuring a zoo, ziplining courses, and a botanical garden. It has 70 acres and over 4,200 species of native and exotic plants. The Walled Garden is their most popular themed garden.
Brookgreen Gardens, Murrells Inlet
Brookgreen Gardens in the Grand Strand town of Murrells Inlet started as a private garden. It has become one of the area’s most beloved attractions, open for the last 85 years. Brookgreen incorporates sculpture into open spaces and also has a wildlife section and seasonal events.
Knoxville Botanical Gardens and Arboretum, Knoxville
Memphis Botanic Garden, Memphis
Go beyond Beale Street to experience the many green spaces of Memphis. The Memphis Botanic Garden is a nearly 100-acre garden in Audubon Park established in 1947. It has features like a Japanese Garden, an azalea trail, and daffodil hill.
Cheekwood Estate & Gardens, Nashville
Nashville‘s Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art is both a 55-acre botanical garden and art museum, showcasing exhibits like Chihuly glass amongst the plant life. There’s also the Georgian-style mansion that was the home of the namesake Cheek family.
Norfolk Botanical Garden, Norfolk
The Norfolk Botanical Garden on the Virginia coast was developed in 1938. The 75 acres were cleared as a part of a Works Progress Administration project. It has since expanded to be the state’s largest and features a colonial garden and a Japanese garden.
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Richmond
Richmond‘s Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is set on 50 acres in the capital city and has been named one of the best gardens in America. It has an incredible domed conservatory as well as a Children’s Garden and Rose Garden.
National Arboretum, Washington DC
Washington DC‘s National Arboretum is located on over 400 acres. It was established in 1927 and is located around two miles from the Capitol. The USDA conducts research at the facility but it’s also popular for its walking trails.
United States Botanic Garden, Washington DC
The United States Botanic Garden, also in Washington DC, is closer to the city and is the oldest continually operating botanic garden in the United States. It has a large conservatory and some plants date back to an 1800s expedition for plant research.