12 Must See Botanical Gardens in the U.S.

MPC, being in the business of providing signage for a wide range of industries, is continually focused on aesthetics. We have a deep appreciation for what’s beautiful and images that inspire visual pleasure.

We especially enjoy the form and function of botanical gardens, which provide the public with some of the most awe-inspiring natural art found in the world. Below, you'll find a dozen of what we believe are the most unbelievably exceptional botanical gardens in the United States and perhaps the world.

#12 - Chanticleer - Wayne, Pennsylvania

  • Most of the garden has been developed since 1990
  • Seven in-house horticulturalists design, plant, and maintain
  • Features Pond Garden, Asian Woods, and Gravel Garden
  • Consists of 47 acres (35 acres open to the public)
  • The main path is just short of a mile

It's like artists have taken over the garden, from landscapes down to the shape of the ornate fountains. The entire site is divided in sections, from "Asian Woods" that display native flowers of China, Korea, and Japan, to the Gravel Garden, an homage to the Mediterranean landscape. Additionally, programs, classes, and conferences invite experts and amateurs alike to Wayne, Pennsylvania.

#11 - Chicago Botanic Garden - Glencoe, Illinois

  • Open for more than 40 years
  • Features 26 gardens and 4 natural areas
  • 385 acres with 6 miles of shoreline
  • Library contains over 100,000 volumes including rare botanical books
  • Has over 50,000 members

The botanical garden has 2.5 million plants, nearly 10,000 varieties, over 200 families of plants, 25,000 types of aquatic plants, and 81 acres of waterways. Bird watchers flock to the garden as well; 255 species have been sighted to date. Its 50,000 members make it the botanical garden with the largest count in the United States. With a keen focus on education and gardening awareness, the garden hosts 433 adult classes and programs for over 22,000 schoolchildren.

#10 - Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden - Richmond, Virginia

  • 50 acres of gardens
  • On-site dining and shopping
  • Domed conservatory
  • Over 12 themed gardens
  • Hosts weddings and business meetings

The expansive, 50-acre garden is divided in sections, each with a theme, including Rose, Children's, Asian Valley, and Cherry Tree Walk tributes. A whimsical and inviting place, one can go alone, stroll with a lover, learn with family members, or use the site as a beautiful backdrop for a business meeting. Ongoing classes and lectures are assigned to each season, where one can receive a Garden Education Certificate. The well-engineered gardens combined with Virginia weather ensures there’s something in bloom throughout the year.

#9 - Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden - Coral Gables, Florida

  • 16,500 square-foot conservatory displaying 450 species of tropical plants
  • Over 40 species of on-site butterflies
  • Fruit Pavilion with fruits native to Borneo, Indonesia, Thailand, etc.
  • Multiple waterfalls and streams
  • 740 species of tropical trees, shrubs, and vines

Fairchild's deep emphasis on research and education, in addition to beauty, makes it renowned throughout the world. Dr. David Fairchild, author of The World Was My Garden, wanted the Garden to introduce the world's charm as well as inspire further curiosity and appreciation of nature. Here, horticulture is revered as an art, and collections and exhibits ensure attendants learn about developing, maintaining, and improving upon plant life.

#8 - Bok Tower Gardens - Lake Wales, Florida

  • 126 species of birds
  • Endangered plant garden
  • 30 different species of air plants
  • Features a 1930s Mediterranean-style mansion
  • Designed by famous landscape artist, Frederick Law Olmstead Jr.

The Garden features several sites, replete with an incredible sunset view atop an elevation of 298 feet, one of the highest points within peninsular Florida. The Endangered Plant Garden hosts 30 species from north and central Florida, and with various lifecycle stages, ensures there is something different to experience each season. At the heart of the 7.5 acres rests the Pinewood Estate, a 20-room mansion with three porches that capture the sweeping landscape.

#7 - Sarah P. Duke Gardens - Durham, North Carolina

  • 300,000 annual visitors
  • 55 acres of specialized gardens
  • Receives half of operating budget from Duke University
  • Free admission and open each day of the year
  • 900 species of native and regional plants

Being adjacent to the Duke University campus, the Gardens balances its beauty with rotating study and educational focus. The site hosts several distinct areas including the Virtue Peach Pond, Page-Rollins White Garden, and Angle Amphitheater. Most goers take a tour through the entire estate, which also includes the Woodland Garden, Charlotte Brody Discovery Garden, East Meets West Garden, and the Asiatic Arboretum.

#6 - Marie Selby Botanical Gardens - Sarasota, Florida

  • Rainforest-like conservatory
  • 130,000 annual visitors
  • Expands over 15 acres with 12 buildings and 7 greenhouses
  • Renowned place to study epiphytes (plants that live in tree canopy)
  • Open each day of the year except for one

The Goldstein Children's Rainforest Garden is one of the only outdoor, elevated rainforest displays in the world, so visitors get a chance to experience what it’s like to live in a tree canopy. Some varieties of grass can grow as much as 40 inches per day during a two-month growth period in the Bamboo Garden. The site's Banyan Groves serve as a great place for family gatherings or business meetings. And, visitors continue to rave about the Koi Pond, home to colorful and hungry Koi that swim amid oak-lined portions of the Garden.

#5 - Atlanta Botanical Garden - Atlanta, Georgia

  • 30 acres
  • Hosts a 16,000 square-foot conservatory
  • Features 2 woodland areas (5 and 10 acres)
  • A $55 million Canopy Walk opened in 2010
  • Visitor center has roof with 50% covered by living plants

Since its inception 35 years ago, the Botanical Garden has gone through more than 50 updates, upgrades, and new iterations. Day hours are not the only time to visit; over one-million LED lights adorn the Garden during the holiday season. A place to behold beauty and advance education, weekly classes include Yoga in the Garden and Growing Edibles. One of its most-respected features, the Fuqua Orchid Center, hosts a rare assortment of high-elevation orchids, unparalleled in the Southeast. Evening visits from May to October enable guest to enjoy cocktails and incredible views.

#4 - Denver Botanic Gardens - Denver, Colorado

  • 23 acres
  • Contains a conservatory and sunken amphitheater
  • Hosts summer concerts
  • Largest collection of plants from cold temperatures from around the world
  • 7 diverse gardens feature plants from Colorado and surrounding states

Actually, the Denver Botanic Gardens consists of three respective locations. The main location resides in east-central Denver supplemented by sites in Chatfield and Mt. Goliath, an alpine wildflower garden replete with hiking trails. On-site classes include Rocky Mountain Gardening as well as those teaching botanical illustration, welcome to both children and adults. In addition to visual beauty, the sites promote holistic wellness, teaching about health, cooking, exercise, and gardening.

#3 - Missouri Botanical Garden - St. Louis, Missouri

  • 79 acres
  • Includes 14-acre Japanese Garden
  • Hosts original 1850 home estate
  • Features one of the world's largest displays of endangered orchids
  • Considered a National Historic Landmark

More than 51,000 plants comprise the Botanical Garden's collection. The Geodesic Dome Conservatory has no interior support or columns from the floor to the ceiling. Rising 70 feet from the center and 1.3 million cubic feet in totality, the half-acre space is designed to emulate a tropical rain forest, with 2,800 plants and 1,400 different tropical species. The site's 23 residential-scale gardens hosts an 8,000 square-foot pavilion with a library, doctor clinic, and indoor displays. Almost treeless in 1859, the Garden has almost 9,000 today consisting of 624 different species.

#2 - Longwood Gardens - Kennett Square, Pennsylvania

  • Over 1,075 acres of land
  • 20 outdoor and 20 indoor gardens
  • 4.5 acres of heated greenhouses
  • Conservatory, considered one of the best in the world, has 5,500 types of plants
  • Indoor gardens are a half-mile in length

By 1850, the land was considered to host the finest collection of trees in the world. The site was purchased in 1906 to save the arboretum from being sold for lumber. The astonishing conservatory hosts a pipe organ and an intricate system of fountains. Home to 11,000 different plants, trees, and fountains Longwood is revered as a work of art in itself. Not to omit the importance of horticultural education, Longwood has an extensive two-year, tuition-free program, a graduate program, and an assortment of internships. More than 800 events per year include flower shows, demonstrations, adult courses, children’s programs, recitals, and musical theatre. The Gardens attract nearly 1 million visitors each year with respective areas for dining and shopping.

#1 - Desert Botanical Garden - Phoenix, Arizona

  • Consists of 140 acres
  • Over 50,000 displays of outdoor plant life
  • Hosts over 100 staff and 800 volunteers who serve its 650,000 yearly visitors
  • Approximately 50 acres under cultivation
  • Has over 130 species considered endangered

The DBG was founded in 1937 and established two years later. Today, the site has more than 21,000 plants, over 4,000 taxa, and more than 120 rare species. The extensive collection of agave and cacti make it one of the most unique botanical gardens in the world. Especially focused on plants that adapt to desert conditions, several other ecosystems are represented here, including the mesquite bosque, semidesert grassland, and upland chaparral. The entire site and associated system is dependent on the interest of outsiders; early supporters and amateur botanists donated home plant collections to add to the diversity and allure of the Desert Botanical Garden.

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