Springtime in England means blossom on our trees and flowers in our gardens; it also turns our minds to holidays and for the gardeners among us, perhaps the need for inspiration from gardens around the world. Here are some ideas of gardens to visit in North America.
The Butchart Gardens in Victoria BC are for me one of the most spectacular in scale and imagination. They were created over 100 years ago from a limestone quarry dug to satisfy San Fancisco’s demand for Portland cement. The quarry exhausted, the owner’s wife, Jenny Butchart, brought in fertile soil from the surrounding farmland and so began one of the world’s most visited and spectacular gardens. Over a million visitors each year can still see the chimney of the original kiln but of more interest are the swathes of bedding plants, cherry trees, over 300,000 bulbs, glorious camelias and rhododendrons as well as great spires of delphiniums bordering the Rose Garden.
One of the many good things about visiting gardens is that they also have beautiful houses that can be explored too. The Newport Mansions in Rhode Island are an excellent example of this. Fabulous 70 bedroom houses built by the wealthy New York families such as Vanderbilt also have extraordinary gardens; one of the best examples is The Breakers which has a beautiful par terre garden. Take a garden tour around New England and you will discover the Berkshire Botanical Garden which has over 3,000 species and is one of America’ oldest gardens and Mount Estate & Gardens which is an elegant home with gardens designed by the renowned American writer, Edith Wharton. The 49-acre property features one of the most significant formal gardens in New England, including a French flower garden, an Italian walled garden and a lime walk lined with pleached linden trees.
The Reford Garden on the Gaspe Peninsula in Quebec is another garden created with love and passion by one woman, in this case Elsie Reford and still cared for by her son. Known for many innovations including the blue stick garden, go to see the amazing Himalayan blue poppy for which the gardens are justly famous and which flower during June and July, the gentian walk and and admire over 3,000 varieties which somehow grow in this northern garden which spends months of the year under snow.
From the damp and cold of Quebec, travel to California to see the desert garden of Ruth Bancroft. It has a hundreds of varieties of succulents from dry areas around the world; you will be amazed by the in fantastic colours and shapes. Whilst in the State, you must visit the Hearst Castle Garden: a totally different experience inspired by the great houses and gardens of Spain and Portugal.
I hope this has given you some inspiration to visit some of these amazing gardens; do let me know if you have any questions.
Sandra Potter is Founder of Frontier Travel.
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