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Featured Gardens

Who should visit a public garden.

You should! Public gardens are for everyone. They are great places to learn, play, spend some quiet and reflective time, exercise and explore with friends and family.

Many public gardens participate in the Museums for All program which enables, those receiving food assistance (SNAP benefits) to gain free or reduced admission. Visit the Museum for All website to find a participating garden near you!

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What Public Gardens are Near Me?

Visit the Public Gardens Map on the American Public Gardens Association website to find public gardens near you!

three girls running along a path in Denver Botanic Gardens during the spring

Tips for Having a Great Public Garden Adventure

Head to your local public gardens for a great outdoor adventure. Take our printable journals to guide your adventures.  Public gardens are open during all the seasons — make sure you wear the right clothes, like rain boots in the spring or a warm coat in the winter. You can even take a snack, but make sure you throw away your garbage!

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Garden Tours & Travel Destinations

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United States Self-Guided Day Trips

Explore some of Los Angeles' best gardens. Walk peaceful pathways, see elegant and inspired collections, and learn more about local plants.

Famous for its miles of sandy beaches and pristine weather, San Diego also boasts amazing gardens. Discover 3 of local expert Debra Lee Baldwin's favorites.

Don't let the desert climate fool you. Explore three of the best gardens in the greater Phoenix area, and you just might be surprised at the array of beautiful plants that grow here.

Discover three unique gardens all located within Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. The park offers visitors a picturesque setting with lakes, picnic spots, and trails.

If you're seeking a walk through mossy woods, Asian gardens or a botanical extravaganza to inspire you, you will find many ideas on this adventure.

Get off the well-trodden path to explore some hidden treasures. Walk woodland trails, see birds and wildlife, and get landscaping ideas for your own garden.

Known for its dramatic beauty and mild climate, Tucson is also home to 3 amazing gardens, where you'll find inspiration and practical advice for your own garden.

Utah is filled with fascinating destinations. Explore three of the best gardens in the area, where you'll not only find plant collections, but education and beauty.

Local garden expert Ryan McEnaney has planned the perfect day out for garden lovers, with 3 lavish Minnesota gardens all within the greater St. Paul area.

Boasting interesting architecture and art, Chicago is also home to beautiful gardens. Our local expert shares 3 favorites that any garden lover will enjoy.

Local landscape designer Diana Kirby suggests a fun-packed day exploring three of her favorites, all unique and exciting in their own way.

See plants from around the world, get inspiration for your own water-wise garden, and more at three fantastic gardens on this local day trip in the Denver area.

Visit these Proven Winners® Signature Gardens before or after a trip to Mackinac Island, or any other Michigan destination.

This day trip may take more than a day, but these three must-see gardens are well worth the time. See what garden is described as "a garden lovers dream."

Designated as a National Heritage Area, this region offers peaceful villages, spectacular views, and a wide range of garden experiences on this day trip.

Local landscape designer Jerry Fritz had no hesitation in recommending these three outstanding gardens for an unforgettable day trip in America's Garden Capital.

Step away from the museums and memorials and enjoy a day exploring delightful gardens, as recommended by local landscape designer Barbara Katz.

Georgia may be best known for its peaches, but there are also wonderful gardens to visit, such as the three featured in this day trip for the Atlanta area.

Take a break from theme parks and discover unique plant collections and explore exceptional gardens, including one that is described as "Miami and New York combined".

Sign-up for our travel newsletter to be notified when each new self-guided tour is added - plus other garden travel oppotunites.

International Self-Guided Day Trips

Experience three unique gardens in this Vancouver day trip that starts in the heart of the city, then on to an aerial trail adventure, and ends with a calming Japanese garden.

Visit three distinctly different gardens in Toronto, the largest city in Canada, on this relaxing day trip recommended by local garden expert Helen Battersby.

Enjoy three magnificent gardens in, and near, Halifax—including the oldest Victorian garden in North America, an amazing rock garden, and an historically themed garden.

The walled city of York in northeast England offers so much to the visitor, including three picturesque walled gardens that are not to be missed.

The Peak District National Park is a delight to all those who love the picturesque countryside, with its rolling hills, sweeping views, quaint villages, and historic gardens.

East Anglia is the perfect destination any time of year. See beautiful countryside, medieval and historic market towns, and three fabulous gardens.

Set in the heart of Yorkshire, the Harrogate District is filled with historic castles and abbeys, attractive towns, quaint villages, and exceptional public gardens.

Discover 3 breathtaking gardens set amongst the historic villages and rolling countryside that surround the spa town of Harrogate.

Loved for its fairytale châteaux, bustling market towns, and some of the best wines in the world, it also has much to offer garden enthusiasts.

An unforgetable adventure awaits when you visit these 3 gorgeous gardens in the vibrant, bustling city of Marrakesh.

Visiting Victoria is always an adventure, but it's also a gardener's paradise. Explore three unique gardens that both educate and delight.

Garden Travel Inspiration

Discover some of the best gardens to visit from coast to coast, including Longwood, Denver Botanic, Atlanta Botanical, Descanso, Bellevue Botanical (pictured), and more!

"Have you been to Great Dixter?” is the question on the lips of anyone debriefing a gardening friend who has been traveling in England. Great Dixter has a reputation for being...

On a hot afternoon last summer at Monticello, Peter Hatch walked toward a redbrick colonial pavilion pierced with floor-to-ceiling arched windows, then past neat rows of...

South Africa’s famous National Botanic Garden Kirstenbosch is known as the most beautiful garden in Africa. Its diverse collection of plants...

Twenty first century Philadelphia straddles its historical past and the future in a way that could only happen in America’s horticultural heart...

Make a pilgrimage to Brazil to get a firsthand view of the gardens and public spaces designed by modernist landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx...

On the grounds of a former estate outside of Philadelphia, a cadre of master gardeners presides over an oasis of earthly delights. We've put together...

Artist Helen Marden fell twice for Golden Rock Inn. The first time came in the mid-2000s when Marden and her husband were looking for a new...

RELATED: Top 20 Gardens to Visit in the U.S.

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Explore New Jersey this spring: 10 botanical gardens and arboretums to visit

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There's a reason New Jersey is known as the Garden State.

One of the best parts of spring is exploring greenery and blossoming flowers that come to life as the weather gets warmer. In the North Jersey area, there's an abundance of botanical gardens and arboretums that you can visit to take in the bright spring colors.

Here are ten botanical gardens and arboretums that you can visit this spring:

New Jersey Botanical Garden, Ringwood

Part of Ringwood State Park, the New Jersey Botanical Garden is a must-see in the spring. The 96-acre botanical garden has a wide variety of flowers in bloom during the season, with 12 individual gardens devoted to variations like perennials, lilacs, azaleas, wildflowers, magnolias and even crabapple trees. The grounds also feature an abundance of tree and plant species, ponds and statues.

The New Jersey Botanical Gardens is also home to Skylands Manor, a 1920s-era building with an architectural design reminiscent of the Tudor-revival style. All of the stone included in the building was quarried from the estate.

The New Jersey Botanical Garden is open for self-guided tours daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and you can use the interactive map to explore the grounds. Or, you can participate in a free guided tour offered at 2 p.m. Sundays from May through October.

Go: 2 Morris Road, Ringwood; 973-962-9534, .

Rutgers Gardens, North Brunswick

Rutgers Gardens is a 180-acre site, located just down the road from Rutgers University−New Brunswick. It began as a learning space for local farmers, but today consists of designated gardens, plant collections, natural habitats and farms that members of the public are invited to explore.

The botanical garden features 16 gardens and natural areas with blooming spring favorites like perennials, azaleas and lilacs, as well as a bamboo forest and a rain garden. Cook's Market — a farmer's market featuring about 20 vendors with locally grown produce, baked goods and other items — will also take place every Friday beginning May 17.

You can take a self-guided tour throughout Rutgers Gardens, or explore the trails in Helyar Woods behind Rutgers Gardens, Tuesday through Sunday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Go: 112 Log Cabin Road, North Brunswick Township; 848-932-7000, .

Presby Memorial Iris Gardens, Montclair

First started in 1927 as a memorial to Frank H. Presby, a founder of the American Iris Society and a beloved resident of Montclair, the Presby Memorial Iris Gardens is known for its stunning collection of irises that bloom during the spring.

Referred to as "The Rainbow on the Hill," the 6.5-acre garden contains more than 14,000 irises of about 3,000 varieties. Over the course of the spring season — which runs from May 11 to June 2 — there will be more than 100,000 iris blooms. There is also the Bloom Room Gift Shop on the grounds, located in the 1851 historic Walther House.

During bloom season, the garden is open daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. There is no admission fee to enter, a $10 donation is recommended.

Go: 474 Upper Mountain Ave., Montclair; 973-783-5974, .

Thielke Arboretum, Glen Rock

The Thielke Arboretum is an 16-acre wetland forest centrally located in Glen Rock that features an abundance of nature trails and gardens, as well as a spring-fed pond and Diamond Brook.

With a variety of tree and plant species — many of which are either native to the area or have been recommended by experts at Rutgers University — the arboretum is a natural habitat for birds, water fowl, butterflies, amphibians and other native animals. While walking along the arboretum's trail, you'll see perennial, azalea and grass gardens, and tree species like oak, balsam fir and basswood.

The Thielke Arboretum is free to enter, and is open daily from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Go: 460 Doremus Ave., Glen Rock; 201-675-0947, .

Van Vleck House & Gardens, Montclair

Originally a 12-acre private estate owned by Joseph Van Vleck Sr. and his family, the grounds were gifted to The Montclair Foundation in 1993. Today, Van Vleck House and Gardens is a non-profit community resource that features a botanical garden with plant species that have been developed over several generations.

The site has 10 separate attractions to explore, including the Wisteria Courtyard — planted by Howard Van Vleck in 1939 — the Formal Garden with perennials and rhododendrons, as well as the Rear Garden and Azalea Walk.

The Van Vleck House and Gardens is open daily from dusk to dawn, and admission is free.

Go: 21 Van Vleck St., Montclair; 973-744-4752, .

Leonard J. Buck Garden, Far Hills

The Leonard J. Buck Garden is a botanical and woodland garden in a 33-acre wooded stream valley. Named after Leonard J. Buck, who developed the garden as part of his estate in the late 1930s, the garden was donated to the Somerset County Park Commission in 1976.

You can explore all of the wildflowers, azaleas, ferns, rhododendrons, alpine trees and much more the garden has to offer by walking along one of its trails. There are also several notable rocks throughout the garden for guests to see as well.

It is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. during weekdays, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays. Admission is free.

Go: 11 Layton Road, Far Hills; 908-722-1200, .

Frelinghuysen Arboretum, Morris Township

Originally the location for the summer home of George and Sara Frelinghuysen in 1895, their daughter Matilda turned the grounds of the estate into an arboretum after their death. In 1971, the present-day Frelinghuysen Arboretum was dedicated as a public arboretum.

The arboretum features 29 attractions , including 18 gardens, the Haggerty Education Center, Matilda's Café and an observation deck. The west porch of the original Frelinghuysen Mansion is also open for the public to explore.

Admission to the Frelinghuysen Arboretum is free, and it is open daily from 8 a.m. to dusk.

Go: 353 E Hanover Ave., Morristown; 973-326-7601, .

Essex County Rose Garden, Montclair

Located in the middle of Brookdale Park is the Essex County Rose Garden, a 15,000-square-feet garden with 25 beds of hybrid tea, floribunda, shrub, hybrid musk, polyantha, rugosa, and antique roses.

As the name suggests, the Essex County Rose Garden is known for having more than 500 individual rose bushes with nearly 150 different varieties. The rose beds are arranged by color, including red, pink, yellow, white, orange, mauve and bi-color. The garden offers an online directory to explain the types of roses in each flower bed.

With free admission, guests can explore the Essex County Rose Garden daily from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Go: Division Street and Wildwood Avenue, 973-268-3500, .

Greenwood Gardens, Short Hills

Greenwood Gardens is a crowd favorite in the spring. The 28-acre garden is a former private estate, surrounded by 2,110-acres of preserved parkland. Greenwood Gardens consists of terraced gardens, woodlands, meadows, grottoes, foundations and winding paths.

You can take a self-guided tour to explore the history and landscape of the grounds with their self-guided tour pamphlet and map . Or, you can opt to participate in a docent-led tour — where a knowledgeable guide will walk you through the grounds — or participate in one of their themed tours.

Reopening on May 3, Greenwood Gardens will be open Friday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Go: 274 Old Short Hills Road, Shorts Hill; 973-258-4026, .

Laurelwood Arboretum, Wayne

Laurelwood Arboretum in Wayne is a 30-acre botanical property that consists of woodland trails and gardens, wildlife, ponds, streams and hundreds of varieties of azaleas, rhododendrons and other species of plants and trees. With gravel paths that weave through the arboretum, the site has become an ideal destination for hikers, runners, birdwatchers and more.

The arboretum also offers a sculpture trail. A multi-year project, the trail includes 15 different sculptures that complement the property's foliage, water features, natural light and more.

Laurelwood Arboretum is free to enter and is open to the public daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Go: 725 Pines Lake Drive W, Wayne; 973-831-5675, .

Maddie McGay is the real estate reporter for  and The Record, covering all things worth celebrating about living in North Jersey. Find her on  Instagram @maddiemcgay ,  on  X @maddiemcgayy , and sign up for her  North Jersey Living  newsletter.   Do you have a tip, trend or terrific house she should know about? Email her at  MMcGay@gannett . com .

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America's Most Beautiful Gardens

​​Sarah L. Stewart is a Florida-based freelance magazine writer and editor specializing in travel, recreation, science, and health topics. Her work appears in Travel + Leisure , Outside , Backpacker , The Huffington Post , and other national publications.

Deep in the Bronx, there's a place where the incessant hum of New York City disappears. A river flows along the edge of an old-growth forest, where songbirds serenade in the canopy of massive maples, oaks, and chestnuts that have stood unmoved since the American Revolution. Sound like an urban myth? This place does exist, cloistered within the New York Botanical Garden. The allure of this 250-acre tract is undeniable, but for Brian Sullivan, the institution's vice president of landscape, outdoor collections, and gardens, its beauty is more than skin deep. "We want to connect people with plants," Sullivan says. "Public gardens are uniquely poised to be an advocate for the plant kingdom." America's most beautiful gardens share this ability to deepen visitors' understanding and appreciation of the natural world. Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix reveals the diversity of wildlife adapted to its harsh, arid climate, from a Technicolor array of Mexican poppies and desert lupine to otherworldly stands of cactus. Hawaii's lush Limahuli Garden and Preserve protects endangered native flowers like the delicate, scarlet-hued hibiscus, as well as rare varieties of plants (taro, sweet potato) vital to early Hawaiians. And at institutions like Chicago Botanic Garden and Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, vast collections of bonsai and orchids delight visitors, while researchers make advances in the fields of plant science and conservation. Still, it's the innate beauty of these gardens that keeps people coming back season after season—for in any great garden, true discovery requires patience. "There are so many layers, you don't see it all right away," Sullivan says. "A garden reveals itself when you're ready."

Biltmore, Asheville, NC

Landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, the mastermind of New York’s Central Park, designed the gardens and grounds cradling this 250-room Vanderbilt estate. His vision perseveres in Biltmore’s miles of forested paths, its 15-acre array of native azaleas—among the largest of its kind in the nation—and its formal plots like the geometric flower beds of the Walled Garden and the Italian Garden’s water-lily-filled reflecting pools.

Best Time to Visit: April and May for riotous azalea blossoms; June through September to see the Rose Garden’s more than 200 varieties in bloom.

Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C.

When Mildred Barnes Bliss and her husband purchased this Georgetown estate in 1920, she and landscape designer Beatrix Farrand almost immediately set about transforming the 53-acre property’s neglected grounds. Their efforts live on in a series of informal and enclosed gardens inspired by Italian, French, and English traditions. The results include trimmed boxwood topiary, the casual grace of Cherry Hill, and the terraced Rose Garden—a spot so favored by the Blisses that it became their final resting place.

Best Time to Visit: March for an explosion of pale pink along Cherry Hill; April for an array of emerging tulips.

Lotusland, Montecito, CA

This 37-acre property in a residential neighborhood of Santa Barbara matches the eccentricity and whimsy of its founder, Polish-born opera singer and socialite Madame Ganna Walska. Married and divorced six times in her 96 years, Walska’s steadiest love affair was with this botanical garden. She spent more than four decades cultivating a collection that includes more than 170 types of aloe, hundreds of weeping euphorbias, a plot devoted exclusively to silver- and blue-toned plants, and an extensive compilation of cycads (cone-bearing plants). She funded the cycad garden in the 1970s by auctioning off her million-dollar jewelry trove.

Best Time to Visit: Summer to see the garden’s namesake lotus flowers in bloom; April, May, and June for a display of roses.

Limahuli Garden and Preserve, Kauai, HI

On the ethereal north shore of the aptly nicknamed Garden Isle, this tropical expanse counts nearly 1,000 acres of pristine forest and riparian habitat. Visitors tour the gardens at the base of the 2,000-foot-deep valley—named the best natural botanical garden by the American Horticultural Society—to see rare native ferns, herbs, and palms. Culturally significant plants include taro, frangipani, and papaya.

Best Time to Visit: Go in spring when native herb ko’oko’olau displays yellow, daisy-like flowers.

Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, PA

As the longtime home of industrialist Pierre S. du Pont (of DuPont Company fame), this public garden west of Philadelphia reflects the tastes of its founder. More than 1,000 acres of outdoor gardens include the centuries-old trees that inspired du Pont to conserve the land and an Italian Water Garden he designed himself. A historic, four-acre conservatory also sustains many of his favorite flowers, ferns, and fruits. Longwood hosts a summer concert series and houses a massive concert organ with more than 10,000 pipes in a grand ballroom—music being another passion cultivated by du Pont.

Best Time to Visit: Fall to see the Norway maples that surround the 130-foot-tall Main Fountain emblazoned in gold; April for crocus and trillium carpeting the forest floor.

The Topiary Park, Columbus, OH

Molded from yew shrubs, dozens of topiaries reaching 12 feet tall transform this seven-acre downtown park into a living sculpture garden. It was the brainchild of local artist James T. Mason, who debuted the display in 1992. The centerpiece is an interpretation of French Post-Impressionist painter Georges Seurat’s 1884 work A Sunday on La Grand Jatte, a collection of men, women, children, and animals believed to be the only topiary version of a painting.

Best Time to Visit: Topiaries are most robust in the summer, but a fresh dusting of snow lends added drama.

Portland Japanese Garden, Portland, OR

Borrowing from Buddhist, Shinto, and Taoist philosophies, the late landscape architect Takuma Tono created a garden true to the traditions of his native Japan. Stone, water, and plants harmonize in the five distinct gardens of this 5.5-acre oasis near the Rose Gardens in Washington Park. Bridges, pagodas, and an authentic teahouse punctuate the landscape of native plants and Japanese imports.

Best Time to Visit: Spring to see the Flat Garden’s weeping cherry erupt into pink blossoms; fall for a colorful canopy in the Natural Garden.

The New York Botanical Garden, New York City

Spanning 250 acres in the Bronx, this National Historic Landmark (est. 1891) is home to more than one million plants and a host of historic buildings, including a 1902-era conservatory. Its 50 distinct areas include a 4,000-plant rose garden, a century-old collection of conifers, and a 50-acre old-growth deciduous forest—the largest such tract remaining within New York’s gridded maze of streets and buildings.

Best Time to Visit: November for dramatic red, gold, and orange hues in the Thain Family Forest; mid-to-late April to see fields of blooming daffodils.

Magnolia Plantation & Gardens, Charleston, SC

Some sections of this family-owned garden have remained unchanged for more than 300 years, bearing witness to the property’s transition from a slave-holding plantation to a Lowcountry tourist attraction. The gardens’ Romantic-style design invites an escape from the everyday, into a world of azalea-lined pathways, sprawling live oaks, and cypress-tupelo swamps patrolled by alligators and egrets.

Best Time to Visit: Mid-January to mid-March for profuse camellia displays; late March to early April for hundreds of thousands of blooming azaleas.

Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO

You’ll find one of the country’s largest orchid collections at the Missouri Botanical Garden, which welcomed its first specimens of the delicate flowering plants in 1876. The garden now nurtures more than 3,000 orchid species, ranging from bright pink showstoppers to dainty, spotted varieties. Other notable displays include more than 700 types of daffodils, a dazzling selection of daylilies, and a tropical paradise inside the iconic Climatron conservatory, a 175-foot-wide, climate-controlled geodesic dome built in 1960.

Best Time to Visit: February and March yield the only opportunity to see the full orchid display; flowering trees reach their peak from March through May.

Asticou Azalea Garden, Mount Desert Island, ME

Modeled in the Japanese garden style, this serene enclave just outside the entrance to Acadia National Park captures a happy marriage of East and West. Native azaleas grow alongside related species hailing from the mountainous regions of Japan, while an area of raked sand and stones—reminiscent of a traditional Zen garden—mimics the flow of a stream winding through the property to placid Asticou Pond. Created by local Charles K. Savage, the garden has been a fixture on the island for more than half a century.

Best Time to Visit: Late May through July for flowering azaleas and rhododendron; August to catch the water lilies in bloom.

Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix

Abandon any notion of a lifeless desert landscape amid the sandstone buttes of this 140-acre refuge (only 55 acres are cultivated). Here, among paved paths, plants suited to the arid climate of the Sonoran and other deserts thrive, including a large sampling of agave, cacti, and other succulents. A two-acre wildflower exhibit erupts each spring into a bounty of color—especially if there’s been a bit of rain—and butterflies take flight in a covered pavilion. Classes range from illustration for adults to planting for kids.

Best Time to Visit: March and April to catch peak bloom for wildflowers such as Mexican poppies and desert lupine.

Chicago Botanic Garden

Nearly 200 miniaturized evergreens, maples, magnolias, and other trees—including priceless specimens cultivated by bonsai master Susumu Nakamura—add up to one of the best public displays of this ancient Japanese horticultural art. The garden’s 385 acres, which span nine islands and six miles of lakeshore, also encompass a local-centric fruit and vegetable garden, a 100-acre native oak woodland, and a classic English walled garden.

Best Time to Visit: Late April through early November to view the bonsai display before the trees return to the greenhouse for winter.

The Bloedel Reserve, Bainbridge Island, WA

Established in the 1950s by a timber magnate and his wife, this island sanctuary (35 minutes by ferry from Seattle) captures the moody beauty of the Pacific Northwest. The self-guided network of trails passes from the lush, carpeted floor of the Moss Garden to the heights of a Douglas fir, western red cedar, and hemlock forest. Keep an eye out for trumpeter swans, great blue herons, and kingfishers; a flower-strewn glen; and an overlook across Puget Sound to the Cascades beyond.

Best Time to Visit: Spring for boisterous birds and frogs, plus blooming rhododendron, camellia, and plum trees.

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Coral Gables, FL

Stephanie Pollak/Travel + Leisure

This oasis less than 10 miles from downtown Miami showcases more than 3,400 tropical species, many of them gathered by founder David Fairchild in his worldwide pursuit of useful plants from mangoes to bamboo. Employing the design expertise of influential landscape architect William Lyman Phillips, Fairchild opened the 83-acre garden in 1938. It now has one of the world’s premier collections of palms and cycads, plus an extensive tropical fruit program supporting mangosteen, durian, and other far-flung flavors.

Best Time to Visit: Winter and spring for cooler weather and fewer bugs.

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  • Vegetable Gardening for Beginners: The Complete Guide

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The Basics of Planting and Growing a Vegetable Garden

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This comprehensive guide covers how to start a vegetable garden from scratch, which vegetables to grow, and when to plant what. We’ve also added a “starter” garden plan consisting of easy-to-grow vegetables, companion planting techniques, and some lovely flowers! Let this year be the year that you grow a successful garden!

Vegetable Gardening for Beginners

Why garden, you ask? How about enjoying the best vegetables and fruit you’ve ever eaten? If you’ve never tasted garden-fresh food, you will be amazed by the sweet, juicy flavors and vibrant textures. There’s absolutely nothing quite like fresh veggies, especially if you grow them yourself—which you can!

It may seem daunting initially, but gardening is a very rewarding hobby. On this page, we’ll highlight the basics of vegetable gardening and planning: how to pick the right site for your garden, how to create the right-size garden, and how to select which vegetables to grow. 

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Understanding when to plant vegetables, how to lay out a vegetable garden, what to plant in a victory garden, pick the right location.

Picking a good location for your garden is absolutely key. A subpar location can result in subpar veggies! Here are a few tips for choosing a good site:

  • Sunny spot:  Most vegetables need 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight daily. A few veggies (mostly leafy ones) will tolerate some shade.
  • Drains well and doesn’t stay wet:  If you have poorly drained soil where water pools, plant veggies in a raised bed or raised row for improved drainage. Wet soil means wet roots, which can turn into rotted roots. If you have rocky soil, till and remove the rocks, as they will interfere with root growth and make for weaker plants.
  • Stable and not windy:  Avoid places that receive strong winds that could knock over your young plants or keep pollinators from doing their job. Nor do you want to plant in a location that receives too much foot traffic or floods easily. Plant in a location that would make Goldilocks smile—somewhere “just right.”
  • Nutrient-rich soil. Your soil feeds your plants. You’ll have poor, unhealthy plants if you have thin, nutrient-poor soil. Mix in plenty of organic matter to help your plants grow. See how to prepare your soil for vegetable plants .

Lettuce varieties planted in a garden

Choosing a Plot Size: Start Small!

Remember: It’s better to be proud of a small garden than be frustrated by a big one!

One of the most common errors beginners make is planting too much too soon—way more than anybody could ever eat or want! Unless you want to have zucchinis taking up residence in your attic, plan your garden with care. Start small, and only grow what you know you and your family will eat.

Size of Garden

  • If planting in the ground, a 10’ x 10’ garden (100 square feet) is a manageable size. Pick 3 to 5 of your favorite vegetables and buy 3 to 5 plants of each one.
  • If planting in a raised bed, a 4’ x 4’ or 4’ x 8’ is a good beginner size.  See our Raised Garden Bed Guide,  which covers the benefits of raised beds, how to build a raised bed, and what type of soil to fill a raised bed with.
  • If you want to go bigger, a 12’ x 24’ garden in the ground is probably the biggest a first-timer should go. For example, a garden that feeds a family of four could include 3 hills of yellow squash, 1 mound of zucchini, 10 assorted peppers, 6 tomato plants, 12 okra plants, a 12-foot row of bush beans, 2 cucumbers on a cage, 2 eggplants, 6 basil, 1 rosemary, and a few low-growing herbs such as oregano, thyme, and marjoram.
  • Whatever the size of your garden: Every four feet or so, make sure that you have paths that allow you to access your plants to weed and harvest. Just ensure you can easily reach the row or bed center without stepping on the soil.


Choosing Vegetables

As a beginner, start by choosing easy vegetables that are also productive. Below, we’ve listed some of the easiest vegetables for beginners. Most are best started by seeds planted directly into the soil, unless noted. However, it would also be wise to contact your state’s Cooperative Extension Service to find out what plants grow best in your area. For example, if you live in an area with extremely hot weather, vegetables that prefer cooler temps may struggle. 

Top 10 Easiest Vegetables to Grow ( Tip: Click on a veggie’s name to see its detailed Growing Guide.)

  • Green beans
  • Tomatoes  (by transplant, i.e. small nursery plant)
  • Peppers (by transplant, i.e. small nursery plant)
  • Chard , Spinach , or Kale

Mix in flowers such as marigolds —which discourage pests, attract pollinators, and add some color!

Five tips for choosing vegetables:

  • Choose what you (and your family) like to eat.  If no one likes Brussels sprouts, don’t bother planting them! But if your kids love green beans, put more effort into growing a big crop of beans.
  • Be realistic about how many vegetables your family will eat. Be careful not to overplant, as you will only stretch yourself thin by trying to take care of tons of plants! (You could always give excess veggies away to friends, family, or the local soup kitchen.)
  • Consider the availability of veggies at your grocery store. Maybe you want to grow tomatillos instead of cabbage or carrots, which are readily available in your area. Also, certain veggies are so far superior when homegrown that it’s almost a shame not to consider them (we’re thinking of garden lettuce and tomatoes). Also, homegrown herbs are far less expensive than grocery-store herbs.
  • Be prepared to take care of your plants throughout the growing season.  Going on a summer vacation? Remember that tomatoes and zucchinis grow strongest in the middle of summer. If you’ll be gone for part of the summer, you need someone to look after the crops, or they will suffer. You could also just grow cool-season crops such as lettuce, kale, peas, and root veggies during the cooler months of late spring and early fall.
  • Use high-quality seeds. Seed packets are less expensive than individual plants, but if seeds don’t germinate, your money—and time—are wasted. A few extra cents spent in spring for that year’s seeds will pay off in higher yields at harvest time.

Radishes freshly pulled from the garden

Where and When to Plant

This process is easy if you are simply growing two or three tomato plants. But if you plan to grow a full garden, you need to consider:

  • Where will each plant go?
  • When will each vegetable need to be planted?

Here are a few guidelines for arranging your vegetables:

  • Not all vegetables are planted at the same time. “Cool-season” vegetables such as lettuce, broccoli, and peas grow in the cooler weather of early spring (and fall). “Warm-season” vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers aren’t planted until the soil warms up in late spring and summer.
  • Plant tall veggies (such as pole beans on a trellis or sweet corn) on the north side of the garden so they don’t shade shorter plants. If you do get shade in a part of your garden, save that area for small, cool-season veggies. If shade is unavoidable in parts of your garden, save those areas for cool-season vegetables that appreciate shade as the weather heats up.
  • Most veggies are annuals (planted each year). If you’re planning on growing “perennial” crops such as asparagus, rhubarb, and some herbs, provide permanent locations or beds.
  • Consider that some crops mature quickly and have a very short harvest period (radishes, bush beans). Other plants, such as tomatoes, take longer to produce but also produce for longer. These “days to maturity” are typically listed on the seed packet. 
  • Stagger plantings. You don’t want to plant all your lettuce seeds at the same time, or all that lettuce will need to be harvested at around the same time! Stagger plantings by a few weeks to keep ‘em coming!

When to Plant What

Every region has a different planting time based mainly on the weather, and every vegetable has its temperature preferences, too.  See the Almanac’s Best Planting Dates —a gardening calendar customized to your local frost dates. Just enter your zip code (or postal code in Canada)! 

For specific planting information, see our individual Grow Guides for over 100 popular vegetables, herbs, and fruits. For each crop, we provide specific information about how to plant, grow, and harvest, including watering, fertilizing, and pest control!

A Starter Beginner Garden Plan

To help beginners, we thought it may be useful to see a garden design. Here is an example of a starter family garden using the common easy-to-grow vegetables listed above. It also features companion planting (placing plants that thrive together next to each other).

You’ll see that we have given the garden decent-sized paths and mixed in a few herbs and flowers, too. Frankly, if we had grown this garden in our very first year, we would have been thrilled! By planning the garden this way, we have made it much easier for you to succeed.

Click here to see the full plant list , number of plants, spacing, and spacing in rows.


Garden Planning Tool

The Old Farmer’s Almanac offers an excellent online garden planning tool that makes your garden planning fun and easy. With this tool, draw your garden plan on the computer and drop in your preferred vegetables, and it automatically calculates the proper spacing for each type of crop! This way, you don’t waste seeds or crowd your plants. The Garden Planner automatically pulls in the frost dates for your specific location, identifies easy vegetables, and even identifies companion plants. Then, you can print out your plan, and the tool reminds you of your seeding and harvesting dates for every vegetable!

Plus, you’ll see many free garden plans for inspiration! Over time, you’ll see that this tool also provides “crop rotation” so that if you plan a second season, you can properly reposition your plants to avoid pests and disease.

With new gardeners in mind, we offer a FREE week to try the Garden Planner —ample time to plan your first garden.


Any questions or advice about starting your garden? Check out some of the comments below. Many of your questions may have been answered already by our Almanac community, or you are welcome to add your own comment. Happy gardening! 

Catherine Boeckmann

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Getting Started

  • Where Should You Put a Vegetable Garden?
  • The Best Gardening Tools

Planning For a Garden

  • Pros and Cons: Row Gardening vs. Raised Beds vs. Containers
  • Dig in the Dirt! Soil Preparation: How Do You Prepare Garden Soil for Planting?
  • Free Garden Seed Catalogs and Plant Catalogs
  • 20 Vegetable Garden Layout Ideas (with Plans!)
  • You Can Do It! The 10 Easiest Vegetables to Grow From Seed

Planting a Garden

  • Got Veggies? How and When to Transplant Seedlings
  • Starting Seeds Indoors: How and When to Start Seeds
  • How to Harden Off Plants
  • 2024 Garden Planting Calendar: When to Plant Vegetables

Sowing Seeds in the Vegetable Garden

Plant growing and care.

  • Drink Up! When to Water Your Vegetable Garden
  • Plant Growing Guides
  • Let's Grow! How and When to Fertilize Your Vegetable Garden
  • How to Grow Vertically in Your Garden
  • How to Mulch Your Garden | Types of Mulch
  • 12 Ways to Kill Weeds Naturally
  • What's that Weed? Common Garden Weed Identification (with Photos)

Harvesting and Storing Vegetables

  • Root Cellars: Types and Storage Tips
  • Guide on Harvesting Vegetables: When to Harvest Most Common Crops
  • Storing Your Harvest Without a Root Cellar

End of Season Gardening

  • 10 Tips for Preparing Your Garden for Winter
  • Fall Vegetable Garden Cleanup Checklist
  • Reasons to Use Row Covers


2023 Gardening Club

Companion Planting Chart and Guide for Vegetable Gardens

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Fall Vegetable Garden Planning: Choosing the Best Plants for Autumn Growing

Your blog post was a valuable resource for anyone seeking practical advice on the topic. I liked how you provided step-by-step instructions and actionable strategies.

Hi, I really enjoyed reading your post on gardening tips for beginners . You have shared some very useful and practical advice on how to start and maintain a beautiful garden. I have been following your blog for a while and I always learn something new from your posts.

I also have a website where I share my own gardening experiences and ideas. It is called Green Ideas Factory and it is all about creating sustainable and eco-friendly gardens.

Thank you for sharing your knowledge and passion for gardening with us. I look forward to reading more of your posts in the future.

Gardening is a wonderful activity that brings joy and peace to the mind, while also nurturing and beautifying the environment. Whether it's planting colorful flowers or growing fresh vegetables, gardening allows us to connect with nature and bring a touch of green to our daily lives.

The steps for vegetable growth mentioned in the site content looks great. You can find all details related to gardening and growth of vegetables from here. By applying these Steps You can find maximum output from your efforts.

Thanks for this info

Do you put marigolds ( flowers) in same bed as veggies or potted on the sides?

We plant them right alongside the veggies in the bed!

I started my plant in the house and some of them are starting to flower and it is still cool out side, what should I do with them, should I just let them get more flower on the plant them plant them when it get warmer .

For most vegetables, it’s best to remove any flowers that appear while they’re still indoors. The flowers are just a waste of energy, since the plants should really be spending all their energy putting down roots and producing foliage once they’re planted in their permanent location.

Wishful thinking... had hoped there might be some advice on how to actually create a fertile growing araea. All the rest of the article is interesting but I need to MAKE the veg plot with under par soil, once I have dug out the tons of stones. How to build up the fertility etc. Some articles seem to advise putting logs into the bottom etc. I tried lining a previous plot with membrane but it soon became full of tree roots and vegetables were eaten by slugs or mice or squirrels or something small. Am now starting a plot elsewhere but feeling less courageous but want somewhere for fruit bushes.

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How to Enjoy Botanical Gardens

by PlantSnap | May 29, 2018

Home > Gardening > How to Enjoy Botanical Gardens

Botanical gardens can be a beautiful, quiet activity almost any time of year, but it takes a bit of preparation to fully enjoy botanical gardens. 

Botanical gardens are a great place to learn about flower and tree identification , local sacred plants , and rare plants . Many gardens have presentations from local botanists, plant researchers, or ethnobotanists and conduct plant sales. Some public gardens are also involved in seed banking, breeding, and growing native plants to help the local ecosystems thrive. In short, botanical gardens are a great place to learn more about plants as well as a fun activity!

Whether you’re a parent trying to ensure that your children enjoy an upcoming trip, or an enthusiastic host who wants to rock an upcoming visit for guests, here are our top tips for appreciating public gardens.

The Comprehensive Guide to Loving Botanical Gardens

Like any activity, visiting botanical gardens takes a bit of planning ahead. Regardless of whether your botanical garden is a new addition to the city or is an ancient relic, each botanical garden is unique. Plan on at least a few hours for most botanical gardens, and prepare yourself for walking.

botanic gardens flowers rhododendrons pink

What to Wear When Visiting Botanical Gardens

Since almost all botanical gardens are outdoors and have several acres of grounds to explore, you need to be prepared for walking around. Even if your local botanical garden has a big greenhouse, you’ll likely be walking all day. When you get dressed in the morning, don’t forget:

  • Comfortable walking shoes that can get a bit dirty or dusty. While this might be a good time to start breaking in new hiking boots, the botanical gardens are no place for nice work shoes.
  • A hat. This will keep the sun off your face and neck or keep your ears warm. You’ll enjoy the gardens much more if you’re not squinting, cold, or sunburnt!
  • Keep in mind that most botanic gardens don’t have a coat check, so be prepared to carry your layers all day!

In short, plan on dressing appropriately for being outside for a few hours. Check the weather before you head out and wear comfy shoes. Botanical gardens can be especially beautiful shortly after the rain, so don’t let a bit of water scare you away!

japanese botanic gardens pond red maple bridge stones

What to Pack for Visiting Botanical Gardens

Now that you’re dressed for success at the botanical gardens, it’s time to pack your supplies. While you certainly can get away with visiting the botanical gardens with nothing more than the clothes on your back, bringing along a small bag can help you get the most out of your visit.

Be sure that you pack:

  • Water. While most botanical gardens will have a water fountain or two available, they’re often spread far apart. Many botanical gardens are quite expansive, so carrying your water with you will reduce backtracking.
  • Snacks. Hunger pains are a great way to ruin a fun day out with friends or family. Bring something simple to share with your companions. 
  • Sunscreen. You’ll be outside all day, and avoiding sunburn is always a good idea! 
  • Money for donations , entry fee, and snacks. Many botanical gardens are nonprofits and charge entry fees. Although the majority accept credit card, you might want to bring some cash along so that you can easily donate to support the local gardens.
  • Your camera or phone . Photographing the flowers is half the fun of visiting botanical gardens for many of us, so don’t forget your camera! 
  • A plant identification guide . Many botanical gardens have small guides or labels on the plants, but they are often difficult to decipher. If you’re not plant savvy, you might want to download the PlantSnap app so that you can easily identify plants during your visit. 

Most botanical gardens allow you to bring small bags in and don’t mind if you bring your own snacks, but double-check with your local gardens. Ensure that your local botanic gardens are stroller or wheelchair accessible before you go to avoid disappointment. Most botanic gardens do not allow pets.

spring snow botanic gardens flowers

When to Visit Botanical Gardens

If you’re hoping for a serene, quiet visit to the botanical gardens, you’ll want to plan your visit carefully. Many botanical gardens are quite popular and will be crowded on pleasant spring and summer days. There’s not really a bad time to visit most botanical gardens, but keep in mind that sunny weekends will be much more crowded.

Be sure to check the website of your local botanic garden to check for early closures, holidays, special events, or free days.

  • Winter is one of my favorite times to visit botanical gardens. The grounds are often quiet and still. You get to appreciate the non-flowering plants under a new light and might get to speak to the staff of the gardens uninterrupted.
  • Spring is peak flower season, making it a popular time to visit botanical gardens. Keep in mind that spring can also be extra muddy before visiting in white pants. Spring is also a great time to swing by botanical gardens to see if they have a plant sale or ongoing seedling sales. 
  • Arriving early will help you beat the crowds (and heat) on summer days!
  • Fall is a quiet time at most botanical gardens. There may be fewer visitors and less greenery despite continued warm temperatures. If your botanical gardens have evergreen trees or a greenhouse, fall is a perfect time to beat the crowds for a serene day.

Depending on your mood, you might want to aim to visit botanical gardens during the week or on a cooler day. This will reduce crowds. If you don’t mind a few companions during your visit and really enjoy warm days, then plan your visit for a warm summer weekend. It’s all up to you!

succulents gardens botanic rock

How to Plan Your Visit

If you’re not a major plant nerd, visiting the entire botanical gardens in one day might be too much for you. Some botanical gardens are truly huge, so planning your visit will help you get the most out of it!

Even though I’d spend all day at the botanical gardens if I could, my friends don’t always agree with me. Here are my favorite tips for planning your visit to botanical gardens:

  • Get a map. This should be obvious, but getting a map can help even if you’ve already visited the gardens a few times. Maps will help you out as you look for rest spots, bathrooms, or a favorite fountain as well as plan a route.
  • Ask the experts. Many botanical gardens have friendly expert volunteers ready to help you plan your visit. You can ask the experts what’s blooming right now, what areas are under construction, and what parts of the garden are must-see. They’ll be happy to help you plot a course through the gardens. 
  • Prioritize your favorites and chart a path. If you know you might not make it through the whole park in one day, plan out a route that makes sense and helps you hit your favorites. Personally, I always visit the Japanese gardens at the Denver Botanic Gardens. I love walking along the bonsai and koi ponds. No matter how many times I visit, I always ensure I walk through. If you don’t have any idea what to go see, ask the experts what’s best this time of year! 
  • Don’t neglect rest spots. Plan a bit of time into your day for sitting down. This will help the whole group recuperate and fully enjoy the day. In my experience, you’re better off taking a rest stop or two than trying to push through all day.
  • Discuss with your group. Would you rather move quickly and see the whole garden, or move slowly and maybe miss a few sections? Each group will have its own dynamics. You can avoid frustration by establishing a game plan early on.

Visiting public gardens is a great activity any time of year if you’re prepared. You can follow our guide to enjoy any botanical garden in the world. While you’re getting ready for your visit, don’t forget to download the PlantSnap app so that you can easily identify plants that you find during your visit.

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Greet Spring With a Visit to a Public Garden

These eight gardens, located across the United States, welcome visitors with a range of beloved blooms, traditional collections and experiential outdoor spaces.

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By Cameron Walker

Last year, the pandemic shut the gates of many public gardens just as spring was on its way: According to a survey by the American Public Gardens Association, only about 4 percent of public gardens remained fully open as of March 30, 2020. Once public gardens began to reopen months later, they became places of natural respite for visitors, perhaps even more so than in the past.

Making up for last year’s lost spring, these eight gardens around the country expect to be particularly glorious this year, offering a range of beloved spring flowers, traditional botanical collections and experiential outdoor spaces. At any garden changing conditions can make ephemeral blooms difficult to pin down, so plan on checking with the garden for updates (find more online at ), as well as for new protocols such as advance reservations, schedules, open areas and mask requirements. Annual members typically receive free garden admission.

The Bronx, N.Y.

New York Botanical Garden

Start spring with snowdrops, one of the early bloomers already emerging on the 250-acre grounds of the New York Botanical Garden. With their white petals, the flowers appear along with the violet-colored spring crocus, Cornelian cherry dogwood and hellebore (also called Lenten rose). Visit again in April to see thousands of yellow and white daffodils on Daffodil Hill, and the branches of nearby cherry and crab apple trees should be covered in clouds of pink and white. Mid-April is also the beginning of the season for the 500 species of lilacs in the Burn Family Lilac Collection, which line both sides of the garden’s main road. For a different kind of spring renewal, the exhibition “Kusama: Cosmic Nature” by the Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, originally scheduled for 2020, will be on view from April 10 to Oct. 31. One of the installations, “Flower Obsession ,” will allow visitors to adorn a greenhouse installation with coral-colored flower stickers. Garden tickets must be reserved in advance, starting at $22 for visitors to the garden grounds; New York City residents with proof of residency receive discounted admission and free admission to the grounds on Wednesdays. Tickets for the Kusama exhibition are now on sale.

Coral Gables, Fla.

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

About a 30-minute drive south of downtown Miami, the 83-acre Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, named after the botanist and explorer David Fairchild, is working to grow once-plentiful native orchids and restore them to the region. March 21 is the final day of the garden’s “Orchids in Bloom” event, but thousands of orchids — both native species and orchids from around the world — can be seen throughout the year. Of particular interest is the outdoor Richard H. Simons Rainforest, where orchids grow as they do in the wild, attached to trees as well as in the ground. In April, look for many colors of moth orchid, as well as the delicate violet orchid, a pendant-style native orchid with a spill of flowers. Beyond orchids, seek out the garden’s many tropical plants and waterfalls At the Wings of the Tropics exhibit, butterflies like the blue morpho flutter overhead, looking like flowers in flight. Tickets for adult visitors are $24.95; U.S. active military and veterans are free. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, the garden opens early for older adults and others vulnerable to illness.

Kennett Square, Pa.

Longwood Gardens

Philadelphia has been called America’s garden capital, and one of the area’s most sizable gems is Longwood Gardens, with 400 acres of gardens, meadows, and woodlands currently open. The destination include a glass conservatory that in late March displays striking Himalayan blue poppies. In mid April, the 600-foot-long Flower Garden Walk — the first garden laid out by the founder Pierre S. du Pont in 1907 — will have 200,000 tulips and other spring-blooming bulbs in full flower. Colorful displays are a focus of this public garden, which aims to inspire its visitors by presenting aesthetically pleasing combinations of plants. For those who want to create similar effects at home, the Idea Garden has an additional 60,000 tulips, along with annuals, perennials and an ornamental kitchen garden to seed amateur gardeners’ creativity. As the weather warms, stroll the three miles of trails through the Meadow Garden, where wildflowers will emerge well into spring. The Wisteria Garden puts on a show in May, with sweetly scented flowers in both purple and white. Advance reservations are required for members and visitors; adult tickets are $25, with discounts available for U.S. active military, veterans and qualified state residents.

Desert Botanical Garden

With its mild temperatures, Arizona in the springtime draws botany enthusiasts every year. The Desert Botanical Garden, founded in 1939 to study and conserve desert plants and their arid habitats, has its peak blooming season in March and April. Walk alongside the wildflowers on the Harriet K. Maxwell Desert Wildflower Loop Trail, which runs between penstemons, poppies and desert marigolds the color of sunshine. The palo verde — Arizona’s state tree — burst with yellow flowers in April, which then blanket the ground with a lemony snow. Spine-covered prickly pear cactuses show their softer side, producing delicate flowers in yellows, oranges, pinks and reds. A later bloomer in May is the night-blooming saguaro cactus, which Ken Schutz, the garden’s executive director, describes as one of the garden’s many “charismatic megaflora.” The 140-acre garden has more than 1,100 saguaros, and has collected more than 75 percent ofall known taxa in the world. Visitors and members must make reservations in advance (tickets start at $24.95 for adults). U.S. active military personnel receive free admission with a valid government I.D.

Glencoe, Ill.

Chicago Botanic Garden

With 385 acres and 27 display gardens, it can be hard to know where to begin at the Chicago Botanic Garden, located about 20 miles north of the city. Tapping into the sights, smells, sounds and textures in the Sensory Garden may be a good start. Here, the dwarf reticulated iris — there are around 21,000 of these bulbs — pop up in deep blues in early spring, flowering along with fragrant hyacinths and lightly perfumed witch hazels. Hundreds of thousands of daffodils also appear throughout the garden in April, including impressive displays near the Learning Center and just outside the English Walled Garden. Visit this particular garden weekly to see successive spring flowers bloom, starting with six species of snowdrops and, later, a particularly attractive saucer magnolia. Along with many more magnolia trees, bloom lovers may also find that the 400 crab apple trees along the Great Basin provide a quintessential spring experience. Members and visitors must register in advance online; garden admission is free, and parking is $25 for nonmembers.

Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden

In February, the storms that hit Texas dropped snow and froze waterfalls at the 66-acre Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. A month later, the tulips, daffodils and hyacinths lining the Paseo, the garden’s main thoroughfare, might make that freeze seem like a distant memory. This public garden, on the shore of White Rock Lake, plants more than 500,000 bulbs each year for the Dallas Blooms festival, which runs until April 11 this year. Waves of color in tulip form additionally appear in the Jonsson Color Garden, which also has dark green lawns for picnicking. Children and their families may delight in the Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden ($3 additional admission), which includes an elevated pathway through the tree canopy, interactive science activities and a maze leading to a secret garden. Members and visitors must reserve timed-entry tickets and parking in advance. Tickets are $17 for nonmember adults during the Dallas Blooms festival, with free daytime admission for teachers and educators.

Missouri Botanical Garden

When this 79-acre garden closed to the public last spring, the only way most people could see the garden’s floral highlights, like the Maritz Apple Allée, where crab apple trees covered in bright pink flowers lined both sides of a petal-carpeted walkway, was on social media. This spring, people can turn to an interactive “What’s in Bloom” map on the garden’s website before visiting in person. Visitors can track down flowers throughout the year, like crocus and squill, which bloom in March. In the Japanese Garden, spring starts with weeping Higan cherry trees and their waterfall of pink blossoms. The Yoshino cherries and the Kanzan cherries follow soon after, with peak bloom typically happening mid-April. No matter what time of year, the Climatron, a geodesic dome conservatory, hosts tropical plants, waterfalls and even resident geckos. Admission for nonmembers is $14; St. Louis city and county residents with proof of residency can visit for free from 9 to 11 a.m. on Wednesdays and most Saturdays.

Bainbridge Island, Wash.

Bloedel Reserve

Tucked away on the northern end of Bainbridge Island, a 35-minute ferry ride from Seattle, is this 150-acre experiential garden and forest reserve. The reserve has a one-way, two-mile loop trail that runs through 23 different plant areas, including the early spring blooms of witch hazel, gooseberry and western trillium. In March, rhododendrons glow in the Glen, an area planted with the favorite flowers of Virginia Bloedel, the wife of the timber heir Prentice Bloedel; the couple bought the land in 1951 and transformed it into a reserve. Another highlight is the Buxton Bird Marsh and Meadow, where more than 50 native wildflower varieties and close to 50,000 bulbs aim to attract pollinators. A recent composer in residence conducted a “scent tour,” and provides instructions on the reserve’s website for visitors interested in taking a fragrance-focused walk, particularly potent in this second pandemic spring. Tickets (starting at $17 for adults) must be booked in advance. Through a free “Strolls for Well-Being” program, participants receive a six-month membership to the reserve and a guidebook of 12 self-guided walks, with themes such as forgiveness or gratitude.

What Is A Botanical Garden, And Why Should You Visit One On Your Next Vacation?

female travelers at botanic garden

Botanical gardens are tranquil oases often located within bustling cities or even spread across serene landscapes. These gardens offer a window into the world of plants, often showcasing the most captivating species that thrive in that location and providing individuals an escape from the fast-paced world we live in.

But what exactly is a botanical garden? Essentially, they are a living museum — a curated collection of diverse plant species that are carefully cultivated for scientific, educational, and cultural purposes. When done well, they can impart knowledge to us about the natural world while captivating the senses. Simply put, botanical gardens aren't just something aesthetically pleasing to look at. They can also provide insights into the local or regional history, environment, and culture of a place or community. Sometimes, they can even tell you more about your destination than any other attraction in the city.

But what are some other reasons you should make time for botanical gardens, and which ones should go on your bucket list?

This is why you need to visit botanical gardens

Vacation is supposed to be relaxing and fun, but sometimes, we get caught up in wanting to do so much that we forget to slow down, enjoy ourselves, and really immerse ourselves in the moment. When it comes to botanical gardens, the saying, "Stop and smell the roses," really comes to life. When you visit a botanical garden, you can immerse yourself in a calm environment and reconnect with nature, even if you're in the middle of a huge city. While some people feel energized by the chaos of city life, this escape might just be the break you need to recharge, destress, and slow down for an afternoon.

On top of that, when you enter a botanical garden, you're not only admiring the vibrant blooms and lush greenery but also uncovering the environmental essence of where you are. These gardens showcase native plants unique to their respective locales and ecosystems. By strolling through these meticulously designed landscapes, you gain insight into the intricate relationships of the plants found in your chosen travel destination, and you can also become more aware of the roles those plants play in local cultural diversity, according to a 2017 study published in Plant Diversity .

Best botanical gardens to visit around the world

As you plan your next vacation, consider making time to visit a botanical garden. Almost every major city around the world has one. However, there are some botanical gardens that alone are worth a visit to that destination.

Two such places are the Singapore Botanic Gardens and Gardens by the Bay in Singapore . These are two distinct places, but both are equally incredible to visit. The Singapore Botanic Gardens marks Singapore's very first UNESCO World Heritage site and is also the first and only tropical botanic garden on UNESCO's list! Alternatively, Gardens by the Bay is a kind of nature theme park that showcases the world's most stunning plants, art, architecture, and engineering, all inspired by the natural world around us.

Located in Cape Town, South Africa , the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden offers a majestic view of Table Mountain and a vast collection of South African flora, totaling over 7,000 species. There are over 1,300 acres of gardens to explore, so a guided tour will help you see the best of the best in the park. You absolutely can't miss a walk along the Centenary Tree Canopy Walkway, also referred to as the "bloomslang" –  a 400-foot walkway that snakes above the tree canopy, giving you unadulterated views of the park and surrounding landscapes.

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13 Benefits of Visiting a Botanical Garden Even If You ARE a Gardener


Gardeners of all levels can benefit from visiting a botanical garden during any season.  Botanical gardens are not just for city dwellers to connect with green spaces.  They also provide inspiration, education, and wonder for those who have their own garden at home.

It was raining when we stepped out of the rental mini-Cooper at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington, Ontario.  It was the first day of our mini-vacation.  We were on our way to Niagara Falls, but decided to take a detour.

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I wanted to view the newly planted eco-rose garden, near Toronto, and see what made this sustainable rose garden cutting-edge.  I wanted to learn what enticed the garden society to rip out their Centennial Rose Garden, planted in 1967, for Canada’s 100th birthday, and replace the disease-prone floribunda and tea roses with hardy heritage and garden shrub roses. I also wanted to learn more about growing roses organically.  But I received much more than I was expecting for our impulsive detour to the Royal Botanical Garden.

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Strike it rich rose

Just as we came out of the main building the rain stopped.  It was a good sign. The blooming roses had drops of moisture which made them even more photogenic. We were a week early.  The improved rose garden was scheduled to open to the public in 4 days.  Fortunately a board member saw our interest in the roses and came by to answer our questions.  It was a fabulous opportunity to talk gardening, roses, and economics.  While I didn’t have  $100,000 to invest in my own garden, the conversation did inspire me to seek out a few historical apothecary roses for my own garden this year.

There are many reasons that gardeners can benefit from visiting a botanical garden when they are travelling.  I hope after reading this you’ll include a few botanical gardens in your own travel itinerary.

Gardeners of all levels can benefit from visiting a botanical garden during any season.  Botanical gardens are not just for city dwellers to connect with green spaces.  They also provide inspiration, education, and wonder for those who have their own garden at home.

1. Inspiration

Just as I was inspired to seek out a few heritage roses from a rosarian after my trip to the Royal Botanical Garden, you might be surprised at the ideas that inspire your own garden plans.  Seeing professional landscapes, buzzing with pollinators, blooming in a kaleidoscope of color, textures, and fragrance can open your eyes to bigger possibilities for your own backyard garden.  You don’t need to do it all.  Even adding one element — a bench, a rose arbor, or a linden tree, can inspire you to look at your garden with new eyes.

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Butchart gardens, Victoria, BC, Canada

2. Nature trails

Botanical gardens are landscaped over several acres with groomed or paved paths that are accessible for all age groups.  They are an ideal way to get out in nature even when you are limited in mobility or have young children in tow.  They allow for leisurely strolls, just sitting on a bench and enjoying the buzzing of the bees and flowers dancing in the wind, or more intense aerobic effort.  Some gardens have regular programs with Tai Chi or stroller aerobics to keep you coming back.  Get a map of the garden before you visit so that you can plan your trek.  If you plan to participate in a class, check with the garden before you visit.  Some classes require reservations.

3. Education

Botanical gardens are staffed with professional landscapers, scientists, archivists, naturalists, bee keepers, or master gardeners. Part of many botanical gardens is a robust program of community education that may include demonstration gardens, public lectures, and even classes in subjects like botanical painting, composting, food forests, pruning, companion planting, bee keeping, or medicinal herbs.  While these classes are aimed at members and locals, you might be able to participate in them when visiting the garden.  Check the events page of the botanical garden’s website or call ahead with the dates you plan to visit, to see what might be happening during your visit.

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Claude Monet’s Garden

4. To view historical collections and themed gardens

The original botanical gardens were actually pharmacies, that held living medicinal plants.  Called physic gardens, they were often attached to monasteries or castles and served the community’s health needs.  Many botanical gardens recreate these historical collections in an entertaining and educational way.  You might find plant collections grouped according to their health benefits, as they were in the physic garden, or their plant family such as the Rose Garden,  their cultural heritage, such as the Japanese garden or Monet’s garden in Normandy or even their eco-system, such as the Desert garden in Phoenix’s Botanical Garden .

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5. To see plant specimens and learn how to recreate ecosystems

Visiting a botanical garden allows the gardener to see successful companion plants at work, allowing them to choose proven companions for their own gardens.  Even simple observations like how close to plant rose bushes or how many echinacea to plant near the roses, can make a big difference in early spring, when the snow recedes and all you have are seed packages to draw inspiration from.  Hint: plant four times as many companion herbs like echinacea and yarrow, as you have specimen plants like roses.

6. To observe demonstration beds

Botanical gardens have the means and ability to create demonstration beds without the risk of crop failure that the home gardener faces.  Much can be learned by careful observation of these demonstration beds.  Are they more or less fruitful; more or less prone to insect predation or mildew?  The home gardener can gain insight into solutions for their own garden challenges by observing the written documentation that surrounds these demonstration gardens.

7. To engage with experimental gardens

Many botanical gardens host scientists that are actively engaged in garden research to solve contemporary problems in landscape, botany, climate, or health.  The botanical garden is a laboratory as well as a catalog of specimens for these botanical scientists.  Visitors to the botanical garden can often participate in the ongoing scientific research, making observations at home, or supporting the science as it happens, in the botanical garden.

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8. To meet native plant species up close

Native plants are often the hardiest plants to grow in your own garden space.  These plants are well suited to feeding native pollinators and wildlife, as well as offering habitat for butterflies and other beneficials.  When you visit the botanical garden you’ll meet these native plant species and observe their leaf structure, flowers, and seeds, so that you’ll be able to identify them when you see them again, closer to home.

9. To observe global plant species

Here in zone 3, I’m unlikely to see roselle or lemon grass growing robustly.  It’s unlikely my ginger or turmeric plant will ever flower — even when kept indoors.  We’re just too cold and lack the intense sunlight necessary for their growth.  But these plants are easy to find in some of the botanical gardens.  By visiting botanical gardens when you travel you can see these distinctive plants in all their glory.

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Japanese garden in the Botanical Garden of Montreal

10. To celebrate the culture and botany of other lands

Many botanical gardens include cultural themed gardens like the Japanese gardens at Montreal’s Botanical Garden.   These themed gardens include ethnic structures, koi ponds and cultural flavor that celebrates and honors the heritage of many immigrants, as reflected in the plants they brought with them.  Observing and enjoying these special landscapes inspires wonder and renews creativity for every gardener.

11. To be in nature

It is well documented that spending time in nature improves health, lowers blood pressure, increases mood, and improves immune function.  Visiting a botanical garden is an easy way to connect with the health benefits of forest bathing, or spending time in nature.   Even just sitting on a bench and enjoying the changing landscape has health benefits.  Be sure to plan some nature time into your next vacation, by visiting at least one botanical garden.

12. To participate in culture events

Botanical gardens are more than just living plant catalogs.  They are also meeting places.  Many have restaurants or tea houses as part of the complex.  They may also have an amphitheater or other space dedicated to public performance, where lectures and concerts are held, art shows are staged, and other public events draw people to the gardens.  Check with the botanical gardens for your next vacation to see what events are happening during your visit.  You might be able to take in an antique car show, a Shakespeare play, a musical fire works display, or a concert.  Botanical gardens are a hidden treasures of inspiration, botanical wonder, science, and entertainment for the travelling gardener.

13. Preserve endangered plants

Lastly, botanical gardens are tasked with growing and preserving genetic diversity in plants.  20% of plant species are endangered.  The global network of botanical gardens preserve about 60% of temperate plant species and about 25% of tropical plant species.  Seed storage facilities preserve about 2/3rds of known food crop and medicinal seeds, however, 36% of plants have seeds that become nonviable if they are allowed to dry out, making it unfeasible to preserve them in seed storage facilities.  Instead these plants must be kept alive in gardens and in the wild, in order to preserve them.  Many botanical gardens hold annual plant sales of some of these at risk plants.

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Make a visit to a Botanical Garden part of your next vacation itinerary

As you are planning your next vacation, plan to visit at least one botanical garden and tap into these 13 surprising benefits for gardeners.  Check out these award winning Canadian botanical gardens. 

What to pack?

Wondering what to pack for your day outing?  Here’s a list, if you plant to travel light, but don’t want to miss the essentials.

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As you are planning for your vacation be sure to include my course, The DIY Herbal First Aid Travel Kit class  It will teach you how to make simple herbal remedies suitable for packing in your carry-on luggage or your camping backpack or your RV first aid kit.  So you’ll always be prepared, even when you are away from home, for minor health challenges.  Plus my course will teach you how to refill your supplies even if you are on the road or camping.  You’ll never again be without the safe and effective remedies you need.

Learn more here.

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These Are the World's Most Beautiful Gardens for 2023

From a meadow wonderland in southeastern England to an urban sanctuary in Charleston, the winners of our annual garden awards reimagine idylls and traditions past with thoughtful, innovative ways forward.

17th century palace in tendilla, spain design by alvaro sampedro beyond a lush oasis dotted with italian cypress and linden trees, boston ivy climbs the spanish palaces facade

From a meadow wonderland in southeastern England to an urban sanctuary in Charleston, this year’s five winners reimagine the idylls and traditions past with thoughtful, innovative ways forward. Here, the most world's most beautiful gardens for 2023.

Ultimate Secret Garden

Designed by alvaro sampedo, tendilla, spain, .css-1bymmsd{--data-embed-display:flex;-webkit-align-items:center;-webkit-box-align:center;-ms-flex-align:center;align-items:center;clear:both;display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;margin-bottom:0.9375rem;margin-left:auto;margin-right:auto;width:100%;}@media(min-width: 20rem){.css-1bymmsd{width:100%;margin:0 auto 0.9375rem;}}@media(min-width: 30rem){.css-1bymmsd{width:100%;margin:0 auto 0.9375rem;}}@media(min-width: 40.625rem){.css-1bymmsd{width:100%;margin:0 auto 0.9375rem;}}@media(min-width: 48rem){.css-1bymmsd{width:100%;margin:0 auto 0.9375rem;}}@media(min-width: 64rem){.css-1bymmsd{width:100%;margin:0 auto 0.9375rem;}}@media(min-width: 73.75rem){.css-1bymmsd{width:100%;margin:0 auto 0.9375rem;}}@media(min-width: 75rem){.css-1bymmsd{width:100%;margin:0 auto 0.9375rem;}}@media(min-width: 90rem){.css-1bymmsd{width:100%;margin:0 auto 0.9375rem;}}.css-1bymmsd a span{right:1rem;}.css-1bymmsd.size-screenheight img{width:auto;height:85vh;}.css-1bymmsd a{display:-webkit-inline-box;display:-webkit-inline-flex;display:-ms-inline-flexbox;display:inline-flex;position:var(--position, relative);}.css-1bymmsd img:not(.e2ttnr31){display:block;width:100%;height:auto;-webkit-align-self:flex-start;-ms-flex-item-align:flex-start;align-self:flex-start;} .css-uwraif{width:100%;display:-webkit-inline-box;display:-webkit-inline-flex;display:-ms-inline-flexbox;display:inline-flex;-webkit-flex-direction:column;-ms-flex-direction:column;flex-direction:column;margin-left:auto;margin-right:auto;-webkit-box-pack:center;-ms-flex-pack:center;-webkit-justify-content:center;justify-content:center;} @media(min-width: 20rem){.css-swqnqv{padding-left:0rem;}}@media(min-width: 30rem){.css-swqnqv{padding-left:0rem;}}@media(min-width: 40.625rem){.css-swqnqv{padding-left:0rem;}}@media(min-width: 48rem){.css-swqnqv{padding-left:0rem;}}@media(min-width: 64rem){.css-swqnqv{padding-left:0rem;}}@media(min-width: 73.75rem){.css-swqnqv{padding-left:0rem;}}@media(min-width: 75rem){.css-swqnqv{padding-left:0rem;}}@media(min-width: 90rem){.css-swqnqv{padding-left:0rem;}} .css-1am3yn9{padding-left:0rem;line-height:1;} claire takac .css-1hr0xr6{box-sizing:border-box;width:0;min-width:100%;padding-top:0.625rem;margin-bottom:0.15rem;color:#4b463d;font-size:0.875rem;line-height:1.3;font-family:avenir,avenir-roboto,avenir-local,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-weight:bold;}.css-1hr0xr6 em,.css-1hr0xr6 i{font-style:italic;font-family:inherit;} a wispy perennial garden features grasses, nepeta , salvia, yarrow, and irises..

“I found something amazing—you must come see,” Spanish interior designer Luis Puerta instructed his longtime collaborator landscape designer Álvaro Sampedro. As it turns out, recalls Sampedro, amazing was perhaps an understatement.

Just 50 minutes outside of Madrid, Puerta had discovered a 17th-century palace in near ruin in a little village named Tendilla close to Guadalajara. Behind it, a “jungle, an incredible paradise,” notes Sampedro, in need of rescue. There were hints of an orchard, creeks, and a kitchen garden, he recalls, but whatever overarching design there may have once been had long succumbed to neglect.

17th century palace in tendilla, spain design by Álvaro sampedro madame alfred carrière and eden roses ascend a reappointed stone wall

Near the outset of the six-year restoration project that followed, Sampedro made a serendipitous discovery of his own. “I uncovered old garden lines similar to the design of the chapel’s cupola,” says the landscape designer of an original plot set near the house.

17th century palace in tendilla, spain design

He salvaged those lines to revitalize the garden’s octagon-inspired layout (mimicking the chapel’s crowning structure), now outlined in boxwood and alive with roses. Nearby he added a new fountain pool and a perennial garden lush with grasses, Nepeta, salvia, and irises—“serene blues and purples”—as well as a kitchen garden, where willow raised beds are filled with aromatics, herbs, and a medley of vegetables.

17th century palace in tendilla, spain design by Álvaro sampedro gravel paths are lined with boxwoods and arches of lady banks roses

“I like a sense of quiet order, especially near the house, then as you go down the paths, the garden loosens up to blend with the fields and trees beyond,” says Sampedro, who saved and revived older trees and liberally interspersed new cypresses “to give vertical lift, unifying the ground and sky.”

Speaking of lift, some 15 species of roses grace pergolas and arches, while Boston ivy climbs the palace walls. “My client is a creator of magnificent spaces, a lover of beauty and tranquility, so I approached this garden similarly as if it was an interior space, with places to nap, have tea with friends, to play,” says Sampedro, who composed every detail, from the sound of the gravel underfoot to the whiffs of jasmine. “I love how a garden is never finished and always changing—something curious and amazing all year long.”

17th century palace in tendilla, spain design by Álvaro sampedro a cloak of wisteria creates a hidden dining room

Most Poetic Revival

Designed by dan gordon landscape architects, concord, massachusetts.

home in concord, massachusetts design by dan gordon landscape architects mounded boxwoods and an allée of london plane trees quietly enhance the home’s historic grandeur

“All that has been is visible and clear,” wrote Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, beloved bard of early America. This classic Georgian Revival along Concord, Massachusetts’s Authors Ridge is patterned after Longfellow’s house in nearby Cambridge, and when a young family bought the circa 1900 manse, its timeless beauty was indeed visible and clear. Yet the former glory of its nearly six acres was decidedly less so. “It was overgrown, with no real sense of order or plan,” says Dan Gordon of Dan Gordon Landscape Architects. Plus a 2016 microburst had decimated many of the existing trees.

home in concord, massachusetts design by dan gordon landscape architects white annabelle hydrangeas and rozanne geraniums pool around a secluded garden fountain

Tasked with reenvisioning a landscape that both complemented and enhanced the stately architecture, Gordon and project manager Patrick Taylor created definition by regrading the front elevation and introducing a stone retaining wall and a parade of bluestone pavers. An allée of London plane trees and groupings of mounded boxwood frame the entrance, creating quiet contrasts of height and form, order and elegance.

From there, a sweeping lawn gives way to a grassy meadow with the woodland beyond, “in keeping with the rural nature of the surrounding landscape,” says Gordon.

home in concord, massachusetts design by dan gordon landscape architects white salvia, catmint, and allium bloom along a backyard walkway

Closer to the house, a terrace garden brims with white hydrangea and perennials surrounding a fountain. “This more intimate garden contrasts with expanses of lawn. And it’s always lovely to hear a water feature from a porch,” Gordon notes. With the scent of catmint and salvia coming from the rear garden, these sensory elements become part of the poetry of the home, and the New England landscape its ardent muse.

home in concord, massachusetts design by dan gordon landscape architects meadow grasses invite a soft transition from the stately entrance to the rural concord surrounds

Parterre Perfection

Designed by ben lenhardt, charleston, south carolina.

18th century charleston, south carolina, home design by ben lenhardt in the parterre garden, kingsville boxwood borders with corner globes of japanese boxwood frame variegated asiatic jasmine knots and smaller spheres of oregano

“Parterre gardens are to be enjoyed from above, designed so the lady of the house could gaze from a piazza,” says Ben Lenhardt, pointing to the broad second-story porch of this 1743 home he and his wife have fully restored. Though small, his Charleston garden amplifies a refined lyricism, more exquisite chamber music than robust symphony. With boxwood-lined precision and plantings true to those found in the 18th-century Carolinas, it’s a celebration of history and preservation as much as form and finesse.

18th century charleston, south carolina, home design by ben lenhardt white lady banks roses tumble over a garden wall with creeping fig

There was no preexisting garden, just a lovely “borrowed landscape” of live oaks, massive magnolia, loquat, dogwood, and hollies surrounding the property. Lenhardt, a retired CEO who serves as chairman emeritus of The Garden Conservancy and board member of the Chicago Botanic Garden, embraced the blank slate, creating a series of garden rooms, including a narrow brick-lined front courtyard, then a central parterre aligned with sightlines from the main house.

Espaliered Little Gem magnolia, Iceberg roses, and white lantana climb the brick kitchen house. This unusual treatment was a “happy accident,” he says, noting that a prostrate lantana plant had toppled over and began ascending on its own. “I tucked it behind Iceberg roses for support.”

18th century charleston, south carolina, home design by ben lenhardt a double border of white gardenias embraces geometric kingsville littleleaf boxwood, with an old ligustrum tree standing guard above two gardenia standards

A brick walkway leads past the original privy turned “poor man’s Hidcote Manor folly,” Lenhardt jokingly explains, and into the larger back garden, where brick and stucco walls are encircled by Pink Perfection camellias, sasanquas, crape myrtles, and dogwoods—“all the usual suspects.” A 90-year-old palmetto, one of Charleston’s tallest, stands sentry on the lawn.

The middle parterre room’s strict white-and-green palette disappears, allowing Lenhardt to play with plant varieties and introduce color. “The bigger the property, the more sins you can get away with. A small garden is like a magnifying glass; you can see every error.” And clearly, every success.

Most Ingeniously Wild

Designed by emma burrill, east sussex, england.

home in east sussex, england design by emma burrill wispy grasses like warrior, karl foerster, and goldtau varieties, mixed with pink autumn stonecrop and other sedum, form playful corridors for wildlife

Step one: Plant 550 native trees. That was how fine art photographer turned gardener and ceramicist Emma Burrill began a decade ago, transforming nearly seven acres of scruffy horse pasture into the garden of her dreams.

Charmed by the property’s old buildings, Burrill and her husband gave the farmhouse a modern renovation and turned the old stables into an art studio—but the fields ignited Burrill’s fantasy of a prairie-style haven of biodiversity. Her passion is rooted in the playfulness of gardening. “The process keeps me calm and sane,” she says. “I love the slowness of it, like watching 40-centimeter little whips I planted 10 years ago grow into 30-foot trees.”

home in east sussex, england design by emma burrill a studio perch overlooks a wildflower meadow

Burrill also marvels at wild orchids colonizing amid her planted perennials and grasses. “To have it half-planned and half-wild links the gardens to the fields and woods beyond, creating connected corridors for wildlife,” she says. To her delight birds, mice, and foxes have begun to reclaim habitat that once was heavily sprayed for agricultural use, and emerging bee populations are particularly keen for her early flowering plum, pear, and almond trees.

In the wildflower meadow behind the studio, Burrill indulges her love of North American grasses; she’s partial to their calm-inducing wispiness and “almost sculptural shape and seed structure, even when dormant.” A mowed circular path in the prairie behind the studio adds a graphic modernist element, juxtaposed with two large rectangular perennial borders enclosed by the studio and the house.

“It’s a completely different planting style than a traditional British garden and I love that contrast,” she says. “I’m a tidy person by nature, but I try not to take that into the garden. Here I leave piles of twigs and leaves on the ground. It’s so much better for wildlife.”

home in east sussex, england design by emma burrill a circular mowed path introduces a modern element

Best Perennial Parade

Designed by jo thompson landscape & garden design, goudhurst, england.

italianate estate in goudhurst, england design by jo thompson landscape garden design a double herbaceous border with purple berberis, ornamental grasses, agastache, roses, nepeta, and other perennials defines the entry

Landscape designer Jo Thompson could tell the overgrown, shabby gardens surrounding the 19th-century Ladham House had once been well loved. When the Italianate mansion’s new owners, a young family, asked her to reinvigorate the grounds, “we did so with a sense of respect to what was there while adding a fresh contemporary twist,” says Thompson.

For instance, she kept the structure of the existing double 260-foot-long borders but relaxed their formality, infusing a gentle zigzagging rhythm of mixed-height perennials and traditional pink roses—“such a British thing”—interspersed with grasses for an airy feel. “There are extraordinary magnolias and mature trees framing these borders,” says Thompson, who built on this air of woodland mystery by introducing “pops of deep wine red” at the borders’ sunnier end, with wilder roses as the shade creeps in. “Instead of starting over, we regenerated what was there.”

italianate estate in goudhurst, england design by jo thompson landscape garden design the terrace’s asymmetrical boxwood and japanese holly topiaries contrast white annabelle hydrangeas

Off a side patio, Thompson’s perennial garden in blues, pinks, and lilacs encircles a modern globe sculpture by David Harber. She echoed its curves with cloud-pruned topiary and allium, all softly blending into magnificent views of The Weald, the ancient natural forest well known in Southeast England.

In a previously unused part of the property, Thompson designed a sunken reclaimed York flagstone terrace and entertaining area surrounding an indoor pool and spa. “Here we can have a bit of contemporary fun,” says Thompson, noting manicured hedges of yew, hornbeam, and boxwood to give a cloistered effect and copious hydrangea in energizing dark green shades.

“A nod to Sissinghurst just down the road,” she says of the idea of a white garden but with a pared-down approach. “It’s all about taking our cues from the landscape, from history and research, to create a sense of place.”

italianate estate in goudhurst, england design by jo thompson landscape garden design a sculpture by david harber overlooks the weald


VERANDA editors chose the top 18 entries for blind judging by Bunny Williams and Peter Lyden. View the information and submission guidelines for the 2024 awards here .

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Houston Botanic Garden

Houston may be a popular urban destination, but it also features beautiful green spaces that are perfect for nature enthusiasts, families, and anyone seeking a peaceful escape. 

One of the most popular green spots in town is the Houston Botanic Garden , a breathtaking 132-acre paradise brimming with a dozen themed gardens and natural areas. It's a nature lover's dream, promising a delightful journey through diverse landscapes that capture the essence of regions from around the globe to Texas' own varied ecosystems.

Keep reading to discover this botanic paradise and other must-visit Houston gardens waiting to be explored.

What to See & Experience

Houston Botanic Garden

The Houston Botanic Garden showcases an impressive variety of gardens across its 132 acres. From tropical plants to native Texan landscapes, there's something for everyone. 

Check out the delicious Culinary Garden, overflowing with edible and medicinal plants, and wander over to the Coastal Prairie, showcasing prairie grasses and native plant species. When it’s time for a break, find a shady area in Picnic Grove or Pine Grove, popular picnic and gathering spots. Kids will love the hands-on Susan Garver Family Discovery Garden, home to a maze, water play area, and more.

With walking trails, diverse plants, and scenic spots, the Houston Botanic Garden is a nature-filled wonderland. 

Ongoing Events

Houston Botanic Garden

The garden’s calendar of events is jam-packed year-round and includes wellness programs, Mixology Tours, Sunday Concert Series, March for Monarchs, and the unforgettable Radiant Nature Lantern Festival. These special events give you a unique perspective on the gardens and a chance to enjoy them in new ways.

Tickets, Parking & More

Skip the lines and plan your garden escape today! Tickets for the Houston Botanic Garden are conveniently available online, ensuring a smooth arrival. Remember, prices vary slightly based on your visit day, age, and student status. Adult tickets start at $12.50 and children at $8. Plus, enjoy the perk of free on-site parking, making your day even more hassle-free!

Thinking of coming back? Annual memberships pay for themselves in just three visits, offering the gift of year-round free admission, plus additional benefits like guest passes and discounts on classes and events. 

Other Houston Gardens to Visit

Hermann Park

Houston is home to several other gardens and parks worth exploring. Visit the serene Japanese Garden in Hermann Park (photo above), where winding paths lead you to waterfalls, bridges, and gorgeous flora, including cherry trees. At Levy Park, be sure to check out the Rain Garden, featuring shrubs and flowers, and the children’s area, which revolves around live oak trees.  

Bayou Bend, MFAH

Blending history and 14 acres of plants and flowers, the Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens , part of The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, is a must-see. 

Embrace Nature in Houston

Start your exploration at the Houston Botanic Garden, then branch out to discover even more gardens and natural areas throughout the city. Whether you seek scenic strolls or active adventures, Houston's diverse green spaces have something for everyone. 

Continue exploring to delve deeper into all Houston offers, from exciting attractions and delicious restaurants to comfortable hotels .

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“summer terrace and garden” Review of Aist

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excellent place to hang out in summer, especially the roof terrace in summer is somewhat unreal for Moscow, cool and fancy and lots of green around, and this in the very very center not far from pushkinskaya. kitchen is cool too, not cheap though)) and very nice cocktails .... expect no chance to grab a table on hot summer days

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Served us warm oysters. And this was after the server had to check with the kitchen to see if there remained an of these delights. That evening I awaited the gastro surprise, but nothing happened...whew! Grilled octopus was inferior to that at Brix Wine Bar and twice as expensive. Downstairs, with all the smoke was packed. Upstairs, with the clean air, was empty. We sat upstairs with a view to the open kitchen. Wine selection is what I have learned to expect in Moscow, limited selection of reasonably priced wines, limited selection of outrageously priced wines. Very pretty place with attentive staff. I ordered the chef's special for that night, the roasted quail with spinach and it was dried out tough and unappealing. I wonder if the same kitchen serves downstairs and upstairs...because the folks downstairs seem to be having lots of fun while the two upstairs were looking at an evening of the Moscow restaurant formula: big investments in the interior, but not in the food... Bummer

It is always a fantastic dining experience, from both socializing and having absolutely amazing dining experience. Fish is great, but probably the best borsch soup I ever tried

There are several places that I normally prefer to go to, and some times this list changes. But not that one. Any time I think about quiet place with a perfect delicious dishes and nice ambiance, I think of Aist cafe. I enjoy very much sitting on the terrace up stairs, and I also enjoy the atmosphere on the first floor restaurant. I would change nothing there. Everything is on it's place. Staff is very friendly and professional, and they make you feel very comfortable. Aist is situated in the very centre of Moscow and in the same time it is in the very quiet place, and it is like you escaped from Moscow-traffic-jam's reality to the island of tranquility, style and peace, where you can relax and spend a time drinking cofe with the tiramisu, or eating some usually tipical spagetti but unbelievable tasty ones. I recommend this restaurant - it is nice, calm and relaxing with a really tasty dishes and perfect ambiance and service.

Been a few times, usually when guests in town. Be warned it is pricy for sure. Still have been there with just one friend once and all i can say is we had the best fun, tries great food + a bunch of different drinks. We had some fun that is for sure and were probably last to leave! After that night we both agreed we must come and come again :-) Another time i went with a group, we had really good fun, the food was very good & the wine flowed. We did sit outside & it was quite chilly. Still it is a place with good atmosphere and it gets interesting characters all te time, its a real see and be seen place. fun fun fun...

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How to plan a garden – expert layout and planting advice

If you're wondering how to plan a garden, this expert advice will help you create an outdoor space full of interest and beauty

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An example of how to plan a garden showing a garden design with cottage borders and a pergola in the center

Wondering how to plan a garden? Creating an outdoor space that complements its surroundings and your home in the way you want it to is an exciting project. 

Whether it's a space for activities like dining, relaxing, entertaining and playing, or you want it to include all your favorite flowers and plants, there are plenty of garden ideas to choose from. 

But there’s no doubt that planning a garden is a challenge, too. A garden changes through the seasons, and as it matures, so strategizing for year-round interest and for the future is vital, too.

This expert advice offers inspiration for every aspect of designing a plot, from garden decor ideas to planting tips, and more. 

How do I start designing my garden?

To begin your garden planning, think about both what you want to use the space for and how you would like it to look. 

Growing flowers, shrubs and trees, plus perhaps vegetables and fruit, could be almost the entire purpose of a garden or it could be just one of its uses.

Many gardens are used as social spaces for relaxing or eating with a crowd of extended family or friends on a regular basis. And with a wide range of outdoor dining ideas available these days, there's something to suit every garden, no matter how big or small the space is. 

Clever sloping garden ideas are useful if your outdoor space features an awkward gradient, which are famously difficult to design around. Or perhaps you're dealing with a garden on many levels - or want to create one.

At this initial stage, write a list of all the garden’s desired functions, which will help ready you to allocate space to different activities within your layout.

Your desired garden style ought to also be foremost in your mind at this stage. Should it be modern or traditional? Will you take inspiration from formal, Japanese garden ideas or more relaxed cottage gardens ? Or are you looking to create a more formal garden design ?

There are a whole host of different looks to suit various styles, but also which your surroundings and region might prompt you to prefer. 

How to plan a garden

Start with the plants that'll work best for your yard

Before you design your garden, it's a good idea to take an assessment of your yard and your location to determine which plants will thrive there.

To start, observe your yard over the course of a day. Look at the areas you're considering for your garden, and jot down whether or not they are in the sun every three hours, or at 9 am, Noon, 3 pm, and 6 pm.  This will help you decipher whether to plant shade, part-shade, or full sun plants in various areas of your yard.

It's also important to understand the hardiness zone where you live. The U.S. encompasses nine hardiness zones, each based on the local climate. The hardiness zone dictates the type of plants that are best suited and ill-suited to the area. Check a hardiness zone map to determine where you live.

Understanding your soil type will also help you determine the types of plants that'll work best for your yard, or how to properly nourish your soil to support the plants you wish to grow. Most plants prefer a slightly acidic soil, with a pH level of about 6-7, though some prefer a more neutral or alkaline soil. 

You can test your soil for basic acidity and alkalinity at home with a simple test, using thigs you have on hand.

To test your soil for acidity:

  • Collect a soil sample from your garden area(s).
  • Add a 1/2 C of water, followed by a 1/2 C of baking soda

if the soil fizzes, it's acidic. 

To test your soil for alkalinity:

  • Collect a soil sample from your garden area(s). 
  • Add 1/2 c of water to the sample, followed by a 1/2 of household vinegar.

If the soil fizzes, it's alkaline.

Finally, you'll also want to consider the local wildlife (deer love to eat tulips, for example), and whether you'll be planting a perennial garden that comes back every year, an annual garden to add some color during the summer season, or a mix of both.

Then, consider function and aesthetics

You can an whittle down your list of plants based on any functional and aesthetic goals you'd like to achieve. 

If privacy is a concern, you'll want to choose high-growing plants or shrubs that'll fill enough to create a sight barrier when you're landscaping with evergreens . If your garden is adjacent to a kids play area, consider hardier plants that won't be easily flattened by balls sent their way. If you want to attract butterflies or repel mosquitoes, there are plants for that, too. 

If your garden will also serve as an outdoor living room , consider garden zoning with areas of lawn, plant-filled beds and borders, and outdoor rooms for dining and relaxing, which can be the ideal choice for the most multi-functional spaces.

Finally, you'll want to consider how any hardscaping and the size and shape of your garden will impact its look. 

How do you plan a garden layout?

Wondering how to plan a garden layout? You could take the traditional approach with paper and pencil, or go digital. But either way, an actual plan is a sound strategy at this stage. 

Measure the space first, then draw out a scale plan on to which you can mark the desired locations of different functional areas of the garden. 

Bear in mind how sunny or shady these areas are and how this suits what will go on in the space. Clever pergola ideas or planting can help to create shade, but think about privacy, too. 

You may also want to consider greenhouse ideas or additional garden buildings.

Add the latter to the plan first, then mark on both the desired hardscape (like paths, paving and deck ideas ) and softscape (like lawns, beds and borders).

deck area with pool and pergola

How to plan flowerbeds and borders

We’ve said that beds and borders need to go on to your garden plan, but how do you decide on their number, size, position and shape? 

Borders go around the edges of the garden, along paths, or around garden buildings. Beds, which are entirely surrounded by a lawn, gravel or paving, are where you’ll create displays of plants. In some styles of garden, including traditional gardens, they are the most important feature, while in modern, low maintenance gardens, hardscape may dominate.

But as well as their number and size being governed by the style of garden you want to create, it should also be determined by how much time you have for maintenance. Although some plants require less work, generally more beds and borders equals more maintenance.

The shape of beds and borders will also be led by the style of garden you’re looking to create. 

For more formal gardens, straight lines predominate with rectangular borders and squares and even octagons for beds, along with circles. For more informal gardens, think gently curvaceous borders and, while beds might be circular, soft teardrop shapes are popular, too. 

If you're considering flower bed ideas – after all, that is the fun bit – bear in mind that what you plant in each bed and border should be determined by the soil type, the climate in your region, whether the garden is exposed to winds or near the coast, and whether it’s a sunny or shady spot. 

They could feature a single type of plant for a formal look, or a mixture. If it’s the latter, plan border planting from back to front, and work from the center to the perimeter for a bed. 

Think about the trees and evergreens that will make an impact year round first, then deciduous flowering shrubs, and lastly, flowers. Consider both shape and size of individual plants, and where you plan to use more than one specimen, count on putting in an odd numbered group if a natural effect is what you’re after.

Flower bed ideas with raised bed sensory garden

Decide on a palette of materials

Smart garden landscaping ideas teamed with the right materials will create a complementary style of garden, be it modern, cottage, traditional or formal.

For a modern garden, porcelain and natural limestone patio ideas work well, along with concrete, metal and wood. More traditional gardens could mix stone, brick and gravel with wood, for example.

Consider the garden’s setting. ‘Use materials that already exist in your local area. This ensures your garden will sit comfortably in the surrounding landscape,’ recommends garden designer Ed Oddy  MSGD. 

'To choose the right landscaping materials, a good formula to stick to is using no more than three hard landscaping materials,' says garden writer Sarah Wilson. 

'For a cool, minimal look these should be in neutral colors with subtle touches of an accent color and/or material, such as black timber or a feature metal like Corten steel. For a more traditional look, opt for reclaimed bricks and choose a warmer color palette.’

Smart garden wall ideas can link the garden directly to the architecture of your house.

For example, you might choose brick of a similar shade to a colonial home, granite cobbles and pea stone to complement a typical New England house, slate or wood that echoes the material of a roof, or decking that repeats horizontal wood siding, for instance.

‘Make sure the design complements the property, too,' says Sarah Wilson. 'Wherever possible the style of garden should complement the period and architecture of the house. 

It may be tempting to go for a low-maintenance paved design on the back of a Victorian home or to fill your small urban courtyard with cottage garden planting, but the result might look out of kilter.’

Think about the environmental impact of what you propose to use. ‘We must all do our bit to reverse the effects of climate change and the gardening world is perhaps one of the industries leading the charge on changing our habits to be more eco-friendly,’ says Teresa Conway, gardens editor of Homes & Gardens .

The mix of materials that's most eco-friendly for your area will depend on your climate. In a hot, arid area like Southern California or the American Southwest, succulent plant and hardscaping will be more efficient than a lawn and verdant garden beds, which will require a ton of watering.

At the same time, in more temperate, rainy areas like the Pacific Northwest, or the U.K, English-style gardens that are mostly sustained through natural precipitation, and help contribute oxygen to the atmosphere are preferable to lots of manufactured hardscaping. 

Sloping garden ideas

Plan a garden that corrects awkward proportions

Planning a garden is an opportunity to correct awkward proportions. We’re talking, for example, a long narrow garden, or an odd shape, such as a triangular plot. 

If you want to know how to make a small garden look bigger , divide it into separate zones, which will give the illusion of a larger space. Use verticals such as tall, narrow trees, pergolas, and green walls, too, which can distract from boundaries and give the eye plenty to appreciate.

Beware of thinking the design needs to be as uncluttered as possible when the garden is small. ‘If you clean your garden of everything, then when you look at it you can see everything all at once and this makes it feel smaller,’ says garden designer Dr Peter Reader MSGD. 

‘If you design the correct scale and number of things, such as raised garden bed ideas , into the space then as you look at the garden your eye can’t see instantly to the back and flits from object to object. This fools your brain into seeing the space as larger than it really is. It also looks much more interesting and attractive.’

For a long and narrow garden, the key is to avoid the gaze being drawn straight to the end, so dividing the space into perhaps three squarer zones with distinct features can divert the viewer to different aspects of the garden. Alternatively, work with an ‘S’ or zigzag design for a similar result.

A triangle or other odd shape can easily lend itself to breaking up into different areas that may be round or rectangular. If the garden does have a sharp point that‘s difficult to deal with, this could be screened off and used for a compost heap or storage, or planted with a feature tree, for example.

‘I always try and make the most of spaces, helped by linking individual spaces together with “pivot devices”. Using a smaller transitional space between two larger areas allows you to change the direction of the axes or the geometry,’ says Fellow of the Society of Garden Designers and CEO of Bowles & Wyer John Wyer. 

‘These smaller spaces can also be celebrated in their own right with a piece of sculpture, a large pot or some other feature.’

How to create interest in a garden

Sensory gardens with a range of color, shape and texture, are extremely popular and pleasing to the eye. 

‘I often break foliage down into groups of textures – large leaved (hosta, Cynara, Phlomis russeliana etc), “dotty” leaves (Soleirolia soleirolii, Gypsophila, etc), spear-like leaves (Astelia, yucca, iris, hemerocallis) and medium, often glossy foliage,’ says John Wyer. 

‘Use simple mixtures of these foliage groups and keep the list short. This works particularly well in shady gardens.’

Call on other senses apart from vision. Think fragrance when it comes to flowers and flowering shrubs. Sound can be important, too, and the wind through leaves or grasses or the gentle trickle of a water feature can add additional pleasure to the space.

‘I use a lot of natural light. Look in particular for how to use afternoon or morning backlight. It can be transformative, especially coming through grasses or tall perennials,’ says John Wyer. 

Vertical elements, such as living wall ideas , will make a garden design fuller, as will the hardscaping materials you choose. Think, too, about structures such as pergolas, and focal points, such as groups of containers and garden sculptures.

Avoid a design where everything can be seen immediately. ‘Create interest in your garden by screening certain areas to create intrigue and encourage people to explore the whole space,’ recommends Ed Oddy.

Sensory garden ideas with fragrant flowers

How to plan a shade garden

Shade is desirable in a garden. Because of their aspect, some gardens are naturally shady, and will therefore require plants that thrive in such conditions. Although, you'll really want to do your homework around north-facing gardens to get the balance of shade and sun just right. 

South facing gardens can be just as tricky to nail, and if your garden doesn’t provide respite, finding shade is vital so that dining and sitting out are comfortable experiences. 

Practical garden shade ideas are crucial if you have young kids, as creating shade enables them to play out of direct sunlight. 

Both structures and planting, and sometimes a combination of the two, can introduce shade that makes the garden and surrounding yard more enjoyable.

To provide an area of shade, consider including features such as pergolas and gazebos, as well as adding a roof to a patio or deck. A fence or wall can also introduce shade at certain times of the day, so can be useful in a location you use early or later in the day. 

Bear in mind, though, that they won’t help when the sun is directly overhead. 

Planting can be combined with many structures to boost shade, and climbers with both flowers and scent add to the attractiveness of a garden feature. But trees and large shrubs can also introduce the shaded areas a garden needs.

Patio umbrellas, awnings, canopies, shade sails and cabanas are all possible additional options to create the necessary shade around the garden. 

Garden shade ideas

How to plan a garden for privacy

The location of our homes means many of us have gardens that are overlooked by neighbors, especially in urban areas. But when you’re planning your garden, there are a range of garden privacy ideas that will make your outdoor space feel sheltered.

At the boundaries of your yard, a hedge can offer dense coverage, so that those outside can’t see through into the garden if that’s an issue. Or consider pleached trees, where branches are trained on to a trellis or another framework to produce a wide sweep of foliage that prevents views into the garden. 

They can also be used across the space as an alternative to planting on a boundary.

Other planting that can keep a garden private includes options such as bamboo, or tall grasses. Climbers or ivy on a trellis or a pergola are also appealing as well as practical solutions to overlooking.

Garden privacy ideas

How to plan a vegetable garden

A vegetable garden, or kitchen garden, is essential for many. Like other types of gardens, this one take some thought and planning. 

First, it is important to dedicate a sunny area to it if you can. If that’s not possible, and all that’s available is a more shady spot, stick to crops that can grow in that situation like lettuce, cabbage and kale. 

If you’re growing crops that need to be harvested regularly, positioning your vegetable garden close to the house will be more convenient. And for watering, locate it where the hose will reach or at a distance within which you’re happy to carry a watering can. 

Siting the vegetable garden and compost heap relatively near to one another can be a sensible strategy, as compost is heavy, and this avoids having to move it over large distances. Be aware that a part-shaded location for the compost equals less time spent adding water to the heap as well.

Consider the hours available to tend the crops in addition to how much space you have overall when allocating the area for a vegetable garden. 

Also bear in mind that some crops are more compact than others, and some can even be cultivated in pots or very small raised beds. Meanwhile, opting for deep beds can produce plenty of crops in a smaller space.

What plants should be planted together?

Companion planting, or planting plants that are symbiotic together, is a way to ensure your garden stays healthy. Companion plants offer benefits to one another depending on the pairing, and can include shade, pest deterrence, and improved soil quality. 

Some common companion plants include:

  • Onions and cabbage
  • Carrots and beans, peas and peppers
  • Basil and tomatoes
  • Cucumbers and lettuce, dill and oregano
  • Garlic and most vegetables, since it deters aphids

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Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor. Previously executive editor of Ideal Home, she’s specialized in interiors, property and gardens for over 20 years, and covers interior design, house design, gardens, and cleaning and organizing a home for H&G. She’s written for websites, including Houzz, Channel 4’s flagship website, 4Homes, and Future’s T3; national newspapers, including The Guardian; and magazines including Future’s Country Homes & Interiors, Homebuilding & Renovating, Period Living, and Style at Home, as well as House Beautiful, Good Homes, Grand Designs, Homes & Antiques, LandLove and The English Home among others. It’s no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house renovator. 

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How to Start and Plan a Garden in 14 Steps

Decisions to make: flowers or veggies? In beds or in the ground?

David Beaulieu is a landscaping expert and plant photographer, with 20 years of experience.

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Debra LaGattuta is a Master Gardener with 30+ years of experience in perennial and flowering plants, container gardening, and raised bed vegetable gardening. She is a lead gardener in a Plant-A-Row, which is a program that offers thousands of pounds of organically-grown vegetables to local food banks. Debra is a member of The Spruce Garden Review Board.

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The Spruce / Autumn Wood

Learning how to start a garden can give you a great sense of satisfaction, enjoyment, and it will help you develop a vast library of horticultural knowledge. However, to be a successful and efficient gardener, several aspects of gardening are important to know and consider before you create your first planting bed . Then decide what type of garden you want to start: consider a cutting garden , a pure wildflower garden , a vegetable and herb garden , or maybe you want to start a butterfly garden . Start small, like learning the best month to begin planting in your zone, then you can move on to envision your garden and exactly what you want to grow.

Here are 14 tips and techniques to help you start a garden from scratch.

14 Pre-Planning Steps to Start a Garden

Choose the best month to start your garden.

Typically, seeds and plants are put in the ground in early spring as soon as the soil is no longer frozen, there's no longer a threat of a frost, and the soil has warmed up and is workable. But that's a general rule because some vegetables, flowers, and other plants require planting seasons such as mid-spring, early summer, late summer , or fall (usually for spring blooms and harvests), depending on your zone.

Some plants, like lettuce , can be planted in the cooler temperatures of both spring and fall.

Learn About Hardiness Zones

The Spruce / Hilary Allison

Before buying plants, know your zone. Learning about USDA hardiness zones will help you choose your plants because not every plant will thrive in your zone, while others will prefer growing in your region. The hardiness zone map divides the United States into 13 areas, and plants are assigned zone numbers based on their tolerance to cold temperatures. For example, a plant rated cold-hardy in zones 7 thru 9 won't survive in a colder zone 4.

Pair Companion Plants

The Spruce / Randi Rhoades

In addition to the climate, plants need to be grown near like-minded plants for optimal growth and health. There are many benefits to companion planting. Companion plants that share specific sunlight and moisture needs can thrive together. For example, you can't plant sun-loving and shade-loving plants together in full sun and expect the shade-loving plants to survive. The same thing goes for planting thirsty plants next to drought-tolerant plants—you'll either be giving one group of plants too much or too little water and the other group won't survive.

Companion planting for vegetables and herbs can seem like a science. Some plants are placed next to others to control insects or pull nitrogen from the air to help the soil for surrounding plants. It's helpful to refer to charts that have taken the guesswork out of the process.

Decide Between Raised Beds or Inground Gardens

Mark Turner / Getty Images

There are pros and cons to raised bed gardening and inground gardening. Raised bed  gardening is the opposite of inground gardening because it involves growing plants in soil that is higher than ground level, whether it's done in containers or frames made from wood, or even bales of hay for example. Here are some quick pros and cons of each type of gardening:

  • Raised bed gardening pros: Minimal bending down, good for small spaces, fewer weeds and pests, keeps soil healthy
  • Raised bed gardening cons: More watering may be necessary, it takes time and money to design, build, and maintain
  • Inground gardening pros: Lower watering needs, less time and money to plan and maintain, no construction needed
  • Inground gardening cons: Takes a physical toll, more weeds and pests, soil can become contaminated

Consider Vertical Gardening

wayra / Getty Images

If you have a small space or live in an urban setting, you can still create a beautiful and bountiful vertical garden . Try planting succulents, flowering vines, ornamental grasses, fruits, and vegetables. On fences and walls, use wall pockets, wall bags, repurposed bottles, or trellis to build your garden. If you don't have a fence or wall to build a vertical garden, you can find stackable vertical planters at garden stores to start your garden.

Remove Some Grass if Necessary

The Spruce / Steven Merkel

If you can't see an empty space for a garden, you may have the option of removing a small portion of the lawn . There are several effective organic methods to remove grass and the roots that go along with it so you can begin your garden:

  • Sheet mulching involves laying down an organic material, such as newspaper or unwaxed cardboard, to smother the grass. It takes several months to kill grass, so start in the summer to be ready for the following spring planting season.
  • Solarization kills grass and weeds by utilizing the heat of the sun to bake the soil to a high temperature. Lay a clear plastic tarp over mowed, wet grass and the sun will scorch the grass away in about four weeks. Then, dig up the dead grass, add compost, and plant your garden bed.
  • Manual removal of grass is a lot of work and very effective. Soften turf by moistening the lawn a day or two before removal and use a sharp space to cut small sections. Slide the spade beneath the grass to lift. If you have a large area of grass to remove, you can rent a sod cutter from a home improvement store.

Optimize Garden Soil

The Spruce / Almar Creative

Healthy soil is the foundation that makes any garden a success, and most plants have an optimal soil type in which they thrive. Common issues with soil that can affect the health of your plants include: 

  • Nutritional problems: Plants derive all of their nutrients from the soil they're planted in. Perform a soil test on your garden bed to determine its nutritional content. If the results suggest a deficiency, you'll need to add the necessary amendments to remedy the problem.
  • Incorrect soil pH: Soil pH affects a plant's ability to absorb nutrients. Some plants can tolerate a range of soil pH levels, from acidic to alkaline. But soil that is too acidic or too alkaline can adversely affect a plant's growth and productivity. A soil test can determine the pH level of your garden soil.
  • Incorrect soil type:  Soil type refers to the texture and composition of the soil. For instance, some soil contains too much clay , causing drainage problems. If soil is too sandy, it drains water before plant roots can make use of it and does not contain enough organic material to provide the right level of nutrition. It's important to know the type of soil in your garden bed so that you can amend it accordingly .

Furthermore, no matter how healthy your soil is, you can't go wrong adding compost to it when you first start a garden. Work the compost into the soil with a rototiller  or manually with a garden pitchfork. Then, rake the ground level to prepare it for planting.

You do not need fancy compost bins to make compost. Once you have grasped the basic concept of layering organic materials and providing just the right amount of moisture and air, composting is quite easy. Tiny natural organisms will quickly turn organic waste into the most nutritious soil additive available. 

Click Play to Learn How to Improve Garden Soil

Select the right plants.

The Spruce / David Beaulieu

As you select plants for your garden , you need to do your homework to learn about a plant's specific requirements to ensure you choose the right plants for the right location. Plants commonly used in garden beds and landscapes generally fall into these categories:

  • Herbaceous annuals : plants that go through their entire lifecycle in one growing season and must be re-planted every year. Many summer-flowering plants fall into this category, including marigolds , impatiens , petunias , zinnias , and cornflowers . In addition, some plants that are perennials in warm climates can be used as annuals in colder climates.
  • Herbaceous perennials (and biennials): plants that return every year, their foliage dies to the ground in the winter but the plant regrows from its root system the following spring. Some perennials are very long-lived, such as the peony , daylily , and false indigo , while others are relatively short-lived, such as the lupine , columbine , and delphinium . Plants categorized as biennials can be considered very short-lived perennials. They spend their first year developing foliage, flowering in their second year, and then dying after that. Foxglove , hollyhock, and sweet William are examples of biennial plants.
  • Woody trees and shrubs: plants that do not have the soft herbaceous stems of annuals and perennials. Instead, they have woody stems and trunks. Rather than dying back and re-growing from ground level, these plants sprout their new growth from a main trunk or main branches. All common trees fall into this category as do many shrubs.
  • Vegetables, fruits, and herbs: plants that are generally defined as those that produce edible seeds, fruit, stems, foliage, or roots. Most are annual plants, though some are classified as biennials ( carrots ) and perennials ( rhubarb , asparagus , and strawberries ). Some are woody shrubs and trees, such as blueberries , peaches , and apples .

If there's a chance you might not remember the names of what you've planted, consider labeling your plants by writing their names on a small wooden stake and placing the stake next to the plant. That way, you'll be able to remember their name should you need to look up anything about their optimal growing environment. Some gardeners like to keep a journal that maps the plants and layout of their garden each season.

Design the Garden

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

In addition to understanding the basic requirements of the plants you selected for your garden, you'll also need to develop some skills in garden design . This is largely a matter of personal preference, but there are a few standard design aesthetic tips to consider when deciding where to place your plants.

Mature Size

Take into consideration the mature size of plants when you first populate your garden bed. In general, a garden bed should be organized so the low-lying plants are in the foreground or used as edging, the medium-sized plants are occupying the middle section, and the tall plants are in the back. The rules shift a little with an island garden because it can be viewed from all angles. In that case, the center of the bed is planted with the tallest plants, and the low-growing plants are planted around the perimeter.

Garden designers frequently speak of plant form as a guiding principle when arranging plants. This essentially means that you should consider the overall shape or outline of the plants when arranging them in your garden bed. In general, if you seek a formal look, try to use precise geometric plant shapes, such as squared-off hedges and neat edging plants . If you want a more informal look, irregular forms are appropriate.

When garden designers use the term line , it often refers to the structures within the landscape or garden bed—the edges of the garden, for example. It also can refer to the directional impact of the plants. Plants can have general vertical lines (a columnar evergreen), or they can be spreading and horizontal (a creeping juniper). Straight lines and hard angles give a formal look, while curved lines offer a casual feeling.

The term plant texture refers to the fineness or coarseness, roughness or smoothness, heaviness or lightness of a particular plant. The texture comes from a plant's flowers, stems, bark, and especially its leaves. To create variety and visual interest, make sure to use plants with different textures.

Choose a Color Palette

In addition to size, form, line, and texture, color is one of the most important considerations when choosing plants—of both the foliage and the flowers. Landscape designers put considerable effort into creating garden color schemes, but home gardeners should not feel too much pressure to follow technical design principles. Simply pay attention to the colors you're working with so that you like the ultimate look of your garden.

Warm and Cool Colors

An easy place to start is by understanding warm and cool colors, which have different attributes:

  • Warm colors include shades of yellow, red, and orange. They are said to excite viewers.
  • Cool colors include blue, purple, and green. They are said to calm and relax viewers.

This color theory can be used to create a garden suitable for a specific purpose. For example, a meditation garden can be planted with relaxing cool colors, while you might want to plant flowers with warm colors around a deck intended for parties and entertainment.

Unity and Contrast

Designing a garden with colors all within the cool family or the warm family is a means of creating unity. On the other hand, you might want to contrast warm and cool colors. Using complementary colors—color pairs found opposite one another on the color wheel—can add visual interest. For example, purple and yellow are frequently used in a complementary, contrasting color scheme.

Use Proper Planting and Transplanting Techniques

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

Proper planting technique—whether it be via seeds or potted nursery plants—is critical for good results. Seed packets will contain detailed information on planting depth, seed spacing, days to germination, and days to plant maturity. The information that comes with nursery plants is more sparse. In general, potted specimens require a planting hole roughly twice the size of their root ball, planted at the same depth as it is in the pot, a deep watering at planting time, and regular watering intervals as the roots take hold.

Consider soil temperature; it's critical when deciding the right time to plant. Planting too early in the season when the soil is cool might result in a sickly plant all season long or seeds that won't germinate. But the same plant or seeds will flourish when started weeks later when the soil has warmed up Soil temperature is especially important for flowering annuals and vegetables; many are classified as being better suited to cooler or warmer soil.

It's common for gardeners to move plants around if they are not thriving. Or, perhaps they want the garden space for something else or they decide they don't like the design. Whatever the reason, many plants can be successfully transplanted . Follow the transplanting advice for your specific plant and wait patiently for the plant to adapt to its new location.

Understand Weeds

Rebecca Smith/Getty Images

Weeds are a gardener's enemy, so it's important to arm yourself with some facts about them. First, you should know exactly which weeds you are dealing with.

This knowledge will continue to come in handy long after you start a garden. Weeds will pop up again and again despite your best efforts to prevent them. Many sources of information are available to help you identify weeds. Gardening books and university extension service websites often have photos of common weeds and offer tips on controlling them.

Furthermore, experienced gardeners quickly learn not everything that seems to be a weed is a weed. Many plants, especially annual flowers, freely self-seed in the garden. So if you automatically remove every seedling you don't immediately recognize, you might be sacrificing plants you would enjoy. For instance, snapdragons, petunias, cosmos, aquilegia (columbine), foxglove (digitalis), and marigolds are just some of the flowering plants that self-seed. But at the same time, this self-seeding tendency can become a nuisance because plants are growing where you don't want them, effectively turning a flower into a weed.

Install Landscape Fabric

The Spruce / Michele Lee 

Landscape fabric is a synthetic textile that is installed on top of a planting area to prevent weeds from sprouting. It works by blocking the sunlight that is necessary for weed seeds to germinate. Holes can be cut in the fabric to insert garden plants, and optionally the fabric can be covered with mulch to hide it. Because the fabric is porous, water drains straight through to the soil. To prevent grass and other plants from invading your new bed, lay down some edging , as well.

A good place to use landscape fabric is in a shrub bed. When planting a group of  landscape shrubs , simply lay down some fabric and cut holes in which to plant your shrubs. The bed should stay fairly weed-free for years.

Densely planted garden beds aren't practical for landscape fabric. For example, if you are creating a cottage garden , the plants are usually packed tightly together. It might be impossible to cut that many holes in a sheet of landscape fabric for that style of garden. Another example where landscape fabric is not practical is a vegetable bed planted with root crops such as beets or carrots.

Control Pests

All gardeners face pests at some point. In some instances, you can take preventive measures. For example, if you know your region has an issue with deer, select deer-resistant plants . Or if you've seen rabbits hopping around in your yard, surround your garden beds with rabbit-proof fences. Other plants can deter certain insects.

But in some cases, you will have to take offensive measures. Natural and synthetic chemical ways can combat pests, and each method has its pros and cons.

Furthermore, it's important to realize that good gardens are naturally diverse, and you have to decide on your tolerance level for pest damage. Attempting to entirely eradicate one pest sometimes can open the door to devastation by another pest. Your goal should be to maintain balance for a healthy garden.

Sheet Mulching . Oregon State University Extension.

Landscape Design . University of Minnesota Extension Extension.

How to Use Landscape Fabric to Prevent Weeds . Missouri State University Website

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Garden Visit: A Grand Classic from an Earlier Century in Seattle

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Jane Hedreen and David Thyer live in Seattle’s Capitol Hill in a grand 1910 house that takes up six city lots and was once occupied by a US senator. Join us on a tour of their atmospheric gardens, which speak of another century.

Photographs courtesy of Flora and Henri , Jane Hedreen’s children’s clothing company.

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Above: Jane and David’s youngest daughter, Frances, 11, mans the front steps in a Flora and Henri silk  Fancy Dress  made in Spain (the line’s sizes go from newborn to 12). The house’s Italianate details, such as the stuccoed arched entry, Juliet balcony, and colonnaded French doors, are courtesy of a remodeling that took place in the 1920s for a senator who wanted a Palladian villa.

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Above: A pair of blue atlas cedars, planted when the house was built, form a towering, moving screen over the front walk.

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Above: The master bedroom has wall-to-wall views of the blue cedars.

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Above: The house came complete with a dreamy if neglected walled garden. Jane added an irrigation system as well as trimmed box and yew hedges for privacy. On her wish list: a lap pool down the middle.

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Above: The south side of the house has an orangerie, a leaded glass plant bay, off the dining room. The exterior is flanked by Japanese maples.

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Above: Unearthly looking Podophyllum by the kitchen door.

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Above: The garage/carriage house is thick with Boston ivy and other greenery, including a bed of Gunnera and Podophyllum in the sunken garden’s old fountain.

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Above: Jungly rice paper plants and variegated foliage.

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Above: An indoor view of the orangerie planted with small olive trees, which have borne some fruit (Jane tried orange trees, but they succumbed to scales). It has a Tiffany tiled floor in bright blues and golds.

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Above: A long-stemmed allium from Jane’s garden in an antique etched bud vase stands alongside Ted Muehling porcelain seashells and a Nymphenburg porcelain arm and miniature skull.

For more of our favorite grand spaces, see:

  • An Impossibly Grand House in Seattle  (for the interiors of this house).
  • Great Gatsby Garden: A Lavish Long Island Estate That Inspired a Movie’s Sets
  • Steal This Look: A Grand Mudroom in Virginia.

Explore Deeper Into These Areas

  • Walled Gardens
  • Classical & Period
  • Garden Visit
  • Greenhouses
  • Japanese Maple Trees

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The Most Beautiful Stations on the Moscow Metro

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You might have heard that there are some beautiful metro stations in Moscow. Soviet decorations, chandeliers, mosaic painting and statues are common in many of the stations. The good news is that the Moscow Metro does not cost a lot of money and many of the most beautiful stations on the Moscow metro are on the same line, so you can almost get on and off at each station to visit these. Over the New Year holidays, I had a free afternoon and decided to visit some of these stations. Check out what I found below…..

The main stations that you will want to visit are on the Number 5 line, also known as the Circle Line. An advantage of this line is that you can get to it very easily and quickly no matter where you are in Moscow. The announcements on the metro are in Russian as well as English so you don’t need to worry if your Russian language skills are not good.

If, like me, you arrive in Moscow via train from Kyiv , then you will arrive at a metro station which many Muscovites believe to be the most beautiful of them all…..

Kievskaya metro station was opened in 1954 and features white marble walls which curve upwards and have with large mosaics surrounded by a gold trim in a very classical style. The mosaics depict life in Ukraine and was designed by a Ukrainian who wanted to display Ukraine’s influence and contribution to Soviet Russia.

Kievskaya, one of the most beautiful stations on the Moscow metro

Kievskaya, one of the most beautiful stations on the Moscow metro

Soviet era artwork between the arches

Soviet era artwork between the arches

Mosaic with golden trim

Mosaic with golden trim

People carrying flags is a common theme

People carrying flags is a common theme

Going into battle

Going into battle


If you look at a map of the metro , you will want to go in a clockwise direction on the circle line. So you will want to get on the train going in the Barrikadnaya direction and not Park Kultury. Stay on this line until you reach the 2nd station, Belorusskaya. This station was built in 1952 and like Kievskaya also features white marble pylons and a plaster ceiling.

The ceiling features 12 mosaics in an octagonal shape depicting Belarusian life, while the tiling on the floor is said to resemble a Belarusian quilt. One of the passageway exits of the station has a statue called ‘Belarusian Partisans’ of three men wearing long coats, holding guns and carrying a flag.”

Belorusskaya metro platform

Belorusskaya metro platform

Belorusskaya metro platform

Soviet artwork on the roof

The hammer and sickle features prominently in the metro artwork

The hammer and sickle features prominently in the metro artwork

Three men carrying guns, holding the flag...

Three men carrying guns, holding the flag…


To get to the next station, we need to change onto the green line (line 2) and go just one stop to the station of Mayakovskaya. This station has an art deco theme and, for some, resembles an elaborate ballroom. The columns are faced with stainless steel and pink rhodonite while the marble walls and ceiling have 34 mosaics with the theme “24-hour Soviet Sky. Apparently, Stalin resided here during the 2nd World War as the station was used as a command post for Moscow’s anti-aircraft regiment.

Mayakovskaya metro

Mayakovskaya metro

Mayakovskaya metro

24-Hour Soviet Sky mosaic

Bomber planes

Bomber planes

24-Hour Soviet Sky mosaic

It looks like planes flying over Red Square



It’s time to get back on the metro and return to Belorusskaya. At Belorusskaya, change to the circle line again and continue clockwise to the next station, Novoslobodskaya. With its 32 stained glass panels, this station reminds me of a church. The panels were designed by Latvian artists and are surrounded by a brass border.

Novoslobodskaya metro

Novoslobodskaya metro

The platform of Novoslobodskaya metro

The platform of Novoslobodskaya metro

The platform of Novoslobodskaya metro

Stained glass artwork

The golden trim around artwork is also very common

The golden trim around artwork is also very common

Stained glass artwork

Prospekt Mira

Back on the metro and again just one stop until our next station, Prospekt Mira. This station was originally called Botanichesky Sad after the nearby Botanical Gardens of the Moscow State University. The pylons are covered in white marble and decorated with floral bas-relief friezes. The ceiling is decorated with casts and several cylindrical chandeliers.

Prospekt Mira metro station

Prospekt Mira metro station

Notice the floral decoration

Notice the floral decoration


On the metro once more and once more we are going just one stop to the next station – Komsomolskaya. This station is famous for its its yellow ceiling. The chandeliers in this station are huge. The photos below do not do this station justice.  For me, this station resembles a presidential palace.  You hace to see it for yourself to truly appreciate it.

Because of it’s location, this is one of the busiest stations in the Moscow metro as it serves three of the main train stations in the city – Leningradsky, Yaroslavsky, and Kazansky so be prepared for a lot of people.

Komsomolskaya metro

Komsomolskaya metro

The yellow ceiling seems to go on forever

The yellow ceiling seems to go on forever

Yellow ceiling and artwork

Yellow ceiling and artwork

One of the ceiling mosaics

One of the ceiling mosaics


When you are ready to leave Komsomolskaya metro station behind, then get back on the circle line and go one stop to Kurskaya and change to the blue line (line 3) and go to two stops to the Elektrozavodskaya station. This station gets it’s name from a nearby electric light bulb factory and has a somewhat industrial but also futuristic style, with 6 rows of circular lamps (there are 318 lamps in total). I think this is one of the most beautiful stations on the Moscow metro for how unique it is. The station was opened in 1944 after a delay because of the 2nd World War and features 12 marble bas-reliefs of the struggle on the home front during the war.

The Komsomolskaya metro station

The Komsomolskaya metro station

The struggles of war at home

The struggles of war at home

Fixing machinery

Fixing machinery

Hard at work

Hard at work

Making weapons

Making weapons

Building a tank

Building a tank

The struggles of war at home

Even the station sign is elaborate

Ploschad Revolyutsii

Back on the metro line 3 (but in the other direction), getting off at the 3rd stop – Ploschad Revolyutsii (Revolution Square). This is located underneath the square in Moscow of the same name and is a short walk from Red Square in the city centre. It is the perfect place to end a visit around Moscow’s metro. The station features red and yellow marble arches with a total of 76 sculptures in between each arch. The sculptures are supposed to represent the people of the Soviet Union and include soldiers, farmers, industrial workers, children etc… I noticed a lot of people touching the golden chicken in the photo below as well as the show of the woman. I am assuming that this is for good luck.

Industrial worker

Industrial worker

Touch the chicken for good luck

Touch the chicken for good luck

Sculpture of the people of the Soviet Union

Sculpture of the people of the Soviet Union

Woman reading a book - touch the shoe for good luck

Woman reading a book – touch the shoe for good luck

In education

In education

Parent and child

Parent and child

These are some of what I think are the most beautiful stations on the Moscow metro. Which ones are your favourite? Would you add any to this list?

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Kievskaya definitely caught me off guard. Didn’t know Moscow metro stations were THIS extravagant! Mayakovskaya is gorgeous too with the marble walls and mosaics. I might just need to book a flight over to admire all of these!

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Do it! Kievskaya was my first introduction to the Moscow metro as I got an overnight train from Kyiv.

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You know, in the States, all we ever hear is bad stuff about Russia. It’s nice to see other (and lovely!) dimensions of such a controversial place.

It’s the same in the UK which is why I prefer going to see somewhere and making up my own mind. It’s all ‘politics and bullshit’ as I say

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I went to Moscow about 13years for Christmas and went to train stations, so I can see these amazing mosaics and chandeliers. I agree with you that are beautiful Stations for sure and I could of wandered around for days. I think Kievskaya is definitely my favourite out of them all and I even have some similar pictures as you.

I imagine Moscow would have been a little different 13 years ago but these stations have probably always looked beautiful

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Food and Footprints

You chose some great stations for this write up! Beautiful details in these stations and would love to visit them sometime. Particularly like the Komsomolskaya station with that yellow ceiling!

Thank you very much. Komsomolskaya seems to be a lot of peoples favourite stations too

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Sumit Surai

Wow! Without the text I would have thought them to be some museum or gallery.

I know exactly what you mean!

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Rosie Fluskey

Wow, it is just stunning! How does anyone get to work with so much to look at. I’m surprised at the very bourgeois-looking Komsomolskaya station. I would have thought it was all too Tzarist looking, but then I haven’t been to Russia yet lol. This has just made me want to go more!

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Wow, that’s a lot of artwork. I wonder how old some of these pieces are?

Generally most of the stations are from 1940-1960 approximately. The later stations are more functional than style.

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My mother-in-law was in Moscow fifty years ago and still raves about the metro stations. So far, I could not imagine much. But now! The pictures are great and I think it’s almost a pity that this splendor is underground. But for every user of the Metro can enjoy a free trip to the world of art. Susanne

True. It is like having a free trip to an art museum/gallery. I hope that you can one day visit Moscow and see for yourself.

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Oh wow, I would never have known that these were metro stations. The ceilings remind me of how you need to look up sometimes, even in the commuter rush!

It is true about life in general, we just go from A to B looking directly in front of us instead of around us

' src=

Wow, I would have never guessed that these were stations. The decor is so pretty and not one I’m used to seeing at metro stations. Love the ceiling at The Komsomolskaya metro station.

They certainly don’t look like metro stations. The ceiling there is one of my favourites too!

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How does your flower garden grow? Get 10 tips from a star horticulturist

Jacky Runice

April 11, 2024 // By Jacky Runice

By Jacky Runice Travel Journalist April 11, 2024

Knowing what to plant, where, and when is important for the best flower garden

Walking into a plant nursery can be overwhelming, especially when you want a stunning flower garden at home. Before the planting season begins, look for guidance from experts.

We tapped Steve Foltz, director of horticulture at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden , for help with flower garden ideas and tips. He’s been with the horticulture department since 1988, taught university-level courses in horticulture for three decades, and is a member of the Kentucky Nursery and Landscape Hall of Fame. He knows his stuff.

We ask the important questions and Foltz answers. Want your flower garden to resemble those at Zoo Blooms , the annual event held at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden (also voted the Best Flower Festival in the USA Today 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards)? You’re in the right place.

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How do you arrange a flower garden?

Add pops of color in high-traffic flower garden areas

Like most things, your best bet is to keep it simple. Foltz says to use drifts of color in your home flower garden and to use the most color in high-traffic areas, like walkways, patios, and decks.

Keep in mind that annuals require care and even the hardiest need to be watered and fertilized, so your flower bed should be near water outlets.

What flowers are best for a flower garden?

Bright yellow and orange lantana makes a stunning flower garden pick

For a colorful flower garden with mad curb appeal, Foltz suggests the following easy-to-grow blooms whether you plant them directly in the ground or in containers.

Best for sunny areas in your flower garden

Petunia: Choose bright colors like Vista Bubblegum pink or Supertunia Vista Jazzberry.

Lantana : Good choices include Citrus Blend and Lucky Pot of Gold.

Sweet Potato Vine: Marguerite is a great ground cover in sunny spots. It cascades over walls and is a vigorous grower.

Zinnias: Zahara Fire is a low plant with bright orange flowers, or try any in the Profusion Zinnias series.

Salvia: Mystic Spires Blue is a terrific pollinator plant, or go for the Big Blue and Blue Suede Shoes varieties.

Grass : Purple Fountain Grass is super easy!

Best for shady areas in your flower garden

Impatiens: Foltz especially likes the Sunpatiens Compact Electric Orange.

Begonias: Dragon Wings series, Megawatt series, and Surefire Cherry Cordial are Foltz' favorites.

Coleus: Foltz likes the vegetative varieties like the ColorBlaze series or the Main Street series.

Should you plant seeds or use potted plants for a flower garden?

Potted plants are usually best for home flower gardens

Foltz suggests visiting your local garden store that sells well-grown annuals that are in either flats or 4-inch pots.

"Most of the time the vigorous plants that do well are in 4-inch pots,” he adds. "Growing from seed can be fun in the back of the garden, but when you are really counting on color, buy plants."

How do you prepare the soil before planting flowers?

A beautiful flower garden starts with the soil

Soil prep for a flower garden starts with knowing the soil type that’s native to your area. You may have to apply some elbow grease to get the dirt in good enough shape to plant annuals.

“The most important tip is to dig up your soil with a shovel or a small rototiller to make sure it’s loose and soft,” Foltz explains. Try for 6 to 8 inches deep, and if you can’t dig with your hands the soil is not ready. “If you have to chip away at the soil to plant your flowers, you are in for an uphill battle in which you will not win.”

Consider a soil test kit (for $10 to $20) to determine your soil’s composition, alkalinity, and acidity. Foltz says if you’re working your dirt and adding organic matter occasionally when preparing your beds, you should be in good shape.

How often do you need to water and fertilize a flower garden?

Keep a close eye on your flower garden for the first few weeks

Assuming you adequately prepared your soil, water your flower garden immediately after planting, and keep an eye on them for the next week or so.

“The first week we fertilize with a liquid feed you can attach to your hose (like Miracle Grow or something similar),” the horticulturist advises. “And you can use slow-release fertilizer as a top-dress as well. Then it is a matter of making sure the color of your leaves stays good and dark green.”

Once the annuals are established, water two times a week. If it rains, you may still need to water because sometimes it doesn’t soak the ground. If you're unsure, stick your finger in the soil at the base of the plant, and feel if it is wet or dry.

How do you extend the blooming season of a flower garden?

Coleus Main Street is one of the recommended plants from the Botanical Garden's trials

"By using the recommended plants from our trials [at the botanical garden]," Foltz says. "We expect our annuals to look good from May to the first frost! If they are short-season color, they don’t get the Zoo’s 'Best Annuals’ moniker."

For more flower garden ideas, check out the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s guide to planning your garden .

How do you prevent common pests and diseases that affect flowers?

Plants like salvia can keep deer away from your flower garden

If you’ve done all of the above — selected the best-recommended plants, prepared your soil, watered and fertilized your annuals (being extra attentive the first three weeks) — you should be good.

Deer, however, can be your thorniest issue, if you have them in your neighborhood. If they don't bother your hostas (lilies), you’re probably safe. If they eat your hostas, Foltz suggests adding plants like lantana, salvia, and verbena bonariensis to keep deer at bay.

When it comes to controlling weeds, forget about using fabric, plastic, or rocks. Cover your soil with mulch. (But with annuals don't lay it on too thick!)

Foltz uses pine-based mulch, which is very fine in texture. He notes that well-regarded garden stores and nurseries generally use this mix to grow their perennials.

How do you plant a wildflower garden?

Butterflies, birds, and bees love a wildflower garden

Wildflowers are a vital support system for butterflies, birds, and bees and are a beautiful addition to your flower garden. Butterflies need host plants and nectar plants that will feed them later.

If you want to see Monarchs, for example, Foltz suggests Asclepias (also known as milkweed) as the host plant. For swallowtail butterfiles, plant pipevine, spicebush, and fennel. Annuals like lantana, salvia, and verbena bonariensis make great nectar plants for the butterflies to feed on.

How do you make a container flower garden?

Container gardens are easy to grow and the larger the container the easier it is to maintain

Container gardens are a snap to grow, and the larger the container, the easier it is to maintain. Always use a soilless mix in containers, according to Foltz.

“See your best garden centers that display a lot of beautiful annual color containers and use their mix,” he says. “It will be more important to use slow-release fertilizer or fertilize more often when growing in containers. Note that you will have to water more frequently when container gardening.”

What are some edible plants to include in a flower garden?

Peppery nasturtium brings color to the garden and flavor to a salad

Kale, chard, and peppery nasturtium bring a lot of color to gardens. Chives are a hardy perennial plant that adds edible leaves and flowers, and they're easy, deer-proof, and attractive.

Nothing is better than homegrown strawberries, which grow well in containers, or raspberries and blackberries planted in wilder places where they can ramble.

Jacky Runice

About Jacky Runice

Born in Bucktown when bulletproof was a home safety choice and not a coffee order, Jacky Runice has been knocking around Chicago as a professional print, online and broadcast journalist and editor specializing in separating the riff from the raff in culture, entertainment, food, travel and pure unadulterated fun. Jacky is a member of the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA). In her best Chicagoese, Jacky asks, "Who has the time or money to blow on hotels, attractions, restaurants, exhibits and activities that blow?"

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Creative Academy's Secret Garden at Villa Mozart during Milan Design Week 2024

10 APR 2024

Image 1

At Villa Mozart, during the Milan Design Week 2024, it is possible to visit the Secret Garden envisaged by the students of Creative Academy, Richemont’s international design school: a selection of unique pieces, an expression of a deep dialogue between design and high craftsmanship, designed by the students and created by master craftsman Simone Crestani, a brilliant interpreter of the infinite variety of nature.

On the occasion of the Milan Design Week 2024, the Creative Academy students present Secret Garden, an exhibition-event of unique design pieces that have been specially conceived and designed by the young talents of Richemont’s corporate design school and handcrafted by one of Italy’s most established and talented glass masters, Simone Crestani.

Secret Garden can be visited for the duration of the Milan Design Week 2024 (April 16th – 21st, 2024) on the first floor of Villa Mozart, an extraordinary private Milanese residence from the 1930s, exceptionally open to the public during the Fuorisalone. The sophisticated and engaging exhibition design, curated by the creative and interior design duo Eligo Studio, is inspired by the fusion of artifice and nature to which the villa itself, entirely covered with ancient ivy that envelops its elegant forms, is an extraordinary testimony.

Secret Garden is realised in collaboration with the Milan-based luxury leather goods Maison Serapian, which not only hosts the event in its showroom spaces, inside the villa, but also contributed to the students’ inspiration with its iconic Secret Bag collection, a masterful example of the harmonious fusion of design and craftsmanship.

To create the objects that make up Secret Garden, the young designers of Creative Academy were asked to interpret the archetype of the secret garden, a metaphorical place for one’s imagination to linger or a real space with precise characteristics and space-time coordinates. All the creations in the exhibition have a direct and literal connection to one of the many possible secret gardens of our imagination, or they can evoke one from a physical, or perhaps biographical detail: a memory, a fear, a dream.

Image 2

The mission of giving substance to the students’ visions, which are also precise design projects, has been entrusted to Simone Crestani, a master craftsman specialised in working with transparent borosilicate glass, who has brought the Creative Academy students to work in his Atelier with their projects, to bring to life creations that compose a universe between the phantasmagorical and the functional, between art and nature, between design and artistic craftsmanship.

The fourteen objects on display in the Secret Garden were carefully selected from all the projects proposed by students enrolled in the Creative Academy’s Master of Arts in Design and Applied Arts 2024 and were developed under the supervision of Simone Crestani and Alberto Nespoli and Domenico Rocca of Eligo Studio. The transversality in terms of provenance, education, creative approach - the chosen students come from ten different countries - is reflected in a selection of creations capable of conveying the richness of the school and the extraordinary potential of a group of young designers who are preparing to enter the creative studios of the most prestigious global luxury brands.

Secret Garden is produced in partnership with the Fondazione Cologni dei Mestieri d’Arte, and is part of Arts & Crafts & Design at Villa Mozart, an initiative that investigates the dialogue between design thinking and high craftsmanship and encompasses the various exhibitions that can be visited during the Fuorisalone in the prestigious Milanese mansion. A curiosity offers location enthusiasts one more reason to visit the exhibition: from the windows of Villa Mozart one can admire the garden of Palazzo Serbelloni and that of Villa Necchi, with which the prestigious location shares one of the authors: that Piero Portaluppi who is by now - more than any other architect - an absolute symbol of timeless Milanese style.

About Creative Academy

Creative Academy is the Corporate Design School founded in 2003 by Richemont, specialised in the design of jewellery, watches and accessories. The school offers the Master of Arts in Design and Applied Arts, a postgraduate course that each year trains twenty young creative talents coming from around the world. With a concrete approach and a faculty made up mostly of leading figures of the Group (CEO, Creative Directors, etc.), the Master, which has a total duration of ten months, allows students to learn and practice for seven months in Milan and then it offers the most deserving students the exclusive opportunity to conclude the training course with three months of internship in one of the creative studios of Richemont. The didactic program is developed through projects, specialised seminars and constant interaction with the Maison Richemont, which include brands such as Buccellati, Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, A. Lange & Söhne, Baume & Mercier, IWC Schaffhausen, Jaeger Lecoultre, Panerai, Piaget, Roger Dubuis, Vacheron Constantin, Alaïa, AZ Factory, Chloé, Delvaux, dunhill, Gianvito Rossi, Montblanc, Peter Millar, Purdey, Serapian.

Press Contact

Alessandro Pilot [email protected]


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Today’s Events

Wednesday–Monday: 10:00 am–6:00 pm

Tuesday: Closed

Today’s Availability

Longwood gardens selects five fellows for prestigious 2024-2025 leadership program.

Following a rigorous selection process, the 2024-25 Fellows are Laurel Dunning (San Simeon, Calif.), Vânia Pereira (Gainesville, Fla.), Anastasia Sallen (Sarasota, Fla.), E. Yvette Weaver (New York, NY), and Clare Shearman (Wellington, New Zealand)

KENNETT SQUARE, PA–Longwood Gardens announced the selection of five accomplished horticulture professionals for its prestigious Longwood Gardens Fellows Program, maintaining a legacy of cultivating global leaders in horticulture since 1967. Following a rigorous selection process, the 2024-25 Fellows are Laurel Dunning (San Simeon, Calif.), Vânia Pereira (Gainesville, Fla.), Anastasia Sallen (Sarasota, Fla.), E. Yvette Weaver (New York, NY), and Clare Shearman (Wellington, New Zealand). They begin the program at Longwood in June. For information on the Fellows Program, visit .

“Following a comprehensive review, we are delighted to welcome a dynamic cohort of five exceptional professionals,” said Fellows Program Director Sharon Thompsonowak. “Each Fellow brings a distinctive perspective and valuable experiences that will enrich their participation in the program as they expand their expertise and leadership skills in preparation to serve public horticulture in high-impact positions in the future.”

Throughout the fully funded, 13-month, cohort-based residency at Longwood, Fellows explore contemporary horticulture challenges related to leadership, organizational dynamics, board relations and governance, communications, and business management. A two-month field placement provides deeper insights into these issues, empowering Fellows to lead organizations into a vibrant and sustainable future. Alumni of the Fellows Program join the prestigious Society of Fellows, a global network of public garden professionals.

The objective of the Fellows Program is to nurture leaders across the public horticulture sector. Candidates from diverse backgrounds and locations are invited to apply. The ideal candidate has at least five years of relevant experience and wants to serve—or currently serves—in a leadership position. Individuals transitioning into horticulture from other sectors are also encouraged to apply. Nominations for the cohort program are open year-round and can be submitted via the online nomination form here:

Interested applicants may apply between June 1 – July 31, 2024. Those interested in learning more about the Fellows Program can register for an informative webinar on Wednesday, May 8, 2024, at 1 pm EST.  

For more information about the program and the application process, visit .

The Fellows

Laurel Dunning enters the 2024-25 Fellows cohort from Hearst Castle, California’s most visited state park, where she held the position of Supervising Groundskeeper II. Dunning has experimented with plants and design concepts throughout the course of her career, spending 16 years at the Madonna Inn, an eclectic resort known for its themed rooms and vibrant aesthetic. With a degree in landscape architecture from Cal Poly State University, Dunning honed her skills through an internship at Longwood Gardens before returning to California.

Vânia Pereira joins the Fellows Program from the University of Florida (UF) as a forthcoming Ph.D. graduate in Environmental Horticulture, specializing in the development of production protocols for the native palm, saw palmetto. Pereira completed her bachelor's degree in Agronomy Engineering in Brazil and a master's in Agriscience at Illinois State University (ISU). Her passion for plant discovery, propagation, and display was developed during her youth in rural Brazil. Pereira’s previous roles include horticulturist at the Horticulture Center of ISU and docent at the Harn Museum of Art at UF.

Anastasia Sallen joins the Fellows Program from Sarasota, Florida, where she served as Associate Vice President for Education at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, overseeing education programming across two campuses. With a background in horticulture and education, she passionately pursues the intersections between plants and humanity. Anastasia holds a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from New College of Florida and a Master of Arts in Education and Globalization from the University of Oulu in Finland.

E. Yvette Weaver 's horticultural journey is defined by her dedication to enriching New York City's public gardens. As the Horticulture Supervisor at The Friends of The High Line, she oversees the 10th Ave Square and Northern Spur sections. Weaver’s extensive experience includes nearly a decade at The Met Cloisters Gardens, where she assisted in curating medieval-inspired gardens. Her experience extends to the Heather Garden of Fort Tryon Park, and she served as a John Nally Intern at Wave Hill in 2011. Prior roles as a floral designer and Program Coordinator for The Student Conservation Association shaped her passion for horticulture. Weaver holds a certificate in Sustainable Landscape Management from the New York Botanical Garden and she studied Environmental Studies at Ohio Wesleyan University.

Clare Shearman joins the 2024-25 Fellows cohort from Wellington, New Zealand, bringing with her a wealth of international garden experiences. Serving as the Plant Collection Team Manager at Wellington Botanic Garden since 2016, Shearman also represents Botanic Gardens Australia and New Zealand through her involvement in the Royal New Zealand Institute of Horticulture. She previously developed gardens at both private and public estates, including Hever Castle, the childhood home of Anne Boleyn. Shearman previously owned and operated a garden design business for 15 years in Turnbridge Wells, Kent, England, and has shared her expertise through teaching adult education courses in gardening. She is a graduate of Hadlow College in England.

About Longwood Gardens  Longwood Gardens is one of the great gardens of the world, encompassing 1,100 acres of gardens, woodlands, meadows, fountains, a 10,010-pipe Aeolian organ, and grand Conservatory. Longwood continues the mission set forth by founder Pierre S. du Pont to bring joy and inspiration to all through the beauty of nature, conservation and learning. As part of its commitment to conservation, in 2024 Longwood acquired the 505-acre Longwood at Granogue, a cultural landscape in nearby Wilmington, Delaware. Longwood’s foremost influence on American horticulture has been through its education programs, in keeping with Mr. du Pont’s desire to establish “a school where students and others may receive instruction in the arts of horticulture and floriculture.” Since 1958, thousands of students from all over the world have participated in one or more of Longwood’s intensive programs, ranging from School & Youth Programs which educates 45,000 students both online and in person each year, to the two-year Professional Gardener Program to the Fellows Program. Graduates have gone on to leadership roles in many of the country’s top horticultural institutions. For more information, visit .      

More Press Releases

  • Longwood Gardens’ Sweeping Reimagination of its Central Visitor Experience Will Open to the Public on November 22, 2024 March 26, 2024
  • American Orchid Society Recognizes Longwood Gardens’ Peter Zale for Orchid Conservation Work March 7, 2024
  • Spring Blooms Display on View March 30–May 5, 2024 March 7, 2024
  • Professional Horticulture Alumni Association to Host Today’s Horticulture Symposium at Longwood Gardens February 2, 2024 January 11, 2024
  • Garden of Music Shares Rich History of Longwood’s Musical Instruments and Performing Arts  November 16, 2023
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China has flooded the market with so many solar panels that people are using them as garden fencing

  • Chinese manufacturers are making so many solar panels, it's causing a global glut.
  • Solar panels have become so cheap that some people are using them to line fences.
  • Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will talk about the overcapacity during her trip to China this week.

China's manufacturers are pumping out so many solar panels that the resulting global glut has caused prices to tank.

Solar panels — 80% of which are made in China — are so cheap that they're now being used to line garden fences in Germany and the Netherlands, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday.

Solar panels are typically installed on rooftops, where they can capture the most sunlight — but there's so much excess supply that some people are putting them on fences. This also saves on pricey labor and scaffolding costs required for roof installations, FT reported.

Fences covered in solar panels are also starting to take off in the UK, North America, and Australia.

"Why put up a fence when you can just put up a load of solar panels, even if they're not aligned exactly to the sun?" Martin Brough, the head of climate research at BNP Paribas Exane, told the FT.

Solar-panel supply globally is forecast to reach 1,100 gigawatts by the end of this year — three times more than demand, the International Energy Agency wrote in a report released in January.

Prices on the spot market have already fallen by half in 2023 and are likely to extend decline by another 40% by 2028, the agency added.

Related stories

China's hold on the solar-panel market is now in a state of oversupply, which means manufacturers elsewhere — such as the US and Europe — are unable to compete effectively.

The oversupply of cheap Chinese solar panels is on US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen's radar as she heads to China on Wednesday for meetings with top Chinese officials. The visit is her second trip to China in the past 12 months.

"During her engagements in China, Secretary Yellen will advocate for American workers and businesses to ensure they are treated fairly, including by pressing Chinese counterparts on unfair trade practices and underscoring the global economic consequences of Chinese industrial overcapacity," the Treasury said in a press release on Tuesday announcing Yellen's visit.

Yellen said at a Suniva solar cell plant in Georgia last week that she was "concerned about global spillovers from the excess capacity that we are seeing in China" that have now hit new energy industries like solar, electric vehicles, and lithium-ion batteries.

Beijing is championing those sectors, which it's calling the "new three" industries, to drive its economy. China is struggling to pivot from its reliance on the real-estate industry, which is now mired in a debt crisis.

"China's overcapacity distorts global prices and production patterns and hurts American firms and workers, as well as firms and workers around the world," Yellen said.

"I will convey my belief that excess capacity poses risks not only to American workers and firms and to the global economy, but also to productivity and growth in the Chinese economy," she added.

Chinese manufacturers are feeling the heat from solar-panel overcapacity, too.

Last month, Longi Green Energy Technology, the world's largest solar-cell manufacturer, announced it was laying off thousands of workers amid overcapacity and low prices.

Watch: Why China launched military drills during Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan

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  1. 20 Best Botanical Gardens to Visit in the U.S.

    JOIN 100,000 GARDEN LOVERS. Discover 20 of the best public gardens to visit in the U.S. Get our recommendations for the most beautiful gardens from coast to coast, including Longwood Gardens, Atlanta Botanical Gardens, Descanso Gardens, Denver Botanic Gardens, and more!

  2. Public Gardens Near You

    Visit the Public Gardens Map on the American Public Gardens Association website to find public gardens near you! Find One Now. Tips for Having a Great Public Garden Adventure. Head to your local public gardens for a great outdoor adventure. Take our printable journals to guide your adventures. Public gardens are open during all the seasons ...

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    Get plant information, gardening solutions, design inspiration and more in our weekly newsletter. We will never sell or distribute your email to any other parties or organizations. Browse guided garden tours around the world and discover beautiful gardens to visit across the United States and Canada. Plus get inspiration for garden travel.

  4. Botanical gardens and arboretums to visit in NJ this spring

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    Size of Garden. If planting in the ground, a 10' x 10' garden (100 square feet) is a manageable size. Pick 3 to 5 of your favorite vegetables and buy 3 to 5 plants of each one. If planting in a raised bed, a 4' x 4' or 4' x 8' is a good beginner size. See our Raised Garden Bed Guide, which covers the benefits of raised beds, how to ...

  7. Visit the U.S. Botanic Garden

    The gated outdoor gardens ("National Garden") are open 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily. These gardens have extended spring-summer hours April 1 - September 15, staying open until 7:00 p.m. Visit our Hours and Location page for additional information and directions. Safety Guidelines

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    Botanical gardens are a hidden treasures of inspiration, botanical wonder, science, and entertainment for the travelling gardener. 13. Preserve endangered plants. Lastly, botanical gardens are tasked with growing and preserving genetic diversity in plants. 20% of plant species are endangered. The global network of botanical gardens preserve ...

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    The Garden and Landscape Guide. There are links to information on garden design and landscape architecture (including: online books, biographies, a directory of designers, a glossary, a product finder, and eArticles and eBooks on the history, theory and design methods of these professions). See our About Page for more information or please contact us to comment.

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    Winter Buds: Marvelous Morphology. To get a feel for what you might see when you come to visit the U.S. Botanic Garden, we encourage you to take our virtual tour. You'll get a peek at our Conservatory, gated outdoor gardens, and Bartholdi Fountain and Gardens, but the plant displays and exhibits are likely to be different each time you come.

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    Then, dig up the dead grass, add compost, and plant your garden bed. Manual removal of grass is a lot of work and very effective. Soften turf by moistening the lawn a day or two before removal and use a sharp space to cut small sections. Slide the spade beneath the grass to lift.

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    Garden Visit: A Grand Classic from an Earlier Century in Seattle. Jane Hedreen and David Thyer live in Seattle's Capitol Hill in a grand 1910 house that takes up six city lots and was once occupied by a US senator. Join us on a tour of their atmospheric gardens, which speak of another century. Photographs courtesy of Flora and Henri, Jane ...

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  22. Grow the best flower garden ever with these 10 expert tips

    Best for sunny areas in your flower garden. Petunia: Choose bright colors like Vista Bubblegum pink or Supertunia Vista Jazzberry. Lantana: Good choices include Citrus Blend and Lucky Pot of Gold. Sweet Potato Vine: Marguerite is a great ground cover in sunny spots. It cascades over walls and is a vigorous grower.

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    For the first time, 2022 sees the National Garden Scheme opening gardens in the Channel Islands and Northern Ireland. South East.

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    At Villa Mozart, during the Milan Design Week 2024, it is possible to visit the Secret Garden envisaged by the students of Creative Academy, Richemont's international design school: a selection of unique pieces, an expression of a deep dialogue between design and high craftsmanship, designed by the students and created by master craftsman Simone Crestani, a brilliant interpreter of the ...

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    Longwood Gardens is one of the great gardens of the world, encompassing 1,100 acres of gardens, woodlands, meadows, fountains, a 10,010-pipe Aeolian organ, and grand Conservatory. Longwood continues the mission set forth by founder Pierre S. du Pont to bring joy and inspiration to all through the beauty of nature, conservation and learning.

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    For some homeowners, buying garden and landscape supplies involves an afternoon visit to an Elektrostal', Moscow Oblast, Russia nursery for some healthy new annuals and perhaps a few new planters. Others dream of a Japanese garden complete with flowing waterfalls, a koi pond and a graceful footbridge surrounded by luscious greenery.

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    The oversupply of cheap Chinese solar panels is on US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen's radar as she heads to China on Wednesday for meetings with top Chinese officials. The visit is her second ...