Our Readers Tell Us Their Favorite Public Gardens

For our June 2013 Washington Gardener Reader Contest, we asked our readers to tell us: What is Your Favorite Public Garden to Visit and Why. Here are some of their responses. Is your favorite public garden among them?

Nancy Khan of Washington, DC, said, “My favorite public garden is the US National Arboretum. Mostly, I love that it's a huge green space right in the city where you can ride a bike, picnic, and just relax. As expected there are some magnificent trees scattered throughout the arboretum and I've gotten some great gardening ideas from their displays, particularly the Asian and Dwarf Conifer collections. The bonsai exhibit is amazing and it's fun to feed the koi in the aquatic garden.  It's definitely one of our DC highlights to visit with out-of-town guests.

Lynn Benich of Washington, DC,  commented, “I love the US Botanic Garden on the National Mall because it has all the different type of growing zones under one roof.  It is enjoyable to walk the path through the different areas especially. I love the orchid display and medicinal plant area. Outside, there is a large garden to walk thru with plants always growing and pleasant, calming water features and ponds. A true paradise.”

Jennifer Whalen of Silver Spring, MD, said, “My favorite public garden is Brookside Gardens. It’s close by and always has something of interest to see no matter the time of year. My son loves watching the turtles and fish in the pond. Plus the Christmas lights and butterfly show are fun additions.”

Catherine Jamieson of Arlington VA, wrote, “My favorite public garden is Fairchild TropicalBotanic Garden in Coral Gables, FL. I've visited it approximately 40 times (we are part-time Florida residents) and it's a breathtaking but at the same time peaceful, calming experience. The garden is so large that visitors often encounter very few other visitors. More importantly, Fairchild is dedicated to the conservation of tropical plants in South Florida, the Caribbean, oceanic islands, tropical Africa and Madagascar. The cycad garden preserves the oldest see-bearing plants in the world. The mission to preserve biodiversity is the driving force behind the garden.”

Anne Hardman of Silver Spring, MD commented, “My favorite public garden, other than Brookside Gardens is Chanticleer!  It was designed as a pleasure garden and has fantastic variety, rolling terrain with woods, streams and sweeping open spaces.”

Rachel Williams of Waynesboro, VA, said, “My favorite public garden is Diamond Falls in St. Lucia. I don't think we've visited a public garden here locally before, but would love to. It was our favorite because it was our first and now we'd like to see more!”

Anne Rullman submitted: “It is hard to say which is my favorite garden, since we are blessed with so many choices. I do enjoy Lewis Ginter and have even stopped on my way home from Raleigh from visiting my daughter, to stroll through the gardens. Longwood Gardens has to be right up there at the top, but I also really enjoy the US Botanic Gardens and the National Arboretum. Guess I just like gardens!”

Madeline Caliendo of Washington, DC, said, “I have three favorite public gardens:
1.  Chanticleer in PA--for its creative/innovative plantings
2.  Ladew in MD--for its intimacy and sense of whimsy in a beautiful setting
3.  Hillwood in DC--for its fabulous and peaceful gardens close to home.”

Debra Levay of Columbia, MD shared: “I absolutely love Ladew Topiary Gardens in Monkton, MD. The gardens are beautiful in all the various seasons from the earliest spring blooms to the autumn blossoms. I enjoy passing through the different "garden rooms"; each with its own ambiance, color and story. While it is old-fashioned with regard to the older plants and garden style, it is also timeless and magical with the topiaries and hidden surprises. It is always a relaxing and enjoyable day from the stroll through the gardens to the exploration of Harvey Ladew's home and, indeed, hearing the story of Harvey Ladew and how he created the gardens. If one can make it to any of the events, many of them musical, it just adds another dimension to the pleasures one can enjoy.”

So did your favorite public garden make the list? Let us know in the comments field below.

Congratulations to our reader contest winners, chosen at random from among the submitted entries, they are: Nancy Khan of Washington, DC; Catherine Jamieson of Arlington, VA, and Debra Levayof Columbia, MD. 

They each receive a pair of passes to the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, VA. With something for all ages and interests, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is a place to learn about plants, to marvel at nature, to relax in a beautiful setting, to take gardening classes, or to have a wedding or a business meeting. A wide variety of experiences are offered through its diverse gardens and facilities. We hope they enjoy their visits to Lewis Ginter!


plyle said…
Green Spring Gardens in VA. Great place for a picnic or stroll. Wonderful gardening classes. Great ideas for gardening throughout the whole park. Thank you Fairfax County Park Authority for this park!
I second Green Spring Garden. Not only is it a beautiful respite in an urban area, it's also home to a wonderful Master Gardener program. Master gardeners devote time and energy to educating the public about conservation issues, as well as gardening know-how. I'm forever grateful for the training I received as a Green Spring Master Gardener, as well as for the endless inspiration provided by the demonstration gardens and wildlife trail. Green Spring is a hidden treasure!
So many great gardens but do not forget Dumbarton Oaks, a real gem for our region.

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