Gardens have been around for at least 3,000 years, so it’s clear there’s a deep connection between humans and living plants. As the summer draws to a close, enjoy the beauty and serenity of a well-tended garden with none of the work by visiting a botanical garden.
It’s entertainment for everyone. Admission is less than a theme park and you can spend the whole day there. There’s sure to be an area of interest for all ages from formal gardens to butterfly gardens and most include restaurants or places to purchase food. Check the garden’s event calendar before you go for special exhibits and shows.
You can see and learn about a wide variety of plants you might not see otherwise. According to Botanic Gardens Conservation International, botanic gardens are institutions holding documented collections of living plants for the purposes of scientific research, conservation, display and education. Many of the larger ones feature different themed gardens, such as bonsai, heritage and Japanese gardens. Some concentrate on certain habitats, such as deserts.
You’re spending time in a soothing environment. The human – plant connection actually has a name: biophilia, which means “love of life.” The concept has been around since Aristotle and is believed to be part of our genetic makeup. So what better way to immerse yourself in living plants and soak up some peace and serenity.
After perusing dozens of lists of the best botanical gardens in the U.S. from magazines like Conde Nast, Travel & Leisure, and USA Today, I came up with these top three recommended gardens.
Missouri Botanical Gardens, St. Louis – the only botanical garden to appear on every single list and considered to be one of the top three botanical gardens in the world. Established by Henry Shaw in 1859, it is also one of the oldest in the country. Highlights include a children’s garden and events like Adventures with Cocktails hosted by the Young Friends of the Garden.
Chicago Botanic Garden, Chicago – opened in 1972 under the auspices of the Chicago Horticultural Society. At present it boasts 27 gardens and four natural areas. Events include beer tasting in the Rose Garden and an open air cooking demonstration.
Desert Botanical Gardens, Phoenix – grew out of a small group of citizens passionate about conserving the desert environment. Swedish botanist Gustaf Starck started the group in the early 1930s and by 1939, the garden opened its doors. The focus is on desert environments of the southwestern U.S. as well as all desert environments around the world. Events include art and sculpture exhibits and flashlight tours.
Check out this list of botanical garden and travel resources.