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There’s a reason we suffered through all those April showers. Flowers are blooming all over the place, wild and curated, on trees and from the ground. And what better place to learn about and see some of those gorgeous little bursts of color than a botanical garden? If you live in the city, it’s a wonderful escape, and most flowers are seemingly coming to life again with the arrival of warmth. Another perk: some botanical gardens are free, and most others charge a minimal fee that’s totally worth it to wander through the daffodils. Here’s a look at some of the best botanical gardens in North America.


Longwood Gardens

Flowers in bloom at Longwood Gardens. Photo: Fred Schroeder – Flickr

Longwood Gardens — Kennett Square, Pennsylvania

The trees and flowers are bursting into bloom right now throughout Longwood Gardens’ nearly 1,100 acres. Magnolias, azaleas, dogwood and more join the more than 240,000 tulips sprinkled throughout the grounds. Summer welcomes events, classes and even night flower-viewing sessions. Visitors must buy tickets ($20 for adults) based on time of entry.

El Charco del Ingenio

A sanctuary in El Charco del Ingenio in Oaxaca, México. Photo: Grauliflower – Flickr.

El Charco del Ingenio — Oaxaca, México

This 220-acre botanical garden is unlike most curated gardens, and instead has been grown around a hilly and rugged landscape above the cliffs of a canyon overlooking San Miguel. It’s founders saw the effects humans were having on the landscape with littering, overgrazing and the like. So they stepped in, restoring the landscape to its natural beauty, and then some. Oaxaca is one of the most florally diverse states in Mexico, and you’ll see much of that native flora — including a ton of cacti and succulents — throughout the reserve.


Chicago Botanic Garden

A pond at the Chicago Botanic Garden near the suburb of Glencoe, Illinois. Photo: H. Michael Miley – Flickr.

Chicago Botanic Garden — Chicago, Illinois

One of the biggest pleasures about visiting Chicago’s botanical garden is the break from the concrete of the city. Sure, the city does a great job of swapping out the flowers in the planters downtown, but those don’t have quite the alluring effect the magnolias, hyacinths and phlox will have this month. Visitors can bike, hike or stroll through Chicago Botanic Garden’s 385 acres, which are situated around nine islands. Admission is free.


Desert Botanical Garden

Cacti in the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo: Josh Schoenwald – Flickr.

Desert Botanical Garden — Phoenix, Arizona

May is a pretty interesting time to visit this botanical garden, dedicated to the flowers and plants of the desert. Many of the spring wildflowers and flowering cacti have begun to lose their petals and color with the slow arrival of summer’s heat. However, the iconic Saguaro cacti are entering their period of bloom. Flowers open in the evening and remain open the next day, and it’s quite a sight. More than 50,000 plants, many of them cacti, dominate the Desert Botanical Garden’s 145 acres. Admission is $22 for adults, $12 for students.


 Portland Japanese Gardens.

A Japanese maple tree inside the Portland Japanese Gardens. Photo: psanders3001 – Flickr.

Japanese Garden — Portland, Oregon

This is a hidden gem of a garden, and one that many don’t actually seek out in Portland. Its 5.5 acres are nestled inside Washington Park, but it’s well worth the foray. The park has been around since the 1960s and has five major sub-gardens, including one with rocks built into the path in the shape of the Big Dipper. Another devoted to a tea ceremony, and yet another offers ponds, waterfalls, streams and natural mosses. The garden is meant to bring visitors a sense of peace and harmony through nature. The low entrance fee of $9.50 for adults helps with that peace and harmony, too.


Franklin Park Conservatory

A view of the Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus, Ohio. Photo: VasenkaPhotography – Flickr.

Franklin Park Conservatory — Columbus, Ohio 

Originally built in 1895, the Franklin Park Conservatory is on the National Register for Historic Places. It’s beautiful year round, with indoor roomsimitating varying climates and a vast garden outside. Scores of couples of have been married at the conservatory, and the landscape, inside and out, is peppered with Chihuly glass sculptures. There are seasonal exhibits, and right now it’s Blooms and Butterflies. Conservatory admission is $13 for adults.


Butchart Gardens

The Sunken Garden at Butchart Gardens near Victoria, British Columbia.

Butchart Gardens — Victoria, British Columbia

On particularly vibrant days, Butchart Gardens may give one the feeling that they’ve fallen down the rabbit hole. There are flowers of all shapes and sizes, and bushes trimmed into intriguing shapes, as well as bronze statues of wild boar, donkeys and sturgeons. There are performances in the summer and an ice skating rink is erected in the winter. Established in the early 1900s, it used to be a limestone quarry. Now, it draws more than a million visitors a year. This is one of the pricier admissions on our list, with adult tickets costing nearly $30, but it’s absolutely worth it.


Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden

Flowers in bloom at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden in Texas. Photo: Daniel M. Hendricks – Flickr.

Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden — Dallas, Texas

Dallas Arboretum does it up right with the flowers, offering 66 acres of displays, ponds, streams and more. The cherry on top, though, is the shining array of events, discounts and deals it offers visitors. There’s a concert series on Thursday nights, and on Wednesdays the garden extends its hours until 8 p.m., welcoming visitors to experience nature as the sun sets. And it has a rainy day guarantee, offering a refund if rain interrupts your visit. Tickets are $15, but consider going on Wednesday for buy-one-get-one-free ticket deals.

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Tagged: FREE!, Mexico, Seasonal

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