While a glimmer of spring is yet to be found on the east coast; winter still has a firm grip with snow and freezing temperatures. I cannot think of a more befitting way to start dreaming of spring and gathering inspiration for the upcoming planting season than to visit a botanical garden with greenhouse after greenhouse to explore! Here are five of our top picks!
Longwood Gardens: Kennett Square, PA
Longwood Gardens is one of the great gardens of the world. With historical information dating back to the 1700’s for this property, the land was purchased from William Penn by George Peirce and turned into an arboretum in 1798 by Pierce’s great-grandson. The property was later purchased by the duPont family. The property has been open to the public since the late 1700’s and just added a rather unusual award to its long list of awards and accolades – Longwood was recently named winner of ‘best loos in the land.’ An award given by Cintas, recognizes public restrooms for their design, hygiene and usability. Longwood Gardens’ private, skylit restroom pods are nestled into a 4,072 square foot green wall comprised of about 47,000 ferns and other plants. Caretakers use computers to water and regulate the temperature of the plants, that were carefully placed in the 3,590 panels in the wall based on each type of plant’s light preference. The wall produces as much oxygen as 90 trees that are 14 feet tall. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter.
Howard Peter Rawlings Conservatory: Baltimore, MD
Completed in 1888, Rawlings Conservatory is the second oldest surviving glass and steel framed conservatory in the United States that is still in-use today. Located in Druid Hill Park in Baltimore MD, it was designed by architect George Aloysius Frederick. The Palm House, with its 175 windows soaring 50 feet into the air, is a spectacular example of Victorian architecture. With five distinct greenhouse rooms, the Mediterranean House, Tropical House, Desert House, Orchid Room and Palm House, Rawlings is a true gem to visit. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter.
United States Botanic Garden: Washington, D.C.
Established by the U.S. Congress in 1820, the U.S. Botanic Garden is one of the oldest botanic gardens in North America. In 1842, the idea of a national botanic garden was reestablished when the United States Exploring Expedition to the South Seas (the Wilkes Expedition) brought a collection of living plants from around the globe to Washington, D.C. The Conservatory was constructed by the Architect of the Capitol in 1933. The historic Lord & Burnham greenhouse contains two courtyard gardens and 10 garden rooms under glass, totaling nearly 29,000 square feet of growing space. The exterior remains largely unchanged from its 1933 appearance aside from the addition of at the rear of the building. The Conservatory underwent a renovation in 1997 to modernize the building systems while retaining the architectural character. The building reopened in 2001.
New York Botanic Garden: New York, NY
An oasis in the busy New York metropolis, this National Historic Landmark’s 250 acre site’s landscape supports over one million living plants in their extensive collections. Founded in 1891, this classic botanic garden hosts vast research programs in the Garden’s state-of-the-art laboratories to discover and understand the properties of plants and their relationships to each other, to ecosystems, and to people. The Enid A. Haupt Conservatory is a stunning example of a Victorian-style glasshouse. Home to A World of Plants, the Conservatory showcases the wonders of the Garden’s collection in lush tropical rain forests, cactus-filled deserts, palms from around the world, and aquatic and carnivorous plants. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter.
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden: Richmond, VA
Founded in 1981, a group of botanists, horticulturists and citizens worked together to form the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. The property has a long, rich history, originally Powhatan Indian hunting ground and once owned by Patrick Henry, Ginter purchased the property in 1895. A prosperous Richmond businessman, Ginter encouraged his colleagues to form and build the Lakeside Wheel Club – a destination for Richmond bicyclists on his property. After Ginter’s death in 1897, his niece bought the property and converted the wheel club into a convalescent home. Naming the property ‘Bloemendaal’ (valley of flowers) she began the gardens on the site. In her will, she designated life-time rights to her companion, after which time the city of Richmond was to develop the property as a botanical garden honoring Lewis Ginter. The Conservatory is crowned ‘Jewel of the Garden’ and this 11,000 square-foot structure houses exotic plants from around the world. Crowned by a 63 foot tall dome, the Conservatory includes a central Palm house, a semi-tropical wing featuring an orchid collection and two other wings that change according to seasonal displays. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter.