Best Gardens to Visit in New England
Whether strolling a well-tended path bordered by wildflowers, admiring a clipped topiary, smelling the sea next to a historic garden replica, or enjoying tea in the presence of perrennial plumes, New England has a bounty of beautiful gardens to enjoy during the spring and summer months. Here’s a list of best gardens to visit in New England from our 2012 Editors’ Picks list.
Tell us in the comments section your favorite place to stop and smell the roses!
BEST ALL-FAMILY GARDEN ATTRACTION
Heritage Museums & Gardens – Sandwich, MA
The gardens and trails crisscross 100 acres; the gentle maritime climate encourages dramatic displays of rhododendrons, daylilies, hostas, and hydrangeas. The museums offer something for everyone in the family–from the gorgeously restored Looff carousel to antique automobiles to iconic American folk art.
67 Grove St. 508-888-3300; heritagemuseumsandgardens.org
BEST GARDEN TOURS
Celia Thaxter’s Island Garden – Appledore Island, ME
A tribute to poetry achieved with the pen as well as in the garden, the Isles of Shoals home of poet Celia Thaxter on Maine’s Appledore Island is open to the public during the summer months thanks to Shoals Marine Laboratory, jointly administered by the University of New Hampshire and Cornell University personnel. Ferry transportation, lunch, and a guided tour of the oasis are provided.
Ferry from 29 Wentworth Road, New Castle, NH. 603-430-5220; www.sml.cornell.edu
Green Animals Topiary Gardens – Portsmouth, RI
Bonsai shrubs are green with envy over the 80 trees and bushes sculpted into geometric forms and animal shapes, from a giraffe to a teddy bear. The oldest topiary property in the U.S. also has vegetable and herb gardens, orchards, and a Victorian house overlooking Narragansett Bay.
380 Cory’s Lane. 401-683-1267; newportmansions.org
BEST BOTANICAL STROLL
Rhododendron State Park – Fitzwilliam, NH
Named for its 16-acre grove, a National Natural Landmark, bursting with Rhododendron maximum blossoms in mid-July, the 2,723-acre reserve is the state’s only botanical park. Look for wildflowers such as Indian pipe and woodland asters also blooming throughout the park, and listen for ruffed grouse, white-throated sparrows, woodpeckers, and warblers.
Route 119 West. 603-532-8862; nhstateparks.org
BEST GARDEN TEAS
Perennial Pleasures Nursery Tea Garden Café – East Hardwick, VT
What could be more delightful than an English cream tea served amid one of the area’s finest perennial gardens? Perhaps a slice of homemade five-nut tart or a hot-fudge sundae.
63 Brickhouse Road. 802-472-5104; perennialpleasures.net
Woodlawn Museum, Gardens & Park – Ellsworth, ME
On Wednesdays during July and August, the George Nixon Black Estate serves elegant high teas in the garden (or carriage house, if raining), complete with china, silver, linens, tea, sandwiches, pastries, and live music. Reservations required.
Surry Road (Route 172). 207- 667-8671; woodlawnmuseum.com
BEST GARDEN DOUBLE-HEADER
Asticou & Thuya Gardens – Northeast Harbor, ME
On Mount Desert Island, it’s easy to pair Asticou, a 2.3-acre space famed for its Japanese sand garden, stone lanterns, azaleas, and waterlilies, with nearby Thuya, which blends semiformal English beds with woodland plantings.
Asticou, Route 198; Thuya, Route 3. 207-276-3727; gardenpreserve.org