A visit to the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is a visit to the far reaches of the world. As you walk through the 83-acre garden, you’re transported from tropical rainforests to pine rocklands to the forests of Madagascar. Located in Coral Gables, Florida, warm winters and wet summers allow palms, cycads, tropical trees, and flowering shrubs to thrive. The garden is home to one of the largest collections of subtropical and tropical plants within the continental United States.
Costa Brava, or the wild coast, stretches from Blanes to the French border. Like a saw blade, the rugged coast is marked with hundreds of tiny coves and capes. Each one holds a surprise. I went to the Costa Brava searching for pristine waters, fresh seafood, and coastal trails. But I also found an unexpected botanical treasure; the Jardins de Cap Roig. Perched on cliffs that tower above the Mediterranean Sea, the botanical gardens of Cap Roig will delight garden lovers with exotic plant collections and stunning views.
The first snow of the year has blanketed the earth and garden. Snow clings to tree branches and twigs, transforming their dark branches into intricate lace. While the snow may be beautiful, the biting cold is less enjoyable.
Winter came quickly this year. The temperatures plummeted and we’ve been locked in her cold embrace the last few weeks. The first frost and snow finished off the few plants that clung to life. With nature slumbering, strolls through the woods and garden lose some of their fun. I’ve found that the best way to escape the cold and get into the holiday spirit is to visit a garden conservatory.
We’ve all been stumped by the folks that seem to have everything they want or need. Or on the opposite spectrum, minimalists can be just as challenging to buy for. What if, instead of a physical gift, you gave them something that was much more rewarding? Research has shown that experiences bring us more happiness than material possessions. I can’t think of a better gift than that of the outdoors, be it a garden or the woods. This year, consider giving an outdoor experience to your loved ones instead of something they’ll soon forget. A membership to a garden or park is a great way to help them enjoy nature year-round.
Most garden and nature lovers don’t plan their vacation to the Blue Ridge Mountains in late November. The native azaleas and rhododendron aren’t blanketing the mountainsides with their blossoms. The fall foliage peak has long passed. And by now, the first frost of the season has finished off most of the plants.
But as I chased warmer weather south, I found myself in Asheville for a couple weeks. And from what I’m told, no visit to Asheville would be complete without a stop at the Biltmore House and Gardens. It’s true that most of the trees are bare at this time of year. But the Picturesque garden style and the wide variety of plants ensures that there is still a lot of beauty to be seen at the Biltmore Gardens.
By now, autumn’s transformative powers have worked their magic on New York City. Golden leaves blanket city sidewalks, ethereal seedheads have replaced flowers, and there’s a crisp chill in the air. If nature is calling to you and you yearn for a little more time outdoors before winter hits, head to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. I can’t think of a better way to spend an afternoon than strolling through the park and soaking in the last days of autumn.
An emerald gem perched atop white limestone cliffs, Les Jardins Suspendus de Marqueyssac (Overhanging Gardens of Marqueyssac) is renowned for its unique boxwood topiaries. More than 150,000 boxwoods grow on the 54-acre estate. It’s deemed one of the most beautiful gardens in Périgord, with thousands of visitors each year. But I almost didn’t go; topiary gardens typically don’t interest me. I’m glad that I did, however. The gardens of Marqueyssac are more than fancy topiaries.
Chicago’s Best Deep Dish Pizza. World Famous Cinnamon Rolls. Home of Maine’s Best Blueberry Pie. Outrageous claims like these are hard to believe and are usually the furthest thing from the truth. But when the French say this, you should listen. La Roque de Gageac is considered to be one of France’s most beautiful villages or “Les Plus Beaux Villages de France.” After visiting, I’d have to agree.
Perched on the banks of the Dordogne river, La Roque de Gageac is a picturesque medieval village with a surprise. Mediterranean and subtropical plants grow abundantly among the golden stone houses.
If you’ve outgrown Disney and roller coasters bring more fear than fun, you may be tempted to write off Orlando as a travel destination. But that’d be a mistake. A mistake that I almost made when my boyfriend asked me to join him on a business trip to Orlando. Instead, I found that Orlando offers much more than theme parks. A little-known garden oasis near downtown Orlando is a welcome retreat from the crowds at Disney and Universal Studios.
The Harry P. Leu Gardens reside on almost 50 acres and contain nearly 30 different plant collections, including camellia, rose, bamboo, azalea, bromeliad, palm, and cycad. If you’re a horticulture or garden enthusiast, Leu Gardens is worth a visit if you find yourself in Orlando.