It’s finally Spring, promising hope, renewal and inspiration. April is also National Garden Month, time to admire everything that blooms, buds or blossoms. Here are some noteworthy gardens where both locals and visitors can get outdoors and relish everyone’s favorite season:
Dollywood’s Flower & Food Festival: This Pigeon Forge, Tennessee festival offers hundreds of thousands of flowers assembled into numerous displays that show off the talents of a team of horticulturists. They have transformed blooms into everything from woodland creatures like raccoons to Dolly Parton’s mom quilting her famed “Coat of Many Colors.” The park is debuting a Flower & Food Festival Dining Pass and guests can choose five different meals to enjoy during the event such as lobster rolls, mountain paella, flower-shaped cookies and blueberry lavender lemonade. The event runs from April 23 through June 7 and is included with park admission.
Glen Burnie Gardens: The famed Shenandoah Valley is dotted with beautiful scenery, excellent recreational opportunities and vibrant historic towns, including Winchester, Virginia. Flower afficionados can discover the historic Glen Burnie Gardens at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley. The formal gardens began in 1956 at the site of the Glen Burnie House (built in 1794) and have grown into seven acres of elaborate gardens with boxwoods, Rose Garden, Perennial Garden, Vegetable Garden and a Spring Garden. There is also a Bamboo Forest and an Asian-based Water Garden where golden trout swim in a spring-fed pond and water cascades down a natural embankment,
Bellingrath Gardens and Home: Known for its powdery sand beaches and crystal-clear waters, Gulf Shores, Alabama, offers sunshine and unspoiled natural beauty year-round. Visitors can admire 65 acres of floral pageantry at Bellingrath Gardens and Home in Theodore. With hundreds of varieties of flowers including azaleas, roses, chrysanthemums and Alabama’s state flower, the camellia, the gardens offers colorful blooms every month of the year. In April, the Rose Garden is blooming with Easter lilies, petunias, Cape daisies and begonias.
Historic Gardens in South Carolina: Spartanburg, South Carolina offers an abundance of parks, trails, lakes, rivers and historic gardens. Guests at the Clevedale Inn and Historic Garden can stroll through a walkable garden area with plants, native and adapted trees, shrubs, wildflowers, perennials, and colorful annuals. Also in the heart of Spartanburg is the Hatcher Garden & Woodland Preserve, a sanctuary for wildlife and a garden blooming with different species of trees, hostas and wildflowers.
Redbud Blossoms: Allegany County is known as “The Mountain Side of Maryland.” Each spring, the region is washed in a reddish-pink hue from the blossoms of thousands of Eastern redbud trees. Guests spot them in radiant clusters along the scenic byways and on a road cycling route along Route 40. Rocky Gap State Park is home to more than 3,000 acres of public land and at the 243-acre Lake Habeeb, visitors can hike, bike and enjoy outdoor water activities surrounded by the trees. Redbud flowers have some of the highest concentrations of vitamin C and with their slightly sweet, slightly tart flavor and when still budding, they can be picked, pickled and used in place of capers.
Louisiana Irises: Each spring, Coastal Louisiana is awash in vivid hues of purple, blue, red and yellow that dot the swampy wetlands of Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou. These colorful flowers are Louisiana Irises. Due to this flower’s declining population, the Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative organizes volunteer rescue events to relocate these beautiful plants and re-plant them in protected habitats. The Coast of Louisiana is also home to brightly colored wildflowers and blooming bayous. The Wildlife Gardens in Gibson offers self-guided tours ideal to see the wetlands blooming with colorful flowers popping against the moss and cypress trees. Guests to Wildlife Gardens also spot alligators, peacocks and other exotic animals.
So take advantage of Spring and National Garden Month. Pack your camera and hit the road.