7 Botanical Gardens to Visit in the Midwest Is your New Year's Resolution to travel more? Living in the midwest, sometimes it's easy to feel as though there's nothing worth visiting for miles around. But what is a better destination for a gardener than a lovely garden? The following seven botanical gardens, spread across the midwest, are host to vast collections of interesting plants and gardening techniques, and receive visitors from around the world!
Lauritzen Gardens- Conservatory
#7 Lauritzen Gardens (Omaha, NE) Located in Nebraska's largest city, Lauritzen Gardens is our own little backyard botanical garden. It is open all year, but especially resplendent in the spring, when the flowers bloom. The garden is growing all the time, frequently adding new exhibits. In 2014, a new $20 million greenhouse addition opened. The 4-acre arboretum features many regional species, including a maple forest and a marsh exhibit.
#6 Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens (Columbus, OH)
The outdoor garden collections at Franklin Park Conservatory include 6 distinct collections. Being outdoor, they change with the seasons, providing a unique experience with each visit. Interestingly, the conservatory is home to a Trial Garden, wherein newly developed varieties of plants are cultivated to test their growing success in the Ohio climate. Visiting the Trial Garden, you'll find experimental annuals and perennials you've never seen before.
#5 Hidden Lake Gardens (East Lansing, MI)
Hidden Lake Gardens is an extension of Michigan State University. 200 acres of land, with the beautiful garden already cultivated on it, was donated to the University by Harry A. Fee in 1945. His vision was that the land be used for the education and benefit of the public. Today, the 70 year old Gardens span 755 acres. The Gardens change from season to season, striving to offer a scenic destination year-round. They offer classes for people of all ages, as well as enriching the education of the University's students.
#4 Memphis Botanic Garden (Memphis, TN)
Home to 28 specialty gardens, the Memphis Botanic Garden emphasizes education and connecting the community with nature. The gardens and plant specimens are organized logically, valuing their worth as educational tools. Since they provide educational programs for thousands of area children, the garden is extraordinarily child-friendly. One exhibit, the "My Big Backyard" family garden, is built for play. Its goal is to encourage children to engage in nature using outdoor fun. Additionally, there is the Little Garden Club Sensory Garden. This is an area specially designed to allow individuals with special needs to enjoy the garden experience.
#3 International Peace Garden (North Dakota)
The International Peace Garden, straddling the border between the United States and Canada, serves as a symbol of peace between the two nations. It was dedicated in 1932, using materials, labor, and funding sourced equally from the US and Canada. Its landmark stone, with each nations flag flying on either side, is inscribed with these words: "TO GOD IN HIS GLORY,we two nations dedicate this garden and pledge ourselves that as long as men shall live, we will not take up arms against one another." Today, the funding for the garden remains equally sourced from the two nations. Each year, the gardeners plant over 150,000 flowers.
#2 Chicago Botanic Garden (Chicago, IL)
Embedded in the urban landscape of Chicago, the city's Botanic Garden is prolific in size, situated on the shoreline of Lake Michigan. It spans 385 acres, on and around 9 small islands. Its collection is so large and comprehensive, it is accredited by the American Association of Museums. As well as attracting visitors from around the world, the Chicago Botanic Garden gives the surrounding urban community access to the beauty and wonders of the wilderness. They are open year-round, offering classes and tours, and providing educational outreach programs for the city's children. Within the gardens, you can also find the Lenhardt Library, home to one of the largest collections of rare botanical books.
#1 Missouri Botanical Garden (St. Louis, MO)
The Missouri Botanical Garden, located in St. Louis, MO, is a National Historic Landmark that opened its doors over 150 years ago. Its 79 acres are home to more than 4800 trees, including some which were planted by the founder, Henry Shaw, when first establishing the garden. Within the garden you'll find several distinct gardening exhibits. For example, their 14-acre Japanese strolling garden is one of the largest in North America. Exotic tropical and temperate plants from around the world thrive in their climate-controlled conservatories. For the home gardener, though, their most exciting exhibit is the William T. Kemper Center for Home Gardening. There, you'll find almost two dozen small, residential-scale gardens grown to demonstrate various techniques you can adopt at home!