April Showers Bring May Flowers – Gardens to Visit in New England This Spring
We’ve definitely been experiencing April’s showers, but it’s all worth it for May’s beautiful flowers. It’s only one more week until many of New England’s gardens open for the season.
New Englanders are lucky for many reasons. One of those reasons is the number of downright gorgeous gardens we have in our area. Like every flower, every garden is unique.
If unique experiences are what you like, don’t miss out on a Rhode Island Red Food Tour! Tours in Newport and Providence serve up food tasting from at least six local eateries and restaurants along with Rhode Island history and architecture. Food Tours are perfect for Mother’s and Father’s Day gifts, birthdays, anniversaries, family fun, dates, office team building events and just because. There’s really no occasion that isn’t fitting for a Rhode Island Red Food Tour! Book your tour today for a unique, fun-filled food experience!
The Fantastic Umbrella Factory
Charlestown, Rhode Island
The Fantastic Umbrella Factory is a hidden treasure. Like its name, the Fantastic Umbrella Factory is a unique experience. There are of course the gardens, but there is also a yummy cafe and six shops to explore. The gardens are diverse and showcase fancy plants, tropicals, perennials, and hanging gardens. There is also a Bamboo Forest to explore!
The Fantastic Umbrella Factory was established in 1968 by Robert Bankel. Bankel started with Temperance Hall, where he sold penny candy and unique gifts. Over some time, he expanded to a second shop and cafe. He also brought in local craftsman to sell their goods onsite. Bankel took his time beautifying the landscape to where it is today. The current owners, David and Linda, work hard to maintain and add to the growing whimsy at the Fantastic Umbrella Factory.
For a list of the shops at the Fantastic Umbrella Factory, look here.
The Fantastic Umbrella Factory stores and gardens are now open 7 days a week. The on site Small Axe Cafe is open Monday – Friday 10 am – 4 pm, Saturday and Sunday 8 am – 4 pm. They are closed on Tuesdays during the month of April.
Bristol, Rhode Island
Blithewold Gardens are magical. Located right by the water, the fragrant flowers intermingle with the salt water air. Much of the gardens remain the same since they were designed and planted in the nineteenth century and early twentieth centuries. Blithewold is home to seven unique gardens. The Rose Garden was planted around 1900 and features a variety of climbing and shrub roses. The North Garden is the most formal of the gardens and was much admired by the original owners, the Van Wickles. The Enclosed Garden is the oldest on the property and features the tallest Giant Sequoia Tree on the East Coast. There are also the Idea, Rock, Water, Pollinator, and Vegetable Gardens.
Blithewold is an escape by the water. On a perfect day, you almost forget what the year is.
The Blithewold Gardens and Grounds are open year round. The Mansion is open April 1 – October 15. The Gardens and Grounds are open 10 am to 5 pm, Monday – Sunday.
For more information on ticket prices and monthly hours for the Mansion, click here.
Roger Williams Botanical Center
Providence, Rhode Island
The Roger Williams Botanical Center is the largest public indoor display gardens in New England. There are approximately 12,000 square feet of indoor gardens. The greenhouses are divided by theme. There are two main greenhouses: The Conservatory and the Meditteranean. There are also six outdoor gardens, the most popular being the beautiful Rose Maze.
No trip to Rhode Island is complete without a stop at Roger Williams Park. The grounds are gorgeous and the zoo is great for the kids. There is even a carousel to ride! With the warm weather ahead, a trip to Roger Williams Park and Botanical Center is the perfect weekend escape!
For information on hours and ticket prices for the Roger Williams Botanical Center, click here.
Green Animals Topiary Garden
Portsmouth, Rhode Island
Green Animals is the oldest and most northern topiary garden in the United States. It’s so named because of the trees sculpted into animals. Favorites include teddy bears, a camel, giraffe, elephant, and two bears. The animals are sculpted from California privet, yew, and English boxwood. Beyond the green animals, there are also 35 formal flower beds, fruit trees, vegetable and herb gardens.
There is a Victorian house of the property where the former owners lived for several generations. Inside the home, there is a museum and gift shop for visitors to peruse. The Preservation Society of Newport County maintains the gardens and house.
Green Animals Topiary Garden is open May 20 – October. Their hours change monthly, so be sure to check here for hours.
Newport County, Rhode Island
The five Newport Mansions are a reminder of what once was. Their classic beauty is simply awe-inspiring. Each of the mansions have very specific styles of gardens designed by world class landscape designers and horticulturists. Visitors can explore and stroll these established formal gardens and imagine yourselves back to another time of beauty. The five mansions are The Breakers, Chateau-sur-Mer, The Elms, Marble House, and Rosecliff.
Spring is the perfect time to explore the historic Newport Mansions. With the gardens blossoming, it’s even more magical.
For more information on planning your visit to the Newport Mansions, click here.
Flower Events in Rhode Island this Summer
The Annual Flower Show at Rosecliff Mansion (one of the historic Newport Mansions) is a can’t-miss event. This year’s Flower Show is June 23 – 25, 2017. Rosecliff is the birthplace of the American Beauty Rose. This year the theme is Parisian inspiration. Generations of artists and gardeners have been inspired by France. All three days are full of culture, fun, and flowers. There are colorful floral exhibits, garden displays, the champagne and jazz brunch, afternoon tea, and special guests. For more information on the Flower Show at Rosecliff Mansion, click here.
Newport Secret Garden Tours are offered in the Spring and Fall every year. Guests explore the most beautiful private gardens in Newport. This Spring’s Tours are June 16 – 18, 2017. Fall Tours are September 8 – 10, 2017. For ticket info and tour times, click here.
Allen C. Haskell Public Gardens
New Bedford, Massachusetts
Many would not expect to find such beautiful gardens in the heart of New Bedford. But the Haskell Public Gardens are six acres of beautifully sculpted gardens. The late Allen C. Haskell built and groomed these gardens over thirty years. He was a New Bedford native and would be proud to see his life’s work in the hands of The Reservation Trustees.
The gardens are stylistically very New England. Besides the gardens, there is a historic home on the property. Haskell’s former home is one of the oldest in New Bedford. When Haskell passed, his family let his gardens fall into disarray. In 2012, the Trustees stepped in and have been working to restore his gardens ever since.
The Allen C. Haskell Public Gardens are free and open to the public from sunrise to sunset.
Garden in the Woods
Garden in the Woods is an escape just 21 miles away from bustling Boston. Set on 45 acres, the garden includes rare and common native plants. There are two miles of paths that take visitors over glacier-sculpted ridges and through narrow valleys. One of the coolest things about Garden in the Woods is that it’s immersive. Animals roam the gardens and many areas are untouched. It’s almost like going back in time!
Garden in the Woods is open daily through October 15. Hours are 10 am – 5 pm. For admission costs and gift shop information, click here.
Bartlett Arboretum & Gardens
Bartlett Arboretum & Gardens is a 93-acre nature sanctuary in Connecticut. The people running the gardens are focused on preserving nature and teaching others to appreciate and conserve New England’s natural beauty. As part of their mission, UCONN uses the Bartlett Arboretum & Gardens as a horticultural research facility. There are also educational programs for the public and children.
Bartlett Arboretum & Gardens offers summer and vacation camps, concerts, free dog training classes, art classes, yoga hikes, and landscaping classes. It is much more than a garden – it’s an educational facility. Visitors not only appreciate but learn about the beautiful nature around them.
There are 12 gardens and countless species of plants to appreciate. Among their 12 gardens are the Conifer, Mehlquist, Woodland, Sundial, Cottage, and Nut Tree Gardens. Unlike most gardens, Bartlett does allow four-legged friends to explore their grounds.
Bartlett Arboretum & Gardens is free and open to the public from dawn until dusk.
For a list of events at the Bartlett Arboretum & Gardens, click here.
Wickham Park is so large that it extends from Manchester to East Hartford. The park contains 250 acres of gardens, open fields, woodlands, ponds, picnic areas, sports facilities, and other attractions. Wickham Park boasts six, uniquely themed ornamental gardens. The gardens range from half an acre to eight acres. Gardens include The English Garden, Scottish Garden, Cabin Garden & Amphitheater, Oriental Garden, Italian Shrine, Lotus Garden, Wetlands Garden, and Rhododendron Garden. A new addition to the park is the Sensory Garden, which is filled with plants and flowers to stimulate the five senses. Wickham Park is so large that guests often make it a weekend visit.
Wickham Park is open 7 days a week April through October. Regular hours at 9:30 am to sunset. For more general information and admission prices, click here.
For more information on Wickham Park’s Gardens, click here.
Rhododendron State Park
Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire
The Rhododendron State Park is so named for the gorgeous rhododendrons that come into bloom in mid-July along the trails. The Rhododendron Maximum is the park’s focal point. There is a wildflower trail with beautiful blossoms all year.
The park is always open, but it is not staffed during the winter months. Staff does not advise visitors to walk the trails during the off-season.
Visitors are charged a fee during Summer weekends. Adults are $4 and Children are $2.
For Weekly Bloom Reports, click here.
Mason, New Hampshire
The Cottage at Pickity Place was the inspiration behind the cottage from Little Red Riding Hood. Today, Pickity Place is a hidden spot for foodies, gardeners, and families. Roam through the gardens and smell the yummy herbs hanging from the ceilings of the herb sheds. Stay for lunch or dinner – you certainly won’t regret it! Pickity Place sources most of their ingredients from the gardens. Their menu changes seasonally and reflects the best offerings of that month. Their lavender lemonade (made with lavender from their garden) is the perfect summer treat! Pickity Place has a great gift shop with homemade dips, herbal blends, herbs, and spices.
Pickity Place is open year round 10 am – 5 pm, through the gardens are best explored in-season.
For information about the sights, sounds, and smells at Pickity Place, click here.
For monthly menus and info about dining at Pickity Place, click here.
Celia Thaxter’s Garden Tours
Appledore Island, Maine
Celia Thaxter’s Garden Tours is the unique garden on this list. Garden-goers take a boat to Appledore Island off the coast of Maine.
Celia Thaxter, a 19th-century poet, and writer, called Appledore Island home. She was inspired by her vibrant gardens and tended to them lovingly. Her book, “An Island Garden,” describes her beloved Appledore Island garden. The gardens have since been restored and are maintained by the Shoals Marine Laboratory.
Appledore Island is largely rugged terrain and guests must stay with the professional guides for the duration of the tour. This garden adventure is recommended for those in good physical condition over the age of 14.
Lunch is included in the tour and is served in the beautiful Kiggins Common Dining Room, which has expansive water views and an open deck.
Tours begin in June and go until August. Because this is an all-day adventure, tours are $100 per person. Admission includes round-trip boat travel, guided garden tours, and a gourmet catered lunch.
For more information on Celia Thaxter’s Garden Tours, click here.
Hoyt Formal Garden
Hoyt Formal Garden is part of Hildene, the Lincoln Family Home. Yes, that Lincoln family! Robert Todd Lincoln, the son of President Abraham Lincoln, built Hildene in 1905. It remained in the Lincoln family until 1975. There is a lot to see and do at Hildene, but the gardens are one of the more popular spots.
The garden was designed in 1907 for Mary Harlan Lincoln. Her daughter, Jessie, designed the garden. Jessie was inspired by French parterre gardens. She also wanted the garden to resemble a stained-glass Romanesque cathedral window. In mid-June, over 1,000 peonies blossom from the original plantings. The garden bursts with color.
Make a day at the Hildene by walking through the Lincolns’ home, exploring the Hildene Farm, listening to the 20th century Aeolian Pipe Organ, and enjoying the Pullman Car Sunbeam & Many Voices Exhibit. Smell herbs from the Cutting and Kitchen Gardens, which were once frequently used by the Lincoln family. There are 12 miles of walking trails to explore. See the sights at the Observatory; Robert Todd Lincoln was an astronomy enthusiast. There is honestly so much more, but you’ll have to see for yourself!
For more information about tours at the Hildene, click here.
For more information about the Estate and Hoyt Formal Garden, click here.
Everyone can agree – flowers are pretty and food is yummy. After you explore one of these unique New England gardens, come take a Rhode Island Red Food Tour! The Newport Neighborhood Food Tour explores the food scene in seaside Newport. Providence is an up-and-coming foodie hot spot, making all the big lists. See what the buzz is about and enjoy some of the best food around on a Downcity Providence Food Tour!
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