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What to Visit in the Mid- Atlantic? Try These!

10 years ago

What to Visit in the Mid-Atlantic
Posted by ChrisMD 7 (My Page) on Sun, Sep 15, 02 at 23:50

Hi - if you were going to visit the Mid-Atlantic - what would you think is worth the trip?


* would turn off to see it if I was already passing by

** would be worth planning a detour

*** would be worth a special trip

**** would be worth an overnight stay

***** You must see this or you can't call yourself a gardener!

We're looking for gardens, arboretums, zoos, natural wonders, historic sites, museums, the bizarre, or anything else of interest to a gardener. Can't include commercial sites such as nurseries or garden centers (sorry). Please tell us why you've selected your nominations, include the location and address if you can.

I'll nominate our first 5-star:
***** Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania!

Remember - the Mid-Atlantic covers West Virginia, Virginia, DC, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and New York. I'm really looking forward to learning about your special places.

Spike asks that we not post links on the FAQ pages, but you can usually find the official websites if you "Google" with the name and location.

Chris - the FAQ editor


Posted by: Cynthia z7 MD (My Page) on Mon, Sep 16, 02 at 0:30

* Baltimore Conservancy & Baltimore Zoo

* Cylburn Arboretum in Baltimore
Both of these are worth visits for anyone in the area.
Let's face it, everything pales in comparison to Longwood, which I agree is worth a 'special trip.'

Posted by: Marymd7 MD7 (My Page) on Mon, Sep 16, 02 at 9:27

Sotterly Plantation, St. Mary's County, Maryland

Posted by: DawnStorm 7/MD (My Page) on Mon, Sep 16, 02 at 11:50

Brookside Gardens: A gem of a place in Mont. County; no matter how many times I go there, there's always something I missed seeing the last time.

Posted by: Cecilia_MD7a 7a/Baltimore,MD (My Page) on Tue, Sep 17, 02 at 12:37

Another vote for Brookside Gardens - best of all, it's free!

Posted by: gardening_at_night 7A ) on Sat, Sep 21, 02 at 8:57

Brookside Gardens in Silver Spring is nice.
National Arboretum in DC is okay, I like their Fern Valley.

Posted by: sprig z7 Md (My Page) on Mon, Oct 14, 02 at 17:26

Brookside Gardens

Posted by: Julia z7 MD (My Page) on Mon, Sep 30, 02 at 22:15

****Ladew Topiary Gardens in Monkton MD: A WOW for topiary fans and for those who aren't avid about individual specimen plants. So interesting to see a garden that reflects a single personality! Nice house tour and mostly accessible to the handicapped. Its been a hit for me with touring friends and relatives. In the summer, you can visit, picnic, and stay on for a chamber music concert.

Posted by: scausey z6/7 MD (My Page) on Tue, Oct 15, 02 at 22:56

Lilypons in Buckeystown, Maryland: An interesting place to visit northwest of Washington, D.C. is Lilypons water gardens. They sell plants, fish and garden accoutrements, but they have a beautiful setting near Sugarloaf mountain with acres of ponds to walk around. It's a great place for birding, too. We've seen bald eagles there.

C&O Canal Towpath in Montgomery County, Md: If you like wildflowers, take a walk in April or May on the C&O Canal Towpath from Riley's Lock or off Sycamore Landing at the end of River Road in Montgomery County, MD. Even in March, bloodroot are everywhere, and later there are wild phlox, Virginia bluebells, Dutchman's breeches, etc, in profusion. Birding is excellent in the spring there, too.

Posted by: Antique_Geek (My Page) on Mon, Jan 20, 03 at 8:53

St. Mary's, southern Maryland: If you want a ride in the country, how about Historic St. Mary's City, Maryland. To be sure it IS at the end of the road but it is a neat place to visit. Recall if you will it is the site of the 1634 first permanent settlement in Maryland.

Posted by: LynnT Z6A MD (My Page) on Tue, Oct 1, 02 at 10:13

***William Paca House in Annapolis: A nifty town garden. Paca was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and this is a restoration of his 18th-century garden, complete with parterres, a knot garden, a pond and a small observatory. They have a wonderful plant sale each March where you can get heirloom plants for cheap: historic veggies, Lady Banks roses, hyacinth bean vines, Job's Tears, bronze fennel, several kinds of old-style hollyhock, and so forth, all for $2-$4 each. It's off Prince George Street in downtown Annapolis. Aside from the open house during the sales, tours of the house and garden are about $8, and well worth it.

Posted by: Newt z7/MD (My Page) on Mon, Oct 14, 02 at 23:32

**Surreybrooke in Middleton, Md: Another lovely afternoon can be spent at this garden. They do sell plants, but have beautiful display gardens for strolling.

Helen Avalynne Tawes Garden: is also a lovely small garden in Annapolis, Md. It's only 5 acres. I can't rate it as I've never been there personally, but have seen it on TV. Ah, time to travel!

Woodend Bird Sanctuary in Chevy Chase, Md is an historic site with 40 acres and dates back to 1699. The Mansion on site dates from about 1925 and was designed by John Russell Pope. This is the headquarters of the Audubon Naturalist Society. (Not really a garden. Some of the grounds are landscaped but mostly it is kept wild for birdwatching. They do have nice events, including a Winter Crafts Fair in early December...the ed.)

Posted by: Msilaine NoVa 7 (My Page) on Thu, Jan 16, 03 at 17:58

National Aquarium, Baltimore, MD: Another of my other favorite places is the Tropical Rain Forest at the top of the National Aquarium in Baltimore. Very warm, full of plants, full of birds, very moist, warm, air. Rather small and crowded and sometimes noisy but that tropical air reminds me of my former home when I feel a bit homesick.

WASHINGTON DC::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Posted by: Marymd7 MD7 (My Page) on Mon, Sep 16, 02 at 9:27
National Arboretum, Washington DC

Washington Cathedral herb garden and grounds, Washington DC

Dumbarton Oaks, Washington DC

US Botanical Garden, Washington DC

Posted by: Johnnieb Washington, DC (My Page) on Mon, Sep 16, 02 at 11:25

All in Washington, DC:

***** National Arboretum

*** National Zoo (has some really nice landscaping with some unusual plants, and the Amazonia house is a fabulous indoor rain forest)

*** U.S. Botanic Garden

** Bartholdi Park (part of the USBG but across Independence Ave. and easily missed)

** Dumbarton Oaks

* Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens

* Old Stone House garden (on M Street in Georgetown)

** Several small gardens around the Smithsonian museums on the National Mall: Butterfly Habitat Garden (Museum of Natural History), Enid A. Haupt Garden (the Castle), and the Kathrine Dulin Folger Rose Garden and Mary Livingston Ripley Garden (both at Arts and Industry):

Posted by: DawnStorm 7/MD (My Page) on Tue, Sep 24, 02 at 11:31

Enid A. Haupt Garden: If you're in DC, be sure to visit the Enid Haupt garden surrounding the Castle Building at the Smithsonian. I stumbled across it yesterday while on my lunchtime walk--wowie! What a place! There was a bit of everything from Malabar spinach, to hostas, to passion vines, to some huge cousin of the tomato with thorns on its leaves. There was also a rose section--beautiful!

Posted by: meilie z7 MD (My Page) on Mon, Oct 14, 02 at 18:55

If you're walking by the Washington Monument/Vietnam Memorial area you should enjoy the small lake/pond on Constitution Avenue that harbors a family of waterfowl. You can proceed to the Smithsonian's museums on the Mall from there. There's a nice rose garden that you can view when in bloom (from afar, no gate entry) behind the Executive Building by the Ellipse. Also view the old specimen trees that have plaques in the area. Some of these are very rare and OLD. The grounds of the White House are not too shabby either, but only to be viewed from the public areas.

Posted by: scausey z6/7 MD (My Page) on Tue, Oct 15, 02 at 22:56

Bartholdi Park in DC: I also second Bartholdi Park, behind the Botanical Gardens in downtown DC. It has a wonderful fountain (by Bartholdi of Statue of Liberty fame), and a fantastic garden. My DH and I used to eat lunch there several times a week and made friends with the gardeners. They grow a lot of new hybrids and are extremely knowledgeable (and sometimes share). There are quite a few worthwhile gardening programs in the Botanical Gardens - check their schedule.

Posted by: LynnT Z6A MD (My Page) on Tue, Oct 1, 02 at 10:13

*** Hillwood in downtown DC ? Marjorie Merriweather Post's restored mansion and Japanese gardens. Especially lovely in spring and fall.

*** Dunbarton Oaks museum has lovely grounds, great for picnicking. Designed by Beatrix Farrand.

Posted by: Msilaine NoVa 7 (My Page) on Thu, Jan 16, 03 at 17:58

US Botanical Gardens in DC: I am originally from Louisiana, so this time of the year I start feeling dried out and in need of moisture so I don't crack. Have you been to the US Botanical Gardens since they reopened it? Well worth the trip, and you can just sit and breathe in warm, moist air scented with green things until you are rehydrated.


Posted by: Marymd7 MD7 (My Page) on Mon, Sep 16, 02 at 9:27

Monticello, Charlottesville, Virginia

Mt. Vernon, Alexandria, Virginia

Posted by: fiveoaks 7VA (My Page) on Tue, Oct 1, 02 at 10:12

Monticello: I live close by, and go about every year. Have not made it into the house since 5th grade, lol!
Heirlooms! Veggies! Bulbs! Roses! A garden shop! I would give it a "do not miss", especially during garden week.

Posted by: Johnnieb Washington, DC (My Page) on Tue, Oct 1, 02 at 19:55

Lewis Ginter in Richmond: I visited Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden several years ago, when they were just a few years old. It's a very nice small botanical garden, and I'd like to go back sometime to see what they've done since then.

Posted by: steve_NJ z7A NJ (My Page) on Tue, Oct 1, 02 at 21:33

Lewis Ginter in Richmond: As of April, 2002, Lewis Ginter Gardens had expanded the plantings and things are maturing.

Posted by: LakeAnnaRose z7VA (My Page) on Fri, Jan 17, 03 at 10:01

Maymont House and Gardens, Richmond, VA: If you go to Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Richmond, VA, you should also visit Maymont House and Gardens. Very enjoyable way to spend the day. You probably would want to wait for warmer weather though :)

Posted by: LynnT Z6A MD (My Page) on Tue, Oct 1, 02 at 10:13

*** Don't forget Green Springs Garden Park off Little River Turnpike in Alexandria VA. Another historic mansion with restored grounds and interesting plant combinations; excellent plant sales spring and fall.

** Agecroft in Richmond, a Tudor mansion brought over from England brick-by-brick a hundred years ago or so; not only do they have great historical gardens, but they teach seminars in historical gardening and herbcraft.

Lewis Ginter Gardens: in Richmond: have never been, but I hear that their Italian Renaissance water gardens are not to be missed. Anyone actually seen the place?

**** Monticello: I went down to Charlottesville last October for a Thursday-night stay in a local B&B, then spent Friday at Monticello. It was definitely the way to go, and the place was not near as crowded as on weekends. The gardeners were very friendly once they realized I had a clue, and graciously allowed me to harvest a small number of seeds to take home. Twinleaf, the resident historical-plant nursery, sells period seeds, gardening implements and plants, but they are far from cheap. Be sure to have dinner at Duley's, a local gourmet inn where we had the most wonderful lavender creme brulee...


Posted by: CarrieB z6b/7a Phila. (My Page) on Mon, Sep 16, 02 at 16:20

** Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve - New Hope, PA, a *** if you're particularly into natives/woodland gardening). Check with the preserve before visiting for what is in bloom.

Posted by: HollyK Zone 6B, PA (My Page) on Mon, Sep 16, 02 at 20:28

Longwood: DEFINITELY Longwood Gardens! You'll think you're in Europe when you're in their conservatory, and the outdoor spaces are phenomenal. Well worth the $10 or $12 admission fee, and a great way to spend an entire day.

Chanticleer: We recently discovered Chanticleer, in Wayne, PA (just a little northwest of Philadelphia, right off the PA Turnpike). It's a small (30 acres?) garden on an old estate, very hilly, and contains a house (open to tour occasionally) with gorgeous landscaping and pool/fountains, woodland gardens, a huge pond full of lotus, a "ruin" garden built on the base of an old stone home, veggies, annuals, grasses, perennials. It is truly a great way to spend about 2-3 hours, and they encourage you to walk on the grass and sit on the lawn furniture!

Posted by: Wolfe15136 z6 PA (My Page) on Tue, Sep 17, 02 at 9:40

*** Hershey Gardens - Hershey PA. Especially the first week in June for the roses.

Posted by: bluebird70 z5 PA (My Page) on Thu, Sep 19, 02 at 10:14

Pennsbury Manor: The herb gardens of Pennsbury Manor (home of William Penn)! These are amazing all summer and a lot of work is put into them. I saw them as a child and have never forgotten them. Reasonable prices too (for entrance).

Posted by: jenny_in_SE_PA 6b/7a Sunset 32 (My Page) on Thu, Sep 19, 02 at 15:09

In Philadelphia -

*Bartram's Gardens

*PA Horticultural Center

*Japanese Tea House

*Azalea Gardens by the Art Museum

NEW JERSEY:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Posted by: steve_NJ z7A NJ (My Page) on Tue, Sep 17, 02 at 22:54

** Morris Arboretum in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia. Good collection of trees. Also some shrubs and perennials.

NEW YORK:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Posted by: windchime z6a NJ (My Page) on Sat, Sep 21, 02 at 12:28

*** NY Botanical Gardens. As an added bonus, the Bronx Zoo is right next door.

** Skylands Manor, Ringwood, NJ. And a smaller place with historical structures and hiking trails is Ringwood Manor. Both of these places have "nice" gardens (Skylands is much nicer.) But they are great places to relax for a day, have a picnic (although, technically, I think food is prohibited in Skylands) and walk around enjoying nature. If you can only go to one, make it Skylands, which is much bigger, and has more extensive gardens.

Posted by: adisim Brooklyn, NY (My Page) on Fri, Jan 24, 03 at 3:10

Old Westbury Gardens on Long Island

The Conservatory Garden in Central Park


The Brooklyn Botanic Garden esp. during Cherry Blossom and Daffodil time.

Posted by: Newt z7/MD (My Page) on Mon, Oct 14, 02 at 23:32

Beatrix Farrand Garden: at Bellefield NY doesn't have a web site, but here's what I know. I got this from another site that is an Inn. "Adjacent to FDR Home Library on Route 9, Hyde Park, NY (845-229-9115) The formal gardens and 'wild' garden here were originally designed by the well regarded landscape gardener Beatrix Farrand in 1912, and are believed to be the only surviving example of one of her early residential estate projects; derivative and indicative of both American colonial and formal European gardens and landscapes. The gardens at Bellefield are open year-round, from dawn to dusk."

Innisfree, Millbrook, NY: "Innisfree, 2 miles east of Taconic Parkway, on Tyrrel Road, Millbrook, NY (845-677-8000) Innisfree is a realm unto itself, featuring exquisite landscapes and views which comprise a divergent series of 3-dimensional compositions, with traditional oriental influences - landscape elements structured in such a way as to form a natural frame (as in 'teacup' gardens), which inherently draws or focuses the attention on a specific aspect of the intended vignette. Open to the public May thru October (closed Monday and Tuesday, except on holidays); 10am - 4pm. Admission: $2 on weekdays Wed-Fri; $3 on weekends Sat/Sun."

Springside, Poughkeepsie, NY: "Springside Landscape Restoration off Route 9 (west of Academy Street exit), Poughkeepsie, NY (845-454-2060) Springside was originally the summer home estate of Matthew Vassar - the founder of Vassar College. Although it is not yet fully restored, Springside is nonetheless the only surviving documented example of the handiwork of Andrew Jackson Downing - generally considered to have been one of the most influential landscape architects in America. Open year-round, every day, dawn to dusk."

Stonecrop Gardens, Cold Sping, NY: "Stonecrop Gardens located at 81 Stonecrop Lane (off Rte. 301), in Cold Spring, NY (845-265-2000) Imaginative landscaping and lovely display gardens in a mountainside setting which comprises 9 acres of planted tiers, perrenial beds, water gardens, stone beds, a cliff rock garden, serene views and vignettes, and even a more traditional cloistered English style flower garden, an alpine house, and a conservatory. Open to the public April thru October on specific days, and by appointment(10am-4pm); on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays; admission: $5."

***** Manitoga/The Russel Wright Design Center in Garrison, N.Y: a fantastic 75 acre naturalistic garden.

Posted by equestrian z5 NY (My Page) on Sat, May 29, 04 at 4:27

***** Innisfree should definitely be a five star garden on you FAQ page of mid Atlantic gardens. It is unbelievably better than the "estate" gardens in the region. It has very insubstantial publicity.


Posted by: Newt z7/MD (My Page) on Mon, Oct 14, 02 at 23:32

***** Winterthur: Hasn't anyone been to Winterthur in Delaware? What a wonderful place to refresh your soul and view 60 acres of naturalistic gardens and views. There's a tram with narration one can take or just stroll the grounds. Well worth an overnight stay. The tour of the mansion was extremely interesting as well.