The Visitor’s Guide to American Gardens

If your winter “gardening” is usually comprised of bulb and perennial catalogs, highlighters, and very little in the way of actual outdoor gardening, then I have a new tool to make your winter plotting that much more exciting.

Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp has written The Visitor’s Guide to American Gardens, which is a beautifully-organized and easy-to-navigate guide to the top garden spots to visit in the US.

It’s organized by state, which initially gave me a feeling of overwhelm (hey, California’s pretty big!), until I discovered the clear state-by-state maps in the back which show where each of the gardens is located. Using that guide, I was able to quickly compile a list of gardens within a reasonable distance to me.

Because she gives a synopsis of each garden’s specialty, whether it’s a historic garden, conservatory, or native plant garden, I was able to calculate the best times to visit and start coordinating whether any would be in season at the same time as some of the garden shows and tours in the area.

The book also has QR codes and website addresses, so it was easy for me to find more info online, and there’s a quick legend of symbols which tells whether the garden has food, events, plant sales, etc. that we might want to check out.

Because it’s small enough to pack in one’s luggage, this isn’t a coffee table book with lots of photos. Nor it is exhaustive – there are 42 gardens listed for California and six in Oregon, for example. But if you want to plan out a great garden trip, with a stop at a garden show and a few notable gardens along the way, this is a fantastic reference to get you started. It even has brief listings for Canada and international locations as well.

If you want to make the most of your holiday travel by squeezing in a visit to a conservatory, or just enjoy some contented time in winter dreaming of the gardens you’ll visit come spring, then this is an excellent book to get you inspired with all of the possibilities.

Want to win a copy of your own? Cool Springs Press has offered a copy to one lucky reader! Just leave a comment on this post and I’ll randomly pick a winner on Friday December 2nd (US only). Good luck!

EDIT: Mike Mindel has won the book. Congrats, Mike!

43 responses to “The Visitor’s Guide to American Gardens”

  1. I’m interested about this book because I’m moving across the county and it would be also cool to see if they have any of the actually good public gardens in Utah. The good ones are usually overlooked.

  2. Sounds like a beautiful present for my older sister, who has become a docent at St. Louis Botanical Gardens. She’s been traveling some lately, visiting family throughout the US. Maybe we could plan a get- together at one of the featured gardens. You can come too; we’ll buy you lunch.

  3. This would be a wonderful addition to my garden book collection and winter reading and dreaming of warm. Better than running to the garage and trying to pretend by sticking my head under the cover for my cart housing all hold-overs from summer.

  4. Visiting gardens & taking pictures of them are some of my favorite pasttimes. This would be a wonderful book to win!

  5. This would be such a neat book to have while traveling! Thanks for the opportunity to enter : )

  6. My wife is a very good gardener. She has the eye to create the balance of perspective and the “green thumb” to make it grow. Travel is our hobby and we always seek out gardens, often in forgotten places. The book would really help us plan a trip.

  7. whoo hoo, I’d like to win this…

    btw, whatever happened to reciprocal privileges at Botanical Gardens? Seems the list of participating gardens is getting shorter and the list of exclusions (no weekends, certain times only, no special exhibits, etc.) of gardens that do participate is getting longer…..

  8. I’m looking out the window at 6 inches of snow on top of my garden (in Colorado). Would love to plan a weekend trip to visit gardens south!

  9. Visiting gardens is one of my favorite things to do! Hope I win a copy. Thanks for offering it as a prize.