Dumbarton Oaks, 1703 32nd St. NW, Washington, (202) 339-6401, website, $7, seniors and kids $5. Beginning in 1920, landscape designer Beatrix Farrand completely transformed a farm in disrepair into 10 acres of formal gardens in the middle of D.C. The house and library are closed for renovations, but luckily the gardens are still open—take a walk down Lovers’ Lane, enjoy the perfume of the Rose Garden, and look out over the Pebble Garden, which was once a tennis court.
Chanticleer, 786 Church Road, Wayne, Pa., (610) 687-4163, website, $5, under 16 free. Follow the garden trail through the Teacup Garden (a wild mess of tropical blooms) to the Asian Woods (a collection of plants from Korea, Japan, and China) to the Ruin Garden, where flowers climb all over a tumbled-down stone house. Scattered through the garden are works by the talented staff—stone furniture, a mural, a wooden bridge.
Cylburn Arboretum, 4915 Greenspring Ave., (410) 367-2217, website, free. Comprising over 200 acres of forest, wetlands, and formal gardens, this leafy retreat within city limits was once a private summer home. Now that it’s open to the public, everyone can breathe the fresh O2 in the 2.5 miles of woodland trails and admire Cylburn’s 21 different gardens, including the Garden of the Senses, specially designed for handicapped visitors.
The Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory and Botanic Gardens, 3100 Swan Drive, (410) 396-0180. A convenient way to perk up on a gray, drizzly summer day or a chilly September afternoon—these recently renovated gardens are indoors, plus they’re in the middle of the city at Druid Hill Park.
Mount Assisi Monastery Sunken Gardens, Loretto, Pa., (814) 472-8971. It’s a drive, but the former Charles Schwab estate-turned-monastery, in the Allegheny Mountains, offers gorgeous greens, a waterfall, a mansion, reflecting pools, a basilica, adorable little Franciscan friars, plus an odd assortment of shines to saints and Hellenic deities.
Ladew Topiary Gardens, 3535 Jarrettsville Pike, Monkton, (410) 557-9466, website, $2-$13. Yeah, topiary—”training” shrubs into ornamental living sculptures and shapes—is kind of weird, but artist/equestrian/man-about-town Henry Ladew knew how to do it right. His 22-acre garden, arguably America’s best example of the art form, includes a life-size fox hunt, caterpillars, and, um, Winston Churchill’s hat.
Longwood Gardens, 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, Pa., (610) 388-1000, website, $2-$14. Over 1,000 acres celebrating all things botanical: 20 outdoor gardens (definitely check the Tuscan villa-worthy Italian water garden and the charming rose arbor), a gigantic conservatory with 20 indoor gardens (especially the orchid room and the 6-foot lily pads), frequent outdoor concerts and theater, and a massive fountain garden. Set aside a whole day.
Prabhupada’s Palace of Gold, Road 1 NBU# 24, Moundsville, W. Va., (304) 843-1812, website, $6, kids $3. Glittery, ornate, sprawling, and built for a spiritual leader instead of a robber baron, the “Taj Mahal of the West” is surrounded by sublimely fragrant pleasure gardens, not to mention head-spinning views of the Appalachians. Sit in the quiet lower terrace’s chatra, a place built for prayer, and see how long you can maintain your educated skepticism.
Winterthur Country Estate, Route 52, Winterthur, Del., (800) 448-3883, website, $5-$28. Perpetuate your children’s delusions in the kid-size Enchanted Garden, a grove of oak trees and fairy-built cottages at the fabulously family-friendly Winterthur. Adults can stroll the almost five miles of flower-edged paths and stop by the museum to check out their huge collection of American antiques—including a prized display of soup tureens. Plus, tons of classes, workshops, and programs for all ages.
World’s Largest Garden Party, through June 25, (215) 247-5777, website. If there is anything garden-related happening anywhere in Pennsylvania, it’s on this calendar: lectures on native species, bluebird-box building workshops, cooking classes, and a Japanese garden tour and tea are just a few offerings.
Maryland Polo Club at Ladew Fields, 3 p.m. Sundays (and 6 p.m. Fridays, weather permitting) May 28-early fall, 3535 Jarrettsville Pike, Monkton, (410) 557-6448, website, each car $5. Bring a picnic lunch, a bottle of wine, sunblock, and a blanket to experience the slightly terrifying game of polo—lots of pounding hooves, swinging mallets, and flying turf. The crowd is fun and (maybe unexpectedly) unpretentious.
Maryland Rose Show, noon-4 p.m. June 3, Cylburn Arboretum, 4915 Greenspring Ave., (410) 367-2217, website, free. Members of the Maryland Rose Society show off their prized blooms, swathing the Mansion and porch in roses of many shapes and species, with some for purchase and experts on hand to tell you how to keep them alive.
Annual, Perennial, and Herb Day, 8 a.m.-2 p.m. June 11, Cylburn Arboretum, 4915 Greenspring Ave., (410) 367-2217, website, $4 parking fee. Pick up a few pots of herbs to keep on your kitchen windowsill, so you won’t be scrambling for cilantro next time you make salsa, and the vendors’ selection of blossoms might even inspire you to make something of the mess of weeds behind your house. Don’t forget to stop by the book sale at the Mansion before you go.
45th Annual Lily Show, June 17-18, Brookside Gardens at Wheaton Regional Park, 1800 Glenallan Ave., Wheaton, (301) 962-1400, website. You want lilies? All you can handle, buddy. More than 100 horticultural exhibits, including new hybrids created by mad flower scientists and arrangements by local floral designers. Plus, Lily Society members will be happy to answer your most pressing questions about “lily culture.”
Soup N’ Walk, June 17 and July 15, Adkins Arboretum, 12610 Eveland Road, Ridgely, (410) 634-2847, website, $12. Dust off the old gathering instincts—learn about edible plants with an educational stroll through the lovely grounds at Adkins, followed by a bowl of yummy soup, a discussion of nutrition, and a packet of recipes you can make at home.
812 Park Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21201