Garden coach and landscaper Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp toured more than 400 gardens before writing "The Visitor's Guide to American Gardens" (Cool Springs Press). With locations, highlights and insights, it's handy for any garden tourist. Here are some of her recommendations. Visit the websites for schedules, admission fees and special events:
CHANTICLEER GARDEN, WAYNE, Pa. Sharp rates Chanticleer as her favorite garden. Opened on an old family estate in 1993, it covers 50 acres, 30 of which are open to the public. Among the highlights: the Tennis Court Garden, the Orchard, the Asia Woods. Be sure to visit the Ruins. It was an old house that was partially demolished; some walls were left standing "to create the sense of being somewhere else" (chanticleergarden.org).
INDIANAPOLIS MUSEUM OF ART There are more than 150 acres of art, gardens, natural areas, a museum and a historic home (Oldfields-Lilly House). Adjacent to the museum is the Virginia B. Fairbanks Art and Nature Park, with woodlands, wetlands, meadows and a 35-acre lake. Also worth visiting is the Garden for Everyone, a multisensory experience (imamuseum.org).
MINTER GARDENS, CHILLIWACK, BRITISH COLUMBIA The heavily planted 32-acre garden in the shadow of 7,000-foot Mount Cheam "will dazzle your senses," Sharp promises. Among the features: 100,000 tulips each spring, woodlands and Spirit of the Woods, which incorporates First Nation cultures into garden designs. There's also a water wall(mintergardens.com).
OTHER GREATS Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pa. (longwoodgardens.org); Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, Md. (montgomery parks.org/brookside); Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, Mich. (meijergardens.org).