NEW YORK Dogwood petals rain down in the breeze. The scent of lilac fills the air. A park turns pink with blooming azaleas.
Surprises like this are a hallmark of spring, and a series of guidebooks from Globe Pequot Press called "Gardenwalks" ($14.95 each) lists hundreds of lovely places to enjoy these experiences and more.
"Rather than focusing solely on gardens by top designers or those that exhibit rare plants, each 'Gardenwalk' entry expresses what you will find when you wander the paths of a variety of gardens, arboretums, nurseries and parks," said editor Mary Norris. The books "give garden-lovers the choice of many different types of sensory experiences in very beautiful settings."A separate "Gardenwalks" guide covers each of five regions New England, the Mid-Atlantic, the Southeast, California and the Pacific Northwest. What follows is a list of some of the authors' top picks, along with their comments. Check visiting hours before planning your trip; some gardens are open daily year-round, some in spring and summer, some only occasionally or by appointment.
Thuya Lodge Garden, Northeast Harbor, Maine, 800-258-3373, www.asticou.com/gardens.html. "A spectacular garden with a panoramic view of the harbor below and a marvelously designed area of flower beds and intertwining paths," authors Marina Harrison and Lucy D. Rosenfeld wrote in an e-mail describing some of their favorite gardens.
Glen Magna, Danvers, Mass., 978-774-9165, www.glenmagnafarms.org. "Elegant and romantic . . . beginning with an 1896 Italianate garden with pergola and columns," according to Harrison and Rosenfeld.
Castle Hill, Ipswich, Mass., 978-356-4351, www.thetrustees.org/pages/287-castlehill.cfm. "High above the ocean you'll find a grand allee, landscaped to resemble an undulating and unfurling ribbon," they said.
Garden in the Woods, Framingham, Mass., 508-877-7630, www.newfs.org. A "quiet walk in the woods" with "one of the premier wildflower collections in the nation."
Aspet, Cornish, N.H., 603-675-2175, www.sgnhs.org/saga.html. Home and garden of renowned sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens.
Green Animals, Portsmouth, R.I., 401-683-1267. A topiary garden of magical creatures; perfect for families.
Olallie Daylily Gardens, S. Newfane, Vt., 802-348-6614, www.daylilygarden.com. Some 800 varieties of daylilies.
Harkness Memorial State Park, Waterford, Conn., 860-443-5725, www.harkness.org. "Ocean views, an Italianate mansion, and a series of garden 'rooms."' Caprilands Herb Farm, Coventry, Conn., 860-742-7244, www.caprilands.com. Thirty themed gardens Shakespeare, a "cook's" garden, a medieval garden adorned with literary quotations.
Wethersfield, Amenia, N.Y., 845-373-8037. "A marvelous adventure in trompe l'oeil design," according to Harrison and Rosenfeld.
Stonecrop Gardens, Cold Spring (Putnam County), N.Y., 845-265-2000, www.stonecrop.org. A rock garden where "alpine flowers and other delights" are interspersed amid stones and water, the authors said.
The Donald M. Kendall Sculpture Gardens at PepsiCo, Purchase, N.Y., 914-253-2000. Contemporary art and flowers.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn, N.Y., 718-623-7200, www.bbg.org. Highlights include a Japanese garden, fragrance garden, rose garden and cherry blossom festival (April 29-30).
Cross Estate Gardens, Bernardsville, N.J., 973-543-4030, www.crossestategardens.org. "An intimate, walled garden that captures an enchanting old-fashioned storybook aura."
Rutgers Gardens, New Brunswick, N.J., 732-932-8451, rutgersgardens.rutgers.edu. "Teaching gardens include a bamboo forest that brings Asian art to mind."
Duke Farms, Hillsborough, N.J., 908-722-3700, www.dukefarms.org. Indoor greenhouse gardens on the Doris Duke estate "take you on a voyage from country to country, era to era."
Bartram's Garden, Philadelphia, 215-729-5281, www.bartramsgarden.org. Historic plantings dating to 1728.
Cedaridge Farm, Pipersville, Pa., www.derekfell.net. "Impressionist paintings come to life," including Monet's favorite arched bridge.
Nemours Mansion and Gardens, Wilmington, Del., 302-651-6912, www.nemours.org/internet?urlno/vtours/mansion/mg2169.html. Estate gardens inspired by Versailles.
William Paca Garden, Annapolis, Md., 410-263-5553, www.annapolis.org. A small, walled colonial garden. Ladew Topiary Gardens, Monkton, Md., 410-557-9570, www.ladewgardens.com. Includes an amazing fox hunt tableau made of yew.
Dumbarton Oaks Gardens, Washington D.C., 202-339-6401, www.doaks.org. A "masterpiece" designed by Beatrix Jones Farrand with "exquisite garden 'rooms' in English, French, and Italian styles," according to authors Harrison and Rosenfeld.
Monticello, Charlottesville, Va., 434-984-9800, www.monticello.org/gardens. "Thomas Jefferson's inimitable gardens combine history with botanical delights," Harrison and Rosenfeld said.
Maymont, Richmond, Va., 804-358-7166, www.maymont.org/. "Situated on a cliff above a stream, it features an enchanting Japanese garden, an Italianate garden, and a wisteria-covered pergola," they said.
Daniel Boone Native Gardens, Boone, N.C., 828-264-6390. Historic site includes Appalachian flora and Boone's log cabin.
Old Salem Gardens, Winston-Salem, N.C., 888-653-7253, www.oldsalem.org. Restored gardens in a community founded by Moravians in the 18th century.
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, Charleston, S.C., 843-571-1266, www.magnoliaplantation.com. One of the oldest gardens in America, featuring "a camellia maze, ancient live oaks, cypress trees, masses of wildflowers and fine formal gardens."
Brookgreen Gardens, Murrells Inlet, S.C., 843-235-6000, www.brookgreen.org. "This exquisite site includes works by leading American sculptors, a 250-year-old live oak allee and a wildlife park."
Callaway Gardens, Pine Mountain, Ga., 800-225-5292, www.callawayonline.com. "One of the nation's premier resorts and gardens, it is known for its exceptional azalea collection, its butterfly garden (enclosed in a 7,000-foot octagonal glass house), and its greenhouse gardens," according to Harrison and Rosenfeld.
Bok Tower Gardens, Lake Wales, Fla., 863-676-1408, www.boksanctuary.org. Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, Delray Beach, Fla., 561- 495-0233, www.morikami.org. Japanese museum and garden with "raked sands, carefully placed rocks and tropical plantings."
San Francisco Botanical Garden at Strybing Aroboretum, 415-661-1316, www.sfbotanicalgarden.org. Incredible year-round but with spectacular entry borders in spring featuring "unusual plant forms from around the world," and a rejuvenated Eastern Australian garden, said author Alice Joyce, who writes the "Garden Walks" column for the San Francisco Chronicle, in a phone interview.
Filoli, Woodside, Calif., 650-364-8300, www.filoli.org. "Fabulous estate garden with exuberant displays of bulbs," said Joyce.
Arizona Garden, Stanford University, Palo Alto, Calif., grounds.stanford.edu/points/gardens/arizonagarden.html. A cactus garden, designed for the Stanford family in the 1880s and recently rejuvenated.
Cornerstone Festival of Gardens, Sonoma, Calif., 707-933-3010, www.cornerstonegardens.com. Gardens designed like contemporary works of art, such as Earth Walk by Pamela Burton, in which "a massive wedge has been removed from the earth and you are allowed to stroll down a diagonal path, past an expanse of billowy grasses," Joyce said.
Walt Disney Concert Hall Community Park, Los Angeles, 213- 972-7211, www.wdch.org. (Open unless a concert is taking place.) "Full of intimate spaces, sinuous paths, beds filled with herbs and perennials, along with flowering trees with sculptural forms that reflect on the building's gleaming stainless-steel facade." Huntington Botanical Gardens, San Marino, Calif., 626-405-2100, www.huntington.org. "Wisteria, camellias and azaleas embellish lyrical formal garden spaces."
Volunteer Park Conservatory, Seattle, 206-684-4743. "A stunning Victorian glass conservatory," according to Joyce, filled with bulbs and blooming succulents.
Washington Park Arboretum, Seattle, 206543-8800, depts.washington.edu/wpa/. From February through June, "bursting with vivid spring floral displays from magnolias to rhododendrons," Joyce said.
Bloedel Reserve, Bainbridge Island, Wash., 206-842-7631, www.bloedelreserve.org. "Cultivated gardens and forests and a sweeping view of Puget Sound," with magical springtime displays of wildflowers like trillium.
Heronswood Nursery, Kingston, Wash., 360-297-4172, www.heronswood.com. A commercial nursery; display gardens can be visited by appointment. Founder Dan Hinkley "has created an Arcadian wonderland on the Kitsap Peninsula," Joyce said. "You can find rare plants here that you won't find anywhere else, as well as plants brought back from the wild, propagated and sold by the nursery."
Elk Rock The Gardens at the Bishop's Close, Portland, Ore., 800-452-2562, www.diocese-oregon.org/Garden/. "An amazing cliffside setting on the Willamette River," Joyce said. March is "magnolia month."
Abkhazi Garden, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, 250-598-8096, www.abkhazi.com. A storybook garden set amid massive outcroppings, built by a prince and princess who met in Paris in the 1920s, were interned in camps during World War II and later married.