The garden path: Pretty places to see spring flowers

Published: Sunday, March 12 2006 12:05 a.m. MST

The French garden of the Doris Duke Gardens is constructed mostly of lattice wood in Hillsborough, N.J.

Mike Derer, Associated Press

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.

NEW ENGLAND:

— 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.

MID-ATLANTIC:

— 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).