Here are my criteria for a great garden. A great garden doesn’t have to have all of these to make it wonderful but when it does it will be a fabulous experience. I give a bouquet for each of these.
Location–there is a great view, and arriving there is a superb destination. The place is geographically interesting and exciting.
Plants–fully planted, distinctive perhaps a unique collection, in great condition, visually appealing.
Design moves you through the garden, the hardscape, the seating, the surprises you discover around the bend
Architecturally notable the human-made structures, homes, gazebos, patios, and pools, add distinction
Romance, simply walking in the garden, makes you swoon from sheer joy for this moment you are here. It wows you, touches your emotions, and embeds the experience in your memory, making you whistful of the moment long after you’ve returned home.
Alain Barton, gardener at Versailles for over 30 years and eventually head gardener, believes a really great garden inspires romance and I love this idea, hope you do too.
If you are ready to travel to gardens, here are my go-to resources to help you find these amazing places:
The American Horticultural Society
If you belong to your local botanic garden, check to see if they participate in the AHS Reciprocal Membership program. If so, your membership will give you free entrance to over 300 gardens throughout North America. This includes such well-known gardens as the New York Botanical, Missouri Botanical, Los Angeles, Chicago and many more.
I Love Gardens http://www.ilovegardens.com is a state by state guide of all gardens known within each state. You will find name, address, a brief description and link to the garden website. This site also lists the gardens of Ireland.
The Garden Guide’s Garden Finder site is based in the United Kingdom and lists gardens from 66 countries around the world. The site includes descriptions, reviews, and garden web links to allow you to research the destination. http://www.gardenvisit.com/gardens
Garden Search: Your gateway to the world’s botanic gardens, Botanic Gardens Conservation International Garden Search Lists gardens in over 100 countries
My Traveling Gardener website is also searchable by keywords. Notice on the side of my page is a search box. Search by garden name, state, or country to see if I have written about a garden you are hoping to visit.
The New Zealand Garden Trust identifies juried private gardens and member public gardens throughout the country.
The National Trust of the United Kingdom Garden Search
North American Japanese Garden Finder From their site “Some North American Japanese gardens have existed for more than a century. A few have achieved levels of excellence comparable to the best gardens in Japan itself. All have contributed to universalizing Japanese gardens as the embodiment of an active aspiration for a kinder, healthier world.”
American Public Garden Association
From their site “Outstanding public gardens exist across North America and beyond. To find gardens in your area, search for them by either garden name or geographic location. To learn more about a searched garden, click on the garden’s name for a full profile description and features of the garden.”
Once you have your garden destination identified, another great resource is Google Maps. It locates the garden and offers images to show you what you might expect when you reach your destination.