As brilliant blooms break out across the U.S., a variety of guided walking tours and specialty exhibits provide visitors with the chance to explore the beauty of nature at its best. See below for a carefully pruned list of the nation's top spots to enjoy the natural rites of spring:
Camellia Walks at Middleton Place (pictured above) – Charleston, S.C.
Capturing the hearts of Southern gardeners for generations, camellias bloom at Middleton Place Gardens during the depths of winter. From pristine white to all shades of red and pink, over 3,500 camellias enhance the Gardens with a blaze of color, many over 220 years old. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays beginning Feb. 13 and continuing through March 22, visitors of Middleton Place can learn about the magnificent plant and thousands more on a Camellia Walk. The Camellia-focused guided garden tours begin at 11 a.m., last approximately an hour and a half and are free with paid admission to Middleton Place. Reservations are required. For more information and to purchase tickets, please call (843) 556-6020 or visit www.middletonplace.org.
Daffodil Days at Blithewold Mansion – Bristol, R.I.
Largely considered one of the best public gardens in New England, the 45-room English-style Blithewold Mansion, Gardens & Arboretum trumpets the arrival of spring with thousands of brilliant yellow daffodils. Open to the public April 1-27, Daffodil Days at Blithewold allow visitors to explore the grounds, tour the historic mansion, stop in for afternoon tea, peruse specialty art exhibits and participate in a variety of hands-on workshops. For more information or to purchase tickets, please call (401) 253-2707 or visit www.blithewold.org.
Dogwood Trail's 50th Anniversary Celebration – Paducah, K.Y.
Beautiful by day and glorious by night, the Dogwood Trail highlights Paducah's blooming dogwoods and flowering garden areas. The lighting of the Dogwood Trail in Paducah began in April 1964 when the Civic Beautification Board started the tradition of touring Paducah in bloom at night. The trail is now a 12.5-mile driving tour traversing historic downtown, LowerTown and other residential neighborhoods. Depending on mother nature, the Dogwood Trail is usually best for viewing during the month of April. For more information, please call (800) 723-8224 or visit www.paducah.travel.
Rhode Island Spring Flower and Garden Show – Providence, R.I.
The annual Rhode Island Spring Flower and Garden Show fills the city with fragrant, colorful flora and serves as a sign that the New England winter is coming to an end. From Thursday, Feb. 20 through Sunday, Feb. 23 at the Rhode Island Convention Center, visitors will see demonstrations and hear lectures from top landscape architects and gardening experts as well as view showcased garden displays and 250 larger-than-life garden marketplace vendors. The 2014 show combines America's passion for gardening with its love for classic cars through new “Vintage Garden” displays. Famous antique automobiles will serve as the centerpieces for these unique gardens, which will be created by some of the most talented landscape artists in the country. For more information and to purchase tickets, please call (401) 253-0246 or visit www.flowershow.com.
Santa Fe Botanical Garden Free Guided Docent Tours – Santa Fe, N.M.
Spring is Santa Fe's undiscovered season; an ideal time to visit before the summer rush when visitors have the city to themselves. At the Santa Fe Botanical Garden visitors find various wandering paths, quiet places to sit and relax, sculpture walks, a 'dry' garden, several meadows and an orchard, all of which have been beautifully executed with impressive stone work and with an eye towards responsible water use. Offered twice daily April through October, Free Guided Docent Tours of the Botanical Garden are at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. For more information or to make reservations, please call (505) 471-9103 or visit www.santafebotanicalgarden.org.
Virginia's Historic Garden Week – Virginia
Each spring, travelers are welcomed to Virginia's lush historic gardens, during this celebrated week, which takes place April 26 through May 3. Historic Garden Week began in 1927, when a flower show organized by the Garden Club of Virginia raised an impressive $7,000 to save some of the trees planted by Thomas Jefferson on the lawn at Monticello. Now deemed as "America's Largest Open House," this eight-day statewide event grants visitors access to more than 250 of Virginia's most beautiful gardens, homes and historic landmarks. Hosted during the peak of Virginia's springtime color, Historic Garden Week presents a unique opportunity to see unforgettable gardens as well as beautiful houses sparkling with over 2,000 fabulous flower arrangements created by Garden Club of Virginia members. For more information and to purchase tickets, please call (804) 644-7776 or visit www.vagardenweek.org.