National Public Gardens Day: 10 Under-The-Radar Gardens To Visit This Mother's Day

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American Public Gardens Association

May 6th marks the 3rd annual National Public Gardens Day. Created to bring awareness to the importance of public gardens in promoting environmental stewardship and plant and water conservation, the day will see some 500 events across the country to celebrate America's public gardens.

May 6th marks the 3rd annual National Public Gardens Day. Created to bring awareness to the importance of public gardens in promoting environmental stewardship and plant and water conservation, the day will see some 500 events across the country to celebrate America's public gardens.

Most of the events, for families, schools and tourists alike, will last through the weekend (hint: A visit would make a great last-minute Mother's Day treat).

National Public Gardens Day always takes place on the Friday before Mother's Day, and is meant to commemorate the start of spring.

Get outside in your hometown or travel to a nearby public garden to celebrate spring – not to mention good ol' mom.

All the gardens mentioned below are free to enter. Check the National Public Gardens Day website to get coupons to gardens that charge admission on Friday.

Text and photos courtesy of the American Public Gardens Association.

National Public Gardens Day: 10 Under-The-Radar Gardens To Visit This Mother's Day (PHOTOS)

Considered by many to be a leader in plant conservation, Denver Botanic Gardens collaborates with state programs to survey data on Colorado’s rare plants, monitor endangered plant species, and collect and store seeds. The Denver gardens provides environmental stewardship for over 60 species of rare and endangered plants statewide.

Open year-round, Lauritzen Gardens is home to 100 acres of well-manicured plant displays maintained to very high environmental standards in the heart of Omaha’s urban center. Also on the grounds are two of the greatest locomotives ever to power Union Pacific Railroad: the Centennial No. 6900, the largest and most powerful diesel-electric locomotive ever built, and Big Boy No. 4023 – the world’s largest steam locomotive.

Originally built in the 1930s by a faculty member of Duke Medical School, the Sarah P. Duke Gardens were destroyed in 1935 after a heavy flood that wiped away thousands of plants. The garden was then rebuilt by landscape design pioneer Ellen Shipman, and is widely considered her greatest work. It is one of the only gardens she designed that still remains.

A vision of more than 15,000 plants, the Dawes Arboretum is considered a leader in native plant conservation and ecological restoration. Yet the Arboretum is also noteworthy for its strong political heritage. The garden’s founding family, the Dawes, had a great-great grandfather that rode with Paul Revere; another great-great grandfather that helped to draft the Ordinance of 1787; a civil war veteran that served with the “Iron Brigade”; a one-term member of the U.S. House of Representatives; a co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize; an Ohio State Senator; and last but not least, is related to Charles Dawes, who served as Vice President of the United States under President Calvin Coolidge.

Descanso Gardens, located just outside Pasadena, is home to North America’s largest and rarest camellia collection – there are more than 700 camellia taxa growing over 20 acres.

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, just outside Miami, is entirely devoted to conserving and teaching about tropical plants. The garden’s Center for Tropical Plant Conservation works to conserve many plant groups for South Florida, the Caribbean, Oceanic Islands, tropical Africa and Madagascar. In addition, the garden houses a bird conservation program and sanctuary, and is a leading center of palm research, having studied the world’s palms for over 70 years.

In 2010, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden turned 100 years old. The garden has an incredible collection of cherry trees and an impressive native plant collection, but it is known for its magnolias – in 1977, Brooklyn Botanic Garden even patented the world’s first yellow magnolia.

The 650-acres that is home to the Tyler Arboretum in Philadelphia dates back to 1681, when it was purchased by Quaker Thomas Minshell 17 days after King Charles II gave William Penn his colony. Of the more than 1,100 trees and plants planted by the sixth-generation descendants of Minshell, 20 of those specimens are still alive.

Founded by former first lady Lady Bird Johnson and actress Helen Hayes, University of Texas at Austin’s Wildflower Center was created to conserve the state's swiftly dwindling native plants. The Austin garden now maintains the Native Plants Database, housing resources and information on over 7,000 native plants.

Home to one of the world’s most spectacular living collections of desert plants (17,000), the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix also hosts over 4,000 species. Widely considered the top resource on desert botany in the country, the garden has a 13,700-square-foot desert plant research center and herbarium, with a library, laboratories, plant conservation, and research facilities.

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