Ah, Spring – the time of year when bluebells burst into bloom and great white oaks replenish their leaves. It’s time to don your petticoat and grab your parasol for a stroll in the legendary gardens of America.
A Brief History of American Gardens
Whereas gardens are seen as a hobby today, ornamental, fruit and vegetable, and herb gardening in early America was an important life skill.
Many colonial gardens were planted with the familiar, both native and British plants. They were proportionate to the needs of the family harvesting the garden. Those on smaller, more modest landholdings, often did not have a decorative structure or design.
In contrast, residents lucky enough to have lots of land to plant and workers – free, indentured, hired or enslaved – approached gardening with a more ornamental style. These large gardens often had formal, symmetrical designs and central walkways so special visitors could specifically enjoy the privately maintained sights and scents around them. Grandiose gardens also tended to boast a wider variety of native and exotic plants – an indicator of wealth and status.
Today, most of us have access to green space in our own yards, municipal parks, or museums. There are endless studies on the positive ways gardening and nature can impact one’s mental health. If you’re looking for an earthen escape, look no further than Great American Treasures’ legendary gardens.
Garden Tours in the Mid-Atlantic
First, we’ll take you through the gardens of the Mid-Atlantic. The gardens in this region are the closest to the true form of their colonial predecessors in fashion and native plant variety.
You’ll tour Philadelphia’s Stenton House, which features a breathtaking Colonial Revival Garden featuring well-kept boxwoods and a variety of native flowers. Next, we’ll showcase the Craik-Patton House nestled in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia. Here, you can enjoy the rich history of the military-decorated Patton Family and the home’s vast grounds.
Further South, we’ll take you to opposite corners of North Carolina to Rosedale Plantation and the Burgwin-Wright House & Gardens. Both offer unique glimpses into the state’s rich history as well as acres of meticulously maintained “parterre,” bordered plot, gardens.
Garden Tours in New England
If you prefer a slightly cooler climate for your garden gazing, check out our New England itinerary! We’ll take you North from Connecticut to Maine so you can enjoy the gardens of the early North East.
Starting at the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum in Connecticut, horticulture connoisseurs can admire the Colonial Revival Garden built by the Connecticut Society of Colonial Dames and landscape architect, Amy Cogswell in 1921. (The detailed landscape once included 99 plant varieties!) Further North is the Quincy Homestead – a remarkable 17th century home owned by five generations of Quincys. The grounds include a 1700s parterre garden lush with green boxwoods and colorful flower varieties. Next, you’ll discover the Moffatt-Ladd House & Gardens – where you can admire pre-revolutionary chestnut trees and roses. Finally, you’ll get a glimpse of the Tate House Museum in Portland, Maine. The short growing season of Maine doesn’t diminish the big impact of their charming array of florals and herbs.
Garden Tours Out West
Everyone loves to romanticize road trips out West and the legendary gardens of the West make the trip even more tempting! In this itinerary, we show off the historic landscapes of Wyoming, Oregon, and California.
Starting in the wild western state of Wyoming, you can stop at the Mandel Cabin & Postal Office in Sheridan. Located in the middle of a city park, the cabin is surrounded by a beautifully landscaped urban oasis and labyrinth. Traveling over the Middle Rockies to Newberg, Oregon, you can visit Hoover-Minthorn House, the childhood home of President Herbert Hoover. See the orchard and gardens in which he once explored himself. Just be careful not to make his mistake and eat too many pears! Finally, we’ll take you south to San Francisco, The Golden City of the West. In the Cow Hollow District, you can visit the eye-catching Octagon House with an equally impressive colonial-style garden featuring circular box hedges and beautiful Indian hawthorn trees.
Stay Tuned for More Itineraries
If these gorgeous gardens don’t tickle your fancy, fear not! We’ll be rolling out more helpful guides for enjoying the Great American Treasures all year!
Don’t want to wait? Use our Create an Adventure tool to plan your own!