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GardenSMART :: Great Gardens to Visit

Great Gardens to Visit

By Alki Tours Worldwide
Photographs courtesy of Alki Tours

In cities, seaside towns, and tropical islands around the world, horticultural oases are flourishing. These one-of-a-kind gardens and horticultural events must be experienced in person, for even the loveliest photographs can’t truly capture their unique essence and spirit. Every garden is the embodiment of its country’s or region’s unique geography, botany, culture, and climate. These trips should be on your horticultural bucket list.

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Best of the Southwest, including the Desert Botanical Garden

In the middle of Arizona—in the middle of the desert—an extraordinary garden is growing. Here, at the 145-acre Desert Botanical Garden, the most unusual and bizarre plants from the deserts of the world grow in spectacular profusion. There are agaves, those overgrown relatives of the amaryllis that live seven to 40 years, bloom once a lifetime, and die after flowering. The tough saguaro cactus has tiny seeds, like 4,000 specks of black sand, filling the plant's red fruit, yet it's lucky if just one produces a mature plant. Even then the process is torturous. After a year, the seedling may be only as large as a grain of rice. It probably won't flower until it's at least 35 years old. And three more decades must pass before the plant can grow its distinctive branches and begin to lose its pole-like adolescent shape. No wonder the saguaro cactus is so treasured in the West!

The Desert Botanical Garden opened in the 1930’s with the goal of saving endangered plants, with the focus on native flora, especially succulents. March is the perfect time to visit since the seasonal blooms are spectacular. This 7-day tour includes the Grand Canyon, Sedona and Scottsdale, March 4-10, 2017.

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Hawaiian Island Cruise

A 16-day cruise that includes all of your meals and entertainment, as well as ports of call in Vancouver British Columbia and the largest of Hawaii’s islands. The Hawaiian Islands are home to some of the world’s most beautiful and exotic gardens, arboretums, and landscapes. (The links below will give you a taste of the amazing gardens that you’ll see.) What’s best about cruising the islands is that you will have enough time to explore each garden.

Big Island Gardens
Lili'uokalani Park and Gardens
Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden
World Botanical Gardens

Maui Gardens
Enchanting Floral Gardens |
Garden of Eden Botanical Arboretum
Ke'anae Arboretum
Kula Botanical Gardens

Kauai Gardens
Limahuli Garden
National Tropical Botanical Garden
Smith's Tropical Paradise

This 16-day Hawaiian cruise is from April 21-May 6, 2017.

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Spectacular South Africa and Kirstenbosch

This incredible sojourn includes beautiful hotels, travel on the garden road to the Cape of Good Hope to view the penguin colonies, the wine country, game drives, and much more. South Africa is home to the fabled Kirstenbosch, called “the most beautiful garden in Africa.” Founded in 1913 by Harold Pearson, the first chair of botany at the South African College, this national botanical garden evolved from overgrown farmland and—in the words of one early 20th century observer—"two small, rat-infested rooms." Since then, Cape Town’s answer to Eden has grown to occupy 89 acres, all of them dedicated to indigenous flora, among them the national flower: the red, vaguely pineappley King Protea. 12 days, May 13-24, 2017.

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Portland Rose Festival

This is why Portland is nicknamed the “Rose City.” For more than 100 years, this amazing festival has been giving Portland families and visitors a surefire way to make long-lasting, particularly colorful memories. Make your way into the heart of Portland and smell the roses yourself!

With a variety of events and attractions, the festival is a perfect outing that’s sure to please everyone. Whether you go for the parade, the city fair, the races or the food, the Rose Festival offers it all. For families with children, amusement rides and treasure hunts provide a fun time. At Tom McCall Waterfront Park, you can enjoy a fireworks show and Fleet Week, including a free tour of historic military ships before the big festivities begin.

The main attraction of the festival, the Grand Floral Parade on June 7th, is a must. Covering a 4.2-mile city route, the parade features floral floats, marching bands, equestrian units, vintage cars and much more. This is one flower-filled extravaganza that you don’t want to skip! This short getaway includes box seats to the Rose Festival, lovely hotels and meals. 2 days, June 9-10, 2017.

Don’t miss The Annual Spring Rose Show is the largest and longest-running one of its kind in the nation, with more than 4,000 blooms. Stop and smell them at Lloyd Center.

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