Readers Choice

10Best Readers' ChoiceChosen by readers of USA TODAY and 10Best

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    #10 - Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden - Miami

    Located in one of the only regions in the continental USA where tropical plants can be grown outdoors year round, the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables seeks to conserve the natural diversity of Florida's flora with programs like the Million Orchid Campaign, all while offering visitors a uniquely Floridian garden experience.

    Photo courtesy of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

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    #9 - Portland Japanese Garden - Portland, Ore.

    While relatively small at only 5.5 acres, the Portland Japanese Garden is arguably the most authentic outside of Japan and one of Portland's most tranquil escapes. Divided into five smaller gardens, the space includes an authentic Japanese tea house, meandering walkways made from natural materials and an iconic Japanese maple that turns brilliant shades of orange and red in autumn.

    Photo courtesy of David M. Cobb

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    #8 - Missouri Botanical Garden - St. Louis

    Founded in 1859, the Missouri Botanical Garden is the nation's oldest botanical garden in continuous operation, and a registered National Historic Landmark. Its 75 acres of garden spaces include a 14-acre Japanese strolling garden, one of the world's most extensive collections of rare and endangered orchids and a scented garden for the visually impaired.

    Photo courtesy of Laila Wessel/Missouri Botanical Garden

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    #7 - Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens - Boothbay, Maine

    The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens seek to preserve and display the natural landscapes of the region on the 250-acre grounds on the shorefront of mid-coast Maine. Open year round (and free during the winter months), the gardens feature granite stone pathways winding amid rustic woodland, whimsical statuary and manicured and themed gardens, like the interactive Lerner Garden of the Five Senses.

    Photo courtesy of Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

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    #6 - Cheekwood Botanical Garden - Nashville

    The Cheekwood Botanical Garden & Museum of Art in Nashville features 55 acres of public garden space divided into a dozen themed areas. A recent near-million-dollar renovation revitalized the centerpiece of the estate, the Howe Garden, to include a state-of-the-art rain garden and added a completely new Sigourney Cheek Literary Garden with an amphitheater to host poetry and book readings.

    Photo courtesy of Cheekwood Botanical Garden & Museum of Art

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    #5 - Chicago Botanic Garden - Glencoe, Ill.

    The brilliant Chicago Botanic Garden features 385 acres divided into 26 gardens and four natural areas, all located on nine islands with a total of six miles of shoreline. The Japanese Garden alone spans three separate islands, and the 185-specimen bonsai collection is considered among the nation's best public bonsai displays.

    Photo courtesy of Chicago Botanic Garden photos

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    #4 - Callaway Gardens - Pine Mountain, Ga.

    Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia sits on a 14,000-acre property, complete with a golf course, tennis center, spa, woodlands, lakes and elaborate gardens. During spring, some 5,000 varieties of native and hybrid azaleas begin to bloom in the 40-acre Callaway Brothers Azalea Bowl -- the largest of its type in the world.

    Photo courtesy of Callaway Gardens

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    #3 - Butchart Gardens - Victoria, B.C.

    Located in Victoria, British Columbia, the Butchart Gardens have been blooming for more than 100 years on the site of an old limestone quarry. Today, they're considered one of Canada's best public gardens. The famous Sunken Garden features colorful beds of annuals, flowering trees and shrubs, and the Butchart Rose Garden houses one of the best collections in the world.

    Photo courtesy of The Butchart Gardens

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    #2 - Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden - Richmond, Va.

    More than a dozen themed gardens on 50 acres provide year-round beauty at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond. Outstanding features include a classic domed Conservatory with ever-changing colorful orchids and tropical plants and a Children’s Garden with wheelchair accessible Tree House. Photo by Don Williamson

    Photo courtesy of Don Williamson

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    #1 - Longwood Gardens - Kennett Square, Pa.

    More than a million visitors stroll the exquisite grounds of Longwood Gardens each year, and it's easy to see why. Indoor spaces, like the tropical Conservatory and the Orchid House with its 500 fragrant plants, offer a slice of spring throughout the year, always have something blooming. The Flower Garden Walk, a springtime favorite, takes visitors through Longwood's first (and very colorful) flower garden.

    Photo courtesy of B. Krist for Visit Philadelphia™

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Best Public Garden


As winter nears its end across North America, we're happy to announce the winners of what turned out to be the second most popular contest category since the launch of 10Best Readers' Choice.  

The winners in the 'Best Public Garden' contest category for 10Best Readers' Choice are as follows:

  1. Longwood Gardens - Kennett Square, Pa.
  2. Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden - Richmond, Va.
  3. Butchart Gardens - Victoria, B.C.
  4. Callaway Gardens - Pine Mountain, Ga.
  5. Chicago Botanic Garden - Chicago
  6. Cheekwood Botanical Garden - Nashville
  7. Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens - Boothbay, Maine
  8. Missouri Botanical Garden - St. Louis
  9. Portland Japanese Garden - Portland, Ore.
  10. Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden - Miami

Friends, fans and followers of these gardens were anxious to help their favorite green space land a winners spot, many of them voting repeatedly.  

We can't think of a better list of places to explore in spring than these lovely gardens.  Congratulations to all the gardens which have bloomed into official winners of our prestigious contest.     


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The Experts

Cindy Brockway

LUCINDA A. BROCKWAY is the Program Director for Cultural Resources at The Trustees of Reservations (The Trustees), the nation’s oldest land trust, and one of Massachusetts largest conservation organizations.  A landscape designer for 25 years before joining The Trustees, Brockway graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a BS in Plant Science before training at Longwood Gardens and the Chicago Botanical Garden. An award-winning landscape designer and preservationist, Brockway served a national clientele and managed several projects for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Her work has been featured in Old House Journal, Victoria Magazine, Colonial Homes, Nineteenth Century and Accent as well as numerous professional and trade publications.  Her work has been recognized by the Garden Club of America, the American Society of Landscape Architects, Preservation League of New York State, the State of New Jersey, the Massachusetts Historic Commission and others.   She is the author of two books, A Favorite Place of Resort for Strangers (Fort Ticonderoga 2001), and Gardens of the New Republic (May 2004).  A popular lecturer, Brockway is also an instructor for the National Preservation Institute where she teaches short courses in landscape preservation.   In her role at The Trustees, Brockway is responsible for eleven public gardens from Martha’s Vineyard to the Berkshire Hills, including Naumkeag in Stockbridge; Ashintully in Tyringham; Castle Hill on the Crane Estate in Ipswich; Long Hill in Beverly; Stevens Coolidge Place in Andover; the Bradley Estate in Canton; and MyToi on Martha’s Vineyard.   

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