10 Best Gardens to Inspire



Fayetteville, NC

Gazebo in Cape Fear Botanical Garden in Fayetteville


Cape Fear Botanical Garden

Don't be fooled by the ominous name; frightened is the last thing you'll feel after a stroll through Fayetteville's Cape Fear Botanical Garden in Fayetteville, NC. The 79-acre garden was designed to provide city residents with a tranquil space to enjoy nature's finest, and its more than 2,000 varieties of plants, trees and wildlife make the garden a must-see in the city. But there's far more to do in this garden than simply relax; the River Walk, Heritage Garden, Children's Garden and PWC Water Wise Garden offer a little inspiration for any kind of mood. 

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Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden in Gastonia, NC


Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden

Sometimes creativity springs from a little relaxation, so kick back with a visit to the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden in Gastonia, NC. Established in 1999, Daniel Stowe is a display garden, grouping plants and flowers aesthetically rather than by the typical genus and family arrangement favored by other botanical gardens. The sprawling 380-acres includes manicured gardens and various garden rooms. Ten thousand species of flowers, banana trees, winterberry and the orchid conservatory help round out this gorgeous garden.

Botanica, The Wichita Gardens in Wichita, KS

PHOTO CREDIT: Antony Boshier

Wichita Gardens-Botanica

At Botanica, beautiful doesn't even begin to cut it. The Wichita Gardens-Botanica in Wichita, located on Amidon Street‚ is a 9.5-acre horticulture center with 24 different themed gardens. Themes range from the popular Shakespearean Garden, where everything planted is either from the time of Shakespeare in England or is mentioned in one of his plays, to the more than 500 free-flight butterflies in the Butterfly House. Staples such as the Rose Garden also continue to draw big crowds. So whether you're looking for a little whimsy or a simple red rose, you'll find it in Wichita, KS.




The Swan Lake Iris Gardens in Sumter, SC

PHOTO CREDIT: Todd Bennett

Swan Lake Iris Gardens

Nothing sets the scene quite like Swan Lake. But in Sumter, they're offering a new spin on the old classic with the Swan Lake Iris Gardens. The 120-acre park began as an accidental garden in 1927, when a failed iris garden sprung to life the next year, creating what Southern Living magazine called “a lovely mistake.”

Australian Black and English Royal Mute swans were later imported in the early 1930s, and today the park has all eight swan species. The park is the setting for the Sumter Iris Festival, which began in 1940 and is South Carolina's oldest continuing festival. Swan Lake is also routinely used as a wedding venue.

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University of California-Santa Cruz Arboretum

Combining a campus feel with a gorgeous garden can provide the perfect atmosphere for a little inspiration. Just ask the folks over at the University of California-Santa Cruz Arboretum, where a diverse collection represents more than 300 plant kingdoms. Students, specifically those in the sciences, will draw their inspiration from the collections of rare and threatened plants, including many that are not available for study elsewhere in America. Those looking simply for scenery will be pleasantly surprised as well with an exotic mix of flora from areas including Australia, South Africa and New Zealand.

Read more about other attractions in Santa Cruz, CA.

Outdoor Paradise

PHOTO CREDIT: J. Kyle Keener

Cinnamon Creek Tropical Butterfly Garden

If the usual flowers aren't fueling your creativity, try taking a trip to the Cinnamon Creek Tropical Butterfly Garden, where the fluttering of hundreds of wings provides the sounds and scenery. Tropical species are imported from a conservation ranch in Central America. Some are as big as saucers‚ but perhaps the most striking is the metallic blue morpho‚ which is nicknamed the “miracle butterfly.” The lush tropical greenery that garnishes the 2‚000-square-foot center provides shelter, and outside picnic tables line the creek‚ so families and groups can settle in for picnics and make a day of their visit.

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Fort Worth's Urban Water Garden


Fort Worth doesn't offer you an ordinary garden. Rather, traditional flowers, green paths and towering trees are replaced with a different kind of natural wonder: water. Enclosed in a stone stadium-esque structure, Fort Worth's Water Garden, sits next to the convention center and draws a multitude of admirers in downtown Fort Worth.

Visitors can choose from three pools – the quiet meditation pool, the aerating pool with spray fountains or the active pool where guests can wade, making this garden perfect for anyone looking for a more modern mode of inspiration.

Learn about other fun things to see and do in Fort Worth, TX.

The Japanese Garden at Lake Sacajawea Park in Longview, WA.

PHOTO CREDIT: Todd Bennett

Japanese Gardens at Lake Sacajawea

Those who find inspiration in the exotic will benefit from a trip to the Japanese Gardens at Lake Sacajawea in Longview, WA. The relatively new garden opened in 2003 and sits on its own island connected to the park by the impressive Japanese-style bridge. Surrounding the garden is Lake Sacajawea Park, a 60-acre park, complete with 3.5 miles of hiking and biking trails, picnic areas and playgrounds.

Check out more outdoor activities in Longview, WA.

Cheyenne, WY Botanic Garden


Cheyenne Botanic Gardens

Inspiration goes hand-and-hand with innovation at the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens in Cheyenne, WY. Along with its nine acres of landscapes and gardens, Cheyenne offers a solar conservatory that's 100 percent solar heated, making it one of the western region's oldest and largest sites for renewable energy. Inside the enviromentally-friendly conservatory visitors will find rows of tropical (and beautiful) plants. The garden's Paul Smith Children's Village demonstrates solar heating, solar power and wind power, inspiring a new generation to continue the green legacy.

See how Cheyenne, WY, made our Top 10 Libraries for Children list.

PHOTO CREDIT: Antony Boshier

A single red rose has served as inspiration to hundreds of romantics. Just imagine what an entire garden can too. The 14-acre Tyler Municipal Rose Garden in Tyler, TX, is the largest rose garden in the United States. Obviously known for its beauty, the garden becomes an especially popular tourist attraction in both the spring and mid-October when the garden is in full bloom. More than 38,000 rose bushes exist representing 500 different varieties, ranging from tall grafted rose trees to miniature roses that are no larger than a dime.

The Rose Garden is open from dawn until dark, seven days a week, and admission is free. It can also be rented for special events such as weddings, parties, corporate functions and reunions.

Tyler Municipal Rose Garden is also one of 24 All American Rose Selections test gardens in the nation where the newest varieties are evaluated over a two-year period. Ones that pass the test for vigor, flowering and disease resistance are then nationally introduced to the gardening public.

Specific sections within Tyler Municipal Rose Garden include the David Austin roses that are reminiscent of traditional English garden roses, and the Heritage Rose and Sensory Garden that features 50 varieties of roses and perennials that bloom all summer long. There is also a Vance Burks Memorial Camellia Garden, daylilly beds maintained by the East Texas Daylily Society, and the Hosta Variety Trail that showcases perennials adorned with large, attractive leaves.

Read more about roses in Tyler, TX.

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