Public gardens house all types of fascinating plants, shrubs and flowers, but what you may not realize is that they also serve as inexpensive, educational attractions that provide a variety of fun activities for visitors of all ages. Many public gardens go beyond horticultural displays to serve as museums, historic estates and wildlife preserves.
Take, for example, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, which is a history museum, free-range zoo and botanical garden all rolled into one. Or Brookgreen Gardens in South Carolina, which features an enchanting forest setting, pontoon cruises, art galleries and its own zoo.
In 2009, the American Public Gardens Association (APGA) introduced National Public Gardens Day to celebrate and raise awareness about the country’s public gardens and arboreta. Each garden plays an important role in supporting environmental conservation. All serve as valuable educational resources for local communities and tourists.
The national day is now celebrated annually on the Friday before Mother’s Day. This year it falls on Friday, May 9. It's regarded as an unofficial start to spring when many people are thinking about blossoming plants, bright flowers and the environment.
The APGA encourages Americans to celebrate on Friday by visiting a nearby public garden.
“National Public Gardens Day celebrates all public gardens, botanical gardens, educational gardens, specialty gardens, entertainment gardens, arboreta, farm gardens, historical landscapes and zoos, and each institution participates in their own unique way.
Many of the nation’s public gardens will mark the day with special events and activities for schools, families and thousands of visitors to explore and discover their local public garden, while learning about each garden’s commitment to education, research and environmental stewardship.”
You can also celebrate virtually by browsing through our list of 30 must-see U.S. public gardens. For those interested in exploring outside of the U.S., our round-up of must-see Canadian gardens is just as delightful.