Staying home doesn’t mean you can’t visit public gardens. Here are 12 of the best virtual garden tours in North America that offer online garden programs, tours, and even yoga and wine tasting for you to enjoy at home.
In 1916, Samuel Untermyer, a successful lawyer and astute investor, hired William Wells Bosworth to create the “finest garden in the world” in Yonkers, New York. The walled garden designed in the ancient Indo-Persian style is divided into quadrants by waterways and bordered by crenelated walls anchored by octagonal towers. See the videos at www.untermyergardens.org/videos.
Robert and Jennie Butchart moved to Vancouver Island in Canada to build a cement plant on a rich limestone deposit at Tod Inlet. Later, Jennie transformed the quarry into today’s Sunken Garden. This fairytale-like elven vale has gracefully curving paths past flower beds, a bog garden, and various tree species. Today, Butchart Gardens is a National Historic Site of Canada. Videos are available at www.butchartgardens.com/a-virtual-visit.
Great Basin National Park
Bristlecone pines can live for thousands of years and are the longest living tree on the planet. Maybe one of the reasons the pines live so long is the park is one of the most remote in the nation: it’s about 380 miles from Reno, Nevada, and about 300 miles from Las Vegas. Relax on your couch for a real look at this distant park and these amazing pines.
Vizcaya Gardens and Estate
This beautiful old home in the Mediterranean style from 1914 is surrounded by extraordinary gardens in Coconut Grove, Florida. The video tours are extensive and they even have a gallery of ZOOM backgrounds featuring different portions of the estate and the grounds. They have a great choice of online activities including coloring books for adults and children, videos of artist workshops, and a 360-degree panorama view of the gardens and the estate. vizcaya.org/free.
Bok Tower Gardens
These gardens in Lake Wales, Florida, are a special place thanks to the extraordinary tower and the 60-bell carillon. Through its historic landscape gardens, unique Singing Tower carillon, and magnificent 1930s Mediterranean-style mansion, the gardens offer an unusual experience of the bell concerts and also tours of the garden now available to you online at boktowergardens.org/at-home.
United States Botanic Garden
The United States Botanic Garden, the USBG, in Washington D.C., offers a lively array of online tours and classes. Even though the garden is closed, there are online yoga classes, cooking demonstrations, and a lecture on All the President’s Gardens. Follow the pathways in a virtual tour to the Conservatory, National Garden, and Bartholdi Park at usbg.gov.
The Ford House and Gardens
The Ford House and Gardens in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, offers videos of various aspects of the gardens and the house plus the plantings, including the peninsula and bird island, the meadow, the new garden, the rose garden, and the lagoon. fordhouse.org/about/grounds-gardens.
This botanical garden 35 miles east of Kansas City, Missouri, draws you in not only with its great photographs but by the endless amounts of information to read and learn. You can click on each garden (water garden, stream garden, fountain garden, perennial, and woodland gardens) to find what birds or butterflies are there and what flowers and shrubs are blooming. powellgardens.org/visit/gardens and murielmcbrienkauffmanfoundation.org/memorial-garden.
The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Garden
Not only is the Huntington offering virtual tours, but it also has virtual backgrounds for your Zoom calls and meetings. The videos of the garden and the history of the estate are on the home page. This Beaux-Arts house was built in 1911 and it and the extensive gardens are examples of the gilded age of architecture and landscape gardening. huntington.org/videos-recorded-programs.
Filoli House and Gardens
These gardens in San Mateo, California, offer beautiful virtual tours so you can visit now while at home and plan your actual trip for later. Today, Filoli is a California State Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. Unlike other historic resources, these gardens are unique examples of living art. filoli.org/virtual-visit.
NY Botanical Garden
Started in 1891, the NYBG is a 250-acre garden and National Historic Landmark in New York City. You can explore the garden virtually on a spring walk, ask gardening questions of their plant doctor, take an online gardening class, go on virtual herbarium expeditions, and have fun with stay-at-home activities for families with kids. The details are available at nybg.org.
With so many gardening destinations in Portland, Oregon, the local tourism office has put together a list of places to visit virtually. Experiences range from online bonsai and floral design classes to tours of the Asian, Rhododendron, and Rose gardens in the region. You can even pair your favorite wine with images from a local wine estate. Read the story on these places and travel along at GardenDestinations.com.
Victoria Larson, a writer, and communications professional, enjoys gardening in Stanfordville New York. She makes a point to visit historic homes and gardens whenever possible with her enthusiastic architect husband and somewhat reluctant 17-year old.