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4 Outdoor Gardens to Tour in the Winter

These botanical beauties offer interesting blooms even when the temperature drops

spinner image the outdoor topiary garden at longwood gardens in pennsylvania
Visitors can enjoy a wide range of blooms in the winter at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania.
Johnny Stockshooter / Alamy Stock Photo

Plant lovers can still find fertile ground after the first frost. Many botanic gardens morph into winter wonderlands, with light displays, cozy conservatories and seasonal blooms. Here are four worth a visit.  

spinner image winter at the denver botanic garden in colorado
The Denver Botanic Gardens features a collection of regional plants and trees in Colorado.
Courtesy of Denver Botanic Gardens. Photo © Scott Dressel-Martin

Denver Botanic Gardens

Denver

Amble among the garden’s impressive collection of regional plants and trees, including ponderosa pine, Colorado blue spruce, aspen and cottonwood. Escape the cold in the tropical conservatory among more than 2,300 species of rainforest-dwelling plants.

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There’s always something interesting to see around the 24-acre garden. Follow a path to find vibrant green dwarf conifers in all different shapes and sizes.  From Jan. 12 to Feb. 19, take your Valentine to see rare orchids and other beautiful blooms at the Orchid Showcase and purchase an exotic plant to take home.

Admission is $15; $11.50 for age 65 and up. 

spinner image visitors stroll past flowers inside longwood gardens in pennsylvania
Guests can wander around the Topiary Garden at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania.
Jonathan Cohen / Alamy Stock Photo

Longwood Gardens

Kennett Square, Pennsylvania

Its winding paths on almost 200 acres outside Philadelphia are a four-season wonder.  The centerpiece of Longwood Gardens is the conservatory and former home of chemical and transportation mogul Pierre S. du Pont. Throughout the winter, Longwood boasts snow-dusted formal gardens, elegant topiary and dramatic blooms.  Changing displays of hothouse plants adorn the imposing 1921 conservatory. Shop for plants and garden-related gifts in the on-site boutique. 

Admission is $25; $22 for age 62 and up.

Ethel M Botanical Cactus Garden 

Henderson, Nevada

Lovers of desert plants will find a sweet surprise near the Las Vegas Strip at Ethel M Chocolates. Its 3-acre cactus garden is one of the biggest in Nevada. Stroll past more than 300 species of cacti, succulents and trees and shrubs native to the Southwest, South America and Australia. Starting in mid-January, the annual Lights of Love lures couples of all ages. After posing for photos in front of the prickly garden dwellers, stop into the factory and store to see chocolates being made. The hand-dipped treats — prickly pear crème-filled bonbons showcase the local flavor — are boxed and ready to take home. Ethel M is named for the late matriarch of the famed Mars candy family and incorporates her recipes. 

Admission is free; a donation may be requested during special events.

Missouri Botanical Garden

St. Louis

The Missouri Botanical Garden was founded in 1859 and was modeled after the great gardens of British estates. Today, the 79-acre oasis has plenty to show off in the winter. The annual orchid show, Jan. 27 to Feb. 25, displays many of the garden’s 6,000 rare and endangered blooms in the new Emerson Conservatory. Snowfall adds an extra layer of tranquility to the 14-acre Japanese garden. The garden also is a National Historic Landmark and center for conservation and botanical education. 

Admission is $14.  

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