What's to Love About Public Gardens? Start With the Colors.

Carolyn Black Garden Connecticut College Arboretum

If you're ready to indulge in botanical eye candy, take a road trip to a public garden. Below, learn about five in the eastern Connecticut shoreline area. Don't forget to take a look at the much longer list of ideas at the end of this post. 

Connecticut College Arboretum’s 750-acre grounds offer easy trails, a native plant collection, pond and river views, wetlands, and natural areas. The website offers printable maps, interactive maps, informative “story” maps, and a schedule of events. See conncoll.edu/the-arboretum

Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme is best known for the impressionist painters who gathered there at the beginning of the 20th century, forming the Lyme Art Colony. But ‘Miss Florence,’ as Florence Griswold was known, was an avid gardener. The museum's abundant plantings today reflect Miss Florence’s love of flowers and her joy at sharing it all with her boarders and tourists. See florencegriswoldmuseum.org.

Waterford’s Harkness Mansion and State Park is well known for sweeping views of Long Island Sound, beautiful natural areas, and lovely picnic grounds. It is also known for its carefully restored historic gardens designed by Beatrix Farrand, America’s first high-profile female landscape designer. See Harkness.org.

Thankful Arnold House was once home and hearth to a woman named Thankful Arnold and her large family. Today, the 18th-century home has a historically appropriate garden devoted to 50 varieties of herbs that had culinary, medicinal, or other practical uses in the 18th and 19th centuries. See haddamhistory.org

Meigs Point at Hammonasset State Park in Madison devotes its grounds to plants and planting practices that nurture wildlife, are gentle on the earth, and create beauty. The most remarkable area, in my opinion, is the purple martin habitat. It is easily viewed from the deck behind the main building or the lawn but is cordoned off to provide purple martins and their chicks the space and sense of safety they need. Visit meigspointnaturecenter.org

If you are traveling throughout the broader region, the public garden choices are many and impressive. Please scroll down. (Do you have favorites, not listed here?)

Greater New Haven area:

Stonecrop Gardens, Cold Spring, NY

  • Glebe House Museum & Gertrude Jekyll Garden, Woodbury
  • Kellogg Environmental Center and Osborne Homestead Museum, Derby
  • Marsh Botanical Garden, New Haven

West of New Haven

  • Bartlett Arboretum, Stamford
  • Highstead Conservation Center, Redding
  • New Canaan Nature Center
  • Promisek, Bridgewater
  • Weir Farm National Historical Park, Wilton

In Hartford

  • Butler-McCook House & Garden
  • Elizabeth Park
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe Center
  • Mark Twain House & Museum

Greater Hartford & Northeast

  • Bellamy-Ferriday House & Garden, Bethlehem
  • Hill-Stead Museum, Farmington
  • Phelps-Hatheway House, Suffield
  • Roseland Cottage, Woodstock
  • Stanley-Whitman House, Farmington
  • Webb Deane Stevens Museum, Wethersfield

Rhode Island

Stonecrop Gardens, Cold Spring, NY

  • Blithewold, Bristol


  • Arnold Arboretum, Cambridge
  • Berkshire Botanical Gardens, Stockbridge
  • Bridge of Flowers, Shelburne Falls
  • Native Plant Trust, Framingham
  • New England Botanical Garden at Tower Hill, Boylston
  • Norcross Wildlife Foundation, Wales
  • Polly Hill Arboretum, West Tisbury, Martha's Vineyard

New York

  • Brooklyn Botanical Garden
  • Native Plant Center - Westchester Community College, Valhalla
  • New York Botanical Garden, Bronx
  • Stonecrop Gardens, Cold Spring (a personal favorite)
  • Wave Hill, Bronx


  • Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, Boothbay


  • Chanticleer Gardens, Wayne, PA
  • Bowman's Hill Preserve, New Hope, PA
  • Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, PA
  • Penn State Arboretum, State College, PA
  • Phipps Conservatory, Pittsburgh, PA 


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