Bloomin’ Great Gardens

Eleven gardens and preserves flaunt their flowers in spring.

Red Butte Garden

Spring brings a burst of color and fragrance to Red Butte Garden in Salt Lake City.

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May is the time to stop and smell the roses—and to enjoy the peonies, magnolias, wisteria, and dozens of other spring bloomers that remind us that life is, after all, beautiful. Here’s a bouquet of stunners.

Berry Botanic Garden Portland. Seize your last chance to gaze on the brilliant deciduous azaleas, cassiopes, magnolias, and Pacific bleeding hearts in this 6 1/2-acre garden, scheduled to close permanently later this year. (503) 636-4112, berrybot.org.

Big Springs Gardens Sierra City, Calif. This seven-acre paradise under the ponderosa pines of Tahoe National Forest is a riot of rhododendrons, azaleas, and water irises. Opens June 11. Entry fee covers a buffet meal: Fridays $39, Saturdays and Sundays $37. Reservations required. (530) 862-1333, bigspringsgardens.com.

Dragonfly Peony Farm Wilseyville, Calif. Big, blowsy beauties unfurl at this enchanting little peony garden by the Mokelumne River. Sink your nose into Coral Charm, a Calaveras County Fair best-of-show. Opens May 14. (209) 293-1242, dragonflypeonyfarm.com.

Heritage Rose Garden San Jose. Unusual and antique roses jostle for space among the 2,600 varieties in California’s largest stock of old garden roses. (408) 298-7657, heritageroses.us.

Idaho Botanical Garden Boise. Four-o’clocks, native blue camas, and bitter­root join spring’s usual suspects—roses, wisteria, irises, lilies, and flowering crab apple—on 15 cultivated acres featuring seven separate gardens. (208) 343-8649, idahobotanicalgarden.org.

Lan Su Chinese Garden Portland. Flamboyant tree peonies beckon visi­tors to the garden’s annual peony party, May 8 through 31 this year. On May 27, entry is free to partygoers who bring three cut peonies from home. (503) 228-8131, portlandchinesegarden.org.

The Oregon Garden Silverton, Ore. A colorful hodgepodge of bearded irises tops the standouts at this 80-acre wonderland adjacent to Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1957 Gordon House. (503) 874-8100, oregongarden.org.

Red Butte Garden Salt Lake City. Wander among the hellebores and lilacs, then take a break under an arbor dripping with Japanese wisteria. Adults $6, children and seniors $4. (801) 585-0556, redbuttegarden.org.

Russian River Rose Co. Healdsburg, Calif. Savor the sight and scent of 650 varieties at this storybook nursery amid Sonoma vineyards. Open week­ends through May (by appointment after). Call for special harvest tours. (707) 433-7455, russian-river-rose.com.

Springs Preserve Las Vegas. Barrel cacti wear yellow and orange flowers like garlands, but the magenta blos­soms on the strawberry hedgehog cacti steal the scene. Entry $5 to $19. (702) 822-7700, springspreserve.org.

Wilbur D. May Arboretum & Botanical Garden Reno. Look for yellow coreopsis, dark pink Jupiter’s beard, stately delphiniums, and pastel foxgloves—five acres’ worth—spread throughout this expansive garden. (775) 785-4153, washoecounty.us/parks/arboretum/arbor.html.

Photo courtesy Red Butte Garden

This article was first published in May 2010. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.

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