Blossoms at the Boise Botanical Garden peak in May and June.
Even if you can't tell a Sequoia from a Cercis—that's a redwood from a redbud—botanic gardens around the West are a joy to visit, especially in late spring. Here are just a few.
IDAHO BOTANICAL GARDEN Boise. Among the 12 specialty gardens within its 50 acres are plots devoted to culinary herbs, irises, Idaho native plants, and peonies. Blossoms peak in May and June. (208) 343-8649, www.idahobotanicalgarden.org.
LYON ARBORETUM Honolulu. Located in a tropical rain forest—with 195 lush acres—this garden specializes in palms, heliconias, and other plants of the Pacific Basin and Asia. (808) 988-0456, www.lyonarboretum.com.
MOUNT PISGAH ARBORETUM Eugene, Ore. At this serene, 209-acre site, some seven miles of trails and eight bridges pass through river meadow, oak savanna, and hillside forest. (541) 747-3817, mountpisgaharboretum.org.
RED BUTTE BOTANICAL GARDEN Salt Lake City. Hike the 100 acres of natural terrain to immerse yourself in Great Basin flora, or visit the 50 acres of display gardens to see collections of lilies, crab apples, and more. (801) 581-4747, www.redbuttegarden.org.
SAN FRANCISCO BOTANICAL GARDEN San Francisco. Enter a century-old redwood grove at this manicured, 55-acre microcosm of global flora that's rich in plants from regions with Mediterranean climates, such as South Africa's Cape Province. (415) 661-1316, www.strybing.org.
SANTA BARBARA BOTANIC GARDEN Santa Barbara, Calif. In a canyon above the mission, five miles of trails crisscross 78 acres filled with seasonal wildflowers, California oaks, and other natives. (805) 682-4726, www.sbbg.org.
UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA BOTANICAL GARDEN Vancouver, B.C. This 110-acre preserve specializes in British Columbia natives and has one of North America's premier alpine collections. (604) 822-9666, www.ubcbotanicalgarden.org.
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA BOTANICAL GARDEN Berkeley, Calif. Its 34 acres boast one of the nation's most diverse collections—from cactuses to rhododendrons to insectivorous plants—plus a wide view of San Francisco Bay. (510) 643-2755, botanicalgarden.berkeley.edu.
WASHINGTON PARK ARBORETUM Seattle. This 230-acre haven on the shores of Lake Washington displays a rich and uncommon assortment of conifers, Japanese maples, camellias, azaleas, and hollies. (206) 543-8800, depts.washington.edu/uwbg/.
Photography by Mark Gibson
This article was first published in May 2005. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.