Michigan’s botanical gardens provide the ideal escape to nature. Often kept particularly warm and bright in the interest of the trees and plants contained therein, it's a great place to spend the day. Settle in and check out 10 of the best such botanical gardens the state has to offer!
Part of Michigan State University, the Michigan State University Horticulture Gardens actually comprise several individual gardens in one 14-acre package. Coming at different times of year will demonstrate the full power of this operation as there will be something different depending the time of year. For instance, the Frank's Nursery and Crafts Rose Garden is exclusively devoted to roses, so those who come in June and July will get the best show overall.
In Hillsdale, right next to the Hillsdale College campus, is the 14-acre Slayton Arboretum, an impressive combination of plant life, water features, and even a few stone structures, the arboretum has a lot on display. Throughout the year, there will be a slate of special events calling attention to different facets of horticulture from herbs to even bird house construction, along with special programs for the kids to make for a complete package.
Head out to Ann Arbor to check this one out, as it's part of the University of Michigan. U of M students are reportedly quite fond of this installation, and those who come out in June will be able to get in on the Peony Festival, an event that focuses on just one flower. In the meantime, the Arb, as it's known, will offer plenty of other options in a host of exhibits, pathways and natural trails waiting to be discovered.
Found not too far from Niles, the 105-acre Fernwood Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve offers almost staggering variety. Featuring a complete wildflower garden, a Japanese garden, a section devoted entirely to hostas and a collection of small shrubs known as the “Boxwood Garden,” there's a huge quantity of material to check out here. Perhaps the most impressive site is the Moore Woodlot, a natural area that displays the clear balance between cultivated and natural environment.
While most people don't think of gardens when they think of Dow, Midland's Dow Gardens is easily one of Michigan's best. A 110-acre garden started by no less than Herbert Dow himself, the garden not only features special areas for pollinating plants, but also offers a stream walk, an herb garden, a color garden, and a clear proximity to other sights in the Dow complex.
Following up unlikely locations for garden spots, the Upper Peninsula definitely ranks on the list. Not far from DeTour Village and the impressive offerings found therein, the DeTour Botanical Gardens feature a slate of offerings geared toward seasons. A set of spring, summer and autumn offerings are on hand here, including things like a frog pond and a view of the waterfront. It also represents the northernmost botanical park Michigan has to offer.
Head to Battle Creek for a look at this wonder, as it boasts over 25,000 different plants to its credit. With seasonal joys like a lilac garden—speaking here as someone who has a lilac bush in the backyard, nothing spells spring like the smell of lilac—and year-round wonders like a complete hedge maze, there's plenty to see and smell on hand. Throw in a disc golf field and it even has an active component to it that's hard to pass up.
Grand Rapids plays host to the Frederik Meijer Gardens, a botanical garden which actually ranked in the top five such gardens in the United States on the strength of a USA Today poll. Featuring 158 acres of terrain to cover, five different indoor gardens and a slate of outdoor gardens and nature trails for when the weather improves, there's no shortage of unusual plant life for visitors to check out and in comparative comfort no matter what the weather.
Part of the Belle Isle Conservancy in Detroit, the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory has a special place in history as it's the oldest conservatory in the United States that's been running continually since its inception. With five different sections to its credit and a Japanese Tohro fountain known as the Levi Barbour Memorial Fountain on hand, the Anna Scripps Whitcomb conservatory looks like a tropical paradise on the inside, even in the dead of winter.
In Tipton, the Hidden Lake Gardens—another garden that's part of MSU—await for viewers to come in and check out. Boasting over 750 acres of total space, the gardens have been in operation since the 1920s, and have been growing ever since. Featuring a hosta collection, a bonsai tree collection, a collection of unusual coniferous trees and a complete conservatory, visitors will have a lot to check out at Hidden Lake Gardens. Consider coming out in December for the Holiday Festival featuring over 2,000 candle luminaries.