Spring took it’s time getting here this year, but now that it has finally arrived we have found the best places to get your flower fix. From quaint formal gardens to fields of color, you don’t have to look far (or spend a fortune) to see some spectacular yard work.
Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory on Belle Isle
10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Wednesday to Sunday
900 Inselruhe Ave, Detroit, MI 48207
The oldest continually-running conservatory in the United States, the Belle Isle conservatory officially opening in 1904, and got its (latest) name from a Detroiter who donated her 600-plant orchid collection to the city in the 1950s
Divided into five “houses,” including a lush sunken Fernery and an elegant Lily pond, the conservatory still boasts one of the biggest orchid collections in the country. Check out the Show House for seasonal displays (currently a medley of Lilies, Hydrangeas, and Hellebores), and take a wander around the rest of Belle Isle for some great Spring vistas (like daffodil-drenched look-out points).
Taylor Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
8 a.m. – 8 p.m., March to December
22314 Northline Road, Taylor, MI 48180
Because it’s an open-air Victorian-style conservatory (originally built for a flower show in 1998), the late start to Spring has delayed it’s blooms a bit. From late June onward though, we can expect a riot of color from both the plants and the incorporated arts program the garden hosts, along with music shows as well.
Birds and Blooms is the theme for the garden this year, with a lean towards educating the public about our winged friends and the flowers they like.
Meadow Brook Hall
10 a.m. – 4 p.m., Memorial Day onwards
350 Estate Drive, Rochester, MI 48309-4401
The historic Dodge family’s garden looks like something lifted straight from the pages of “The Secret Garden” (don’t pretend you didn’t read it). The formal English-style grounds have colorful rock walls, trimmed hedges, and ivy-lined doorways, making for a rather enchanting spring/summer experience. These gardens are known for their Virginia Bluebells in the surrounding wooded areas, and later in the year the rose garden is a thorny paradise too, providing a treat for the senses.
Cranbrook House and Gardens
9 a.m. – 5 p.m., best from Memorial Day to October
380 Lone Pine Road, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48303-0801
The season gets started here with Daffodil Hill in bloom (4,000 bulbs were planted in the last two years) and then the picturesque Reflecting Pool hits its peak with Peonies. The Sunken Garden is a highlight, with beds along field-stone walls planted with a mixture of perennials and annuals, featuring pink, red, and white begonias this year. The Japanese Garden here is unique as well, with purple Liriope and Tree Peonies, and the Native Plant Rescue program is something to check out too.
Flower Lane at The Ford House
9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Sunday
1100 Lake Shore Road, Grosse Pointe Shores, MI 48236
$5 admission (free for children under 5)
If you’re willing to travel a little further afield (pun intended), the Flower Lane at Ford House is an amazing flower-viewing experience.
Like most gardens, this will get a late start this year, but Daffodils, Virginia bluebells, and Tulips are the first to emerge. Last year, landscapers planted 6,000 Tulip bulbs, so you can expect to be tiptoeing through them when you visit. Carpets of white, yellow, and blue perennials brighten a stroll through the landscape designed by famous Danish-American architect Jens Jensen. Delphiniums, Lupines, Veronica, Shasta daisies and Daylilies also pave the way through the lane, while the grounds also have a Tribute Garden, Rose Garden, and a Butterfly House.
The Peony Garden at Nichols Arboretum
Sunrise to sunset
1610 Washington Hts, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
For all things pretty, head to this 100-year old garden which has the largest collection of Heirloom Peonies in North America.
Tree Peonies are the first to bloom here, marking the start of Spring with each flower lasting only a day or two. Then the Herbacious Peonies should stake a claim at the beginning of June, and from then on it’s full bloom season with up to 10,000 flowers showing off their petals. Those in the know recommend picking your visiting times, apparently flower color and fragrance are best in the mornings and late afternoon, and the season can wrap up quickly so get a bloom update (from mid-May onwards) before you go.
Can’t miss flower events
The gardens we’ve mentioned have clubs, lectures, workshops, and flower sales, but Flower Day at Eastern Market on May 20th will also brighten your day. And if you’re a bit of green-thumb, another tour in downtown Detroit worth a mention is the Historic Indian Village Home and Gardens tour in June.