Here are three additional botanical gardens that we’ve visited.
Matthaei Botanical Gardens (MBG)
We have visited MBG most frequently; they have dahlia, African violet, bonsai and orchid shows/sales which allow our plant collections to expand somewhat exponentially on each trip. The pros: Indoor and outdoor gardens allow year-round visits. Free admission and convenient parking for a small fee. Nice display of epiphytic, miniature, and ant plants. Native butterflies are abundant in the summer (as well as other insects). Fairly good at labeling plants. Has a new outdoor bonsai display. The cons: Few seasonal displays so many visits are pretty similar (but we go frequently, so maybe we are biased), though you do get a different array of flowers each time you visit. Despite the frequency of our visits, I have very few pictures of these gardens. This is probably because we are doing such serious plant shopping.
Groups of bromeliads. These are not well-labeled, but very pretty and very diverse. MBG 2015.
If you look carefully on the upper level at MBG, you can find this miniature plant display. It is on a small log, but offers a diversity of ittybitty tropical plants. On the bottom right are leaves of the orchid Epidendrum porpax. This tiny plant measures only a few inches across. While it can grow into a dense clump, the plant here is probably flowering size.
The indoor gardens are separated into tropical, Mediterranean, and arid sections. There is an upper level that allows you to view the canopy more closely. Keep your eye out for epiphytes mounted naturally (on other plants): if you look closely as you walk by each tree, you will likely find more plants on display. There are a variety of interesting ant plants and orchids mounted this way.
An absolutely gorgeous bromeliad and it really was this beautiful blue-purple. Not labeled as far as I could tell, but a similar variety would be: Neoregelia ‘Inkwell’. MBG 2014.
Carrion flower: a plant that resembles and smells like rotting flesh to attract flies for pollination. This specimen was in the arid room. Many aloe, agave, euphorbia, and cacti were in flower at this time. Winter 2014 at MBG.
This was cutting-style garden was amazing. There were so many flowers and also many insects. We found skippers, fritillaries, swallowtails (including a giant swallowtail), and monarchs. MBG late summer 2014.
Not the best picture, but this is a Great Spangled Fritillary on Verbena bonariensis. Have caution when planting this verbena as it has been considered invasive in some parts of the lower United States, especially in wetland environments. The plants cannot overwinter below USDA zone 7, but it can reseed (I’m not sure how vigorously it spreads). MBG 2014.
Como Park Zoo & Conservatory (Como)
I have only visited Como once, but it was a great experience. A highly suggested stop if you are in Minnesota! The pros: Free admission (or give a donation!) to the botanical gardens AND a zoo! Great bonsai and water lily display. The cons: ?
Look at how beautiful it is! Como 2013.
Outside the conservatory are a number of water gardens with a variety of water lilies and lotus. I have no idea what this is, but the leaves are huge! Como 2013.
There is a primitive plants display with Equisetum, ferns, and cycads. Como 2013.
The bonsai display has a nice variety of plants. The labels included the species and the dates they started training. This is only a portion of the outdoor display. As I recall, there were some indoor bonsai as well. Como 2013.
The Japanese garden was very impressive. I am not usually interested in these more formal gardens, but it was breath-taking. The large rocks seemed perfectly proportioned with the landscaping. Como 2013.
Toledo Botanical Gardens (TBG)
I have visited TBG frequently in spring, summer, and fall. The pros: Free to visit and park. Parking is convenient. TBG has a wide variety of hostas and daylilies. Nice variety of shade-loving wildflowers. The cons: No indoor gardens which means nothing to do in the winter. Displays don’t change much from year-to-year.
This is a lovely shade combination of Hosta and Hyacinthoides. I’m not sure of the cultivar, but a similar plant would be Hosta ‘Francee’ which is readily available. TBG 2014.
The white flower here is Dodecatheon meadia (a plant known as shootingstar or Pride-of-Ohio, I confess I’ve never heard of it) with the orchid Cypripedium parviflorum in the background. TBG Spring 2014.
This columbine was also unlabelled, but I believe it to be Aquilegia alpina. I would consider it a true blue. TBG Spring 2014.
Rhododendron in full bloom at TBG in 2014.
This is a sun loving perennial plant known as Amsonia. I planted one last year after being inspired by this exact plant which is about waist high and probably about 6 feet in diameter. Apparently they are quite drought resistant and have lovely fall foliage. TBG 2014.
There are many more full sun gardens at TBG, but apparently we’ve forgotten the camera those days or had been dodging weddings because I have no photos of them. I will make it a point to snap some landscapes of the beds. They have a garden dedicated to daylilies which is being expanded; a culinary garden; a dahlia bed; rose bed; an herb garden; perennial gardens; and some formal garden areas.