8 Blooming Botanical Gardens To Explore Virtually

Cherry blossoms, tulips, and rare orchids are in bloom! Take a virtual stroll through nature at these eight botanical gardens.

This is the time of year when visitors usually flock to botanical gardens to check out their colorful spring blooms. Since we cannot visit them in person during the COVID-19 pandemic, gardens around the country are bringing nature to us. Many have created engaging virtual video tours of their flowers, trees, and greenhouses, allowing virtual visitors to enjoy their soothing sights and sounds from the safety of their homes.

Several tours are long and guide online visitors on a detailed walk through a large garden area, while other tours are shorter and focus on specific plants and flowers which have bloomed in recent weeks. Some of these virtual videos are accompanied by soft music, creating a calming experience. Here are highlights from eight botanic centers across the United States to help you admire and enjoy the beauty of the season.

New York Botanical Garden

This giant urban retreat in the Bronx encompasses 50 specialty gardens and contains more than one million plants. A new content hub, "NYBG at Home," invites online visitors to embark on a number of virtual tours and digital experiences. A 21-minute video tour of its 2020 orchid show includes an NYBG curator guiding virtual visitors through the exhibit as he shares his extensive knowledge of these beloved flowers. The hub also includes many short virtual tours focused on one type of flower, all set to music. You can get close-up views of the garden’s cherry blossoms, magnolias, crabapples, daffodils, lilacs, tulips, and more.


image from inside a greenhouse at the USBGThe U.S. Botanical Garden

Located in Washington, DC, near the Capitol Building, this is the country's oldest garden, currently celebrating its 200th anniversary. The garden has created an interactive virtual tour with the help of Google Street View, providing 360-degree imagery of its outdoor plants and inside its 30,000 square foot conservatory. Visitors can explore at their own pace. Notable areas include the rose garden, the tropics house, and an outdoor garden that honors the contributions of the nation's first ladies. The garden's website also includes fun, educational videos about unusual plants such as the carnivorous pitcher plant and the jade vine. In addition, visitors can listen to an audio tour and view photos of the garden to see how it has developed over the last 200 years.

Portland Japanese Gardenphoto of Japanese Tea Garden

This peaceful refuge in Portland, OR, has eight separate gardens, each inspired by Japanese gardening traditions. A video tour explores garden highlights with curators discussing what's in bloom and unique aspects of its creative landscape design. Other virtual options include 360-degree tours of its tea garden, sand and stone garden, pond garden, and more.

Missouri Botanical Garden

Located in St. Louis, this 80-acre park is home to an extensive collection of rare orchids and features the Climatron, the first geodesic dome to be used as a conservatory, and a 14-acre Japanese Garden, Seiwa-en, one of the largest Japanese Gardens in North America. Its online site includes a number of virtual tours, most of which have been added in the past few weeks to showcase its newest blooming flowers. One highlight is an aerial drone video showing the garden's magnolia tree collection from above, offering a different view than most other virtual garden tours.

Longwood Gardens

This expansive garden in Kennett Square, PA, has more than 1,000 acres of forests, meadows, and greenhouses. The website offers an engaging collection of videos called "Our Gardens, Your Home," where online visitors can tour the native flowers in its woods, view a vibrant tulip display, and learn about creating floral arrangements at home.


image of cherry blossom at BBGBrooklyn Botanic Garden 

This large oasis in Brooklyn is well known for its cherry blossoms, which recently reached their peak bloom. Online visitors can take a relaxing virtual walk along BBG's Cherry Walk and Cherry Esplanade. For serious cherry blossom observers, the progression of the garden's cherry collection is updated daily on the BBG website. There are also virtual tours of BBG's Japanese Garden and Desert Pavilion, featuring cacti, wildflowers, and succulents.

Cheekwood Estate & Garden

This well-preserved estate, sculpture garden, and botanical center is located in Nashville, TN. It has developed several guided short virtual video tours to showcase its blooming garden areas, and its collection of dogwood trees, boxwood plants, and ornamental grasses.

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

This 50-acre park in Richmond, VA, has a more than a dozen themed gardens, including a rose garden, a native plant area, and a cherry tree walk. Visitors at home can take a guided virtual tour of some of its large garden areas, and view shorter virtual tours of individual flower sections, many of which are bursting with color, such as the peonies and the azaleas displays.


Melanie Kletter is an educator and freelance writer and editor. 

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