With the last of the snowfall behind us (hopefully) Canada's gardens are starting to see signs of life. Residents in Victoria and Vancouver have been enjoying cherry blossoms for weeks, but the rest of us have waited through a long winter for the first blooms of spring.
Now that the blossoms are here, there's no better place to enjoy them than in Canada's stunning public gardens. With so many to choose from it was hard for us to narrow down our favourites, but we've tried our best. From coast to coast, all are stunning in their own right.
Strolling past the Rhododendrons, VanDusen Botanical Garden. Flickr photo by Marcin Chady
The garden has 22 hectares of elegant landscapes with plants from ecosystems as far-ranging as the Himalayas and the Mediterranean. In the spring, this garden is filled with rhododendrons, magnolias and camellias. Don't miss the striking Himalayan blue poppies that bloom in May.
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The colours of Butchard Gardens. Flickr photo by TravelingOtter
This stunning garden features thousands of spring bulbs and flowering trees. Every spring, more than 50 species of plants begin to bloom. Walk below the yellow buds of the laburnum trees and take time to see the numerous striking colours of the azaleas, wisteria, trilliums and blue poppies.
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The crabapples in bloom at Nikka Yuko. Photo courtesy of nikkayuko.com
Nikka Yuko traces its roots to Japanese-Canadians that were forcibly transported from British Columbia to this area during World War II. Created as part of Canada's 1967 centennial, it remains one of the most meticulously maintained Japanese gardens in the country. Look for flowering lilacs, crabapples and dogwoods.
Other notable Alberta gardens
Muttart Conservatory, Edmonton
The Patterson Garden Arboretum located near the University of Saskatchewan campus is open to the public free of charge year-round. Species from northern regions around the world are on display, including lilacs, crabapples and flowering vines.
Other notable Saskatchewan gardens
Regina Floral Conservatory, Regina
The tulips below the Leo Mol statue, Assiniboine Park. Photo courtesy of assiniboinepark.ca
Assiniboine Park's 450 hectares include numerous flowering gardens, a conservatory and a forest. See thousands of tulips blooming in the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden or stroll beneath the cherry blossoms in the English Gardens.
Tulips line the entrance of the Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens. Photo courtesy of niagaraparks.com
This 40-hectare garden fills with rhododendrons, azaleas, tulips and Japanese cherries. This region, near the Niagara River, is also known as the daffodil capital of North America. Niagara Parks plant over 30,000 daffodils every year -- more than in any other park in the continent.
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Spring at the Royal Botanical Gardens. Flickr photo courtesy of RichardBH
One of the premiere gardens in the country, the grounds are home to more than 1,100 species of plants. The gardens also feature rock gardens, an arboretum, perennial gardens and various nature trails, each with differing landscape designs. Every spring, the garden comes to life with flowering lilacs, cherry trees, maluses, magnolias and irises.
The Chinese gardens at the Montreal Botanical Gardens. Flickr photo by Shane McDonald
This is one of the biggest botanical gardens in the world, with more than 22,000 species and cultivars, 10 exhibition greenhouses and more than 30 thematic gardens. Spring brings a kaleidoscope of colours to the gardens. See the delicate alpine plants, cherry and crabapple blossoms, hyacinths, irises, tulips and peonies as they bloom back to life.
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Reford Gardens in bloom. Flickr photo by Tristan Smith
This garden was created between 1926 and 1958 by a local avid gardener named Elsie Reford. It is home to more than 3,000 varieties of native and exotic plants. The grounds are open at the end of May until the end of September.
Newfoundland and Labrador
The famous rhododendrons at the Memorial University of Newfoundland Botanical Garden. Photo courtesy of destinationstjohns.com
Founded in 1971, this botanical garden includes almost 45 hectares of property comprised of rock gardens, peat gardens, a heritage garden, a Koi pond, an alpine house and numerous nature trails. While there are numerous species of plants, the garden is most famous for its more than 200 varieties of rhododendrons.
The Dutch windmill at Kingsbrae Gardens. Photo courtesy of kingsbraegarden.com
Kingsbrae is home to more than 50,000 different types of perennials. There are numerous gardens, including one designed for the visually impaired, with plants featuring interesting smells or textures. In the spring, you can walk through the collections of anemones, daffodils and azaleas or sit beneath the flowering crabapples and magnolias that dot the grounds. This garden also has a small children's farm and a genuine Dutch windmill (1:3 to scale).
Other notable New Brunswick gardens
New Brunswick Botanical Garden, Edmunstun
The manicured flower beds at the Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens. Flickr photo by InAweofGod'sCreation
Voted the 2015 Canadian Garden of the Year by the Canadian Garden Council, the gardens are located in the historic area known as the first permanent European settlement in North America, and they help to tell the history of the local area. There are various themed sections, including a Victorian garden and a 17th century orchard. The magnolias fill the park with a sweet aroma in early May, while the azaleas transform the green walking trails with bursts of their bright pinks, reds and purples.
Other notable Nova Scotia gardens
Halifax Public Gardens, Halifax
The surprising colours of the show gardens at Yukon Gardens. Photo courtesy of yukongardens.com
Yukon Gardens is home to Canada's only northern show garden, featuring native and domestic trees, shrubs and a large display of perennials, including thousands of hardy Yukon plants.
Andrea Chrysanthou is an editor of the Travelzoo Canada blog and is based in Toronto, Ontario. Travelzoo has 250 deal experts around the world who rigorously research, evaluate and test thousands of deals to find those with true value.
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Worth a visit because: It has the largest collection of species orchids under glass in the United States. Description: The Atlanta Botanical Garden's large and diverse collection of orchids includes specimens from Asia, Australia, Central America, Mexico, Ecuador and Madagascar. The plants are displayed in landscaped areas and seasonal displays in three main growing spaces in the 16,000-square-foot Fuqua Orchid Center: The Orchid Atrium, a space for events and changing seasonal displays; the Display House, which bursts with the color of tropical species; and a Tropical High Elevation House, where mist shrouds cloud forest orchids. The garden makes its extensive library available to researchers by appointment and is a leader in orchid conservation efforts, especially with the propagation and re-establishment of the cigar orchid (Cyrtopodium punctatum) in Florida and the monkey face orchid (Platanthera integrilabia) in Georgia. Best time to visit: February-April, when the annual Orchid Daze exhibition showcases thousands of orchids in bloom. This late-winter, early-spring time frame also overlaps the March-April Atlanta Blooms festival when several hundreds of thousands of daffodils, tulips and other spring bulbs are in flower. While there, be sure to see: Canopy Walk, a 300-foot-long elevated walkway 45 feet high through the canopies of some of Atlanta's oldest hardwoods. Website: Atlanta Botanical Garden
Worth a visit because: It has been called the most romantic, imaginative and exciting public garden in America. Description: While technically a public pleasure garden rather than a botanical garden, Chanticleer made our list not only because of the great diversity of the 5,000-plus plants in the 35 acres of various garden styles, designs and combinations, but also because the staff takes its educational responsibilities seriously. Visitors are encouraged to ask the gardeners questions, study the garden designs and borrow ideas to use in their own gardens. One of the most popular Chanticleer gardens is the Asian Woodland Garden, which originally was a tangled area of poison ivy and honeysuckle. It was cleared and replanted with plants such as gingers, primulas and Jack-in-the-pulpits native to Korea, Japan and China, but the design style is of a shady American woodland garden. While there, be sure to see: The new Bell's Woodland Garden that celebrates plants of the eastern North American forest. This garden opened in April 2012 and is still being planted. The main path wanders through azaleas, foam flowers, ferns and other woodland plants. Best time to visit: Spring. (The garden is closed November through March.) Website: Chanticleer
Worth a visit because: This internationally acclaimed garden is a premier example of the art of rock gardening. Description: There are more than 500 tons of rock and 2,300 species of plants in the garden. The rock placements provide habitats similar to more than a dozen different environments based on slope, soil type, moisture and exposure and serve as a testing ground for many uncommon Southwestern plants. The Alpine plant collection recently achieved national status and is now part of the North American Plant Collections Consortium. Succulent collections can be seen in the Dryland Mesa and include cacti, yucca and other xeric plants. The garden does not get any supplemental watering except during severe drought. Another garden showcasing xeric plants with limited watering is the WaterSmart Garden. Best time to visit: The peak flowering time is between May and October, but there is something of interest at Denver Botanic Gardens during every season. While there, be sure to see: The newest addition -- The Bill Hosokawa Bonsai Pavilion and Tea Garden. The Mordecai Children's Garden, the Boettcher Tropical Conservatory, Marnie's Pavilion and the Orangery are also popular with visitors. Website: Denver Botanic Gardens
Worth a visit because: It features the nation's largest collection of arid-adapted plants that focus on the Sonoran Desert. Description: The Desert Botanical Garden collection of more than 4,000 species and approximately 17,000 individual plants includes giant cacti, century plants and many other rare and unusual plants from the Sonoran Desert, which covers large parts of the Southwestern United States in Arizona and California and Northwest Mexico. In 2010, the garden's living collections of plants in the cactus and agave families were designated as National Collections of these plants by the North American Plant Collections Consortium of the American Public Gardens Association. The displays also feature plants native to other arid regions around the world. Best time to visit: March-May when the desert wildflowers, most cacti and other plants in the displays are in bloom. While there, be sure to see: The Plants and People of the Sonoran Desert Trail to learn how native peoples thrived in the desert, and the Center for Desert Living Trail to explore sustainable living in the herb and edible gardens. Website: Desert Botanical Garden
Worth a visit because: Of its world-class palm collection showcased in a historic landscape setting. Description: Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden can be enjoyed in several ways. For the casual gardener, there is the aesthetic beauty of taxonomically arranged and well-documented tropical plants -- especially palms, cycads, flowering trees and shrubs, vines and fruit trees -- showcased in a classic landscape design by William Lyman Phillips. Many visitors find the experience unforgettable. For the more serious plant enthusiast, these documented botanical specimens, which have been collected or cultivated since 1938, are a resource of world significance for science and education. Best time to visit: Something's always blooming at Fairchild. Whether it's flowering trees, flowering vines, orchids or exotic plants, it's always a good time to visit this tropical paradise. While there, be sure to see: The two-acre Richard H. Simmons tropical rain forest and the Lisa D. Anness Butterfly Garden. Website: Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
Worth a visit because: Of the bold forms and unusual color combinations of subtropical and tropical plants from around the world. Description: The garden's creator, Polish opera singer Madame Ganna Walska, turned plant collection into an art form. Experimenting freely with shape, color and design, she displayed her treasures in a series of gardens that draw the visitor from one surprise to another. The 37-acre botanical wonder she created contains additional gardens that feature ferns, aloes, succulents, lotuses, water lilies and bromeliads. Theme gardens include the blue garden, theatre garden, butterfly garden and a Japanese garden. Other classic features of Lotusland are the water stairs, the topiary garden, a horticultural clock, the Neptune fountain, a parterre and hedge allées. The garden also has an educational component, the Fourth Grade Outreach Program, which serves every fourth grader in south Santa Barbara County. Lectures and workshops are offered throughout the year. Best time to visit: The garden is wonderful all year long, but if you have a favorite plant group be aware before scheduling a trip that the namesake lotuses bloom in summer and the aloes flower in winter (aloes pictured above). The cacti bloom throughout the year. Lotusland offers docent-guided tours only. They are at 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday between Feb. 15 and Nov. 15. Advance reservations are required. While there, be sure to see: Hmmmmmm. Even the docents have a hard time choosing. Many people love the Japanese garden, the cactus garden is spectacular, and the water garden is lovely, particularly in the summer. Website: Ganna Walska Lotusland
Worth a visit because: The gardens are considered to be one of the world's great horticultural displays. Description: The grounds encompass 1,077 acres of gardens, woodlands, meadows, fountains and a 4.5-acre conservatory -- the largest conservatory in the United States. Longwood is open every day of the year -- including all holidays! -- and is known for its extraordinary seasonal displays that offer a memorable experience for each visit regardless of the time of year. Longwood is also a leader in plant exploration, research and environmental stewardship, including the recent installation of a 10-acre solar field. Best time to visit: Spring and summer are glorious times to visit because that's when the 20 outdoor gardens and 20 indoor gardens are in their full splendor. That's also the time when Longwood's fountains (the gardens have more fountains than any garden in the United States) jet to life. Interestingly, the garden's busiest time is the Thanksgiving-to-mid-January holiday season when A Longwood Christmas display delights seasonal guests. While there, be sure to see: The Orchid Room in the Conservatory. Longwood's founder, Pierre S. du Pont and his wife, Alice, were founding members of the American Orchid Society, and Longwood boasts an orchid collection of more than 9,000 plants. While there, take a side trip to: As many of the more than 30 other public gardens in the region that have given the Philadelphia area the title of "Garden Capital of the U.S." Websites: -- Longwood Gardens -- Complete list and description of gardens in the region
Worth a visit because: It is generally considered to be America's premier urban garden. Description: The New York Botanical Garden's living collections are an unforgettable departure from the everyday garden experience because they represent a "museum" of the plant kingdom. Plants in the collections are arranged in 50 gardens and landscapes across the garden's National Historic Landmark site in the Bronx. The highlights include the Haupt Conservatory, a Victorian-era style "crystal-palace" greenhouse; the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden; a rock garden; a 37-acre conifer collection; and extensive research facilities including a propagation center, a 550,000-volume library and an herbarium of more than 7 million botanical specimens dating back more than three centuries. Best time to visit: The garden is open year-round. Its special exhibitions, seasonal programs and engaging activities, both indoors and out, inspire visitors of every age and interest and offer plenty for them to see and do in every season. While there, be sure to see: The 50 acres of old-growth forest that are at the heart of the garden. This is the largest remnant of the original forest which covered all of New York City before the arrival of European settlers in the 17th century. Website: New York Botanical Garden
Worth a visit because: Of the diversity of the magnificent and colorful flora of South Africa and the birds the flora attracts. Description: The Witpoortjie Falls are the centerpiece and backdrop to the Botanical Garden, which is located in one of the most biologically diverse areas of the world. The gardens include a succulent rockery garden, cycad garden, water garden, fern trail, arboretum, Geological Garden, People's Plant Garden, Birds and Butterfly Garden, Dell section, Waterwise garden, Children Garden, wild flower area, visitors' information center, restaurant and function venue. Best time to visit: It may depend on what season you like best. The garden is in flower in every season. The garden is at its best, though, during late spring and summer when most of the flowering shrubs come into bloom. In spring (September-November in the Southern Hemisphere) the red tubular flowers of the common coral trees (Erythrina lysistemon) attract numerous nectar-feeding birds, migrant swallows and cuckoos return, and the shade-loving bush lily (Clivia miniata) produces large heads of striking orange flowers. In summer (December-February) the unusual brick-red flowers of Pride-of-De-Kaap (Bauhinia galpinii), the mauve blue flowers of the wild phlox (Jamesbrittenia grandiflora and Dissotis sp.), and river lilies such as the scarlet red flowers of Hesperantha coccinea are a delight for weeks. While there, be sure to see: The waterfall with black eagles nesting on the cliffs beside it. Website: Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden
Worth a visit because: The plant collection features the National Orchid Garden. Description: The National Orchid Garden is located on several acres on a hillside and contains more than 1,000 orchid species and 2,000 hybrids. There are several attractions that compose the collection. They include an orchidarium where orchids found in nature are displayed in a tropical setting, a mist house that includes fragrant orchids, and a cool house that features orchids from tropical highlands and simulates the conditions of cool highland forests. Other gardens include a tract of primary tropical rain forest that is older than the gardens, a ginger garden, a botany center and a children's garden. The Singapore Botanic Gardens is the only botanic garden in the world that is open from 5 a.m. to midnight every day of the year. Best time to visit: The garden is a year-round treasure trove of plants and blooms. While there, be sure to see: The tropical palm collection, which contains more than 115 genera and 220 species. While there, take time to see: Gardens by the Bay, a new horticultural and leisure attraction. It is one of the significant projects which represent Singapore's transformation from a "Garden City" to a 21st-century "City in a Garden," where greenery and flora are appreciated as a part of everyday urban life. The project features three waterfront gardens and is opening in stages. Bay South Garden, the largest, opened in June 2012. If you go, be sure to see the two massive, domed climatrons -- one for intermediate plants, the other for those that grow in a cloud forest. Websites: -- Singapore Botanic Gardens -- Gardens by the Bay
Worth a visit because: It is an internationally acclaimed floral show garden with a "Wow!" factor. Description: The gardens got their start 108 years ago when Jennie Butchart decided to turn an abandoned limestone quarry that her husband, Robert, had mined for his cement business into a Sunken Garden. Little by little, other gardens blossomed and were designed to reflect the Bucharts' travels. These gardens now include the Japanese Garden, the Italian Garden and the Mediterranean Garden. With the area's temperate climate, plants are in flower for much of the year. The gracious and elegant traditional setting of the displays adds to the charm of the gardens and the visitor experience. Summer brings fireworks shows, entertainment and night lighting. The gardens are also recognized for their Magic of Christmas displays. Best time to visit: July-August. While there, take a side trip to: VanDusen Botanical Garden. The mild Vancouver climate is conducive to an outstanding plant collection that includes 255,000 plants representing 7,300 plant families. The plants are grouped in garden areas to illustrate botanical relationships such as the Rhododendron Walk, or geographical origins, as in the Sino Himalayan Garden. Websites: -- Butchart Gardens -- VanDusen Botanical Garden
Worth a visit because: Of the incredible collection of well-documented woody plants from all over the world displayed in a beautifully maintained English park style setting. Description: The Arboretum Wespelaar is known for its specialized collection of about 2,000 different species and cultivated varieties of trees and shrubs from known wild origin. The collection is extremely varied and includes woody species, giants and prostrate dwarfs, those that are common and others that are rare, some that are beautiful and some that are less glorious. Perhaps, most importantly, many that are threatened in the wild and can live in the temperate Belgian climate have found a home at the arboretum. Acer, Magnolia, Rhododendron and Stewartia are particularly well represented. Other genera in the arboretum include Betula, Carpinus, Euonymus, Ilex, Tilia, Quercus, Styrax and Viburnum. Best time to visit: The gardens are of visual and botanic interest in all seasons. Website: Arboretum Wespelaar
Worth a visit because: The gardens contain the world's largest collection of living plants. Description: Founded in 1759, and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003, Kew Gardens in London and its country estate, Wakehurst Place, hold more than 1 in 8 of every known plant species. There are more than 30,000 plants in the living collections and the herbarium is one of the largest in the world. Plant collections include carnivorous plants, cacti, arboreta, British natives, ferns, palms, grasses and economic plants. Best time to visit: Kew is a great place to visit at any time of year because the changing displays offer horticultural highlights during every season. While there be sure to see: The huge palm house, which dates to 1844 and is considered the most important surviving Victorian iron and glass structure in the world. The Victorian glass Temperate House, which opened in 1863, is even larger than the Palm House. It features a huge collection of semi-hardy and temperate plants. While there, take a side trip to Scotland to see: The Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh (RBGE) and the Glasgow Botanic Gardens in Glasgow. RBGE is the second oldest botanic garden in Britain after Oxford. It was founded in 1670 as physic garden to explore the relationship between plants and medicine. It boasts the world's largest living collection of Chinese plants (such as rhododendrons) outside of China and also features a world-famous rock garden. The Victorian Palm House -- the tallest of its kind in Britain -- is the entrance to a glasshouse range taking visitors through 10 climatic zones. In Glasgow, be sure to see the Kibble Palace, a huge Victorian glasshouse. These glasshouses and the ones above at Kew are among the few left in Britain from the Victorian era of plant exploration. Websites: -- Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew -- RBGE -- Glasgow Botanic Gardens
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