I am a garden lover, but I have mostly black thumbs. I blame a lot of my plant failures on moving often and accidentally thinking that one care method will work in different plant hardiness zones.
So while my plants at home slowly crisp, I love visiting gardens that thrive in their zone with the help of skilled horticulturalists and botanists. I especially fell in love with green spaces after visiting Japan and enjoying how the Japanese cram gardens everywhere for a little nature break.
So, in no particular order, here are my five favorite gardens in the world thus far. I look forward to updating this list as I enjoy new gardens -suggestions are welcome.
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Osher Rainforest at Cal Academy of Sciences (55 Music Concourse Dr San Francisco, California 94118)
This is just a delight, especially in the winter when chill air from the bay tries to cool your bones. Not only is the indoor rainforest delightfully humid and warm, but there are plentiful butterflies and each person needs a quick butterfly check before leaving the rainforest. Of course, the rest of the Cal Academy is a blast for you science museum lovers. The admission is a little steep, but totally worth it. Also the restaurant serves great food, so come hungry and enjoy it all!
Portland Rose Test Garden (850 SW Rose Garden Way Portland, Oregon 97205)
There are many things to love about Portland, and the International Rose Test Garden is a must for rose lovers. Mister Jupiter and I last visited in March, a bit too early to see the big blooms. However we did find some early bloomers that were still gorgeous. This is inside Washington Park and is peaceful and serene. I look forward to visiting in April through October, knowing that the roses peak in June. So if you’re in the City of Roses, go visit -the admission is free.
Portland Japanese Garden (611 SW Kingston Ave Portland, Oregon 97205)
So let’s say that you’re planning on spending more time in Washington Park after seeing the rose garden. Luckily this Japanese Garden is next door! They do charge admission, but it’s worth it. Even on a Pacific-Northwest-signature-cloudy day the garden is a delight with green everywhere. Pools are quiet and serene, the koi ponds feature happy carp, and grounds keepers can be found scraping moss and trimming rogue leaves. My favorite feature is the near-silence. City sounds are dampened, and something about the garden evokes stillness. It is perfect for state-side forest bathing. This was Mister Jupiter’s favorite spot in Portland, no contest.
irises (summer), … Ginkgo Festival (autumn), … cherry blossoms (spring)
Meiji Jingu Gaien 明治神宮外苑 (霞ヶ丘町1-1 Shinjuku, Tokyo 160-0013 Japan)
One of the many reasons I love Tokyo is how easy it is to escape the city without leaving it. Meiji Jingu is a short stroll from Shinjuku station, and Takeshita Dori is just across the street. It’s interesting going from super trendy Japanese shopping and cosplay to bright green serenity in 20 minutes or fewer. If you’re strolling, definitely take the time to see the shrine, and the iris garden if they’re in bloom. If you missed the irises (summer), you may see the Ginkgo Festival (autumn), or the cherry blossoms (spring). Japan loves celebrating nature and seasons, soak it up if you have the chance!
Imperial Palace East Garden 皇居東御苑 (千代田1-1 Chiyoda, Tokyo 100-0001 Japan)
Mister Jupiter saved this garden for our last before leaving Tokyo. What’s not to love about an easily accessible imperial garden? It’s free, it’s very green. Even the Museum of Imperial Collections is free (but no photos are allowed inside the Museum). We walked up the remaining foundation of a castle tower and gazed at the city, then on the way out we paused to lay on the lawn and airdrop photos to each other. The garden is popular with tourists, so don’t expect to be alone. It’s also popular with jogging locals, and if I had easy access to such a garden I would jog through it too.