Best botanical gardens
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Get ideas—and maybe even bring home plants—from these botanical wonderlands

By Greg Barbera

Nothing says summer quite like a garden. Take a trip to one of these botanical wonderlands and solidify your relationship with nature. Then come home and design a garden of your own. Your 2013 Chevrolet Traverse—with best-in-class maximum cargo space—can handle all the supplies you’ll need to get your green thumb on. Here’s a list of some of our country’s best gardens to get you inspired.

North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, NC: With an education center, art exhibits and several nature trails, the North Carolina Botanical Garden will turn a free day for the family into a horticultural adventure. Daily plant sales from March through November will give you the chance to pick yourself up a Venus flytrap—it’s native to North Carolina. Turn your Traverse’s third-row seating into a safe way to transport your newly purchased potted plants.

Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, MD: Located    just outside Washington, DC, this award-winning property encompasses 50 acres. Butterfly garden? Check. Rose garden? Check. Japanese style garden? Check. There are as many gardens at Brookside as there are features on your Traverse, and as many landscaping designs to copy as you’ll find in any gardening magazine.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn NY: Gardens and city living may seem like an oxymoron. Yet you will surely walk away from this urban oasis with the desire for a garden—be it small or large—and with an appreciation for how plant life can improve your world in the simplest of ways.

San Francisco Botanical Garden, San Francisco, CA: With more than 8,000 different plants, this garden is one of the most diverse in the world. It boasts impressive magnolia and palm tree collections and, as a result of San Francisco’s unique climate, a Mediterranean habitat.

Cranbrook House & Gardens, Bloomfield Hills, MI: Nestled in Detroit’s—and hence Chevrolet’s—backyard, Cranbrook House & Gardens is an all-purpose facility: part gardens, part events center and part home-improvement retailer. Built in 1908, the home is the oldest manor in southern Michigan. There are gardens galore here, from wildflower and herb gardens to bog, Oriental and formal gardens. Plan to spend the entire day here, enjoying lunchtime tea at the Cranbrook House and possibly picking up some outdoor art from the Thistle Shop (no worries about the size of it—your Traverse has a roof rack to accommodate anything too bulky to fit inside).

Shore Acres State Park, Coos Bay, OR: The gardens here run the gamut —from sandstone bluffs (from which you can watch migrating whales) to up-close flora (a Japanese garden with lily ponds; rose gardens that are home to a few All American breeds). Just don’t leave without a glimpse of the 95-foot tall, 208-inch round Monterey Pine.

Download the Stitcher SmartRadio app to your smartphone so on your way home you can cue up a gardening podcast—via your Traverse’s available Chevrolet MyLink system’s Bluetooth connection—and get some pointers on how to make your garden fantasy a reality.

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Greg Barbera of DadCentric is a dad blogger, beer magazine editor and the singer/bass player for the punk band Chest Pains. He lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. You can follow him on Twitter @gregeboy, Tumblr, Facebook and Blogger.


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