Bloom boom coming to gardens nationwide

Sunday, April 25, 2004

No matter where you live, some time in the coming weeks and months, a meadow, mountainside or botanical garden near you will burst into bloom, exploding with colors and scents.

The Brooklyn Botanical Garden hosts an annual Japanese-themed cherry blossom festival, "Sakura Matsuri," planned for May 1 and 2, complete with Japanese drummers and food; at other times, stroll around the garden's serene and stunning Japanese hill and pond garden, where you're likely to catch a glimpse of the egret who has decided to make this unusual urban retreat its home.

My personal favorites also include the classically designed French garden at the Montreal Jardin Botanique, and the Phipps Conservatory in Schenley Park in Pittsburgh, with its centerpiece Victorian glasshouse, an exquisite jewel-box of a building filled with lush plants.

If you're into back yard gardening, check out The Garden Conservancy's "Open Days Directory," which lists private gardens that open to the public at peak bloom times. This year, for the first time, this annual guide is being offered in four regional editions, Northeast, Midwest, South and West. Call 888-842-2442 or www.gardenconservancy.org for details and prices.

The Conservancy, which is the only nonprofit organization in the United States dedicated to the preservation of gardens, also offers the following list of great U.S. gardens and flower-viewing events; note that some gardens are open only by appointment or on limited days. But if your local park or garden didn't make the list, check it out anyway. There will always be something worth seeing, and there is no better way to spend a gorgeous spring day than by walking amid the flowers.

-- By Beth J. Harpaz,

The Associated Press

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