In the spring, garden gates across the South are swung wide open, welcoming guests for tours of some of our most iconic gardens filled with some of our best-loved blooms. Some of these gardens are family-friendly public spaces; they’re outdoor retreats ideal for quiet moments of contemplation, and can they be relied upon to offer indispensable inspiration for weekend gardeners. Others are private gardens whose homeowners participate in annual garden tours and invite neighbors in each year to see their garden designs.
Choose a spot near you, and plan a visit soon to meander the paths, take a guided tour, or find a bench to read awhile. The South’s gardens are beautiful places in which to spend an afternoon all year round, but especially in spring and summer. Here are 10 of our favorite gardens and garden tours. They include some of the region’s best botanical gardens, inviting outdoor parks, and homeowner-led tour programs, which you can make plans to visit today to spend time among the flowers, butterflies, and fellow garden visitors.
This beautiful green space in busy Atlanta, Georgia, offers both self-guided tours and guided tours led by Garden docents. It’s 30 acres of outdoor fun with attractions for all, including the Children’s Garden, Canopy Walk, and Skyline Garden. The ABG has options for curated tours that depend upon what you would like to experience. Among these selections are “Family Adventures,” “Budding Romance,” and “Lose Yourself.” Which will you choose?
The beautiful Birmingham Botanical Gardens offers guided tours seven days a week. The walks are led by the organization’s Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens program. They also offer other specialized tours of the garden’s fern glade and Japanese gardens.
Each year in early spring, the International Cherry Blossom Festival invites visitors to visit Macon, Georgia, to see the city’s cherry blossom trees in peak bloom. Macon-Bibb County has more than 300,000 Yoshino cherry trees which break out in clouds of blossoms in early spring. The 2-hour Cherry Blossom Riding Trail Tour highlights the festival and the city’s historic district.
Mt. Cuba Center invites guests in to take a tour or stroll the grounds independently. The Garden Enthusiast tour is offered on the second Saturday of each month at 10 a.m. sharp from April to September. Guided group tours are also available. The gardens feature one of the best trillium collections in the country. Visit, and you’ll see sweeps of Virginia bluebells, ground phlox, and showy celandine poppy.
The former First Lady lends her name to this green space, which has a focus on conservation and native plantings. You can visit and explore for yourself, or you can book a private tour with a guide to get an inside look at the world of Texas wildflowers. In 2017, this space was officially designated the Botanic Garden and Arboretum of Texas.
These beautiful botanical gardens offer guided tours of the grounds which highlight seasonal blooms and specific areas of the gardens. Knowledgeable Garden Guides walk with their tour groups, talking through the stories and points of interest found in the gardens, making for a warm welcome to the grounds year round.
Charleston, South Carolina
The oldest landscaped gardens in the U.S. are located in Charleston, South Carolina, at Middleton Place, which is famed for its camellias and other flowers. The property is open for tours, including a nature walk and a garden overview tour. The tours take place on the 65-acre grounds, which were named a National Historic Landmark.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Downtown Oklahoma City is home to these beautiful botanical gardens, which visitors can get to know by wandering the grounds or through guided tours led by the gardens’ knowledgeable staff. As with any thriving botanical garden, they offer special programming that immerses the gardening hobbyist into an environment of wonder.
Raleigh, North Carolina
This annual garden tour starts with a traditional high tea, which is followed by walking tours of the beautiful gardens of historic Oakwood. This neighborhood is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is Raleigh’s oldest neighborhood and largest historic district.
Madison County, Mississippi
Visit the beautiful gardens of Madison County, Mississippi, in classic garden tour form. Homeowners open their garden gates each year in a welcoming invitation to enjoy a weekend of outdoor entertaining and garden fun. This wonderful weekend in May traditionally kicks off on a Friday evening with a garden party followed by two days of tours featuring singular outdoor spaces and gardens.