Rhode Island offers an exclusive getaway for green thumbs, here’s why …
Roger Williams Park Botanical Center
As the largest indoor public garden in New England, the Roger Williams Park Botanical Center offers 12,000 square feet of displays featuring exotic flora from distant lands, including the Cabada palm tree from Madagascar, the Asian Alocasia calidora, and the ever-fragrant Orange Jasmine from India. The Center has partnered with the University of Rhode Island’s acclaimed College of Environment and Life Sciences to provide horticultural and environmental programs, including a Spring Gardening School.
The school will feature essentials to home gardening and landscaping, such as soil preparation, choosing and applying fertilizers, installing and maintaining lawns, selecting and planting sustainable trees and shrubs, growing perennials and healthy vegetables, and preventing animal or insect intrusion using environmentally-friendly means.
Admission is $3 for adults and $1 for children (6 to 12). Children under 6 are free. Registration fee for the Spring Gardening School is $150, which includes instruction and all materials. There are no prerequisites to enroll. http://www.providenceri.com/botanical-center/
Secret Garden Tours
For private gardens, Newport will offer a spring “Secret Garden Tour” featuring some of the most prestigious and well-manicured properties in the Northeast. This year’s line-up features more than a dozen homes that will allow guests to tour and gaze the beautiful and unique flowers, plants and architecture in Newport’s historic Point District. All visitors are provided with a map and directions for the self-guided tour. A host or hostess will greet visitors at each location.
The tour will be Friday, June 20, to Sunday, June 22. Adult admission is $20 in advance, $25 for purchases the day of. Children are free. Advance tickets may be purchased at 401.847.0514 or http://www.secretgardentours.org. They can also be purchased (day of) at the Newport Visitor’s Center, 23 America’s Cup Avenue. The tours take place rain or shine, and admission is valid throughout the entire tour period (all three days).
All visitor proceeds benefit art education and cultural programs in Newport, Middletown and Portsmouth public schools. Since 1984, the tour has raised more than $1 million to support art, music, dance and theatre instruction and supplies for schoolchildren.
Blithewold Mansion, Gardens & Arboretum
Arguably New England’s finest garden estate, Blithewold Mansion, Gardens & Arboretum provides visitors (and group tours) a stunning ensemble of nearly 2,000 plants spread throughout a greenhouse and five gardens on a 70-acre property overlooking Narragansett Bay. Highlights include a ‘Rose Garden’ containing 30 species, a ‘North Garden’ with flourishing daffodils, tulips and lilies, display gardens with more than 50 perennials, tender perennials and annuals, and even rock and water gardens.
Educational programs, workshops and special events are held throughout the year for adults and families. Programs include ornamental horticulture, botanical sciences and hands-on classes. Admission is $10 for adults and $8 for seniors and full-time students. Children 16 and under are free. The gardens and grounds are open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The 45-room Blithewold mansion is also open for touring. The English Country manor, built in the early 1900’s, served as the summer home to the Van Wickle family, which made its fortune in coal mining. Blithewold, which is Old English for “happy woodland,” remained a private residence until 1976, when it was donated for public use.