Metro Detroit is Abloom with Bountiful Botanical Gardens

By: Karen Dybis | July 22, 2021
Botanical Gardens

Botanical gardens are lush, beautiful and wonderful for all ages. A botanic garden is a special collection of living plants that let people study, observe and research flowers in its natural element. These kinds of gardens focus on research or widely open to the public for tourism, but they all try to put plants in their best light. 

Gardens and these kinds of collections date back to ancient Egypt and beyond, according to those in the know. The idea was to create a way to cultivate and share plants, especially those that might be used for medicine. Many universities also had botanic gardens to further the research of the professors and apothecaries of the area. 

Summer is an ideal time to visit these gardens because they are often in their prime during the warm months. The plants, whether it be delicate orchids, wild tropicals or Michigan natives, are often blooming and growing well. Many also have greenhouses where you can see the plants being preserved, studied or cared for by experts. 

Here are five Metro Detroit botanical gardens that are open to the public and encourage family touring throughout the year. 

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Belle Isle/Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory

The Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory on Belle Isle was designed by Albert Kahn and opened to the public in 1904. Modeled after Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, the central dome known as the Palm Room stands at 85 feet and is flanked by three horticultural arms. The orchids here are fantastic and well worth visiting, thanks to the donation from Anna Scripps Whitcomb.


Taylor Conservatory & Botanical Gardens

This hidden gem is one of the favorite spots for families to visit in Taylor. The Taylor Conservatory Foundation has a mission to create beautiful public spaces, promote arts and sciences, and preserve the natural environment. That has been fulfilled in this beautiful conservatory and botanical gardens. It also offers children’s tours for a small fee. These tours can be scheduled from 10 a.m.-6pm Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, June-October. They are 30-45 minutes in length and include viewing and learning about cool, kid-friendly plants, watering plants and end with a race across the grand lawn.

University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens

While several of its main buildings are still closed to the public with the pandemic, this Ann Arbor mainstay is a great visit for its trails and scenic arboretum. Trails winding past stunning natural features have been part of the Botanical Gardens’ Dixboro Road site since before its development in the early 1960s. A color-coded map is available for visitors at the front lobby. There are four routes, each highlighting different features of the 90+ acres north of the main building.

W.J. Beal Botanical Gardens at Michigan State University

Head to East Lansing to see the beauty of this botanical garden. The diverse plant collections of the W. J. Beal Botanical Gardens have been an on-going resource for teaching and research since 1873. It is one of the first three botanical gardens in the United States as well, making it a great spot to visit if you want to learn more about its history. 

Dow Gardens

Midland is home to one of the finest garden spaces in mid-Michigan. Families who visit this award-winning botanical garden can experience a dazzling 110-acre display of annuals and perennials punctuated by distinctive bridges, towering pines, and delightful water features. The Children’s Garden is visually stunning and a great way to get away on a day trip or overnight vacation.