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Garden enthusiast names her top American Edens

  • Chicago Tribune
  • Published Wednesday, April 18, 2012, at 6:49 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, April 18, 2012, at 6:50 p.m.

Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp gets around. She’s a writer, speaker, garden coach and landscaper. And a traveler.

She has combined her work and her travels in “The Visitor’s Guide to American Gardens” (Cool Springs Press), which describes more than 400 gardens. With locations, highlights and insights, it’s handy for any garden tourist.

Here are some of her recommendations. Visit the websites for schedules, admission fees and special events:

Chanticleer Garden, Wayne, Pa. (chanticleergarden.org Sharp rates Chanticleer as her favorite garden. Opened on an old family estate in 1993, it covers 50 acres, 30 of which are open to the public. Among the highlights: the Tennis Court Garden, the Orchard, the Asia Woods. Be sure to visit the Ruins. It was an old house that was partially demolished; some walls were left standing “to create the sense of being somewhere else.”

Indianapolis Museum of Art (imamuseum.org There are more than 150 acres of art, gardens, natural areas, a museum and a historic home (Oldfields-Lilly House). Adjacent to the museum is the Virginia B. Fairbanks Art and Nature Park, with woodlands, wetlands, meadows and a 35-acre lake. Also worth visiting is the Garden for Everyone, a multisensory experience.

Minter Gardens, Chilliwack, British Columbia (mintergardens.com The heavily planted 32-acre garden in the shadow of 7,000-foot Mount Cheam “will dazzle your senses,” Sharp promises. Among the features: 100,000 tulips each spring, woodlands and Spirit of the Woods, which incorporates First Nation cultures into garden designs. There’s also a water wall (“I spent a lot of time there trying to figure out the mechanics of it,” Sharp said.)

Other greats: Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pa. (longwoodgardens.org Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, Md. (montgomeryparks.org/brookside Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, Mich. (meijergardens.org.

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