21 Best Botanical Gardens in Michigan
Spring has sprung in Michigan and with the snow gone, the grass becomes greener every day.
Budding trees invite the migratory birds back home and bees bumble around newly bloomed flowers. The way the world seems to come alive during spring beckons us out of our houses to break our hermetic winter ways.
For any and all nature enthusiasts and plant lovers, beautiful botanical gardens and nature centers are the perfect way to get outside and celebrate the coming of the new season. See an endless variety of plants, both native and exotic, learn about how plants work and contribute to ecosystems, and gain a new appreciation for the green machines in our own backyards.
From herb gardens and house gardens to public gardens complete with a sculpture exhibition, there are stunning Michigan botanical gardens throughout the state to explore. So go ahead, plan a road trip or field trip to check one of these amazing gardens.
Read on to learn about some of the best Michigan gardens to visit.
PRO-TIP: Many of these Michigan gardens offer annual events like summer concerts, and are available for private events, too. Visit some of the gift shops to find books on local gardening so you can create your own beautiful Michigan garden!
Best Botanical Gardens in East Michigan
University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens & Nichols Arboretum
1800 Dixboro Rd, Ann Arbor MI
Jointly owned by the city of Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan, the Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum serve as vital educational resources for the entire community in southeast Michigan, along with 12 miles of hiking trails.
Located just northeast of UofM’s main campus, the Matthaei Botanical Gardens includes botanical gardens as well as walking trails and a nature preserve with research-quality habitats. The Nichols Arboretum, locally known as “The Arb,” is a favorite spot for University of Michigan students. The Arb offers a natural space to exercise, relax, study, picnic, and more, right in the heart of Ann Arbor.
The Matthaei Botanical Gardens Trail is a non-motorized hiking and biking trail that connects the botanical gardens to many trails in the area.
Must see: The Alexandra Hicks Herb Knot Garden is a modern interpretation of a 16th-century English Tudor Garden style. It is timeless and elegant.
PRO-TIP: The university horticulture gardens are also an education center, with tons of opportunities to learn about local flora. The Ann Arbor botanical gardens and arboretum are a true southeast Michigan gem, so don’t miss them if you have the chance to visit during the Ann Arbor Art Fair in July.
Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory
4 Inselruhe Ave, Detroit MI
Belle Isle serves as a natural getaway for Detroiters without having to leave the city. This island in the Detroit River offers acres upon acres of greenspace as well as some museums and amenities. The Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory invites visitors to see both local, abundant plants, as well as rare or exotic plants. Much like the Belle Isle Aquarium, the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory has a stunning architectural presence, meaning you’ll find just as much beauty inside and out.
Must see: Don’t miss the Orchid Collection, the largest of its kind belonging to a municipality, which was donated by Anna Scripps Whitcomb herself.
Oudolf Garden Detroit on Belle Isle
Loiter Way &, Picnic Way, Detroit, MI 48207
This three-acre naturalistic public garden on Belle Isle is located in front of another Belle Isle landmark, the Nancy Brown Peace Carillon Tower. Designed by famed Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf, who also designed the High Line in New York City and the Lurie Gardens in Chicago, this is a must-see.
You’ll find a mix of perennials, grasses, shrubs, and trees for their hardiness, durability, and ever-changing textures and colors for enjoyment in all four seasons, and the gardens are maintained by volunteers from all over including Detroit and Grosse Pointe.
Barber Dr, Hillsdale, MI 4924
Set in Hillsdale, Michigan, the Slayton Arboretum is a 25-acre botanical garden located on the grounds of Hillsdale College, a private liberal arts school. It is home to over 100 varieties of trees, shrubs, and other vegetation.
The arboretum is renowned for its beautiful wildflower garden and nature preserve, orderly formal garden, diverse conifer collection, and tranquil water garden. Additionally, the area is a haven for a plethora of wildlife, comprised of avian species, butterflies, and other bugs.
Hidden Lake Garden
6214 Monroe Rd (Hwy 50), Tipton MI
Down in the Irish Hills region of southern Michigan, Hidden Lake Gardens sits just off of M-50 in Tipton. This is Michigan’s largest botanical garden, with five miles of hiking trails across 755 acres of raised flowerbeds, ornamental shrubs, Hosta and rhododendron gardens, dwarf and rare conifers, and more.
Visitors also have access to a demonstration garden, a plant conservatory, and an arboretum. Because Hidden Lake is owned and operated by Michigan State University horticulture department, hands-on learning and cutting-edge research are at the forefront of the gardens, displays, and events hosted here.
Must see: Try out the new Canopy Walk, funded by Michigan State University.
Taylor Conservatory & Botanical Gardens
22314 Northline Rd, Taylor, MI 48180
Home to the only open-air conservatory in Michigan, the Taylor Conservatory and Botanical Gardens offer beautiful gardens, woodlands, large lawn area and a pine grove. The coolest thing here is the 1/3-scale replica of Belle Isle’s Anna Whitcomb Scripps Conservatory.
Indigo Lavender Farms
631 N Van Dyke Rd, Imlay City, MI 48444
This gorgeous lavender farm in eastern Michigan’s Thumb region is home to 26 acres of the infamous indigo blooms and over one million honeybees that keep busy pollinating these pretty purple plants. From browsing lavender soaps and natural raw honey products to doing photoshoots with friends in the abundance of lavender, this visit is more a question of when than if.
No matter why you go to a lavender farm, the serene rows of flowers make the drive worth it. When you’re walking through Indigo Lavender Farms, the fields of purple really do seem endless – like a haven of lavender for any wiling traveler to find.
Cranbrook House and Garden
380 Lone Pine Rd, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48304
You’ll find more than 20 gardens spread across 40 acres at this botanical oasis in northern Oakland County. Wander through the extensive plantings, fountains, statuary, lakes and streams, but be sure to explore the Sunken Gardens. Be sure to tour the circa 1908 English Tudor style home designed by renowned architect Albert Kahn, who also designed some of the top architectural gems in Detroit.
Best Botanical Gardens in West Michigan
Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
1000 E Beltline Ave NE, Grand Rapids MI
Between stellar botanical gardens and high-caliber art, the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids provides an experience unlike any other. Indoor gardens and conservatories will introduce you to specific plant types, such as carnivorous plants, and different biomes, including arid and tropical settings.
Outside, you can find an abundance of themed gardens, like the Japanese garden, Children’s Garden, and more. Throughout the grounds, sculptures from famous artists like August Rodin, Edgar Degas, Ai Weiwei and more enhance the experience.
Must see: The Butterflies are a Blooming event. The event runs from March 1st to April 30th.
Fernwood Botanical Garden
13988 Range Line Rd, Niles MI
From its start as a private garden in the 1940s to its status now as a massive natural refuge loved by southeast Michiganders, the Fernwood Botanical Garden of Niles has grown immensely with plenty of local support. Home to native plant species, including everything from wildflowers to hardwood trees, animals who rely on the plants find comfort here.
Walk the foot trails through fields, forests, wetlands, and more and see all the ways that animals and plants work together to provide food, shelter, protection, and more.
Must see: The Tallgrass Prairie, which was once abundant in the Midwest, but is now a rarity. One is preserved here.
Windmill Island Gardens
1 Lincoln Ave NE, Holland MI
Holland’s Dutch heritage is represented all over town, but in spring when the tulips bloom, the beauty of the town bursts forth with abundant color. The spring bloom brings this pure Michigan garden and town to life and everyone in Holland gets ready for tourist season on the southwest Michigan coast.
The best tulip garden is found at the Windmill Island Gardens where countless bulbs bloom with endless rows of vibrant tulips flowers. Beyond tulips, Windmill Island Garden houses all kinds of spring flowers like daffodils, hyacinths, crocuses, and more. If you miss the springtime, don’t worry, summer annuals and perennials keep all 36 acres lively throughout the warm season.
Must see: The Tulip Time event that runs from May 4-6, 2023.
Leila Arboretum Society
928 W Michigan Ave, Battle Creek, MI 49037
This southwest Michigan botanical garden was established more than 200 years ago and features an 85-acre collection of trees, shrubs, and other plants. You’ll find a children’s garden, a formal garden, a Japanese garden, and a rose garden.
The Battle Creek arboretum is also home to several sculptures and art installations, including a large metal dragonfly and a giant sundial.
Fernwood Botanical Garden
13988 Range Line Road, Niles Michigan 49120
Located on the banks of the St Joseph River, this pretty garden set on 105 acres is great spot for bird watchers. Visitors may enjoy natural areas with miles of walking and hiking trails, a reconstructed prairie, an arboretum, and cultivated public gardens.
The public gardens include an herb garden, Japanese garden, perennial border, rain garden, railway garden, nature adventure garden, hardy fern collection, and other special collections and gardens.
Liberty Hyde Bailey Museum and Gardens
903 S Bailey Ave, South Haven, MI 49090
Liberty Hyde Bailey is known at the “Father of Modern Horticulture,” and the “New Agrarian” philosophy so it’s only fitting that you should explore the beautiful gardens surrounding his South Haven home and farm. This is a National Historic Site, and features a garden, park, museum and educational outreach center.
Best Gardens in Central Michigan
1809 Eastman Ave, Midland MI
Once upon a time the Dow Gardens of Midland were the personal estate of Robert H. and Grace A. Dow, but today it’s a massive botanical garden and a gem of the Great Lakes Bay Region. Walk the winding footpaths through natural wooded landscapes, including the dense Whiting Forest where plants and trees grow together naturally.
You could also admire the well-curated formal flowerbeds of the Dows’ Estate Gardens or learn and grow at the Exploration Garden, which is perfect for children.
Must see: Walk the nation’s longest canopy walk. It spans 1,400 feet
W.J. Beal Botanical Gardens at Michigan State University
W Circle Dr, East Lansing MI
The W.J. Beal Botanical Gardens stands as the nation’s oldest continually operating botanical garden; it’s 150 years old and you can find it at Michigan State University in Lansing. Located conveniently on campus and easily walked to, the gardens have stood the test of time since first opening in 1873.
With over 5,000 plant species, including fruits, vegetables, flowering plants, medicinal plants, and more, it feels like as time goes on the W.J. Beal Botanical Gardens only continues to grow.
Must see: Sleepy Hollow, where the W.J. Beal Botanical Gardens began.
Michigan State University Horticulture Gardens
1066 Bogue St, East Lansing, MI 48824
These expansive gardens provide an ideal escape for anyone interested in plants, gardening, or simply wanting to take a break. From the vast array of displays, you can get ideas for your own garden, explore a variety of flowers, trees, and vegetables, or just take a leisurely stroll and relax in the tranquil atmosphere.
Best Gardens in Northern Michigan
Botanic Garden at Historic Barns Park
1490 Red Drive, Traverse City MI
Just outside Traverse City to the west, 25 acres of land is dedicated to the Botanic Garden at HIstoric Barns Park. Highlighting the native plant life of northwestern Michigan, this garden strives to showcase how important and beautiful local flora is.
From hardwood trees to Michigan wildflowers, visitors can explore on their own or take a guided tour, which introduces new information, including details about the background of the historic barns located on site.
Must see: The Three Season Art Show features art from April to October on the upper level of the visitor center.
DeTour Village Botanical Gardens
Ontario St, De Tour Village MI
In the upper peninsula, there is no shortage of wild blooms or rugged forest, but the DeTour Village Botanical Gardens bring a pop of color to the easternmost tip of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
The grounds are planted and maintained by volunteers, meaning the gardens are a community effort born out of passion for plants. Here you’ll see annuals, perennials, rock gardens, and water features that are kept trimmed, tidy, and stunning all season long.
Must see: Walk the Bid Munro Natural Trails to see all kinds of migratory birds flocking to the bird houses and plantings which attract them.
Grand Hotel Gardens
286 Grand Avenue, Mackinac Island, MI 49757
The iconic gardens of Grand Hotel have been enchanting visitors for a century, with its mature lilac, cedar, and maple trees creating a picturesque backdrop, while a variety of flowering plants, numbering in the tens of thousands, bring a vibrant splash of color to the summer season in Mackinac.
You’ll see a wide variety of flowers including geraniums, roses, peonies, coleus, garden heliotropes, cosmos, lilies, daisies, and begonias in a single visit.
Botanical Gardens in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula
Carp River Gardens|
73 Heritage Dr, Negaunee, MI 49866
A Michigan best-kept secret, you’ll want to add this sprawling perennial garden to the top of your Upper Peninsula bucket list. Open daily to the public, the garden starts blooming as soon as the snow melts to reveal hardy perennials, hiking trails, two ponds and three waterfalls. Don’t miss it.
The largest botnical garden in Michigan is Hidden Lake Garden in Tipton, owned and operated by Michigan State University.
More Natural Areas to Explore in Michigan
About the Author-
Bella DiMascio is a Content Editor for mymichiganbeach.com. She grew up in the Detroit suburb of Westland and later attended Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo where she majored in Communication Studies and minored in English: Writing. Creative writing has been a hobby and interest of Bella’s since she was in elementary school and she is thrilled to be using her talents to highlight the Great Lakes State. Outside of writing, Bella enjoys getting outside with her two Australian Shepherds, playing video games, and binging shows on Netflix.