Top 10 Public Gardens

Spring finds these coastal beauties coming into full flower.

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National Tropical Botanical Garden
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National Tropical Botanical Garden, Kauai and Maui, Hawaii; and Coconut Grove, Florida

Chartered by Congress but privately funded, this organization administers gardens in Hawaii and Florida. It's scrambling to preserve tropical plants, many of which are rare or endangered. The Hawaiian gardens in particular are absolutely stunning. You can just show up at McBryde Garden, Limahuli Garden (both on Kauai), or Kahanu Garden (on Maui; it's the most coastal, with spectacular ocean views). You'll need reservations to tour Allerton Garden (next to McBryde) or The Kampong in Florida (call 305/442-7169). The admission charges, and any extra donations, help in the race against extinction;

Note: Famed 20th-century plant explorer David Fairchild founded The Kampong and stocked it with plants from around the world. For more of his handiwork, visit Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables, Florida; 305/667-1651 or

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