After the blanket of snow that covers most of Michigan begins to melt, life begins anew in the Great Lakes State. Slowly but surely, the sun begins to warm the earth, and those tiny buds — symbols of hope and promise — burst forth once again. During this time of seasonal transition, Michigan gardens come to life.
Whether you’re an amateur horticulturist or someone who simply enjoys the beauty of fresh flowers and green plants, you’ll find that Michigan gardens are sights to behold throughout the spring and summer months.
DeTour Village, Michigan
The DeTour Village Botanical Gardens are a privately owned enterprise located along the coast of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in tiny DeTour Village.
Owned and operated by a lifelong resident, these botanical gardens are a place where visitors and locals go to rest, relax and absorb the natural beauty that surrounds them.
In addition to the botanical gardens that were developed by the owner, many Memorial Gardens are located here and maintained by various local families. As a result, it has become a special place to those who live in and around DeTour Village.
Mackinac Island, Michigan
Staying true to its name, the sprawling Grand Hotel is easily one of the most iconic and magnificent places on all of Mackinac Island.
Guests know that formal dinner wear is required in the dining room, that the white rocking chairs on the porch are the best place to soak up views on the island, and that the luxury pool is one of the best places to cool off during the summer months.
But many don’t know about the hotel’s Secret Garden, which is considered a hidden gem on the island that only a few know how to get to. It may not be easy to find, but the staff will help you — if you ask.
When you make the effort and arrive at your destination, you’re greeted by a colorful display that feels intimate and private. For many, it feels as if they’ve stepped directly into a fairy tale.
Traverse City, Michigan
The Botanic Garden at Historic Barns Park is a relatively recent addition to the Michigan garden scene. Developed and designed over the past decade, this 25-acre garden strives to be a place of refuge for those who are seeking sanctuary in Northern Michigan nature.
With year-round access, visitors are always finding something new in the garden throughout each season. To see it in full bloom, though, come during the summer when the colorful flowers and plants that are native to Northwest Michigan surround you.
The Monet Garden of Muskegon is a surprising hidden gem located in the urban setting of downtown Muskegon. Known as a pocket park in the city, this garden was developed on a vacant lot in an attempt to beautify the area.
The design of the garden was inspired by Monet’s home in Giverny France, which is what led to naming it after the famous French artist. The best time to visit this tiny but powerful garden is during the summer when all of the flowers are in bloom. You can even stop by in the evening to see it illuminated.
Located on The Pines estate, the Dow Gardens are one of the most incredible Mid-Michigan gardens to visit. Consisting of more than 110 acres, these gardens include an Estate Garden, the Whiting Forest, and an Exploration Garden.
The Pines was the home of Herbert and Grace Dow, and the gardens were first developed under their care. Today, more than 175,000 people visit the gardens annually. Throughout the spring and summer, there are always new blooms to discover. You can check the website to see what’s in bloom at any given time.
Imlay City, Michigan
With the first plants having been sown in 2015, Indigo Lavender Farms is a newer garden to explore in Michigan. Focusing almost solely on the fragrant lavender plant, this farm is a sensuous experience for anyone who enjoys the smell of this relaxing plant and the beauty of its purple blooms.
Today, more than 14,000 plants are grown on this 50-acre farm, and guests who want to enjoy it during the peak lavender season should plan to arrive in the middle of July when most of the plants are in bloom.
East Lansing, Michigan
Given the fact that Michigan State University was founded as an agricultural college, it comes as no surprise that there’s an incredible botanical garden located on its East Lansing campus.
The W.J. Beal Botanical Gardens can be discovered in the heart of the historic campus, and the gardens feature more than 2,000 specimens. It was established in 1873, making it one of the oldest continuously operating university botanical gardens in the country.
At any given time, you’re likely to find students taking a break from their studies, professors enjoying the atmosphere, and members of the public who want to enjoy its iconic beauty.
East Lansing, Michigan
The MSU Horticulture Gardens are designed to be a place where visitors not only appreciate and enjoy the plants that are growing but also can learn a little along the way. The paths wind through 14 distinct areas, allowing you to stop in the spaces that interest you the most.
Many people visit these Michigan gardens to get ideas for their own green spaces at home, while others prefer to enjoy the handiwork of the master gardeners who maintain the Horticulture Gardens. Children, in particular, love having the opportunity to enjoy the fresh air and beautiful blooms.
Hidden Lake Gardens is an oasis for plant lovers in Southern Michigan. Located in Tipton, this garden spans more than 750 acres and is known for the rare variety of plants that grow there.
The garden is currently owned and operated by MSU, but it was first developed by businessman Harry Fee, who had always dreamed of owning a lake. Today, you can stroll through the gardens on your own or take a private, guided tour to learn more about the plant specimens.
With more than 12 miles of hiking trails, it’s easy to spend several hours exploring this beautiful garden. There are also exciting things ahead at Hidden Lake Gardens, with construction for a new canopy walk to begin in fall 2022.
Along the shores of the St. Joseph River in Southwest Michigan, environmental enthusiasts and those who appreciate natural beauty will find the Fernwood Botanical Garden & Nature Preserve. This 105-acre garden boasts more than 10 distinct ecosystems, making it one of the most diverse in the state.
Within the garden, you can meander along miles of paved trails that take you through the various spaces in the preserve, which include a reconstructed prairie, a Japanese garden, and a nature adventure garden.
The entire garden is designed to be a place where people can seek refuge from their daily lives and discover a new appreciation for nature.
Battle Creek, Michigan
Battle Creek is a community that has been defined by the cereal industry, and the Leila Arboretum plays an important role in that story. This arboretum was founded by the widow of the Post cereal founder when she donated 72 acres of her land to the community.
While plans for the arboretum quickly took shape in the 1920s, they were put on hold during the Great Depression and weren’t picked up again until the early 1980s.
Today, the arboretum is a beloved space that’s enjoyed by many throughout the community, and it includes a variety of features, such as a kaleidoscope garden, a peace labyrinth, public art, and a Fantasy Forest.
The Slayton Arboretum has been a mainstay on the Hillsdale College campus since 1922 when it was first developed on land that was donated by alumni who were proud of their school.
Over the next century, work was continuously done to improve the arboretum and make it a peaceful place for all to visit. Today, it consists of dozens of gardens, including a rock garden and an engaging children’s garden, as well as a visitor center, a library, and a meeting room.
The Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory is located within Belle Isle Park in the city of Detroit. The conservatory is operated by the Michigan DNR, and boasts free admission to all, making it one of the most accessible Michigan gardens.
While many other gardens across the state are only in bloom during the spring, summer, and early fall, this conservatory is an indoor space where you can enjoy flora and fauna regardless of the season.
Inside, you can wander through various spaces, including arid desert landscapes and lush, green gardens with tiny waterfalls cascading through them.
Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan
Many people come to the Edsel & Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores to marvel at its impressive architecture and incredible interior design details. However, one of the best places to explore on the grounds of the estate is the house gardens.
Spanning more than 87 acres, the estate grounds have been perfectly manicured and maintained over the years, making them one of the most tranquil places in the city. Some of the most famous spots on the grounds include the Rose Garden, Flower Lane, and Bird Island.
Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
At the Cranbrook House & Gardens, visitors often claim that their senses come alive.
Whether you’re visiting during the early spring season when buds are just beginning to form, or you’re taking a self-guided tour during the peak summer months, you’ll find that the scent of flowers takes you to a peaceful place while the sounds of rushing water are entirely relaxing.
In addition to the magnificent plants that bloom in the garden throughout the spring, summer, and early fall, you can enjoy the picturesque fountains and architectural accents that have been incorporated into its design.
Avid garden visitors may find something familiar when they arrive at the Taylor Conservatory & Botanical Gardens. That’s because the entrance is anchored by a one-third-scale replica of the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory, which is located on Belle Isle in Detroit Michigan.
The Taylor Conservatory & Botanical Gardens is open to the public, and you can enjoy free admission at any time. However, keep in mind that the space can be booked for private events.
One of the most spectacular places in the garden is the open-air conservatory, which is the only one of its kind in the state and showcases seasonal flowers between May and October.
Ann Arbor, Michigan
The Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum are both located on the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor campus, and they serve as wonderful escapes into the natural world.
- The Matthaei Botanical Gardens include a variety of specialty Michigan gardens, including a peaceful sitting garden, a playful children’s garden, and an innovative rock garden.
- The Nichols Arboretum, which is known to the locals as The Arb, is a unique outdoor space with several themed areas, including the Magnolia Glade and River Landing.
While the City of Ann Arbor and U-M are largely comprised of urban development, these two spaces provide a peaceful respite from the busy streets.
Grand Rapids, Michigan
In all of Michigan, there’s nothing quite like the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, which is why it has become one of the biggest attractions in Grand Rapids. This 158-acre facility expertly blends the beauty of horticulture with the intrigue of fine art.
Its various gardens showcase some of the most not only breathtaking blooms but also interesting and inviting sculptures in the state. Some of its most notable exhibits include Michigan’s Farm Garden and the Richard and Helen DeVos Japanese Garden.
A walk through the park is invigorating because it always feels like there’s something new to discover around every turn.
Windmill Island Gardens is one of the most iconic destinations in Holland Michigan, which is known for and proud of its Dutch heritage. With an authentic Dutch windmill serving as the focal point for the garden, there’s always something new to discover here no matter the season.
However, the best time of year to see Windmill Island Gardens in bloom is during late April and early May when thousands of colorful tulips burst from their bulbs. Tulip season is short and sweet, but it’s worth the effort to keep an eye on the blooms because there’s no better place to experience the spring colors.
Home of the Tulip Festival, Holland is where people in Michigan can count on seeing spectacular tulips in bloom during late spring.
If you’re in search of the most vibrant and breathtaking tulips in the city, head to the Veldheer Tulip Gardens, which are known as the only tulip farm perennial gardens in Holland. Every year, more than 5 million tulips bloom gracefully, making late April and early May the most popular time to visit.
In the summer and early fall, there’s a 10-acre perennial garden that includes Dutch lilies and peonies set against a backdrop of traditional Dutch designs, such as windmills and canals.
Find More to Explore in Michigan During Spring & Summer
These expertly designed Michigan gardens showcase the vast variety of flora and fauna that can thrive in the state, which is protected by the Great Lakes and prone to unexpected shifts in the weather, regardless of the season.
If you’re thinking of the best spring things to do in Michigan and summer things to do in Michigan, add one of these gardens to your bucket list. You won’t regret spending a morning, afternoon, or evening strolling peacefully through the grounds and experiencing the natural beauty that Michigan offers.