By Joshua Palmes

Few things can brighten up your day like the sight and scent of fresh flowers. With the warmest months of the year now upon us there is not a better time to view the many wondrous flower beds planted throughout Connecticut. Set aside time this summer to visit these state museums, parks and arboretums for a peek at some beautiful blossoms.

Bartlett Arboretum & Gardens
151 Brookdale Road
Stamford, CT 06903
(203) 883-4052

Nature lovers can lose themselves among the 93 acres of this Stamford arboretum that feature several walking trails and a dozen gardens. Start with the Mehlquist Garden where you’ll spot the state flower, the Mountain Laurel, along with rhododendrons and azaleas. Lilies and chrysanthemums can be found in the Cottage Garden, while the Border is home to perennial flowers. And if you love magnolias don’t miss the collection curated by the family of the arboretum’s founder, Francis A. Bartlett, which includes several different varieties.

Elizabeth Park Conservancy
1561 Asylum Ave.
West Hartford, CT 06117
(860) 231-9443

Elizabeth Park is the perfect destination for those who can’t get enough roses. It contains the the the oldest and third-largest rose garden in the U.S., with 475 beds and over 800 varieties from grandiflora to floribunda. If that is still not enough roses for you then stop by the park’s Heritage Rose Garden, one of the country’s few remaining. The roses grown here are older types that date back decades and even centuries, and are in full bloom in early summer. The 100 acres of Elizabeth Park have room for other kinds of flowers as well, with separate gardens for perennials and annuals.

Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum
211 Main St.
Wethersfield, CT 06109
(860) 529-0612

This historical museum evokes 18th-century New England with the houses of four Connecticut residents who lived in that era. After visitors tour the homes they can admire the Colonial Revival Garden behind the Webb House. Originally cultivated in 1921 and revived in 1999, the garden is alive with irises and yellow roses in the spring, daisies, hollyhocks and oriental lilies in the summer, and chrysanthemums in the fall. If you want to help keep the garden looking spectacular for future guests you may volunteer to be a Garden Angel, part of a group that meets one Saturday a month to work on planting and weeding.

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Harriet Beecher Stowe Center
77 Forest St.
Hartford, CT 06105
(860) 522-9258

Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of one of the country’s most influential novels, Uncle Tom’ Cabin, was also a lifelong lover of plants and flowers. Besides painting them, she was also known to plant them at the Hartford home where she lived the final years of her life. That home is now a popular state tourist attraction, and the gardens outside attempt to recreate what Stowe’s flower beds may have looked like. They have everything from multi-colored tulips and roses to vibrant magnolias to a pink dogwood named for Stowe.

Connecticut College Arboretum
270 Mohegan Ave.
New London, CT 06320
(860) 447-1911

For a good look at some flowers common to Connecticut and the Northeast, you’ll want to head to Connecticut College in New London. The school’s arboretum includes the 30-acre Native Plant Collection. The area is decorated with eye-catching beds of hydrangeas, dogwoods, azaleas, rhododendrons, and laurels, as well as a separate wildflower garden. Tour pamphlets are readily available at the entrance if you want to explore the collection on your own, or you may take a free guided tour on the first and second Sunday of each month through October.

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