Virtually Verdant

There’s nothing quite like visiting a garden — the rustle of the leaves in the wind, the mingling scents of nearby flowers, the uniquely cleansing deep breaths from being surrounded by oxygen-producing greenery. But sometimes a day in the garden just isn’t in the cards because of geography, weather, or just ... life. Luckily, we live in a time when virtual experiences are robust — and growing — which means we can dip into a garden any time we want for a quick respite between calls or to embark on a guided tour without getting in the car (or even putting on shoes).

Virtual garden tours allow us to explore a summer garden in full bloom during the coldest months of winter or teleport across the state and into a verdant meadow with the click of a button. We can get up-close-and-personal with rare and exquisite blooms at the very peak of their beauty. Here are just a few virtual garden tours and experiences offered across the state — and into your living room.

The palatial Hershey Gardens offers a 360-degree view of most of its thoughtfully designed spaces via the web. Click through for an invigorating jolt of spring as the weather turns cold. Our personal favorite is the stunning rose garden, photographed in full bloom.

If you’re more interested in getting behind the gates at home gardens, the Chestnut Hill Community Association, based in verdant Northwest Philadelphia, shared this virtual tour of its members’ charming plots. Hit play on the video and get inspired by passionate gardeners presenting their little slices of heaven.

Chanticleer Garden hosts five different video tours set to music on its YouTube channel. This content allows viewers to experience the grounds in peak form and from angles — including drone shots — inaccessible even in person.

The best thing about the interactive map available on Bartram’s Garden website isn’t even the photos, it’s the extensive historical context given for each area of the riverside site. Bookmark this virtual experience for the next time you make an in-person visit to the Southwest Philadelphia charmer: It will enrich the experience.

Longwood Gardens, the Kennett Square gem, has extensive online resources and content for garden lovers. Explore their grounds virtually, from the meadows, to the forests, to the spring tulips, to the winter lights, no matter what time of year it is.

Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh also boasts a detailed 3D virtual tour — just click on the digital map to check out the space. You can “stroll” through their massive, tropical greenhouses or check out an innovative green roof at the Center for Sustainable Landscapes.

The Brandywine Conservancy and Museum of Art has built a section of their website dedicated to “Brandywine at Home,” featuring “virtual nature moments,” video gallery tours, and online events.

While clicking around a website isn’t EXACTLY poking around a garden, it’s a satisfying “next best thing” whether you have an extra minute and need to decompress between tasks or are looking for a hit of inspiration with your morning coffee. The best thing about these resources is their accessibility. The state’s exquisite gardens are literally at your fingertips, ready to inspire ideas for your own garden or your next outing

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