Arboretum layouts are arranged by continents especially in zoos, and thereby uses so you can map out your garden by water use (drainage) and sunlight (heat tolerance) zones. Visit them at different times of the year to get ideas of when things bloom and re-bloom. Get ideas of colors and textures that go together. Write down botanical names because common names change with different states, countries and areas. Don’t expect nurseries to be able to obtain all the varieties seen in an arboretum, although, nurseries can often obtain more varieties of certain species. If you have mature oak trees, note the varieties planted under the arboretum oaks. Usually Correa (Australian fuchsias) and other drought and shade tolerant plants sparsely planted. Often, there will be a chef’s garden, or Italian herb garden or medicinal garden and wildlife garden for attracting birds and butterflies.
Many of these same ideas are often found in the better nurseries like here at High Hand and Capital Nursery. Remember to use potted plants on the patio and in the garden areas that have shallow or rocky soil. Ask your nursery for handouts for flyers on subjects that interest you ie. Butterfly gardens, fragrant gardens, cutting gardens, chef’s garden, Wildlife garden, Gardening under Oak trees, etc. Handouts will help you get the most out of your yard.
If you ever get to the San Diego Zoo, be sure to observe the plants at each "continent change". As you see animals of different continents, the plants change accordingly. If a botanical tour is offered, take it. You'll be fascinated by the amount of effort taken to collect and assemble the proper plants around their exhibits. It's as much work as collecting and caring for the animals. Their fern grotto/jungle river is spectacular! Private tour by the head botanist is five stars, if you can swing it. I was on a nurseryman's tour after the zoo closed, so I think it was out of the ordinary.
For sheer beauty, nothing beats Hilo, Hawaii's Tropical Botanical Garden. Hawaii's Tropical Botanical Garden click here. You start off traversing through a bamboo forest over a suspended bridge and then wind through a Parrot's beak/Crab's Claw (Heliconica) Hanging Garden.
Orchids of all colors are everywhere as are Bromilliads. You'll want to plan to spend at least four hours here. Bring lunch or at least a snack and water. It's the prettiest garden on the Big Island. On the Kona (dry) side, there is a Hibiscus Garden that is beautiful, but it doesn't have the tropical humidity and feel of this garden. Hilo is the wet side so bring an umbrella and rain gear. You'll love it. Five stars. Nearby, Turtle Bay Gardens is a leisurly walk along the beach and is self guided. It is pretty, requires that you already know lots of plants or have a good guide with you to identify plants and flowers. If you decide to drive between Hilo and Kona, stop off at Thurston Lava tube in the middlle of a huge fern forrest for a unique lava tunnel treat. The tube is lit, but bring your flashlight anyway. Hawaii has some plants that we can grow in Northern California, but not many can be kept perennial because of our cold winters. How about a leisurely and spectacular trail ride? Bring a sweet apple for your partner.
You'll recognize many as "house plants". (Is there really such a thing???)
Happy, Healthy Gardening,