Photograph by EM CAMPOS, Getty Images
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At Singapore’s Jewel Changi Airport, travelers and locals can immerse themselves in lush greenery.

Photograph by EM CAMPOS, Getty Images
MagazineTraveler

5 surprising ways to celebrate gardens this spring

From magical light installations in an arboretum to a giant greenhouse in an airport, places around the world go green.

A version of this story appears in the March 2020 issue of National Geographic magazine.

With spring’s arrival come grand displays of technicolor blooms, most famously at places such as Holland’s Keukenhof Tulip Gardens and Japan’s cherry tree-adorned Mount Yoshino. Here are five more-surprising ways to celebrate the wonder of plants around the world.

Take green travel literally

During the year since its opening in April 2019, the Jewel complex at Singapore’s Changi Airport has become a destination in its own right. Along with shops and restaurants, find a terrarium-like dome with more than 2,000 trees and 100,000 shrubs—plus the 131-foot-high Rain Vortex, the world’s largest indoor waterfall. Jewel, located outside the airport security zone, is next to Terminal 1 and an easy connection (via pedestrian bridge or shuttle) from Terminals 2, 3, and 4.

Walk an enchanted landscape

How does your garden glow? At South Carolina’s Brookgreen Gardens, it’s through large-scale light installations. In the evenings from April 8 through September 12, “Bruce Munro at Brookgreen: Southern Light” features immersive mixed media experiences by the acclaimed British artist in seven different garden areas. Expect one of the most mesmerizing to be Field of Light, LED-illuminated stems stretching across 6.5 acres of the arboretum.

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Bruce Munro’s “Field of Light at Sensorio” is a large-scale installation in California similar to one he’s creating at Brookgreen Gardens in South Carolina.

See art rooted in science

Dig into detailed depictions of plants in “Drawn from Nature: Irish Botanical Art,” at the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin, March 7 to June 21. Featuring art from private and public collections, the exhibition includes works by celebrated illustrators such as Ellen Hutchins (1785-1815), Ireland’s first female botanist. Hutchins drew her discoveries, which included the lichen Lecania hutchinsiae, one of many species named in her honor.

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At the National Gallery of Ireland, see botanical prints of plants such as this cobra lily, Darlingtonia californica, 1886, by Lydia Shackleton.

Roll past fields of wildflowers

In the spring (typically from late March until mid to late April), waves of bluebonnets turn the Texas Hill Country into a sea of cerulean and nourish several species of butterflies. The blooms blanket roadsides, stream banks, and meadows. To get an eyeful of the Texas state flower, drive the Highland Lakes Bluebonnet Trail from Marble Falls, 48 miles northwest of Austin.

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The Texas bluebonnet (Lupinus texensis), endemic to the state, creates a dazzling springtime show.

Grow wildlife habitat at home

To support conservation efforts, you need look no farther than your own backyard, according to author Douglas W. Tallamy. In his new book, Nature’s Best Hope, Tallamy, a professor of entomology at the University of Delaware, offers practical tips for creating habitat that protects and nurtures nature. He suggests small steps—such as having less lawn, planting native trees and flowers, and installing a water fountain for wildlife—that can make a big difference.

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In his new book, Douglas W. Tallamy touts a home-garden planting strategy that benefits wildlife.

Maryellen Kennedy Duckett is a Tennessee-based freelance writer and editor. Follow her adventures on Twitter.