When you think of U.S. states that are top-notch garden destinations, it’s highly unlikely that the state of Nevada springs to mind. This desert state is notorious for its, frankly, desert-like climate; fierce winds and intensive sunlight, coupled with infertile soil and a unique pH level hardly make it the friendliest place to plants and flowers.
Nevada tourism, too, tends to focus more on the neon strip of Sin City and the awesome grandeur of its various canyons and mountain ranges. But on closer inspection, it is actually home to some truly beautiful – if unexpected – public and botanical gardens.
So, the next time you’re heading into the state why not take a day or two to explore these splendid finds?
Gardens in Reno
Once a hotspot during the great American gold rush, modern-day Reno is an intriguing city that’s rich in both the 21st century and historical culture. Just an hour away from Lake Tahoe, and with a backdrop of the towering Sierra Nevada mountains, the “biggest little city” tends to have more seasonal weather than other cities in Nevada (snowy winters, hot summers, and abundant springs). Our favorite Reno gardens include:
Reno Municipal Rose Garden – the only rose garden in the entire state to be certified by the American Rose Society. This exquisitely neat garden has over 1,750 roses in total, belonging to around 200 different varieties.
Wilbur D. May Arboretum & Botanical Garden – this living plant museum can be found inside the Rancho San Rafael Regional Park – which is also worth exploring if you get the chance. At around 13 acres, it’s home to over 4,000 native and adaptive species.
Gardens in Las Vegas
Las Vegas aka Sin City, is renowned for being the entertainment capital of the world and boy, does it deserve that moniker! You can find anything here to keep you amused, whether that’s a museum dedicated to neon signs, entertainment extravaganzas from megastars like Lady Gaga and Diana Ross, or adrenaline-fuelled rides and experiences. But amongst the vast casinos and pleasure palaces that make Las Vegas the go-to destination for casino fans and poker enthusiasts, there are some truly exquisite gardens to discover:
The Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Garden – The magical fountains of the Bellagio casino and hotel resort may be famous the world over, but did you know it’s also home to an immaculate garden? Stretching over almost 14,000 square feet, it’s home to thousands of plant, tree and flower species that are all displayed in innovative and captivating ways.
Five times a year the gardens feature seasonal exhibits, which focus on species representing the Chinese New Year, spring, summer, fall, and winter. And at different times of the day you’ll even discover musical performances and light shows.
Springs Preserve – Within the 110 acres of the Springs Preserve Botanical Gardens you’ll find one of the largest collections of Mojave Desert cacti, as well as various succulents. In fact, it’s one of the most diverse plant collections that have adapted to the desert environment. This lovely preserve features both natural and display gardens that visitors are free to explore.
Gardens in Henderson
Nestled between the towering River Mountains and the Sloan Canyon, Henderson is the second-largest city in Nevada. More laid-back and suburban in its outlook than Vegas, the city is neatly located for trips to the Hoover Dam and the impressive Lake Mead. There are also some beautiful natural parks and reserves in Henderson, as well as a number of intriguing gardens.
Ethel M’s Botanical Cactus Garden – it may be modest in size at just 3 acres, but this secretive sport is actually one of the world’s largest cactus gardens. With over 300 species of rare and indigenous cacti growing within its grounds, as well as numerous other succulents and flora and fauna, the ecosystem within the garden also supports many animal and bird species, including roadrunners, quail, miniature lizards, rabbits, and hummingbirds.
In the vicinity, you’ll also find Forrest Mars’ solar garden, which has been described as a real labor of love and aims to provide a sanctuary for all living critters and plants.
Acacia Demonstration Garden – built by the City of Henderson in partnership with South Nevada’s Conservation District, the Acacia Demonstration garden is an important public example of water conservation. Within the efficiently landscaped grounds, which have since inspired local residents to practice sustainable living, there are numerous plant, flower and tree species to be found.