MacKenzie Childs

40 Public Gardens, Arboretums, and Labyrinths Around Rochester

Gardens are historically places of rest and reflection; of focus and attention to detail. Botanist Luther Burbank said, “Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul.” Enjoy a peaceful afternoon at one of these arboretums, labyrinths or botanical gardens, all within a 2-hour drive of Rochester.

Estate Gardens Around Rochester

Public Gardens Around Rochester NY - Estate GardensGeorge Eastman Museum

  1. George Eastman Museum & House Rochester

Listed by the National Geographic Society as one of the best public gardens in the U.S. and Canada. The 12.5 acre estate exhibits the influences of Italian, French and English landscape design. The gardens include the East Garden and Terrace Garden (an Italian formal design), the Library Garden (originally a cutting garden), the West Garden (an English walled garden), a Grape Arbor (250 foot horseshoe shaped) and a restored Rock Garden. Free and open to the public; fee to enter the home and museum.

  1. Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion Canandaigua

Listed by the National Geographic Society as on of the best public gardens in the U.S. and Canada. A conservatory (tropicals and 200 orchids) and theme gardens: the Japanese Garden (with stones, water features and a Buddha), the Rose Garden (patterned beds with 4000 roses), the Sub Rosa Garden (or Secret Garden with green and white and statuary), the Italian Garden (allees and 4 sunken gardens with 15,000 annuals), the Old-Fashioned Garden (5 interlocking circles with annuals and perennials), the Rock Garden (a naturalistic woodland garden with water), the Blue and White Garden, the Pansy Garden, the Moonlight Garden, the Butterfly Garden and a Reflecting Pond.

  1. Linwood Gardens Pavillion

Private tree peony garden, open to the public on weekends during the annual Tree Peony Festival of Flowers late-May to early June.

Public Gardens Around Rochester NY - Genesee Country Village and MuseumGenesee Country Village and Museum

  1. Genesee Country Village & Museum Wheatland

This 19th century country village offers 12 historic gardens, including the Heirloom Garden (a kitchen garden), herb gardens, the Livingston-Backus Formal Garden, the Foster-Tufts Garden (berries and fruits), the Mackay Homestead Garden (cottage garden), the Amherst- Humphrey Dye Garden, the MacArthur House Garden (flower and vegetable), the Shaker Garden, and the Octagon House Picturesque Garden.

Ellwanger GardenEllwanger Garden

  1. Ellwanger Garden Rochester

Owned by the Landmark Society, this half-acre garden once belonged to noted nurseryman and horticulturist George Ellwanger of Mt. Hope Nurseries. The Victorian-style garden is an oasis of perennials, trees, and shrubs. Extensive collection of peonies. Open to the public during the Lilac Festival, mid-May, and Peony Weekend and at other times by appointment.

  1. Stone-Tolan House Rochester

The museum demonstrates life at a frontier home and rural tavern. Outside features include a privy, smokehouse, orchard and garden.

MacKenzie ChildsMacKenzie-Childs

  1. MacKenzie-Childs Aurora

Sixty-five acre farm overlooking Cayuga Lake. The grounds—open to the public—are home to sprawling gardens, a Second-Empire Farmhouse furnished with MacKenzie-Childs designs that is open for tours.

  1. Geneva on the Lake (accessible as hotel or dinner guests)

This elegant resort, built in 1910 as a replica of the Lancellotti Villa in Frascati outside Rome, is situated on manicured grounds featuring symmetrical hedged gardens and marble statues.

Public Gardens Around Rochester NY - Warner Castle Sunken GardenSunken Garden

  1. Warner Castle Sunken Garden Rochester

Features a shade border, rock garden, courtyard garden, fern bed, 13th-century herb garden, and classic and miniature roses. The garden was designed by noted Landscape Architect Alling Stephen DeForest in 1930. In 1951 and the castle and grounds became part of Highland Park, an internationally known arboretum. The Warner Castle Sunken Garden, a significant part of the landscape heritage of Rochester, New York, provides residents and visitors alike with the opportunity to view a planned landscape designed by a noted landscape architect.

Arboretums & Botanical Gardens Around Rochester

Public Gardens Around Rochester NY - Highland Park Rochester NYHighland Park

  1. Highland Park

Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and home to Rochester’s Lilac Festival, this splendid park displays a cornucopia of wonderful plants, including 1200 lilacs, a Japanese Maple collection, 35 varieties of magnolias, a barberry collection, a rock garden with dwarf evergreens, 700 varieties of rhododendron, azaleas, mountain laurel and andromeda, horse chestnuts, spring bulbs and wildflowers and a large number of trees.

Webster ArboretumWebster Arboretum

  1. Webster Arboretum

This 32.5-acre arboretum is a treasure trove of cultivated and natural landscapes, including a pond, woodland trails, a modern rose garden, an antique rose garden, an herb garden, a butterfly garden, a children’s garden, as well as perennial theme gardens. More than 50 varieties of trees and shrubs.

Cornell Botanic GardensCornell Botanic Gardens

  1. Cornell Botanic Gardens Ithaca

Listed by the National Geographic Society as one of the best public gardens in the U.S. and Canada, the Cornell Plantations includes the 14 collections in the botanical gardens, the F.R. Newman Arboretum, and the more than 4,000 acres of natural areas (fens, bogs, gorges, glens, meadows, and woodlands) belonging to Cornell University. Formerly known as the Cornell Plantations.

The Botanical Garden exhibits include the Conifer-Maple Slope, the  Flowers and Decorative Arts Garden, the Groundcover Collection (the Hillside Garden, North Walk and Shade Garden), the Herb Garden, the Heritage Vegetable Garden, the International Crop & Weed Garden (Corn Breeding Display and Iroquois Three Sisters Garden), the Peony and Perennial Garden, the Rhododendron Collection, the Rock Garden and the Wildflower Garden.

FR Newman ArboretumF. R. Newman Arboretum

The F. R. Newman Arboretum collections includes the Beech Loop, Field Flower Meadow, the Flowering Shrub Collection (Zucker Shrub Sampler and Harris Lilac Collection), the Mitchell Woods, the Native Maple Slope, the Nut Tree Collection, the Oak-Hickory Slope, the Oak-Yew Grove and Magnolia Grove, the Pin Oak Grove, the Sculpture Garden, the Shrub Dogwood Collection, the Small Flowering Tree Collection, the Sugar Bush, the Urban Tree Collection and the Woodland Walk.

Maplewood Rose Garden FountainMaplewood Rose Garden

  1. Maplewood Rose Garden Rochester

Over 3,000 plants of 300 varieties of both modern and classic roses in grouped beds on a 1-acre site. Peak bloom is the second week in June celebrated with a Rose Festival.

  1. Mills Rose Garden Syracuse

Located in Thornden Park and set high on a hill overlooking Syracuse University, the garden is comprised of 3,850 plants and more than 360 varieties of roses.

  1. Robin Hill Nature Preserve Lyndonville

A collection of 250 rare and interesting trees, including the oldest metasequoias in the Western hemisphere. The preserve is also home to the Robin Hill shad cultivar, amelanchier grandifloria Robin Hill, propagated by founder Will Smith.

  1. Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens

The historic Buffalo Botanical Gardens is a living museum that inspires curiosity and connects people to the natural world.

Public Gardens Around Rochester NY - Lamberton Conservatory at Highland Park in Rochester NYLamberton Conservatory

  1. Lamberton Conservatory Rochester

A tropical forest display as well as collections of exotic plants, desert plants, economic plants (such as banana and coffee trees), and house plants.

  1. Spencer J. Roemer Arboretum SUNY Geneseo

More than 70 species of trees, shrubs, and wildflowers on 20 acres on the South Campus. The outer loop of our trail system measures 0.59 miles; the inner loop (cutting through the center of the Arboretum) is 0.44 miles. Check out the majestic oaks and black walnut trees, many of them over 200 years old.

Durand Eastman ParkDurand-Eastman Park

  1. Durand-Eastman Park Rochester

Slavin’s Arboretum in Durand-Eastman Park offers a wide variety of mature trees. Of special note is Pine Valley, a world class pinetum of many rare and unusual conifers, and Rhododendron Valley, planted with members of the Ericaceae family. Trails.

  1. Rochester Museum & Science Center Rochester

The museum maintains 12 acres near the center of the city with stately trees, native wildflowers, a formal herb garden, and colorful annuals. This garden has Braille signs for the visually impaired.

Mendon Ponds ParkSharon’s Sensory Garden

  1. Sharon’s Sensory Garden at Mendon Ponds Park

A sensory (touch, tear, smell) garden with raised beds, smooth, wide paths, and Braille and raised-lettering plant labels.

  1. University of Rochester Arboretum

This campus-wide arboretum was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. It contains many old and large trees accented by native perennials and other plants.

Public Gardens Around Rochester NY - Mount Hope Cemetery Rochester NYMount Hope Cemetery

  1. Mount Hope Cemetery Arboretum

In 2009, more than 20% of the trees in Mount Hope were characterized as historic, reflecting 250 year old oak trees, as well as rare specimen trees gifted to the Cemetery in 1848 by famed 19th-century horticulturists George Ellwanger and Patrick Barry. Mount Hope is a rare example of rural Victorian cemetery design, a uniquely preserved urban park, a year round recreational resource and arboretum, a historic outdoor museum. Mount Hope Cemetery’s landscape includes a wealth of plants, wildflowers, trees, and mushrooms, as well as cultivated gardens.

  1. The Maud Gordon Holmes Arboretum SUNY Buffalo Sate

Many varying species of trees, over 100 shrub beds, and numerous landscape beds featuring vibrant annuals and perennials. The campus displays greenery year-round while marking the seasons with fragrant blossoms, shade-giving trees, and luminous autumn colors.

  1. Nannen Arboretum Ellicottville

This wonderful 8 acre site features over 260 species of trees, plus the Lowe Herb Garden (200 varieties of herbs) as well as an Early American Garden, an American Indian Garden, a Japanese meditation garden and a pond with fish, a Culinary Garden, an Industrial Garden, a Fragrance Garden, an Oriental Garden, a Children’s Zoo Garden and a Biblical Garden.

  1. Our Lady of Fatima Shrine Lewiston

A Catholic shrine with a glass Dome Church with a 13 foot granite statue of Mary and intensively landscaped grounds graced by over 100 statues and a heart-shaped Rosary Pond

  1. James Pass Arboretum Syracuse

A quiet place to stroll and watch the birds, with specimens that are now nearly 100 years old. One of the must-see trees is a member of the legume family–a massive yellowwood whose white flowers hang in cascading panicles.

  1. Delaware Park Japanese Garden Buffalo

Delaware Park, a Frederick Law Olmsted designed public park, offers a 6 acre Japanese Garden, a friendship garden with Buffalo’s sister city of Kanazawa, Japan. Situated on Mirror Lake, the garden features over 1,000 plantings, nearly 20 globe-type lights, and three small islands connected to the mainland by bridges.

Public Gardens Around Rochester NY - Ithaca Childrens GardenIthaca Children’s Garden

  1. Ithaca Children’s Garden

A 3-acre site across from the inlet to Cayuga Lake whose main feature is a wetland habitat garden with a huge Turtle Earth sculpture. The Bulb Labyrinth Memorial Garden features a wide variety of blooming bulbs and perennials; a wheelchair and stroller-friendly winding stone pathway; sculpture donated by local artists, an open space in the center with a flowering redbud, a peace pole inscribed with Hope, Peace, Love, and Remembrance in 15 languages, and stone benches.

  1. Morgan Garden Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University

Designed by landscape architect Marc Peter Keane, this is a small but artistic garden in stones and moss. Access to the garden is either through the museum (admission is free) or from the stairway on the University Avenue side of the building.

Labyrinths & Zen Gardens Around Rochester

  1. Tinker Nature Park Henrietta

This labyrinth hopes to capture the multiple facets of David’s life; the geometry of engineering, the beauty of nature, and the inspiring nature of his leadership.

  1. Daemen College Amherst

The 52 foot labyrinth that is located on the front lawn near Curtis Hall, is comprised of 1600 paving stones. The labyrinth serves as a place for the campus and the community to reflect and relax.  By walking the labyrinth it can help to put life into perspective and quiet the mind. Individuals and groups are encouraged to visit.

  1. St. Augustine’s Church Baldwinsville

Labyrinth is located to the left as come into large portion of the lot. Park and walk, then sit and reflect in the Adirondack Chairs located near the Labyrinth. Approximately 65 feet round with 50 foot path to reach entrance.

  1. Unity Peace Park Buffalo

The entrance is a good place to stop, reflect and set an intention for your spiritual walk. Perhaps you’ll have a question that you are seeking guidance about.  As you walk, focus on the intention. At the center, you can take as long as you wish, being open and receptive to spiritual guidance.  Take time to turn and look in all directions. On the return journey, focus on what you bring from the center.

  1. First Unitarian Church of Rochester

A beautiful outdoor labyrinth located down the hill from the parking lot at the edge of the garden.

  1. Quiet Meadows Canandaigua

Quiet Meadows offers several meadow paths and a labyrinth cut into the grass on five picturesque acres overlooking Canandaigua Lake. Visitors are encouraged to walk the paths and the labyrinth, sit on the benches for quiet repose, prayer and reflection and take away with you some of the stillness of the hills.

  1. Clifton Springs

The Springs Labyrinth sits beside the sulphur spring-fed brook. The public is free to walk or dance or play on the path at any time. The Labyrinth is closed during the winter and reopens on April 1.

  1. Amazing Acres Hector

The labyrinth is made up of a bed of small pebbles and larger individually chosen pathway stones. There is also a 7,000 square foot hedge maze, planted in arborvitae.

  1. Ock Hee’s Gallery & Bloomfield Gardens Honeoye Falls

Free and open to the public 24 hours everyday.

  1. First Baptist Church of Syracuse NY

Free and open, located at the far end of the parking lot.

BONUS: Flower Farms

Some, like The Sunflower Field, are purely eye-candy, while others are commercial enterprise where you can pick your own, turning your day trip it into a floral experience!

Sunflower Field Clover Calkins

  1. The Sunflower Field Pittsford

Each and every August, neighbors of the Hopkins Farm on Clover Street are treated to a field of golden sunflowers on their daily commutes.There are several fields used in annual crop rotations, so it moves along Clover anywhere between Calkins and Lehigh Station Roads, trading places with the soy beans, wheat and corn. There are other large sunflower fields as well like those in Clifton and Caledonia.

  1. Lockwood Lavender Farm Skaneateles

Lockwood Lavender Farm is a 120 acre flower and fiber farm tucked in the hillside overlooking Skaneateles Lake. Don’t miss their free Lavender Festival around the 2nd weekend in July where you can harvest your own bouquet of fresh lavender for purchase.  From the 2nd week of June through the 2nd week of July they harvest 2000 plants of 20 varieties.

  1. Take Your Pick Flowers Ithaca

Pick your own flowers in their self-service cutting gardens. Scissors, water and floral tissue are provided as well as buckets to hold your flowers while you pick.

  1. Flower Fields Spencerport

Seasonal cut flower arrangements available, and they are open for field trips.


Note: This is an ever growing list. Do you know of one we’ve missed? Contact us and let us know!

Debi Bower

Born, raised and living life as a digital designer in Rochester, NY! I am also a day-tripper, writer & photographer, exploring the nooks and crannies that make our part of New York State so special.