They're green, growing and ready resources of both information and relaxation. Now is a great time to check out these living libraries for ideas, too.
Friday is National Public Gardens Day, when scores of great gardens will welcome visitors with special events.
"They're a rich source of ideas," said Paul James, HGTV's "Gardener Guy" and national spokesman for public gardens. "A lot of what you see has obvious impact in your own garden. You can see what grows under the shade of an oak tree, how to edge a garden bed, create a pathway or an effective mix of plants. And 99 percent of the time, the plants are clearly labeled."
Patrons can download a coupon for free admission on Friday at participating gardens. Find it at http://publicgardens.org/content/npgd-free-admission-pass-program.
Locally, the UC Davis Arboretum will take part in National Public Gardens Day with a free folk music jam session on the arboretum's Wyatt Deck at noon Friday.
As a warm-up, superintendent emeritus Warren Roberts will lead a free tour of the arboretum's Shields Grove at noon Wednesday. Participants should meet at the arboretum gazebo. For directions and details, click on http://arboretum.ucdavis.edu.
Eleven major gardens will participate in the Bay Area including the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers. Quarryhill Botanical Gardens in Glen Ellen and Santa Rosa's Luther Burbank Home also will host events.
Like home gardens, public gardens reflect major national trends such as interest in water conservation and native plants, James noted. Visitors also can learn about garden design and what plants grow best in their region.
"People say they go to a public garden and they're overwhelmed - everything looks so good," he said. "I tell them to take a good stroll around, take it all in, then focus on something that you're really interested in. You'll learn a lot while doing something healthy - getting outdoors."
For more information, visit www.nationalpublicgardensday.org.