Last updated: April 2023
After long Northeast winters, there’s nothing like watching your surroundings come to life again every spring. And if you’re like most New Yorkers I know, you’re ready to make the most of the all too fleeting summer months while you can.
I originally shared this post in May of 2022 and am updating it now to add six more locations where you can *literally* stop and smell the roses. Fill your days with fresh air and vibrant colors while you can, my friends. I certainly will be!
Here are 12 flower fields and gardens to visit in upstate New York this year.
Cornell Botanic Gardens | Ithaca, NY
You’ll be spoiled for choice at the Cornell Botanic Gardens with more than two dozen gardens and plant collections to explore. Given the variety of flowers and trees, there’s something in peak season year-round, from the Mullestein Winter Garden to the Robison Herb Garden, the Young Flower Garden, and the Comstock Knoll and Rhododendron Collection (to name just a few!).
With more than 150 waterfalls and half a dozen state parks in and around Ithaca, the possibilities are truly endless. Grab a coffee at Gimme!, walk the Cascadilla Gorge Trail, visit Cayuga Lake, or treat yourself at Purity Ice Cream, an Ithaca institution for almost 100 years.
E.M. Mills Rose Garden | Syracuse, NY
The E.M. Mills Rose Garden is located in the southwest corner of the Westcott neighborhood’s Thornden Park, steps from Syracuse University. Dedicated in 1924 to the president of the American Rose Society, the garden is home to more than 3,000 rose bushes and almost 400 rose varieties. The garden is maintained and cared for by the Syracuse Rose Society with the help of additional volunteers.
June is considered peak season for the garden but the Rose Society recommends visiting year-round. This year’s Syracuse Rose Day, hosted jointly by the Rose Society and the local Department of Parks and Recreation, is scheduled for June 14th, 2023 from noon to 3 pm. This event is free and open to the public.
Take a walk around SU’s campus or head downtown to one of my all-time favorite CNY restaurants, Pastabilities.
Hillcrest Lavender Farm | Sherburne, NY
This beautiful hilltop field in Sherburne is open for u-pick lavender in July and August. They have a small gift shop that’s open outside of lavender season as well. Visit them on Facebook and Instagram for more detailed harvest times.
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Have lunch or dinner at Gilligan’s with homemade ice cream for dessert. Disclaimer: I used to work here and they are now a client, but I would recommend them regardless! You can also pair your time here with a stop at Rogers Environmental Education Center, #7 on this list.
Landis Arboretum | Esperance, NY
Located just a few minutes’ drive from Route 20, this arboretum and public garden is open daily year-round and is free to visit with a suggested donation of $5 per person or $15 per family for non-members.
Founded by Fred Lape in 1951 at the site of his childhood home, Landis offers expansive views over the Mohawk and Schoharie Valleys, a variety of flower and tree collections, a handful of sculptures, two photo ops with painted Monarch wings and stag horns, events throughout the year including star parties and live music, and 15 miles of trails for hiking, running, birding, and skiing.
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The member supported nonprofit that runs the arboretum is regularly adding new features to the space and expanding its offerings. Two recent additions are the Waterfall Trail and the Shanti Vun Meditation Garden.
The arboretum’s Signature Spring Plant, Book and Bake Sale is coming up on Saturday, May 20th and Sunday, May 21st from 10 am to 4 pm. Admission and parking are free and donations are welcome.
Helderberg Meadworks, a meadhall with craft cider, is open Thursday through Sunday.
North Star Orchards | Westmoreland, NY
North Star Orchards farm market and bakery is a multi-generation family business. Beginning in 1986 selling homegrown sweet corn, apples, and pumpkins, North Star is now open nine months a year and offers u-pick options for blueberries, apples, pumpkins, and tulips as well as cut-your-own Christmas trees in November and December.
Tulips cost $1 per stem and are also available for sale in bouquets. This year’s u-pick just started on April 28th and will continue through May, weather depending. Find more detailed harvest updates on their Facebook page and website.
If you miss the tulips, consider one of their other u-pick options or stop by their bakery, greenhouses, and farm market for fresh cut flower bouquets and seasonal treats.
If you’re there in June or July, head right around the corner to Tassleberry Farm for u-pick strawberries. The Parker F. Scripture Botanical Gardens, Root Glen, and Wagner Farms – numbers 6, 8, 11 on this list – are also nearby.
Parker F. Scripture Botanical Gardens | Oriskany, NY
Comprised of 15 acres surrounding the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oneida County, the Parker F. Scripture Botanical Gardens are free to visit and open daily from dawn to dusk.
Maintained by a group of ~50 Master Gardener Volunteers, the property features a butterfly house, a nature trail, a picnic pavilion, beehives, and dedicated areas for more than a dozen specialized gardens including roses, vegetables, hostas, herbs, lavender, and more.
There was not much in bloom when we visited in mid-May, so depending on when you’re going and where you’re coming from, I wouldn’t make a special trip. That said, you can visit in late June to see the rose garden in bloom, July for daylilies, and late August into September for dahlias. It also pairs easily with other gardens on this list (see below under Nearby) so it’s definitely worth a stop if you’re already in the area!
On weekdays during business hours, restrooms are available inside the CCE building.
It’s a 12 minute drive to both North Star Orchards and Wagner Farms (in opposite directions), numbers 5 and 11 on this list.
Rogers Environmental Education Center | Sherburne, NY
Rogers is a nature center in Chenango County that was state funded and operated from the 1960s through 2010, at which time it was closed following a reduction in the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) budget. Members of the local community refused to let this protected refuge fall by the wayside and just four months later, in April of 2011, the nonprofit group Friends of Rogers signed an agreement with the DEC to take over operation of the site.
Thanks to the dedicated efforts of the Friends of Rogers, the community continues to enjoy the 600-acre space year-round through nature trails, educational activities, public programs, and more.
Summertime is perfect for taking a walk and enjoying the lily pads on the ponds and wildflowers in the fields.
Stop by Hillcrest Lavender Farm, #3 on this list, or visit Rexford Falls on the other side of Sherburne.
Root Glen | Clinton, NY
Home to dozens of tree, shrub, and flower species, this peaceful trail on the Hamilton College campus opens onto a landscaped garden with flower beds, benches, and stonework. The A.P. Saunders Peonies are a garden highlight, named in honor of former dean and chemistry professor Arthur Percy Saunders.
During the early to mid 1900s, Saunders cultivated hundreds of new peony varieties through hybridization, becoming renowned around the world to botanists and gardening enthusiasts alike. His legacy is still celebrated today and this living collection of his hard work is a must for peony lovers. Visit from mid May to early June for peak bloom.
Visit the Wellin Museum of Art, also right on campus, or head to downtown Clinton to visit the Village Green, shop along Park Row, enjoy gelato at The Cremeria, or pop into Utica Coffee. Depending on which direction you’re coming from, your time here can also be paired with Sharon’s Flower Stand (below) or North Star Orchards, #5 on this list.
Sharon’s Flower Stand | Deansboro, NY
You can find this lovingly maintained flower stand on Peck Road in Deansboro just off of Route 12B. I love to just pull over and see what’s available when I’m in the area, but the owner often shares what’s in season on Instagram, from tulips and lilacs to daffodils, allium, zinnias, dahlias, and more. There’s also a small sunflower field by the stand that tends to bloom in August.
From mid-July to September, it’s u-pick season at Blueberry Hill Farms and Nursery, a quick two-minute drive from the flower stand. You can also head into Clinton for a walk around the Root Glen (above).
Sycamore Hill Gardens | Marcellus, NY
Located on the site of a former dairy farm run by George and Karen Hanford, Sycamore Hill Gardens is home to trees, shrubs, ponds, a hedge maze, a picnic area, and flower collections including hydrangeas, water lilies, peonies, tulips, clematis, delphinium, and more.
After developing the gardens, the Hanfords turned their remaining ~300 acres into one of the state’s largest Conservation Reserve Program sites, planting 20,000 native trees and shrubs and 180 acres of grassland to support wildlife habitats.
Mother’s Day aside, the gardens are open daily for self-guided tours from 9 am to 4 pm. To prevent overcrowding, they ask that visitors book in advance here. Admission is $45 per vehicle with up to eight passengers including the driver.
Drive ~10 minutes west to lakeside Skaneateles and enjoy a walk around town. Don’t miss water views from the pier at Clift Park.
Heading east on Route 20 you’ll make it to the Beak and Skiff “Apple Hill Campus” in about 15 minutes. While parts of the complex are only open in the fall, you can enjoy the tavern and tasting room throughout the year. Check their website for current seasonal hours.
Wagner Farms | Rome, NY
Thousands of sunflowers burst into bloom every August at this farm in Rome, painting eight acres bright yellow. This is not a u-pick location, but you can buy stems to take home as well as other local produce and treats at their farm stand.
Find more details here.
Unwind at Skana Spa at Turning Stone Resort Casino or pair your visit with North Star Orchards and/or the Parker F Scripture Botanical Gardens, numbers 5 and 6 on this list.
Withy Hollow Flower Farm | Erieville, NY
Withy Hollow is a specialty cut flower farm that sells stems and bouquets at the Fayetteville Farmers Market, offers full-service arrangements for weddings and other special occasions, and hosts you-pick days at their beautiful property near Tuscarora Lake.
Enjoy a meal on the water at the Blue Canoe Grill.
12 Flower Fields and Gardens in Upstate New York
All of the places in this post are in the Central New York region except for the Cornell Botanic Gardens, which are in the Finger Lakes region. Many would be easy to pair or group together as part of one day trip. Use the map below for more detailed location info.
What are you excited to spend time doing this summer? Let me know in the Comments!
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