Spring means getting out of the house -- and into the garden. You can work to put your own in shape, of course. Or you can tour a bloom-filled garden where somebody else has done all the work.
At this season, it is the gardens of the South that are coming into flower. Among the finest of the public gardens:
Longue Vue, New Orleans: Located on an eight-acre tract in the heart of the city, Longue Vue's one large garden and six surrounding smaller ones include flowering trees and shrubs indigenous to the Gulf Coast; seasonal daffodils, tulips and annuals; camellias and roses.
Bellingrath Gardens, Mobile: Originally a seasonal attraction with azaleas and camellias, the profusion of flowers and plants now draws visitors year-round. Among them are hydrangeas, daisies, chrysanthemums, roses, 140,000 tulips and other bulbs, and more than 2,000 ornamental trees.
Cypress Gardens, near Winter Haven, Fla.: This is a spectacle on more than 220 acres offering year-round color, as well as water-ski shows and a zoo. There are lawns edged with flowering annuals, huge vines that recall a tropical rain forest, 25,000 poinsettias, bulbs and 15,000 roses.
Magnolia Gardens, near Charleston: Swamp cypress form a backdrop for azaleas, and the introduction of thousands of bedding plants and shrubs in recent years has enabled these gardens to welcome visitors in every season.
Biltmore Estate Gardens, near Asheville, N.C.: Surrounding palatial Biltmore House, the gardens were planted originally when the house was constructed (between 1890 and 1895) with rare trees, native rhododendron and flowering trees like magnolia, dogwood and crab apple. Azaleas have since been added, along with a vast number of roses and beds of seasonal perennials and annuals, clipped hedges and pools of water plants.
Orton Plantation Gardens, between Wilmington and Southport, N.C.: Lakes and lagoons reflect hundreds of camellias interspersed with azaleas. There are flowering apple, peach and cherry trees, and a variety of winter and summer annuals.