Although it is certainly true that there are fewer public gardens in the East featuring vast collections of hardy cacti and succulents, there certainly are some worth visiting. If you stroll through the perennial beds and borders of these Eastern gardens, you’ll see many kinds of hardy succulents, particularly the spurges, sempervivums, sedums, and the sedum relatives. I recall seeing these at the Cornell Plantations in Ithaca. Here in western North Carolina, the arboretum uses drought tolerant species in many of their perennial plantings. The arboretum also has many beautiful trough gardens on display with gorgeous succulents.
In the East the more tender species are pretty much restricted to pots or conservatory/greenhouse settings. These offer a way to see the plants year-round.
At the Cleveland Botanical Garden check out the Eleanor Armstrong Smith Glasshouse. This features two ecosystems, one of which is the Madagascar Biome. This will be of particular interest to those who love cacti and succulents. The plants are shown within a lush, indoor, park-like setting. This features many unusual plants, including aloes, kalanchoes, euphorbias, and succulent vines.
Other extensive conservatory and greenhouse plantings at eastern botanical gardens include that of Longwood Gardens. The West Conservatory at Longwood, located in Pennsylvania, was designed by Isabelle Greene, a native of California. This designer advocated the use of native California plants, and extended the use of native Southwestern plants to this conservatory. At Longwood there are 20 indoor gardens containing 10,000 kinds of plants. You’ll need lots of time to see this as the greenhouses cover nearly four acres with the ceilings towering to 60 feet or more. This is one of the most visited gardens in the U.S.
The Brooklyn Botanic Garden has over 12,000 plants on display throughout the garden. The Steinhardt Conservatory is a must-see. This greenhouse features tender plants from all over the world with one section being devoted to desert plants.