Are you the type to fall immediately in love with magical gardens and fields of vibrant flowers? These places will make you very happy.
1. Kew Gardens, London
At a staggering 132 hectares, Kew Gardens is definitely more than just a stroll-in-the-park kind of place. Located alongside the River Thames in London, the garden has the world’s largest collection of living plants, housing everything from alpine trees to the world’s smallest water-lily in specially designed plant houses. The grounds also feature a number of ornamental buildings, such as the Minka house (which was relocated from Japan), multiple galleries and museums, and even Britain’s smallest royal palace.
2. Keukenhof Gardens, The Netherlands
Originally established as an area for flower growers from Europe to show off their hybrids for sale, the Keukenhof in the Netherlands is now one of the world’s largest flower gardens. The best time to visit the Keukenhof is in spring, when its 7 million tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, orchids, and roses come to life to form a sea of flowers.
3. Kenroku-en Garden, Japan
One of Japan’s Three Great Gardens, Kenrokuen in Kanazawa is a haven of beauty and tranquility. Unlike most gardens that are best visited in spring, Kenrokuen shines at all times of the year, with stunning plum and cherry blossoms in spring, striking fall colours in autumn, and delicate snowy pines in winter. No matter what time you visit, nothing beats sitting in one of the many teahouses while you sip tea, eat traditional Japanese sweets, and admire the scenery.
4. Nong Nooch Pattaya Garden, Thailand
The Nong Nooch Tropical Garden in Pattaya, Thailand takes the best of east and west with a number of beautifully landscaped species-specific and themed gardens. Of note is the French Garden, modeled after the Gardens of Versailles, and the skywalk, an elevated walkway that takes you through the topiary garden, butterfly hill, and even a Stonehenge replica. If you find yourself running out of time to visit each garden, don’t fret – you can stay the night in the hotel or one of the Thai style rental houses on the grounds.
5. Versailles Garden, France
For a taste of royal elegance in the style of Old Europe, look no further than the Gardens of Versailles on the western edge of Paris, France. Once the epicenter of French royal power and the residence of multiple French kings, the garden (and the palace it accompanies) sprawls over a staggering 800 hectares of meticulously manicured lawns, impeccably clipped topiaries, and 35km of canals.
6. Dumbarton Oaks, USA
At the north end of Georgetown, one of Washington D.C.’s poshest neighbourhoods, sits Dumbarton Oaks, a historic estate with a perfectly planned, masterpiece of a garden. Designed and developed over 40 years by famous landscaper Beatrix Farrand, the estate features sprawling lawns lined by evergreens, intricate gardens enclosed by wisteria-draped stone walls, and even a Roman-style amphitheater built around a deep-blue swimming pool.
7. Jardin Majorelle, Morocco
Famously purchased by Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé in 1980, the Majorelle Gardin in Marrakech, Morocco is a botanical garden, archeological museum, and artist’s landscape all in one. The colours of the 300 plant species stand in stark contrast to the cobalt blue villa that was the home of Yves Saint Laurent.
8. Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden, South Africa
Few gardens can match the sheer grandeur of Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden in South Africa. Set against the backdrop of Table Mountain and Devil’s Peak in Cape Town, the garden displays a huge variety of the country’s unique and indigenous flora in an awe-inspiring setting. Of particular interest is the Protea garden, a showcase of the deep greens and browns of restio grasses.
9. Villa d’Este, Italy
The bewitching fountains and gardens of the Villa d’Este in Tivoli are one of the most remarkable illustrations of renaissance architecture and landscaping in the world. Originally created as a cardinal’s attempt at making life in Tivoli bearable by converting a dilapidated monastery into a villa, the gardens quickly became a model for Italian renaissance garden design. The multiple terraces featuring spectacular waterworks and theatrical artworks will surely captivate you.
10. Powerscourt Gardens, Ireland
Inspired by the villas of the Italian renaissance and estates and gardens of France and Germany, the gardens and villa at Powerscourt, just south of Dublin, feature 19 hectares of cascading terraces, shaded ponds, and fine tree-lined arbors for you to discover. Alongside the traditional European styled grounds, the estate also features a Japanese garden, golf course, and Ireland’s highest waterfall.