Bucket List Worthy
Now is the time of year when gardening fever hits and folks itch to dig into creating this year’s botanical masterpiece. It’s not too late to get some last minute inspiration with a trip to some of the world’s foremost garden destinations. You’re only a cheap flight away from living works of art that will inspire you to get outside and cultivate some beauty in your little corner of the globe.
Victoria – One of the most admired gardens on the planet is right on our doorstep in Victoria, British Columbia. The Butchart Gardens encompasses 55 acres that have been meticulously designed so that there is always something in bloom. Spring is an especially popular time to visit, when over spring 100,000 bulbs are flowering. Saturday evenings from July through to Labour Day include a dazzling fireworks display.
Japan – Gardens are everywhere in Japan, and the number of extraordinary ones is staggering. Beauty is prized in this culture and Kyoto, historically being the exclusive terrain of the royal court, is especially blessed with an abundance of intricately crafted gardens that have been crafted carefully over mind-boggling expanses of time into the perfectly balanced, serene spaces for you to enjoy.
Italy – Italy is chock full of villas with resplendent gardens and parks to stroll through, many of which are associated with famous families such as the Medicis. For instance, Villa Borghese in Lazio is surrounded by nearly 200 acres of parkland with no fewer than 35 fountains. The garden at Isola Bella in Piemonte is punctuated by an ornate baroque structure featuring marble figures, and white peacocks roam the grounds.
Morocco – Take a flight to Marrakech and marvel at Arab-Islamic architecture and gardens. Enjoy a tour of the four gardens that surround the Al Bahia or Badi palaces, or spend a day exploring the 237 acres of orchards and olive groves at Jardins de Menara. For something on a more manageable scale, try the Aguedal Gardens, which is 40 acres of royal gardens.
England – Fly to London and find the world’s largest collection of plants at Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, and tranquil urban parks in Hampstead Heath, Kensington, and Hyde Park. While there’s no shortage of botanical delights in London, you’ll be missing out if you limit your travels to the capital. Explore the formal gardens surrounding ancient castles, walk meticulously designed labyrinths, snap some pics of carefully groomed topiary, broaden your horizons at experimental gardens, and much more.
Vancouver – Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden is modeled after traditional scholars’ gardens in China during the Ming Dynasty. Scholars were among the most elite members of society and their garden was a place where they did much of their work, so it was treated as a very important aspect of the home. This garden is the first of its kind outside of China, and incorporates the traditional elements of rock, water, plants, and architecture.
Barbados – The tropics are more than just palm trees and beaches, they offer fertile growing conditions for a spectacular array of plants that can only be found in this climate. It’s not like you need extra reasons to book a trip to Barbados, but with lush gardens like Forest and Andromeda Botanical Garden to explore, you can satisfy both your green thumb and your yen for a holiday in the tropics.
France – Just as French cuisine is the gastronomic yardstick, France’s formal gardens have been setting the benchmark horticulturally for centuries. There are too many gorgeous examples to begin to list them, but a good place to start is the Jardin des Plantes which encompasses 28 hectares on the left bank of the Seine in Paris. Other notable examples that are merely a flight to France away include Le Jardin due Palais Royale, Chateau de Versailles, Vaux-le-Vocomte, Giverny, and Les Hortillonages.
Spain – From fanciful gardens filled with mosaics and sculptures by famed artists like Joan Miro and Antoni Gaudi, to monastic retreats that have taken centuries to cultivate, Spain offers every kind of garden under the sun. Festival De Los Patios Cordobese is an event that anyone with even the slightest horticultural bent should not miss. Every year for a week or so in May the spectacular private patios of Cordoba are opened up for public viewing, and will provide a lifetime’s supply of colourful ideas for sprucing up your own space.
New Zealand – It may be far away, but it is worth the trip to New Zealand to all its verdant landscapes and unique gardens. To span the globe in one stop, visit Gardens of the World in Nelson, or take your time and enjoy many of New Zealand’s remarkable plantings and green spaces such as Ohinetahi, Ayrlies, Butler Point, Hamilton Gardens, Pukeiti Hardens, and the Otari Native Botanic Garden.