A Global Garden Tour: The Best Gardens to Visit
Whether you want inspiration for your own garden, or simply love to spend time in beautiful, intimate surroundings, there are plenty of beautiful gardens to visit worldwide. Gardens come in many different shapes and sizes, but each one can show us the beauty and abundance that is possible to achieve when humans work in harmony with the natural world.
No matter where you live, you will no doubt find that there is an example of a botanical garden to visit. One of the most venerable and well-known is the Royal Botanic Garden at Kew, in London. Kew Gardens boasts one of the largest, most biodiverse collections in the world. Its history began in the year 1759 when Princess Augusta, the mother of King George III, founded the nine-acre establishment. With over 50,000 living plants and a unique collection of 14,000 trees, Kew Gardens is ripe with discovery and a perfect tourist destination for anyone who appreciates the complexity housed within nature.
Many other locations, however, have amazing botanical gardens to visit as well. For example, the New York Botanical Garden, situated in the Bronx, acts as a living museum, a plant research and conservation organization, as well as an educational institution. The remarkable landscape boasts 250 acres that showcase many attractions, including an Azalea Garden, Perennial Garden, Conifer Arboretum, Conservatory, Herbaceous Peonies, Lilac Collection, and countless others.
Grand palatial gardens around the world were hugely influential in garden design, and many are also included on various lists of the most beautiful gardens in the world. One of these impressive, grand gardens is found in Versailles, France. It is here that The Gardens of the Palace were put into the hands of André Le Nôtre by Louis XIV in the year 1661. The creation, renovation, and maintenance of the project evolved over the period of approximately 40 years before being reviewed by the King himself. Interestingly, trees were collected from different parts of France and thousands of men, sometimes whole regiments, found themselves immersed in the creation of the gardens.
Likewise, The Summer Palace in Beijing, China, is a grand garden that consists of a diverse ensemble of lakes, gardens, and palaces. More specifically, this garden is one of the most preserved imperial gardens to date. Its origin is rooted in the Qing Dynasty and can be traced back to the year 1750 when it was founded by Emperor Qianglong. One of the most unique features of The Summer Palace is its intense harmonization of plants, pathways, land, water, architecture, and horticulture with Chinese philosophy and design.
Beautiful and Artistic Gardens
Naturally, aesthetic tastes vary. However, despite individual preferences, there are plenty of stunning examples of beautiful and artistic gardens around the world. For example, The Butchart Gardens in Canada began in 1904 with one woman’s vision to passionately craft a garden. Jennie Butchart received inspiration from a former limestone quarry to transform it into a breath-taking garden that would satisfy generations to come. The Butchart Gardens is open year-round, employs fifty gardeners, and has nine-hundred bedding plant varieties and twenty-six greenhouses that stretch over fifty-five rolling acres in British Columbia.
Gardens, however, offer far more than knowledge concerning plants, beauty, and grandeur. Gardens can be productive places, too. For example, food-producing gardens can have a charm of their own – and be just as beautiful and inspiring as purely ornamental examples. There are many food-producing gardens (large and small) around the world which are open to the general public.
One of these examples can easily be located at Hampton Court Palace in England. Gardeners work year-round in order to tend to the world’s oldest puzzle maze and grapevine, fifteen glasshouses, an incredibly long herbaceous border, as well as a total of three National Plant Collections.
A famous French potager, known as Potager Extraordinaire de La Mothe Achard, is another prime example of a food-producing garden. With over three thousand preserved seed varieties and one-hundred and twenty active volunteers, this potager showcases incredible techniques surrounding vegetable-growing, tasting methods, and a diverse range of seeds, plants, cooked products, as well as some of the best advice concerning gardening.
Gardens can be used to produce far more than just food. On your travels, you might also consider exploring the fascinating world of medicinal plants. There are many great places to go to see and learn more about herbal medicine, including The University of Washington’s Medicinal Herb Garden. This garden serves as a valuable resource for many professionals, including herbalists, medics, and botanists. Approximately one thousand plants from various global locations are housed here, which are spread and scattered across a total of seven luscious plots of land.
Interesting Urban Gardens
Finally, it is interesting to peruse some gardens that are definitely out of the ordinary – modern gardens which grow vertically, reaching for the sky and greening urban environments. For example, located in Sydney, Australia, One Central Park is a residential apartment tower that is complemented by a vertical landscape carefully crafted and cultivated by French artist and botanist Patrick Blanc. It covers roughly fifty percent of the exterior of the building. The plants serve as a shield to the apartments, controlling the amount of sun that filters though. The vast structure has made Sydney one of the most famous green icons across the globe.
Of course, roof gardens and community gardens galore can be visited in cities around the world. In addition to visiting larger and more well-known gardens, make sure to take some time to visit some hidden gems, and smaller, less well-known examples. By getting off the beaten path and exploring alternatives, you can be inspired and find the right approach for your own outside space – no matter what size it may be.
There are so many amazing gardens around the world to visit that there is no way to scratch the surface in just one article. But as you can see from the examples listed above, the sheer variety of the different types and styles of gardens that you can visit presents incredible opportunities. Visiting just some of the gardens on this list should definitely be something to consider for your next sustainable trip.
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Courtney Campbell is a graduate of Texas A&M University Corpus Christi and obtained her Bachelor of Arts Degree in English in May of 2017. She is an avid creative writer and has been featured in several literary publications showcasing pieces of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. She currently resides in Corpus Christi, TX with her three beagle puppies.