Beautiful botanical gardens are in abundance all around us and some of the loveliest can be found in some of the most unlikely places in the world. If you love plants, flowers, water features and landscapes of all themes and styles, or just want a serene, tranquil place to chill out, here is my pick of 9 beautiful botanical gardens around the world you should make the effort to visit.
1. Kirstenbosch, Cape Town, South Africa
Tucked away at the foot of the legendary Table Mountain in the Western Cape of South Africa lies what is considered to be one of the most beautiful botanical gardens in the world. Celebrating its centenary year in 2013, the Kirstenbosch gardens have a breathtaking collection of almost every single plant species in the South African biome. It’s hugely popular for sunset picnics, concerts and weddings in the Cape.
2. The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Mevagissey, UK
The Lost Gardens of Heligan are without a doubt not only one of the most gorgeous public show gardens in the world, but also definitely one of the most unique. Part of the huge Heligan Estate in Cornwall in the UK, it was sadly in a state of neglect and disrepair for many decades. After a dedicated team of garden lovers got their hands on the estate, the beauty was reborn. Look out for the Giants Head and the Mud Maid garden display.
3. Claude Monet Foundation Gardens at Giverny, Normandy, France
Right in the heart of the very same scenes that were the inspiration for impressionist painter Claude Monet’s sensational artwork, the gardens in France were once the home and living canvas of the artist himself. Just a short trip out of the steamy city of Paris brings you to the sprawling banks of the River Seine where you can visit the estate and experience firsthand one of the best botanical gardens in the world.
4. Byodo-in Temple, Oahu, Hawaii
The magical, mysterious and romantic destination of Oahu in Hawaii is the home to one of the most beautiful Japanese gardens. The Byodo-in Temple has been constructed as an exact replica of the very same one that stands in the heart of Kyoto, Japan. No less than two sprawling acres of traditional koi ponds, lush green lawns sliced with winding stone pathways and tranquil Zen gardens are just some of the delights found here.
5. Villa Lante, Bagnaia, Italy
The gardens at the Villa Lante in Bagnaia in Italy used to belong to the Lante Family who owned the estate from the 17th to the 20th century. Acquiring the gardens when they were a ripe century old in the 17th century, they have been magnificently preserved and have been open to the public since the 1900s. Flanked by 2 stately and almost mirror image estate homes, the regal stone features and delicate patterned foliage will take your stir your soul.
6. Kew Gardens, London
Arguably sitting atop the tree of the world’s best botanical gardens, Kew are the Royal Botanical Gardens located in northwest London. Home to an impressive 30,000 species of living plants and flowers, there are an addition of seven million stunningly preserved exhibits located in the herbarium. There are magnificent trees, manicured and free grass areas, greenhouses, research facilities, a 50 foot pagoda and a treetop walk way to name but a few of the attractions.
7. Francisco Alvarado Park, Zarcero, Costa Rica
This surreal topiary extravaganza is truly one of the most intriguing and unique botanical gardens ever seen. Located right in the very centre of town in Zarcero, the foliage artist who has painstakingly shaped the weird faces, creatures, sweeping arches and avant-garde shapes, has been doing so daily since he started in the 1960s.
8. The Gardens of Las Pozas, Xilitla, Mexico
The brain child and astounding hobby of legendary poet Edward James, who was a huge patron of the Surrealist arts, created the most magnificent garden tribute to the very same. What could almost be a surrealist art park constructed from an intriguing combination of stone carvings and lush foliage is the result of 36 years of incredible hard work and a climbing sum of US$5 million. Terraced pools and some 80 acres of natural waterfall are just a taste of what lies beyond the garden gates.
9. Garden of Cosmic Speculation, Scotland
The Garden of Cosmic Speculation in Scotland is an incredible, if not somewhat unbelievable, tribute to all things maths and science. Created as a private garden by the sensationally creative Charles Jencks, you can only get in here once a year to see anything, as the rest of the time it is for the owner’s enjoyment only. Incredible plays on colour bring out fractals, black holes and incredible sculptures, making this the most amazing botanical gardens in all of Scotland.
Even if you are not a lover of beautiful botanical gardens, after seeing some of these examples you may just end up being a huge fan. Have you been to any of these botanical gardens? Which one was your favourite?