For those fascinated by flora from exotic lands, visiting a public garden is nothing short of spectacular. There are a plethora of botanical gardens and garden parks in every corner of the globe, each with its own special charm and distinguishing characteristics.
1. Château de Versailles (France) Château de Versailles in France, the home of the legendary “Sun King” Louis XIV, is without a doubt home to some of the world’s most spectacular gardens. While the prodigious flower beds and splendid indoor greeneries play host to a variety of beautiful foliage, the real gems of Versailles include a canal which the Sun King used for gondola rides and magnificent statues placed atop the Water Parterres reflecting pools, symbolic of France’s major rivers.
2. Keukenhof (Netherlands)
The Dutch town of Lisse, located between Amsterdam and The Hague, is home to one of the most stunning gardens in Europe — Keukenhof. Open only two months out of the year, from mid-March to mid-May, Keukenhof is home to the annual Tulip Festival. During the festival the garden is awash with the dazzling hues of seven million blooms. Keukenhof’s other attractions include a beautiful Japanese garden and an heirloom garden housing rare plants seldom encountered anywhere else.
3. Garden of Cosmic Speculation (Scotland)
The Garden of Cosmic Speculation near Dumfries is unlike any other garden on Earth. Designed by Charles Jencks and first constructed in 1989, this stunning garden places less of an emphasis on horticultural variety than it does on integrating natural beauty with principles of science and mathematics. Landscaping throughout the garden evokes fractals and black holes, while a sculpture resembling a larger-than-life DNA helix also adds to the garden’s mystique. Despite its stunning scenery, the garden is only open to the public one day each year, typically in early May.
4. Jardin Majorelle (Morocco) Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech, Morocco is a splendid urban oasis brimming with exotic plants and magnificent architectural features. With beautiful trees, refreshing streams and birds such as Oriental nightingales and European collared doves singing sweet songs, visitors may think that they stepped into a picture postcard. Art and culture lovers should not pass up an opportunity to visit two museums within the gardens devoted to Islamic art and North Africa’s traditional Berber culture.
5. Longwood Gardens (U.S.)
Once owned by the famous duPont family, Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania is only a thirty-minute drive from Philadelphia but feels worlds away. Tourists will feel transported to another land as they immerse themselves in wildflowers, fruit trees and shrubbery as far as the eye can see. Although Longwood’s displays of roses, wisteria and other flora draw in visitors year-round, model train aficionados should definitely not miss the chance to visit during the December holidays, when an intricate miniature railroad winds it way amid the spectacular foliage.
6. Classical Gardens (China)
Not to be overlooked, the Classical Gardens in China’s Suzhou region are nothing short of breathtaking. Built between the 11th and 19th centuries, each garden is definitely one-of-a-kind. Visitors may not want to leave when they set foot in the Lingering Garden, built in 1593. There is a hill near the garden’s center dotted with maple trees, whose leaves turn a fiery scarlet red each autumn. Not far away, the ancient trees and bamboo groves at the Great Wave Garden, the oldest in Suzhou (c. 1041) give tourists the illusion of a trip through the forest primeval. Eight of Suzhou’s classically designed gardens, along with one in nearby Tongli, were designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites between 1997 and 2000.