Top 10 Gardens / Botanical Vacations - Overall
- Royal Chelsea Flower Show, Chelsea, London, England
If you’ve never heard of a plant catwalk then you need to familiarize yourself with this annual event in May – the ultimate in the gardening year and part of London’s summer social season. It sets the latest gardening trends and new plants are often launched or the popularity of older ones revived. The most popular parts of the show include the flower arranging and the show gardens. Over 150,000 visitors attend each year and it enjoys the patronage of the British Royal Family.
- Central Park, New York
Take sanctuary from the hustle and bustle in the Big Apple in its most iconic urban space. Central Park is the soul of the city. This 341-hectare park attracts people from all walks of life. Maples and gentle ponds flank the main paths. Cyclists, rollerbladers, walkers and joggers take advantage of secluded tracks and courses while jazz performers entertain the more sedate. It’s the perfect way to relax in such a busy city.
- Summer Palace, Beijing, China
This amazingly preserved imperial garden is truly one of a kind. The massive garden is almost like a museum of garden architecture with the living quarters, opera houses, pavilions, bridges and towers the royal families enjoyed. A highlight is the covered walkway with animal scenes, the Dowager Cixi’s marble boat and all the leafy pagodas, isles and courtyards.
- Sítio Roberto Burle Marx, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Marx was a Brazilian landscape designer and known for his designs of parks and gardens. In 1949 he acquired a 100-acre estate, Barra de Guaratiba, to house his growing collection of plants. Marx was said to have “painted with plants” and indeed more than 3500 species flourish on this estate stuffed with flora.
- Majorelle Gardens, Marrakesh, Morocco
Hang out with fashion royalty in these gardens belonging to Yves Saint Laurent. They were originally designed by the French painter Jacques Majorelle in the 1920s and feature marble pools, raised pathways, banana trees, bamboo groves, coconut palms and bougainvilleas. Many of the features are painted in a shade of bold blue and water is an important feature with channels, fountains and ponds laced with lilies. The garden is open to the public and also houses the Islamic Art Museum of Marrakech, whose collection includes North African textiles from Saint-Laurent’s personal collection as well as ceramics, jewelry, and paintings by Majorelle.
- Bagh-e-Fin (Fin Garden), Kashan, Iran
This historic Persian garden, built by the early Safavids in 1590, is the oldest living garden in Iran and the most beautiful. Today it’s a major tourist attraction. In keeping with the gardens of the era, it employs many water features including 40 fountains. These are still fed from a spring on a hillside behind the garden, an engineering marvel that produces water pressure for a large number of circulating pools and fountains without the need for mechanical pumps. The grounds also contain trees, gardens, a palace and passages.
- Floating Gardens of Xochimilco, Mexico
The southern neighborhood of Mexico City, called Xochimilco, has more than 50 miles of canals known as the Floating Gardens. The canals surround raised agricultural fields, called chinampas, formed by alternating layers of aquatic weeds and earth in cane frames rooted to the lake floor. Locals and tourists board boats with musicians for tours of the area.
- Norbulingkha, Lhasa, China
This was the summer residential palace of the Dalai Lama and is a gorgeous assortment of palaces, forest, flower gardens, a zoo and of course the visiting pilgrims. It’s a perfect combination of natural beauty and unique Tibetan culture.
- Villa Medici, Fiesole, Florence, Italy
Just for its location this garden is a winner with panoramic views of the River Arno and Florence. The villa’s gracious terraces have paths lined with lemon trees, geranium-filled terracotta pots, vegetables and secret gardens.
- Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne
These are widely regarded as the finest in Australia and comprise 35 beautiful hectares of landscaped gardens. It’s a good spot for a stroll or a picnic or to catch an open-air film over summer.