European gardens have flourished for more than 2000 years and have influenced gardening around the world. From the Moorish gardens in Spain, to the ancient Roman remnants in Italy, the elegance of French parks and the garden-loving country of England; there’s so many flower, woodland and even high-level alpine gardens to choose from.
- 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.
- 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.
- Versailles, France
The word garden is hardly fitting for the monumental scale of things outside Louis XIV’s palace. The gardens cover over 250 acres of land and are immaculate with great basins, canals, an orangery, a vast collection of outdoor sculpture and some of the grandest fountains ever made. One of the most famed views of the palace is taken with the statue of Apollo in the foreground.
- Generalife Gardens, Alhambra, Andalucia, Spain
Famed by Washington Irving’s thrilling tales, these late-medieval castle gardens in Spain stand on a fortified plateau surrounded by the Sierra Nevada mountains. The combination of Moorish and Renaissance work here is outstanding.
- Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Surrey, England
These 132 hectares are amongst the most well known of the gardening world not just for the plant life but efforts in conservation. There are aquatic gardens, bamboo gardens, botanical glasshouses, a woodland glade and historical buildings on these banks of the River Thames. It’s also a perfect excursion for those wanting to escape the bustle of the metropolis for a few hours.
- Keukenhof Gardens, Amsterdam, Holland
Celebrate spring amongst the tulips of the Keukenhof gardens. More than seven million buds burst with color here every year between late March and May.
- Hadrian’s Villa, Tivoli, Italy
Even in their ruined state, this Roman garden built for the emperor Hadrian is still spectacular. The villa is considered a prime example of the opulence and elegance of the Roman world, although it was more an imperial garden city than a traditional villa. The 250 acres boast open porticoes, fountains, basins and statues.
- Bodnant Garden, Wales
These 80 acres are considered one of the most beautiful gardens in the UK and are certainly wonderfully located lying just above the River Conway with superb views of the Snowdonia mountains. The terraced upper gardens are laid out in formal lawns shaded by trees while the lower portion contains the wild garden with plants from all over the world.
- Gardens of Luxembourg, Paris, France
These gardens are only 15 minutes walk from the Louvre, but can whisk you way from the fast pace of Paris in the serenity of acres of trees, gardens, fountains and flowers. They are also the largest in the city and a favorite of locals and students. Take a glass of wine at the restaurant, enjoy the free musical performances, put the kids on the merry-go-round or wander through the various statues and sculptures.
- Sir Peter Smither’s gardens, Vico Morcote, Ticino, Switzerland
These are possibly the best and most famous gardens in Switzerland. Sir Peter Smithers, often regarded as a model for James Bond, worked in British Naval Intelligence before he fell in love with this one-acre, terraced vineyard on the shores of Lake Lugano. He designed the plot to become a self-sustaining ecosystem and filled it with about 10 000 plants, none of them repeated.