Bit of a random one as no one I know could accuse me of being green fingered, but turns out we’ve spent time visiting some awesome gardens on our travels and we wanted to share them with you. When we bought our house, one of the top items on the list of ‘must haves’ was a garden. No idea why, as when we got one we weren’t really very good at making much of it, but I think we must have had an idea in our minds that we would create a beautifully manicured outdoors space to enjoy. I think gardening is one of those pursuits that’s seen as very ‘adult’ in a way, and I guess visiting gardens traditionally also falls into that category.
Really though, we’re not very ‘adult’ at all, considering our ages (far too close to the big 3-0), and we’ve been very surprised by how much we’ve enjoyed visiting all sorts of different gardens around the world. From grand Italian inspired gardens in New Zealand to Japanese gardens in the heart of Argentina, we’ve visited loads of different gardens and have rounded up some of our favourites. I’m not sure if they’re technically well regarded, I mean, we’re not experts by any stretch of the imagination, but we thought they were beautiful and loved wandering around them all for different reasons.
This was our first trip to Asia and I’ll never forget just how exotic Sri Lanka felt to us when we visited. One of the first stops on our tour in Sri Lanka were these amazing gardens, which feature an absolutely beautiful collection of orchids. The Peradeniya botanical gardens are so striking and there’s loads to see. We were taken by surprise when we saw bats the size of dogs hanging from the trees lining the gardens, and fascinated by the medicinal gardens that included all sorts of tropical species. It’s a must visit if you’re in Kandy and is only a few kilometres outside of the city. Even several years after our trip it stands out as one of the best gardens in the world in our book!
Florence is by far our favourite Italian city, if not our favourite European city and we were gutted when the gardens were closed due to heavy rain and flooding. Luckily on our second visit we had some beautiful weather and spent a whole day there. It’s the perfect place to take prosecco and a picnic and chill out for a couple of hours – stop in at one of the amazing hole in the wall sandwich shops on your way. These gardens took a starring role in Dan Brown’s Inferno, but there’s way more to it than what’s mentioned in the book. There are many beautiful sculptures, carefully manicured lawns and wide avenues to explore. Turns out this is definitely one of our favourites on this list of the best gardens in the world, so lucky we had a chance to return to Florence and see them for ourselves!
This was quite unexpected and not somewhere that we had planned on visiting in New Zealand. It was just a couple of weeks ago when chatting to my Mum, who happens to be a very keen gardener, that we discovered Hamilton Gardens are up there with the best gardens in the world and very famous. The gardens have large areas of public parks and grassy spaces to relax in but it’s the gardens themselves that are jaw droppingly impressive. We loved the Paradise collection, which has garden spaces with amazing themes inspired by gardening trends from all over the world like Indian temple gardens with brightly coloured carpets of flowers, classical Italian gardens surrounding magnificent villas and a beautiful English cottage garden that’s full to the brim with traditional English flowers.
We had no idea the gardens would be so impressive and spent a whole day here exploring. Other highlights of Hamilton gardens include the Productive collection of kitchen and herb gardens with a focus on sustainability, as well as the Fantasy garden with a Tudor garden and Alice in Wonderland theme. It’s actually amazing and everyone in New Zealand should visit!
This garden is the largest Japanese garden of its kind in the world – outside of Japan of course and is a lovely spot to have a wander near to the famous steel flower sculpture. There’s a lake that’s surrounded by Japanese flowers, carefully maintained Bonsai trees and a bridge that in Japanese tradition represents the entryway into Heaven. There are several small structures and sculptures throughout the park as well as a traditional Buddhist temple.
There’s not as much to see here as some of the gardens we’ve mentioned, but it’s still a beautiful place to visit in Buenos Aires.
Another one of the best gardens in the world is the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney, Australia and a great thing to do if you’re spending time in the city on a budget. Sydney can be a pretty hectic city and sometimes it’s nice to take a break from the beaches which are the usual place to turn if you want to take some time out. The gardens are a perfect place to do that. One of the highlights is Mrs Macquarie’s road and chair – one of the famous points in the city and a popular spot for watching the New Year Fireworks. While we were in the gardens they were full of people relaxing and having picnics and we also spotted some theatre and other entertainment taking place so there’s always lots to see on a wander through.
A really large garden that dates back to the early 19th century, these botanical gardens are a great way to escape the chaos of Rio. They’re a tropical paradise where you can see local fauna as well as flora – we spent a couple of hours watching the monkeys playing around and spotting various tropical bird species while we wandered around the gardens. You can get some great views of Christ the Redeemer, as the gardens are situated at the bottom of the mountain. We loved the avenues of towering palm trees.
This is one that we visited what feels like a lifetime ago, before our world travels had even been thought of let alone started! Ages ago I found out that Ryanair had started running cheap flights to Marrakech so we headed there for a weekend trip for Rob’s birthday. We didn’t love Morocco as it turned out, both getting terribly sick, staying in a dodgy area and just generally not liking the constant hassle from people in the street. What we did love though were these gardens, and they were definitely the highlight of our trip. They’re fairly small, and feature traditionally Moroccan species like collections of cacti and other desert plants, and they’re famous for the use of the bright Majorelle blue that’s used to paint buildings in the gardens like the Islamic Art Museum.
One of the reasons these are one of the most famous as well as one of the best gardens in the world (in our opinion), is that they are the final resting place of Yves Saint-Laurent, who took part ownership of the Majorelle gardens in 1980 and later had his ashes scattered there.
We visited this garden in winter when it was chilly and lots of work was being undertaken to prepare it for spring but still really enjoyed it and reckon it must look amazing in full bloom. It’s again not so large at around 8 hectares, and is a peaceful space that showcases many different types of trees, flowers and garden styles. There’s a Chinese zodiac themed and a Buddhist meditation garden, alongside a bamboo garden with hundreds of different variants of bamboo. We loved relaxing around the lotus pond and managed to spot a kingfisher – together with the many wildlife photographers who were there for the afternoon.
We couldn’t really not feature a Japanese garden from Japan on this list as it’s definitely home to some of the all time best gardens in the world. We were taken aback by the simplicity and beauty of the gardens we visited in Japan, especially in Kyoto where they often sit alongside amazing temples and shrines. It’s very hard to pick a favourite, and we saw so many gardens on our trip here that I’m definitely thinking about writing a post dedicated to Japanese gardens! Our pick though, has to be the Tenryuji Gardens, which I’ve also mentioned in my 4 days in Kyoto itinerary blog. They really blew us away with their elegance, and the setting next to the bamboo forest at Arashiyama and in front of mountains and forest made them all the more impressive. They’re actually a Special Place of Scenic Beauty in Japan, and definitely one of the most beautiful places we saw when we were exploring the country.
The highlights include the large open lake which is dotted with small islets where delicate bonsai trees are planted and even when it’s busy it feels like a really calm space.