PHOTOS: 12 of the World's Most Gorgeous Gardens
The plant kingdom is a diverse and versatile realm. Consider, for example, the myriad ways humans have cultivated green things for practical and recreational uses: There are orderly formal gardens, romantic faux-wild gardens, Shakespeare gardens, Zen gardens, urban gardens, indoor gardens, sprawling botanical gardens, tucked-away secret gardens, medicinal gardens, and even poison gardens (Peter Rabbit, consider yourself warned.)
Amazing Gardens of the World (Amber Books Ltd, $29.99) takes readers on a global tour of 100 horticultural wonders in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, and North America. Alongside more than 200 ravishing color photographs, text by gardening expert Vivienne Hambly relates stories of each spot’s design and cultivation, highlighting the lives of those who found inspiration and refuge there.
Scroll on to see a dozen of these triumphs of landscaping that are worth traveling beyond your own garden gate to visit.
Pictured above: Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech, Morocco
From Amazing Gardens of the World: "The property of the Stourton family for half a century, Stourhead came into the possession of the Hoares, the banking family, in 1717. The house, one of England’s greatest Palladian mansions, remained in the family until 1949, when it was given to the National Trust. The surrounding mid-18th-century gardens are in the English landscape style with an artificial lake and views framed by classical follies and monuments."
From Amazing Gardens of the World: "In Marrakech, this extraordinary garden, one of the most striking and best-known in Africa, was originally the work of French painter Jacques Majorelle. The artist began work here in 1924 and painted walls, fountains, and rills in a distinctive cobalt blue he had seen used in Amazigh or Berber communities.
"The garden was bought in 1980 by fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé, his partner. Their intention was to restore the property, which had fallen into neglect after Majorelle’s divorce in the 1950s and death in 1962. The Musée Berbère (pictured above) is at the heart of the garden and contains Amazigh artifacts initially collected by Majorelle. In 2017, a further museum housing items from the collection of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé was opened. The ashes of Laurent, who died in 2008, are scattered in the garden."
From Amazing Gardens of the World: "With a view of the city of Portland, this considered West Coast garden was born of the desire to build relations between Oregon and Japan in the 1950s, post World War II—as were many other Japanese gardens around the United States. The garden opened to the public formally in 1967, although the site continues to evolve."
From Amazing Gardens of the World: "Spread over 200 hectares (500 acres), this tropical garden is one of the largest in Southeast Asia. At first, the owners intended to give the land to a commercial plantation, but upon seeing ornamental gardens abroad, the owners changed tack. Opened to the public as a tourist destination in 1980, Nong Nooch today boasts extraordinary attractions including palm, orchid, and cycad collections, a Thai topiary garden, French- and Italian-style gardens, and Stonehenge garden."
From Amazing Gardens of the World: "In the wooded hills above Lisbon, the village of Sintra is the site of a number of remarkable gardens. Key among them is this palace, the 4-hectare (9.8-acre) grounds of which are a confection of grottoes, wells, fountains, and lakes built for Brazil-born businessman Carvalho Monteiro in the late 19th century by Luigi Manini, an Italian architect. The complex is a UNESCO World Heritage Site."
From Amazing Gardens of the World: "On the banks of Melbourne's Yarra River, the lawns, lakes, and garden beds of this public garden house over two dozen living plant collections. The visitor can find collections of eucalypts, cycads, ferns, and plants from New Zealand, New Caledonia, Southern Africa, and South China. A second site in Cranbourne features a striking, contemporary dry garden planted with around 1,700 plant types from southeast Australia."
From Amazing Gardens of the World: "The oldest botanical garden in the Southern Hemisphere was established in 1770, when the East African island of Mauritius was a French colony and dominated by the French East India Company. The garden is named after the first prime minister of Mauritius. The site contains 80 tropical palm species."
From Amazing Gardens of the World: "This most famous painter’s garden, begun in the 1880s, is a garden of two parts. The Japanese water garden (pictured above), some distance from the house, was inspired by prints Claude Monet collected. The Impressionist would later immortalize the spot in his own works. The second garden, close to the house, focuses on symmetry and perspective achieved through flower beds, fruit trees, and climbing roses."
From Amazing Gardens of the World: "If the Singapore Botanic Gardens focus is on regional plants, the Gardens by the Bay take quite the opposite approach. Hundreds of thousands of plant species from around the world are assembled in this vast public garden covering over 100 hectares (247 acres). Domes, skywalks, cloud forests, and the world’s largest glass greenhouse may be found here. Opened in 2011, the gardens have a strong sustainability focus, with features such as photovoltaic (solar) cells contained within the garden’s iconic Supertree Observatory."
From Amazing Gardens of the World: "Now described as a living catalog of the work of 100 bulb breeders, Keukenhof reflects Holland's bulb and cut-flower growing heritage, which reached its peak in the tulip mania of the 17th century. Around 500 growers of cut flowers also take part in nearly two dozen annual flower shows here."
From Amazing Gardens of the World: "One of the oldest Cape Dutch farms in the country is now a hotel. On the grounds, French designer Patrice Taravella has created a decorative, productive garden with 15 different areas. These are set against the imposing Simonsberg mountain and include a prickly-pear maze, ponds planted with edible water lilies, and thousands of clivias which bloom in spring."
From Amazing Gardens of the World: "Louis XIV placed as much emphasis on the gardens at the Palace of Versailles as he did the building. In 1661, he instructed André Le Nôtre to create, over four decades, what would become one of the world’s most admired gardens. The intensely formal designs include parterres, clipped hedging, fountains, and canals. Aspects of this UNESCO World Heritage Site were replanted in the early part of this century."