Is Your Garden Looking Horrible? Here Is Some Inspiration. Top Five Famous Gardens

My garden at the moment looks as appealing as a wet dishcloth covered in unidentified stains, so at this time of year, I like to search for inspiration to remind me how lovely gardens can be. Hence this personal top five. If, like mine, your garden looks like a rugby pitch after the game you might find it inspiring too.

1. The Garden at Versailles – Nr Paris France

‘Le Jardin, il est magnifique’ (that’s ‘The garden, it is magnificent’ in French, for those who were busy making paper planes in school). Built for Louis XIV and designed by André Le Nôtre, the Gardens at Versailles fairly brim with seventeenth-century regal excess and ornamental symmetry. They were commissioned in 1661 and completed in 1681, and so were even slower to complete than Wembley stadium, although unlike Wembley I believe they came in under budget! Huge quantities of earth were moved, requiring thousands of men and shed-loads of wheelbarrows, turning forest and marshland into this stunning vista. So, if you go to Paris, do visit. Get to the Gare St Lazare and take the 30-minute train trip to Versailles Rive Droite and… ‘Bob est votre Oncle’. Oh, and the palace is quite impressive too.

2. Kensington Gardens – London

After that glimpse of the glory of Gallic gardening grace, time for a butcher’s at a truly British spread.

One of London’s eight official royal parks, Kensington Gardens covers around 260 acres and contains some of the capital’s most popular attractions including the Albert Memorial and the Serpentine Gallery – a contemporary exhibition space where you can ask the question “But is it art?” only to be told by a security guard “No, that’s a fire alarm, the art is that old pile of crap in the corner”. The planting is wonderful, with avenues of great trees and beautiful flowerbeds.

The most famous inhabitant of Kensington Gardens has to be the statue of J.M. Barrie’s immortal Peter Pan. Never growing up, fiercely competitive and spoilt, Peter is a role model for professional footballers. I couldn’t include Kensington Gardens without mentioning Kensington Palace. Designed by Christopher Wren, it was the birthplace of Queen Victoria, who lived there until 1837 when she was crowned and lost her sense of humour. Peter Pan is now a ‘talking statue’, and ‘his voice’ can be heard by standing near him and calling with your mobile.

3. The Hanging Gardens Of Babylon – Babylon (now Iraq)

No one really knows what the hanging gardens looked like, so there are only artists’ impressions of this extraordinary feat of landscape gardening. Ancient Babylon is now Iraq and these luscious and impressive gardens were built by King Nebuchadnezzar II for his wife to remind her of her Persian homeland.

They were an amazing achievement of engineering and horticulture, and since the Flymo or long reach pruners weren’t invented yet, they were a nightmare to maintain. Irrigation came courtesy of the Euphrates river, with amazing pumps taking water to the plants.

The gardens were eventually destroyed by fierce earthquakes and are, of course, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, along with the Colossus of Rhodes, The Pyramids and Bruce Forsyth’s joke book.

4. Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew – London, England

One of Kew Gardens‘ major attractions is the Temperate House with its large collection of plants from Australasia and the Pacific. It is the longest surviving Victorian glasshouse in the world, covers 4,880 square metres. and is made of wrought iron with 700 hand-blown glass panels. Needless to say, ball games in this area are not encouraged!

5. Keukenhof Gardens – The Netherlands (see main picture above)

Who knew the Dutch grew tulips? With possibly the most extraordinarily beautiful beds of flowers anywhere, the Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse, Holland, contain a profusion of planting. The streams, banks and rivers of flowers in an extraordinary range of colours make visiting feel like you are in some kind of living painting.

Known as ‘The Garden of Europe, Keukenhof is the second largest flower garden in the world. In fact, there are more than seven million different types of blooms here at any one time – about one each for the population of London, although, personally speaking, I prefer to buy my flowers wrapped in plastic from dubious looking people at traffic lights.

Stunning, impressive and calming, Keukenhof Gardens are not, however, a great day out for hay fever sufferers.

So, that’s my list. If you have your own, why not pay a visit to and share them us.

Oh, and by the way, if your garden is a real eyesore, and your mower is as old and tired as Terry Wogan’s TOGS, we are running a competition that might suit you… and you could win a free Mountfield lawnmower.

See ya. Holly.

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