Holly’s Holiday Guide. Top Five Global Gardens for Your Visiting Pleasure.

Hoorah. It’s holiday time again. For me this means chilling out, campari in hand, by the pool in in a far off location for a week, recharging my verbiage battery and replenishing my stock of nonsense so I can come back refreshed and offer it to you again. For you this means…well, of course I don’t know what you are doing for your holidays and nor should I, that would be creepy. But I do know that wherever you go, there is bound to be a beautiful garden somewhere in the vicinity and for some people these expanses of ordered or chaotic flowers, statues, sculptures, topiary and objets d’art are irresistible. Not to mention the over priced cafés, ‘comedy’ fridge magnets and annoying dogs. But there are some extraordinary gardens around the world so, in the interest of travelling horticulturalists everywhere, here are a few of the world’s finest for you to consider when you fly off to wherever you are going (and one is even in GB so you don’t have to eat airline sandwiches). These are my personal choice. Other gardens are available.

1.RSA Cape Town: Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden

Agaphantus africanus...  or pretty flowers as they are also known
Agaphantus africanus…
or pretty flowers, as they are also known.

No Springboks here, but maybe some Spring Flowers. This huge garden, started back in 1913 covers an area of around 90 acres and was created in order to conserve and curate flowers and plants unique to South Africa. Here the only plants that are cultivated are from South Africa and the Kirstenbosch is one of only a handful of Botanical Gardens in the world that are organised this way. The gardens sit comfortably at the foot of the famous Table Mountain and are quite lovely with the dramatic setting creating an awesome background it is hard to match anywhere else.

2.FRANCE. Giverney: Claude Monet’s Gardens

Acknowledged worldwide as one of the most beautiful gardens ever, the inspiration of this garden for Claude Monet’s Water Lily paintings is at once both obvious and delightful. In fact, the gardens, are almost an impressionist paintings themselves , a Lily strewn masterpiece with large splashes of colour and indistinct shapes among the gloriously rich beds.  The artist lived here for 43 years, from 19883 until his death in 1926, and cultivated  it himself. He even diverted a river to create the water garden for his lilies. If you happen to be holidaying in this part of France this summer, you just have to visit. It is truly stunning and at €6 per adult (free for les enfants, terrible or well behaved) it’s great value!

The Gardens at Giverny - Well worth the Monet!
The Gardens at Giverny – well worth the Monet!

4. Italy. Tivoli. Villa d’Este

Italy. Tivoli. Villa d Este. Fountain
The Gardens of Villa d’Este – it is big and it is clever.

The Villa d’Este is acknowledged as having one of the greatest Renaissance gardens in the whole of Italy. Situated a short march from glorious Rome (if you are a Centurion) it was created in the 16th Century by the grandson of Pope Alexander VI being completed in 1572. It’s large and spectacular array of  cleverly blended terraced lawns, waterfalls, pools, statues and ruins is a wonder to behold and formal gardens sit happily beside the ancient ruins of the nearby Hadrian’s palace with its trees and ponds. It is also a UNESCO world heritage site and a fascinating and inspiring place to visit. Did I mention it’s near Rome? Ahh… Rome!

 4. BRAZIL: Parana: Curitiba’s Beautiful Botanic Garden.

The window cleaners around here drive Lamborghinis
The window cleaners around here drive Lamborginis!

The world famous botanical gardens at Curitiba were created in the style of the great gardens of France.  Great sweeping lawns are flanked by lakes and fountains, an art nouveu style glasshouse, modeled it seems to the eye, on our very own nineteenth century Crystal Palace and covering a staggering  4929.870 sq feet stands proudly gleaming in the Brazilian sunlight and carpets of flowers greet you as you walk in. The whole park, with its many varied exhibits, covers approximately 10.7639104 sq feet and also contains a botanical museum exhibiting plant species from Brazil and around the world.


and last, but not least…


5. England: London Kew Gardens

Perhaps not as mind-numbingly extraordinary as the Kirstenbosch (well Kew is not quite as exotic as South Africa), but absolutely worthy of a mention, the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, in London, are a feast of scientific, horticultural and botanical excellence.

They have a 250-year history of planting, tending and research into plants and conservation, and contain a number of architectural oddities and edifices like the famous Palm House, the pagoda and the treetop walkway where you can quite easily do your impression of a monkey or the characters from ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’. Kew was founded in 1759, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a highly popular visitor attraction.

The Everest salesman was going to have a field-day
The Everest salesman was going to have a field-day.

One of the major attractions of the gardens is the Temperate House with its large collection of plants from Australia, New Zealand, Asia and the Pacific. (left) It is the longest surviving Victorian glasshouse in the world, is 19 metres high and covers 4, 880 square metres. It is made of wrought iron with 700 hand-blown glass panels. Needless to say, ball games in this area are not encouraged!

So. I’ll be back around the 18th August so catch you all then I hope.  And where am I going? None of your business sweetie.  I don’t want you turning up poolside asking me questions about compost and aeration. That’s NOT what holidays are for. Have a good one. See ya. Holly

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