In Need of Some Garden Leave?
We all crave a little respite now and then. A little peace and quiet is good for the soul; the chance to recuperate and unwind. Even on an adventure holiday, sometimes a little time out is needed. Nature doesn’t need to be wild and untamed to be wonderful; the variety and designs of beautiful gardens is half their charm, making them idyllic playgrounds for botanical enthusiasts and budding photographers. Join us on a meander through the meticulously groomed gardens of the globe…
Majorelle Gardens, Marrakech, Morocco
After the madness of Marrakech, walking through the Jardin Majorelle is like drinking a sedative. An antidote to the frenetic energy beyond the garden walls, within lies a realm of surprisingly lush greenery, kept cool by pools and palm leaves. The gardens were once owned by Yves Saint Laurent, and distinctive yellow and blue pot plants line the soft sandy pathways between quirky cacti and intricate trellises. Tall bamboo walls block out the noise of the traffic and the heat of the sun – the skin tingles as you step into the shade and physically feel a drop in temperature, the first time all day you will have heard birdsong. It’s like a little slice of heaven.
Related trips: Morocco
Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Cape Town, South Africa
Nestled at the foot of Table Mountain, six different biomes co-exist harmoniously at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. About to celebrate their centenary in 2013, these beautiful gardens are home to many bright butterflies and birds, darting spikes of colour diving between the flora and incredible African stone sculptures. The Sculpture Garden is home to an ever-changing array of Zimbabwean sculptures in the Shona tradition, carved from local stone. The 528 hectares of the estate can be explored on foot along a number of trails leading through the landscape with a range of difficulty levels. Beyond the gardens, trails lead up toward Table Mountain which offers unparalleled views across Cape Town.
Kinkakuji Gardens, Kyoto, Japan
The light glints on the tips of the Golden Pavillion, shimmering sunshine across the surface. The Zen temple is sheathed in gold leaf and each autumn becomes surrounded by ruby and gold leafed trees as the seasons change. It presides over the mutable gardens with dignity, doubled in the waters of the accurately named Mirror Pond. During the fiery revolt of autumnal colours, lone leaves float like tiny boats upon the surface of the pond like decorations. Each spring a sister spectacle arises; the cherry blossom season. The skyline of Ueno Park in Tokyo blushes with delicate pink as artists take up their watercolours and photographers reach for their cameras.
Lednice Landscape Gardens, Czech Republic
The term ‘flowerbed’ bears no resemblance to the landscape gardens surrounding Lednice’s castle. Borders burst with colourful petals alongside gentle curving walkways of pale yellow leading towards the fairytale castle, plucked straight from a world of princesses and ‘once upon a times’. The gardens are in English style, considered the height of sophistication at the time of conception and represent a pinnacle of countryside luxury for the modern aristocrat. A gentle stroll through the majestic grounds reveals more foreign influences; a folly minaret peeking through the trees, a greenhouse packed with exotic plants. Here is a snapshot of a world long since lost.
Monet’s House and Garden, Giverny, France
Get an impression of artistic life in Normady on this self-guided cycling trip. Step straight from the saddle into Monet’s beautiful gardens, once captured by his daubing paint and now known to the entire world. The Old Mill of Vernon is close by, also immortalised by Claude’s busy brush, as is the picturesque rest of Normandy, but a quiet spell in these enchanting gardens is often considered a highlight of the trip. Many chose to spend a moment in homage to this famous artiste who changed the way we see art forever, peering into their reflections in the water and making their own reflections and musings. The iconic bridge arches gracefully next to the elegant spindles of weeping willow fronds, and the beautiful lilies lie peacefully on the water.
Related trip: Self Guided Cycling with the Impressionists
Spice Garden, near Matale, Sri Lanka
Variety is the spice of life – and in Sri Lanka, they take spices seriously. The spice gardens near Matale are a heady blend of aromatic spices and scented oils. See how they progress from simple seed to finished delicacy, strolling between black peppercorn vines, clove trees and fragrant curry leaves. Ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, turmeric and highly prized cardamom all grow here by co-operative farmers who keep prices fair. Also on sale are massage oils for the perfect bit of pampering, or Ayurvedic medicines for skin treatments. Whether you want remedies or relaxation, cookery or cosmetics, the spice gardens offer a genuine chance to spend your money wisely and support Sri Lankan industry.
Related trip: Discover Sri Lanka
Gardens of Villa Cimbrone, Ravello, Italy
A peaceful amble around Villa Cimbrone on the Amalfi Coast rewards without reservation. Despite the majestic marble walls and ostentatious approach to extensions taken over the years, it still feels as open and welcoming as any cosy Italian farmhouse. Every surface is exquisitely decorated with flowers, ivy, fountains and statuesque fountains; flowering wisteria, Judas trees, orchards and hydrangeas all mingle amidst the gardens. Dating from at least 11th century AD, the villa is saturated with history but surrounded by timeless views; from the Terrace of Infinity, the immensity of the rugged and dramatic Amalfi Coast reaches out to kiss the horizon, behind the beautifully sculpted busts that guard against the steep drop of the cliffs.
Related trip: Walking the Amalfi Coast