by Candy Venning
Now that you’ve thumbed through your seed collection, worn the writing off the pages off the seed catalogues and driven everyone mad asking when you can start seeds indoors – maybe it’s time to flee the scene, and travel (real or virtually) to any of the following gardens:
- Kew Gardens in London, England. Established in 1759 it was many years before I was able to visit this incredible collection of ponds, greenhouses, rockeries, restaurants and their droolworthy gift shop. (yes, they ship) Explore the science and archives – the website alone is fascinating. org
If you go, bring a refillable canteen and aim to spend the entire day. Bonus, you can visit rain or shine, winter or summer due to the extensive grounds and huge Victorian greenhouses!
- Hestercombe, Somerset England – I have been here, and I completely adored it. But – England being the land of gardens, most online searches don’t even rank it particularly high on the list of fantastic public gardens to visit. The Arts and Crafts garden, by Edwin Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll has a sunken parterre, a water garden, incredible stonework, plus, long winding trails, a witch’s house, meadows AND not overrun with hordes of people (which is why I haven’t listed Versailles) AND serves proper Somerset cider at the café.
- Kokedera The Moss Temple gardens in Kyoto may be one of the most inspiring for shade gardeners and the inspiration for an entire genre. 120 varieties of moss! Certain ceremonies must be followed (it’s a Temple from the 1300’s with Buddhist monks) Find inspiration and information here http://saihoji-kokedera.com/en/reservation.html and or Google images of it
- Villa Hanbury, just inside the border of Italy next to France – I may be biased, well I am definitely biased, it’s where I started to fall in love with my now husband on our first date. There’s a string of gardens along the Cote d’Azur from Nice through Monaco to Italy , if you have a car or someone to drive you, I can also recommend a quick stop, just before sunset, in Eze Village, climb up to the Jardin d’Eze – follow it up with a glass of wine on the patio of Le Chevre D’Or.
- French Formal yet totally organic, Chateau Villandry is stunning – even if you never get to this fantastical destination – you can follow along on Instagram (link on their web page) ‘Villandry is the only garden in France to accurately reconstruct the historic potager and uses only vegetables and fruits known to have been grown in the 16th century’. https://www.fr/useful-information/?lang=en
- The Highline Gardens in New York city – the influence of this garden to overcome the limitations of city infrastructure and literally, elevate it. org Inspiration from this ‘New perennial ‘style has changed the way parks are designed & has become a destination for travelers and garden nerds alike, arts programs abound in the summer. A tremendous example of a wild looking garden (but actually keeps a fleet of volunteers and paid gardeners busy year round)
Other American gardens I hope to see include Filoli ,30 miles outside San Francisco, filoli.org
Chanticleer Gardens outside Philadelphia
- The whole country of new Zealand sings a siren song to me (even before Lord of the Rings),and no surprise it has some wonderful gardens, I haven’t seen – yet. In speaking to someone who has been there – this garden ‘The Giants house’ in Akaroa is quite spectacular – a fun, whirling mosaic fantasy. More to my own taste would be the Auckland Botanical Gardens and forests with trails – yes please!.co.nz/our-gardens/native-forest/
After you browsed this list but find you’re actually headed somewhere else, may I suggest a visit to whatever passes as the local botanical garden wherever you go (or ask around to find out who is the local plant nerd at your vacay destination). This is just a short list, a mere primer, we haven’t touched on Reford Gardens in the Gaspésie, the farm Estates in South Africa, the Gardens by the Bay in Singapore, Blue Mountains Australia, Thai Orchid collections, Brazilian jungle destinations…