What a wonderful world -- 12 fabulous gardens

What a wonderful world -- 12 fabulous gardens

Sometimes it takes a human design to show off nature's best sides

An amazing garden is more than just flowers.

Case in point: history and botany mix with landscape design and architecture in these 12 fabulous gardens around the world.

Butchart Gardens: British Columbia, Canada

Butchart GardensPerfect place to reflect.

When Jennie Butchart’s husband, a manufacturer of Portland cement, told her in 1904 that they’d exhausted the limestone in the quarry, the door was opened to create what would later become one of Canada’s notable tourist attractions.

The Butchart Gardens near Victoria in British Columbia were created within that disused quarry.

Featured here is the Edwardian-style Sunken Garden, with a lake where reflections of multi-colored foliage surrounding it take on a beauty of their own. 


Hershey Gardens: Pennsylvania, United States

Hershey GardensNo such thing as color clash in nature.

When the chocolate magnate Milton S. Hershey decided to create a thing of beauty to be enjoyed by residents of “his” town in Pennsylvania, the result was Hershey Gardens, opened in 1937.

A notable feature is the Butterfly House, home to hundreds of North American butterflies, in which visitors can observe the entire life cycle of the butterfly from egg to adult.


The Royal Botanic Gardens: London

Royal Botanic Gardens A piece of the tropics in London.

On a bend of the Thames at Kew in southwest London, the Royal Botanic Gardens was listed as a World Heritage Site in 2003, acknowledging its contributions to botanical and environmental science since 1759.

The Temperate House is the world’s largest surviving Victorian glass structure. An iron-framed greenhouse dating from the 19th century, it was to become a model for conservatories around the world. 


Also on CNNGo: London’s World Heritage Sites: 5 ways to get cerebral

Abbey Garden island: Isles of Scilly, United Kingdom

Tresco Abbey GardenThe world in plants.

Two and a half miles long by a mile wide, Tresco is one of the Scilly Isles, off the coast of England. Here, next to the ruins of an old priory, the Abbey Garden was created in the 1800s.

It features some of the finest outdoor specimens of subtropical flora and fauna to be found in the Northern Hemisphere, including great spiky agaves from the Mexican desert, brilliant Spear Lilies from Australia’s Queensland coast, King Proteas from South Africa and huge South American bromeliads from the Andes.


Monet Garden: Giverny, France

Giverny Monets GardenWorld's most artistic garden?Claude Monet, one of the founders of the French Impressionist painting movement, bought a house and land in the village of Giverny in 1890 and set about establishing the gardens that were to provide inspiration for his art.

The often-painted garden is famous for its water lilies, ponds and bridge and is a popular destination for art tours.

giverny.org or www.avalonwaterways.com


Luisium Castle Garden: Dessau, Germany

Luisium Castle GardenTwo and a half centuries of beauty.

“I was deeply moved as we strolled through the lakes, canals and woods by how the gods have allowed the Prince to create a dream around himself.” That's how Johann Wolfgang von Goethe described this place in 1778.

Now known as the Garden Kingdom Dessau-Woerlitz in Germany, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.

The Snake House, so called because of the shape of its gutters, was a retreat for Louise, the wife of Prince Franz of Anhalt-Dessau.


Egeskov Castle Garden: Funen, Denmark

Egeskov CastleBeautiful form the outside, frustrating on the inside.

Egeskov Castle is a beautifully preserved Renaissance castle in Denmark. The old grounds, covering 20 hectares, have been divided into a number of impressive gardens that won the European Garden Award in 2012.

Among the gardens are four hedge mazes, so one should allow time for getting lost.


Peterhof Palace Garden: St. Petersburg

Peterhof PalaceAt the Peterhof Palace Garden, the keyword is spectacular.

The World Heritage listed Peterhof Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia, was built on the orders of Peter the Great and mostly completed by 1725. Its palaces and formal gardens were modeled on Versailles.

They feature a multitude of fountains.

The image above looks across the Grand Cascade and Samson Fountain through a canal and gardens to the sea.


Kenrokuen: Kanazawa, Japan

KenrokuenCherry blossoms, bridges, streams. Nothing not to like.

Kenrokuen is considered to be one of Japan's "three most beautiful landscape gardens.”

It was formerly the outer garden of Kanazawa Castle. From the 1620s to 1840s, various rulers added waterfalls, a teahouse, winding paths, streams and bridges.

The garden was opened to the public in the 1870s.


Also on CNNGo: Size matters: Super trees to dominate Singapore's largest gardens

Christchurch Botanic Gardens: Christchurch, New Zealand

Christchurch Botanic Gardens"I think I can hear the sea."

Founded in 1863 with the planting of an English Oak and now featuring many trees over 120 years old, the Botanic Gardens in Christchurch, New Zealand, survived the city’s major earthquake in 2011.

One quintessential experience, reminiscent of England, is to punt along the River Avon through the gardens.


Hotel Icon: Hong Kong

Hotel IconPicnics impossible.

“Do plants really need soil? No, they don't; only water and the many minerals dissolved in it are essential to plants, together with light and carbon dioxide to conduct photosynthesis.” So says Frenchman Patrick Blanc.

The 230-square-meter vertical garden he's created at the Hotel Icon in Hong Kong, the largest indoor vertical garden in Asia, proves his thesis.


Storybook Garden: Sydney

Storybook GardenEvery garden has a story. Thought gardens were only for adults?

The sculpted figures in the Storybook Garden at Hunter Valley Gardens north of Sydney, will dispel that idea. 

Having enjoyed the Mad Hatters Tea Party, checked in on Jack and Jill as they rolled downhill and watched Humpty Dumpty perch precariously atop the wall, the small child above appears mesmerized by a garden that's as ageless as it is timeless.


Bruce Holmes is an Australian freelance travel writer and photographer who lives in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales.

Read more about Bruce Holmes