Floral Masterpieces You Have to See to Believe!
by Lydia Brown
They say you can’t fool with mother nature, but you can certainly give her a hand. This is the year of the “Floriade”. A floral event that occurs only once every 10 years in The Netherlands. The event is a spectacular display of flowers, that runs from April through October this year. While I have not yet seen the Floriade, in person, I feel blessed that I have been able to view several other of the worlds best gardens.
For those of you who have ever been in the Netherlands during ‘tulip time’, you have probably been to the Keukenhof Gardens. The endless display of 7 million tulips, alternating with beautiful works of art, can be seen every spring. Their pride is the Russian black tulip “Baha Yaga”. So, if you can’t make it to the Floriade this year, you can visit Keukenhof Gardens every spring.
Another must-see garden, in my opinion, is the ‘The Garden of Cosmic Speculation’, a lovely mystical garden in Scotland, not far from Lockerbie, said to have been inspired by the fateful crash of PanAm in 1988. While Great Britain is home to some of the best gardens anywhere, this is truly an inspiration of science and math! The Garden of Cosmic Speculation is open to the public just 1 day a year. Quite simply, there isn’t another one like it in the world. Horticultural displays are 2nd place in this garden….it is designed with ideas of the mind or at least speculation about the very nature of things, but any picture of it speaks a thousand words. Designed by Charles Jencks and his late wife, Maggie Keswick, this garden is one of Scotland’s best kept secrets. It is one of the most important gardens in Europe, but due to a lack of funding, it is only open for five hours each year, on the first Sunday of May.
‘Chateau Versaille’, located in Versaille, France, another of the most famous gardens of the world, was built for Louis the XIV and designed by Andre Le Notre. Building the garden took regimens of people who hand laid the flower beds and transported earth in wheelbarrows to create it. The gardens are only part of the attraction but an added plus to the entire visit.
One of my particular favorites is in the lakes region of Italy,‘Villa D” Este’, in Tivoli. A Renaissance cardinal decided to make life in Tivoli bearable by turning a dilapidated Benedictine monastery into a lovely villa. This was embellished by one of the most fascinating garden and fountain complexes in the world, recently listed by UNESCO as one of Italy’s 31 major historical/artistic sites.
Not to be outdone, North America has its treasures as well. The most famous of which is ‘Butchart Gardens’ of Victoria British Columbia, Canada. The gardens were originally limestone mines. As Mr. Butchart exhausted the limestone in the quarry near their house, his enterprising wife, Jennie, conceived an unprecedented plan for refurbishing the bleak pit. From farmland nearby, she requisitioned tons of top soil, had it brought to the inlet by horse and cart, and used it to line the floor of the abandoned quarry. Little by little, under Jennie Butchart’s supervision, the abandoned quarry blossomed into the spectacular Sunken Garden it has become, with some of the most beautiful Rose Gardens I have ever seen. If you are headed to Alaska on a cruise this year be sure to add this to your post cruise trip. It’s worth the visit.
Moving over to Asia, there is an incredible park that is situated in Pattaya, Thailand. It is popular among tourists because of stunningly beautiful landscapes and marvelous views. Everything here seems to be from a fairy-tale. It is full of Thai style houses, villas, banquet halls, restaurants and swimming pools. A vast 600 acres area was bought by Mr. Pisit and Mrs. Nongnooch in 1954. This land was predicted to be a fruit plantation, but, after Mrs. Nongnooch made a trip abroad, she came back with a firm decision to create a tropical garden of ornamental plants and flowers, instead. It opened to the public in 1980 under the name ‘Suan Nong Nooch’. ‘Suan’ means garden, since it is a place where everybody can get acquainted with Thai Culture and Cultural Shows. More than 2,000 visitors go there everyday. It is also a conservation place for many plants and palms.
There are many beautiful gardens throughout the world that you should consider adding to your future travel plans. I am always eager to share the beauty of these gardens and check another item off my bucket list. Happy garden hopping!