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Top gardens around the world

Top gardens around the world
By Damien Martin

     If you have a garden, no doubt you’ve spent countless hours trying to make it just right. You’ve hand-selected flowers and other plants and researched the best methods for growing them and keeping them alive. For National Garden Week, we thought we’d showcase some of our favorite gardens around the world. While yours might never look like these, maybe you can take a break, plan a trip and get a few pointers.

Butchart Gardens

     Not to be missed on any trip to Vancouver, the gardens have been a staple in Victoria, across the Salish Sea on Vancouver Island for more than 100 years. Built atop a former quarry, the gardens cover 55 acres and feature 900 plant varieties. The main attraction is the sunken garden, full of planted beds, trees and shrubs. Other highlights include the specialized Rose Garden, Japanese Garden and Italian Garden. Don’t feel too badly if your efforts don’t measure up; Butchart employs 50 full-time gardeners.

Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Garden

     Spread over 500 acres in southern Thailand, Nong Nooch has sections dedicated to cacti, orchids, palms, agave and topiary trees, among many others. The gardens also serve as a seed bank for Cycads, which have been around for at least 135 million years and previously had a much wider range than they do now. There is a garden built around an homage to Stonehenge and one featuring architecture from across Southeast Asia as well as a “garden” of more tan 60 classic cars.

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden

     In a beautiful setting on the slopes of Table Mountain in Cape Town, Kirstenbosch manages to make the most of limited water resources, producing flora over 1,300 acres that are home to more than 125 bird species, plus exotic animal species such as Cape porcupine, water mongoose and Cape clawless otter. Butterflies, most notably the Table Mountain Beauty, also frequent the area in summer. Free guided 90-minute tours are offered to help visitors navigate the vast park.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

     Central Park isn’t the only green space in New York City. As with anything in New York, space is at a premium, but the Brooklyn Botanic Garden manages to pack a lot in 52 acres of Prospect Park. There are specialty gardens dedicated to roses, cherry trees, native flora and plants mentioned in the works of Shakespeare. June blooms will be highlighted by heirloom tomatoes, Japanese wisteria, pineapples and several species of rose.

Villa d’Este

     On the grounds of Renaissance villa in Tivoli an hour outside Rome, this UNESCO world heritage site had a profound impact on the development of other gardens throughout Europe. Fifty-one fountains and 64 waterfalls feed terraces themed after various gods and other figures from mythology. The villa and gardens were celebrated in sketches, paintings and writings during the Renaissance and Romantic periods to the point that they inspired the gardens at Versailles and Sanssouci Palace, among many others.

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