From orderly gardens trimmed precisely and perhaps with dancing topiary animals to wild gardens growing with seemingly no rhyme nor reason, these decorative grounds of nature nourish our imaginations, ease our thoughts, please our eyes and rejuvenate our souls.
Beautiful gardens adorn our world.
The oldest academic one — Orto Botanico di Padova — was created in 1545. Here science evolved in the study of the relationship between nature and culture.
Perhaps better known is the Garden of Versailles in France. A main character in many a historic movie and TV show, development under the guidance of King Louise XIV started in 1661, culminating 40 years later.
George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison envisioned a national garden in the late 1700s. The U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C., opened in 1850 and is the oldest operating botanical garden in the country.
The American Horticultural Society, 100 years old this year, offers garden tours throughout the world from France and Italy to Iceland and New Zealand and ports in between. (www.ahsgardening.org)
Consider these possibilities in creating your own garden vacation.
BUTCHART GARDENS, VICTORIA, BC, CANADA
Bursting with color and meandering paved pathways, you may come across tai chi practitioners or a class of stroller aerobics. Started as a sunken garden, grounds include rose, Japanese, Mediterranean and Italian gardens — a current seasonal offering a current seasonal offering is serving of gelato.
Don’t miss the Rose carousel with 30 hand-carved wooden animals.
CLAUDE MONET’S GARDEN, GIVERNY, FRANCE
Monet painted what he loved, and he loved his gardens — one a flower garden in front of his house and the other a Japanese-inspired water garden across the road. Flowers were planted according to color and allowed to grow freely.
KEUKENHOF, LISSE, HOLLAND
Next open March 23 to May 14, 2023, yearly more than 7 million — yes million — bulbs of 800 different types of tulips are planted by hand in the fall to flower in the spring. A truly amazing sight. Make your plans now.
VILLA D’ESTE GARDENS, TIVOLI, ITALY
This UNESCO World Heritage Site near Rome is an example of a Renaissance garden that inspired others across Europe. It took about 20 years to develop and is known for its hundreds of fountains, some of a suggestive nature. All that water comes from the River Aniene through a nearly 1,970-foot underground channel.
FLOATING GARDENS OF XOCHIMILCO, NEAR MEXICO CITY, MEXICO
Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, these gardens come from a lake and canal system pre-Spanish arrival that connected settlements in the valley. Artificial islands called chinampas are navigated by boats called trajineras. Let your mind wander to life on the water.