Mondo’s picks: 6 fantastic gardens

Parks and botanical gardens provide both a feast for the eyes and an ideal place for a breather during your travels. Mondo chose fabulous destinations from Africa, Asia and the Americas.

Jardin Majorelle, Marrakech
Jardin Majorelle draws the eye not only with its verdant plants and trees, but also with is vibrant blue buildings.

1. Jardin Majorelle, Marrakech

French artist Jacques Majorelle dedicated his life to this garden in Morocco. He built Jardin Majorelle for almost 40 years, until he was forced to sell the place in the 1950s following his divorce. The garden was forgotten and became run down.

It was bought in the 1980s and restored to its glory by fashion designer Yves Saint-Laurent and his life partner Pierre Bergé. When Saint-Laurent died in 2008, his ashes were scattered in the garden. It houses Musée Berbère, presenting Berber culture (entrance to both of these 20 euros). The garden has 300 plant species from five continents. Many of the plants were brought there by Jacques Majorelle from his travels. The color of the buildings is known as Majorelle blue, and you can buy a variety of blue products in the museum shop.

High Line, New York
The designer of the High Line, Piet Oudolf, is also the name behind the Vitra Campus garden.

2. High Line, New York

A park and pathway built over a former railroad track is one of the most popular destinations in New York. The plants appear to be growing wild, but the place is actually carefully designed and maintained. The landscape designer is Dutchman Piet Oudolf.

Perennial plants and grasses create a natural feel and a delicately beautiful effect that looks great at any season.

Oudolf, a master in his profession, often uses perennial plants and grasses instead of beautifully flowering species. This creates a natural feel and a delicately beautiful effect that looks great at any season. When designing the High Line, Oudolf was inspired by plants that spread to the old elevated railroad track. When walking along the High Line, you get a feeling that nature is taking over the place. The High Line is divided into several parts, and in just a few blocks you can see a variety of plant arrangements.

Jardim Botanico, Rio de Janeiro
Jardim Botȃnico has attracted visitors for over 200 years.

3. Jardim Botânico, Rio de Janeiro

When you need a change from the hot streets and sunny beaches of Rio de Janeiro, you should head to the botanical gardens, Jardim Botȃnico. Founded in 1808, the place is so big that you can easily spend an entire day there (entrance 10 euros). A map is available as an application or at the entrance.

Famous parts include the fabulous palm tree avenue, created when the garden was established, and the areas dedicated to plants from the Amazon and Japan. But the entire Jardim Botȃnico is pleasant to walk around, discovering interesting items among the ponds and plants. A good cafe with a water fountain is also nice. The garden can be reached by bus from different parts of Rio – it’s popular among the locals and less crowded on weekdays.

Kirstenboch National Botanical Garden, Cape Town
In the Kirstenboch National Park, you can also admire the slopes of the Table Mountain.

4. Kirstenbosch, Cape Town

There is plenty to see in Cape Town and surroundings, and that’s why many travelers steer past the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. Founded in 1913, it’s a place well worth a visit, and it’s also nicely located close to the famous Table Mountain. Indeed, there are popular walks from the garden to the mountain.

The Kirstenbosh National Botanical Garden has more than 7,000 plant species.

Entrance is 12 euros, and the garden has more than 7,000 plant species from the southern part of the continent. For example, when the aloe plants are in full bloom, the view is staggering. Parts of the garden have been left in their natural state, but there are parts dedicated to fragrant and medicinal plants, flowers and sculptures. The treetop walk provides a fine view of the area. The garden can be reached from Cape Town by taxi or tour bus.

Nong Nooch Tropical Garden, Pattaya
The Nong Nooch Tropical Garden in Pattaya has been influenced by European gardens.

5. Nong Nooch Tropical Garden, Pattaya

Some travelers wince when they hear the word ‘Pattaya’, but the super popular holiday destination actually has some very decent attractions. In addition to beaches an golf courses, Pattaya has some surprises in store. One of the key attractions is the huge Nong Nooch Tropical Garden, with a variety of gardens and buildings (entrance 13 euros).

The garden was founded in the 1950s, when Mr Pisit Tansacha and Mrs Nongnooch Tansacha bought the area. Mrs Tansacha was inspired by European gardens, and today’s visitors can adore, say, French-style gardens next to tropical plants. The garden also has shows on Thai culture. The experience can be entertaining with a kitsch twist, but certainly memorable.

Rikugien, Tokyo
Autumn is one of the best times to visit the Rikuguen garden.

6. Rikugien, Tokyo

This name of this garden in northern Tokyo translates literally as ‘six poems garden’. It is a reference to the six basic principles of Japanese waka poetry. Built in Rikugien between 1695 and 1702, 88 scenes were created on the basis of famous poems. They are indicated by decorative stone lanterns, of which only 32 remain. The idea is to walk along a signposted path and, pausing to admire each scene.

There is a larger pond in the middle of the area, which footbridges connecting the islands. Although Rikugien is today only a third of its original size, it still takes an hour to walk round the entire area. These is also a tea house where you can have a break.

Rikugien is brilliant especially during the autumn as the leaves are changing color, and in the spring as the trees begin to blossom. The entrance fee is about two euros.

See also:

The Garden Book >
The Kinfolk Garden: How to Live with Nature >

Text: Pekka Hiltunen and Valtteri Väkevä Photos: Getty Images

This story was first published in Mondo's issue 08/21.

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