Winter’s cold weather brings about daydreams of bright blooming flowers and sweet garden fragrances. The ultimate answer to these cravings? A visit to a world-class garden or flower show. Our three must-visits for flower lovers are Keukenhof’s classic tulips, the ornate designs of the Brussels Flower Carpet and the modern marvels at the Chelsea Flower Show.
Seven gardens, 70 acres, 7 million bulbs—Keukenhof Gardens is the largest flower garden in the world. Located outside Lisse, Netherlands, it’s a sea of color and fragrance from mid-March to mid-May, when daffodils, hyacinths and, of course, tulips come into dizzying bloom. The site of the current-day garden was once the hunting grounds for the Jacoba van Beieren Castle, where the castle cooks collected wild herbs—which explains the name’s translation of “kitchen garden.” Nowadays, Keukenhof is a sensory delight that you can discover for yourself on our Amsterdam & Keukenhof Gardens tour.
Surrounded by gorgeous Gothic architecture, the Grand Place in Brussels is a sight to behold at any time of year. But for one weekend in August it’s downright striking: the 1800-square-meter central square can be found blanketed with blooming begonias. For a panoramic view, climb to the top of the Town Hall to take in the remarkable square below. The biannual Brussels Flower Carpet is designed around a theme, such as 18th-century French tapestries (in 2008) or African textiles (in 2012). Nearly one million flowers are tightly planted together to create a richly colored and ornately patterned carpet—a work of art that lasts only a few days.
Every year in May, gardeners and designers from around the world turn their green thumbs toward London for the Chelsea Flower Show, put on by U.K.’s Royal Horticulture Society. Tens of thousands of flora lovers descend on the 11-acre grounds, which are abloom with flowers, trees, vegetables and more. A landmark event for anyone into landscape design—as well as the who’s who of London society—this world-famous flower show stretches the meaning of the word “garden,” featuring such spectacles as the Irish Sky Garden, an oasis of greenery suspended from a crane, 25 meters above the ground. See the latest at this year’s show during our departure of our London & Paris tour.
These five horticulture hotspots are worth a visit.
1. Thailand is a hub of orchid cultivation, and during your time in Chiang Mai, Thailand, you can see a plethora of colorful varieties at one of their vibrant orchid farms.
France is home to beautiful landscapes of every kind. Giverny and Versailles are two equally striking but remarkably different garden scenes. In Giverny, discover the incredible gardens, waterlily ponds and flowering bridges that inspired Claude Monet’s world-famous paintings. At Louis XIV’s palace of Versailles, the expansive grounds extend into manicured lawns, sculpture-topped fountains and perfectly quaffed topiaries as far as the eye can see.
Singapore’s premier outdoor space is the newly unveiled park, Gardens by the Bay. Among the intricately designed gardens stand man-made, multi-species “Supertrees,” as well as two architecturally acclaimed glasshouse conservatories that feature everything from orchids to olive groves.
4. During downtime in Rio, a visit to the Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden gives travelers a look at Brazil’s lush wildlife. Located at the base of the Corcovado Mountain, the expansive grounds are home to over 6,000 species of plants and trees, not to mention a few hundred species of birds. The park has a special focus on palm trees (there are over 900 varieties), including a picturesque Avenue of Royal Palms, which lines the entrance into the gardens.
5. Contrasting the bustling streets of Shanghai, the Classical Gardens of Suzhou offer a moat-encircled retreat with several gardens, pagodas and canals. The majority of the UNESCO-recognized gardens were designed by scholars, and the site is now considered the pinnacle of traditional Chinese garden design.
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