The Butchart Gardens / Shutterstock
When you’re in a bustling city, sometimes you just need a chance to breathe. And what better way to do that than by connecting with nature? These gardens in the heart of busy cities are designed to give travelers a chance to step out of the chaos and into the calm. From an iconic garden in Paris to one of the best spots in all of Tokyo to see the cherry blossoms bloom, here are six stunning international city gardens that take our breath away.
The Butchart Gardens
BUTCHART GARDENS | Victoria, Canada
Butchart Gardens visitors have Jennie Butchart to thank for this beautiful destination in Victoria, Canada. Her backyard was a former limestone quarry that she transformed into the budding garden that it is today. The quarry is today’s Sunken Garden. From 1906 to 1929, Jennie and her husband Robert Pim Butchart, created a Japanese Garden on the seaside, an Italian Garden on the couple’s tennis court and a Rose Garden. And the garden’s numbers are impressive. The 55-acre garden receives more than one million visitors each year. The gardens feature more than 900 bedding varieties, 26 greenhouses and 50 full-time gardeners. And no matter where you walk, be prepared to be dazzled by a colorful array of flowers throughout the over-a-century-old garden.
Photo by Sean Pavone / Shutterstock
SHINJUKU GYOEN NATIONAL GARDEN | Tokyo
One of Tokyo’s most popular and largest parks, Shinjuku Gyoen is nearby Tokyo’s major railway stop Shinjuku Station. Originally constructed on the site of a private mansion that belonged to Lord Naito, it was first an imperial garden before being redesigned and opened to the public after World War II. This spot features French, English and Japanese gardens. Of course, Spring is the best time to visit what is considered one of the best places in all of Tokyo to check out the blooming light pink cherry blossoms. The park is home to 100 of Japan’s signature trees. Go Tokyo, the city’s official travel guide, recommends taking photographs of the park’s skyscrapers framed by the park’s ancient trees or picnicking under the cherry blossom trees sans the romantic bottle of wine, it’s banned from the park.
Of course, Spring is the best time to visit what is considered one of the best places in all of Tokyo to check out the blooming light pink cherry blossoms.
Photo by IR Stone / Shutterstock
KENSINGTON GARDENS | London
One of London’s eight royal parks, Kensington Gardens is a 265-acre oasis. Kensington Gardens neighbors Hyde Park, and is its quieter, but just-as-stunning neighbor. There are both reflective and stunning places to see. Visitors can pay their respect at the Diana Memorial Garden and the ornate Albert Memorial, commemorating the death of Prince Albert. Select parts of Kensington Palace—the official home of Prince William and Princess Kate—are open to the public. You can browse contemporary art at the Serpentine Gallery where artists like Andy Warhol, Henry Moore and Damien Hirst have shown. Take a stroll along the quiet Flower Walk, where you’ll being surrounded by trees and flowers to really escape from London’s hustle and bustle. Or enjoy seeing an ornamental water garden when you visit The Italian Garden. Near Lancaster Gate, Italian Garden visitors will find historic pools, fountains and sculptures. They’re believed to be a gift from Prince Albert to Queen Victoria, and now a gift to us.
Photo by irakite / Shutterstock
TUILERIES GARDEN | Paris
Arguably one of the world’s most beautiful gardens, the Tuileries Garden in Paris beckons with gorgeous views from every angle. Located between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde, you can see some of The City of Light’s most famous landmarks including the Obelisk and the Arc de Triomphe from this garden. Take a break from Paris’ bustling streets as you stroll alongside intricate French landscaped gardens and blossoming flowers. The garden takes its name from the tile factories that used to occupy the site. It also was once the site of a royal palace. If time allows, you can visit the Orangerie Museum. Originally a winter “home” for orange trees, this art gallery is home to impressionist and post-impressionist art. Here you’ll find Claude Monet’s notable work Water Lilies and other pieces from greats like Cezanne and Matisse.
Photo by Balate Dorin / Shutterstock
MAJORELLE GARDEN | Marrakech
French painter Jacques Majorelle spent 40 years creating his enchanting garden, which sits in the heart of Marrakech in Morocco. And his passion project is your delight. Filled with flowers that Majorelle collected from his world travels, the garden is an exotic paradise. As you walk through the two-and-a-half-acre garden, expect to see exotic plants, cacti and trees, and a museum dedicated to the painter. The eye-catching location also features buildings painted in a striking cobalt “Majorelle blue.” Numerous pools, streams and fountains lend an air of serenity. The garden is also home to many chirping birds including robins, sparrows, blue tits, grey wagtails and turtledoves. But the park might not have survived if it had not been for a high-profile fashion designer. Majorelle sold the property after his divorce in the 1950s, and the garden fell into disrepair. Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé purchased the garden in 1980—saving it from becoming a hotel complex. Saint Laurent’s ashes were even scattered in the garden in 2008, and there’s a memorial to him inside.
Be sure to see the main greenhouse—a more-than-a-100-years old Art Nouveau greenhouse imported from France. It’s thought to be the only one left in the entire world.
Photo by Gedgerardo / Shutterstock
BUENOS AIRES BOTANICAL GARDEN | Buenos Aires
Located in the Palermo neighborhood of Buenos Aires in Argentina, the Buenos Aires Botanical Garden (Jardin Botanico in Spanish) is home to more than 5,000 tree and plant species. Expect to also see Roman, French and Oriental gardens in addition to statues, butterflies and fountains in this triangle-shaped garden that was declared a national monument in 1996. Highlights include a garden library, museum and an 1881 English-style mansion of French architect Carlos Thuys, who designed the space. Be sure to see the main greenhouse—a more-than-a-100-years old Art Nouveau greenhouse imported from France. It’s thought to be the only one left in the entire world. You also can expect to see numerous cats roaming the grounds. In recent years, owners have taken to leaving their domesticated cats here, and they’re now allowed to live here.
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