The allure of a garden doesn’t go unnoticed. Bursting with botanicals, gardens offer a place to reconnect with nature. Throughout history, they’ve been used to promote contemplation, creativity, and calmness. Designing, planning, and executing the right one for a home is an exciting endeavor. If you’re looking for that extra wow factor, there’s no better place from which to draw inspiration than gardens that have garnered fame like the one shown above in front of Kensington Palace in London. This round-up of nine famous gardens might inspire your next outdoor project.
Also known as the Garden of Europe, Keukenhof is one of the world's largest flower gardens. The garden tantalizes with tulips, daffodils, crocuses, and hyacinths in the springtime. The Keukenhof plants 7 million spring-flowering bulbs each year from 100 Dutch floricultural companies. The dizzying display of bulbs in an array of colors is a sight to behold and an inspiration for a (much smaller) burst of color in your own landscape.
Monet’s Water Garden
A garden so gorgeous Claude Monet devoted a whole series to it, Monet’s water garden is located on the site of the famous impressionist painter’s home in Giverny, France. He created the iconic water garden adjacent to his Clos Normand property and dug a small pond, which he later expanded. The water garden featuring a Japanese bridge still stands, and typically can be visited year-round.
Gardens of Versailles
Look no further for symmetrical and orderly inspiration for the garden than the one residing to the west of the iconic Palace of Versailles. The UNESCO World Heritage site covers almost 2,000 acres of land, consisting of meticulously manicured lawns, flowers, sculptures, and fountains as old as the time of Louis XIV.
Brooklyn Botanical Garden
The Brooklyn Botanical Garden consists of 52 acres of botanical bliss, including 14,000 types of plants. There’s a fragrance garden for the visually impaired, a Shakespearean-themed garden with plants named after the playwright's works, and a water garden. A visit to the garden would be remiss without seeing the Japanese-inspired garden. The garden features artificial hills contoured around a pond, a waterfall, and an island, with rocks methodically placed along the winding paths. Notable features include wooden bridges, stone lanterns, and a Shinto shrine.
Storm King Art Center
Along with finding inspiration for flora and fauna, enjoy some sculptures for their architectural contribution to gardens. You might not have room (or the funds) for Storm King Art Center-worthy sculpture, but you can see how yard art and found objects can grace a landscape and complement the plant design. Named for its proximity to Storm King Mountain, the center is a 500-acre outdoor museum located in New York’s Hudson Valley. The center contains what is thought to be the largest collection of contemporary outdoor sculptures in the country.
Residing in northwest Kyoto, Japan, Ryōan-ji is a Zen temple belonging to the Myōshin-ji school of the Rinzai branch of Zen Buddhism. The traditional Japanese dry landscape rock garden is meant to be viewed while seated on the temple’s veranda. The large stones are strategically placed around the raked garden and vary in color, shape, and size. Get inspiration for your own calming place to rest outdoors or meditate.
Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Melbourne Gardens
The Royal Botanic Gardens sprawl across two sites—Melbourne and Cranbourne. The Melbourne Gardens attract more than 1,900,000 visitors annually with their breathtaking vistas, serene lakes, and diverse collection of plants. Find inspiration for most any home with the gardens’ collection of camellias, rainforest flora, succulents and cacti, roses, Californian species, herbs, perennials, cycads, and plants from Southern China.
This renowned classical Chinese garden is one of the four Suzhou Gardens listed by UNESCO. A long, twisting, and narrow passageway leads to views of the tranquil lake visible through gorgeous grilled windows. Further along the path, a roofed walkway borders the lake. The structure divides the garden into four sections to explore, revealing beautiful architecture and various natural landscapes.
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
One look at the beautiful flowering aloes in the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden of Cape Town, South Africa, and it’s easy to understand why this site ranks among the best botanical gardens in the world. Situated against the eastern slopes of Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch emphasizes the cultivation of indigenous plants. The result is a dynamic display of plants native to the Cape region, most notably the beautiful collections of proteas for inspiration—especially for U.S. regions with similar conditions. The garden’s large conservatory houses plants from a number of different regions.
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