We may be sheltering at home, at least for the foreseeable future, but the imagination can still take flight — with a little assist from technnology. Trips to Discover, a travel website, recently assembled a list of the 22 most spectacular gardens around the world, from the Netherlands’ dazzling Keukenhof tulip extravaganza to Thailand’s NongNooch Pattaya Garden.
It’s an inaccessible-in-real-life list, of course, but some of their choices have pretty wonderful virtual options. Here are five that caught our eye. Check out the full list at www.tripstodiscover.com.
1 Keukenhof Gardens, Lisse, Netherlands
This 80-acre expanse less than an hour from Amsterdam brims with millions of tulips, daffodils and other colorful flowers. Some 7 million bulbs are planted each year. In non-pandemic times, it’s open for about seven weeks each spring, with peak tulip viewing in mid-April — and hopes are high for a March 20 reopening in real life. Meanwhile, you can tour the gardens virtually at https://keukenhof.nl/en/.
2 Gardens of Versailles, Paris, France
Louis XIV certainly had an eye for architectural and landscape extravagance. Designed by Andre Le Notre, the Sun King’s royal gardens at Versailles transformed what was once woods and marshland into nearly 2,000 acres of formal gardens, fountains, an Orangerie, lakes and a Grand Canal, where the king could go boating aboard caravels, yachts and gondolas. The Palace and grounds are closed right now, of course, but you can take a peek at http://en.chateauversailles.fr/.
3 Butchart Gardens, Brentwood Bay, British Columbia
This 55-acre expanse near Victoria dates back to the early part of the 20th century, when Jennie Butchart and her husband, Robert, began turning their expansive grounds into a series of floral display gardens. The result — which includes 900 varieties of plants, 26 greenhouses and 50 full-time gardeners — is open to the public now, which would be wonderful news if our passports were allowed to cross the Canadian border. Meanwhile, though, you can take in the Italian Garden, Japanese Garden, Sunken Garden and other treasures online at www.butchartgardens.com.
4 Biltmore Estate Gardens, Asheville, North Carolina
Created by the same landscape architect who created New York’s Central Park, Frederick Law Olmstead, these gardens at the legendary Biltmore Estate — the Vanderbilt family’s 1895 home, which makes Downton Abbey look downright declasse — offer miles of trails and one of the largest azalea gardens in the country. There’s an Italian Garden, a Walled Garden and a Rose Garden. And more to the point, a virtual tour at www.biltmore.com.
5 Portland Japanese Garden, Portland, Oregon
Oregon, like California, has closed many tourist attractions to try to flatten the COVID-19 curve once more. Among them is the city’s gorgeous Japanese Garden with its 12 acres and eight separate garden style — and a cantilevered Japanese tea house that juts into the trees. The waterfalls, ponds and bamboo are spectacular … and off-limits for now. You can tour it virtually, though, at https://japanesegarden.org/visitvirtually/.
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