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Across the world, there are many great gardens that provide welcome relief on travels. Some of these gardens are destinations in themselves and people may travel thousands of kilometres to visit them. From the formal gardens of Versaille to the typical gardens that Japan is well known for, this list aims to highlight those that are most well known.
The Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens are one of the most beautiful botanical gardens in the world and covers a large area southeast of Cape Town, at the back of the Table Mountain. The well-kept gardens will easily occupy half a day, especially if you stay for lunch or a drink as well.
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The Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden (sometimes shortened to the SSR Botanical Garden), commonly known as the Pamplemousses Botanical Garden, is located near Port Louis, Mauritius, and is the oldest botanical garden in the Southern Hemisphere. The garden dates back to 1770 when Pierre Poivre designed it, and covers an area of around 37 hectares. It is home to an incredible variety of tropical plants, many of them indigenous. The garden is located in the proximity of Port-Louis in the district of Pamplemousse.
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The Botanical Gardens (Kebun Raya) of Bogor are huge, world class gardens with more than 15,000 species of trees and plants. The botanical gardens are situated in the city cenre of Bogor adjacent to the Istana Bogor (Presidential Palace). The gardens cover more than 80 hectares and were built by Java's Dutch Governor-General Gustaaf Willem, Baron van Imhoff who was governor of Java at the time.
The gardens officially opened in 1817 as 's Lands Plantentuin ('National Botanical Garden') and were used to research and develop plants and seeds from other parts of the Indonesian archipelago for cultivation during the 19th century. This is a tradition that continues today and contributes to the garden's reputation as a major center for botanical research. Today the garden contains more than 15,000 species of trees and plants located among streams and lotus ponds. There are 400 types of exceptional palms to be found along the extensive lawns and avenues, helping the gardens create a refuge for more than 50 different varieties of birds and for groups of bats roosting high in the trees. The bats can be easily detected by the noise they make while competing for space under the canopies. The orchid houses contain some 3,000 varieties.
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The gardens by the bay in Singapore are located at reclaimed land, and divided in seperate parts. The park consists of three waterfront gardens: Bay South Garden, Bay East Garden and Bay Central Garden. At the Bay South Garden you will find the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest. In the Flower Dome shows flowers and trees from all over the world. In the Cloud Forest the micro climate of a cloud forest has been recreated on several floors, and amongst the green, also includes a waterfall. On the terrain itself the most eye-catching features are the 'Supertrees', with their multifunctional use (recycling rainwater, lightshow etc). Between a couple of these supertrees a canopy walk has been created.
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Ryōan-ji Zen Garden, in Kyoto, is one of the finest examples of a Zen garden anywhere in the world. 15 stones are placed in the garden in 5 groups. Gravel surrounds these 15 stones and is carefully raked each day by the temple's monks. The only vegetation you'll find here is some moss around the stones. The garden is designed to be viewed while sitting on the veranda. The stones are arranged in such a way that it is not possible to see all 15 stones at once (apart from aerially). It is said that only those that are enlightened would be able to see all 15 stones at once.
There are several other gardens at the temple also, including a water garden and tea garden. The temple and its gardens are part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto, which are on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
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Nek Chand, a transport worker in Chandigarh, India started this sculpture garden in secrecy. Initially he cleared a small part of jungle and started to create sculptures with found and recycled materials. Working by night, for fear of being found, he continued to expand this until it covered several acres comprising of courtyards with hundreds of sculptures.
When the officials eventually found out about this illegal project, some 20 years later, they first threatened to demolish it. But public opinion was on his side and eventually they instead embraced it and not only employed Nek Chand full time to look after the garden, but also gave him a staff of 50 workers. The Rock Garden currently attracts over 5,000 visitors per day.
Shanghai's 400 year old Yu Gardens date back to the reign of Emperor Jia Jin in the Ming Dynasty.
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The Gardens of Versailles, or Jardins des Versailles, just outside of Paris, are quite possibly the most well known of any gardens worldwide. The gardens cover a good 800 hectares, much of it landscaped in the classic French Garden style. The gardens covers a huge area on the westside of the Palace of Versailles, and is largely unchanged for the last 300 years when it was designed. The palace and gardens are on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The Claude Monet Gardens, in Giverny are located around 80 kilometres from Paris on the "right bank" of the River Seine where the river Epte meets the Seine. Claude Monet moved to Giverny in 1883, where he started to create the gardens and ponds he wanted to paint. Monet lived in the house until his death in 1926.
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Holland's famous Keukenhof gardens are a showcase for the Dutch flower industry. It is the world's largest flower garden and if you are visiting the Netherlands between late March and mid-May and enjoy flowers, then this is an attraction you won't want to miss. Around 7 million bulbs are planted on an area of some 32 hectares. The gardens are located near the town of Lisse in South Holland. Although the history of the gardens goes back several hundred years, its current incarnation goes back to 1949 when it was set up to provide a place for Dutch flower growers to showcase their blooms to the world.
In Dumfries, Scotland, you'll find this concept garden dedicated to grand scientific and mathematical ideas rather than amazing floral displays. It's a private garden, but usually opens for one day during the year through Scotland's Open Garden scheme. You'll have to plan your visit well if you want to see this! More imagery of the garden can be found at Charles Jencks' website
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The Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island are a National Historic Site of Canada, renowned the world over for the stunning floral display. The gardens are open year round and are located at 800 Benvenuto Ave, Brentwood Bay.
The High Line in New York is a 2.5-kilometre-long part of the former elevated freight railroad of the West Side Line. Located along the lower west side of Manhattan, it has been redesigned and planted as a greenway. The original High Line was built in the early 1930's to prevent fatal accidents that occurred along street level and to offer direct warehouse-to-freight car service. It was in use until 1980. The new High Line opened up with the southernmost section as a city park on June 8, 2009. The "Lenape Edible Estate: Manhattan" officially opened to the public on Monday, September 14th and there were also festivities to mark the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Henry Hudson to the island of Manhattan.
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The raised gardens among the canals of Lake Xochimilco in Mexico date back to pre-Aztec times. This ancient form of agriculture, known as Chinampa, consists of small artificial islands built on shallow lakes. The gardens used to cover a far larger area, but were greatly reduced following the arrival of the Spanish in the 1500s.
Today, the canals and gardens of Xochimilco are a popular attraction for visitors to Mexico City. Colourful boats are for rent allowing a leisurely cruise along the canals.
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Sydney's Royal Botanic Gardens are established on the site of Australia's first farm. The gardens were set up back in 1816, making it the oldest scientific institution in the country. The National Herbarium of NSW is located inside the garden.
The garden is centrally located and a popular haven for visitors to Sydney. Entry is free.
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