A fresh breath of air in any environment, gardens are an essential part of the local landscape. Whether left to run riot and wild, or landscaped to perfection, gardens around the world serve the same function – to return us, if only for a moment, to a place of paradise. Here are my top five favourite gardens from around the world.
Majorelle Gardens, Marrakech, Morocco
Owned by the designer Yves Saint Laurent, this oasis of a garden is filled with gorgeous succulents, all set off by a distinct shade of Majorelle blue. There are trickling fountains, cacti and flitting birds – a perfectly peaceful spot amidst the madness of Marrakech. There’s also a cafe on the grounds, which caters for tired travelers.
Rodin’s Garden, Paris, France
Attached to the Musee Rodin in Paris is a three hectare landscaped garden, containing some of Rodin’s favourite works. The garden is split into distinct sections and themes – there is a Garden of Orpheus, and the water themed Garden of Springs. Most of Rodin’s bronze works still stand in the garden, but his marbles have been moved indoors into a gallery, to protect them from the elements. Not well-known on the Paris tourist circuit, Rodin’s Museum and gardens are quiet, and remains one of my favourite Parisien stops.
Gardens of Versailles, Versailles, France
What was it about the French and their gardens? The most famous French landscape is probably the gardens of Versailles, laid out by the designer André Le Nôtre during the 17th century. The Sun King and his court reputedly frolicked regularly in the 100 hectares of demure flower beds, contemplated quietly in corners filled with statuary, rowed on the ornamental lakes and held extravagant parties by the dancing fountains.
Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh, Scotland
I first visited these gardens on a crisp spring day and the daffodils were just blooming. It was marvelous to see the slopes carpeted by pale cream flowers, some a brighter canary yellow with golden hearts, nodding their heads in the breeze. The gardens were created in the late 18th century and occupy what was once the Nor Loch, Edinburgh’s now drained lake.
Villa d’Este, Tivoli, Italy
Located in the grounds of an old monastery, the Villa d’Este used to be the personal home of Cardinal Ippolito II during the 16th century. Water features are the defining trait here, filling the air with the tranquil sound of moving water. The fountains employ Roman techniques of water hydraulics to great effect. The result is a lush fantasy of a garden, with classical statuary interspersed amongst the greenery.
This post brought to you by A-Word-A-Week Challenge from A Word in Your Ear. Every week, Skinnywench will dip into her old Oxford English dictionary, and pick a random word to blog about – either a picture or a story that best captures the meaning of that word. This week’s word: “Garden.”