A garden is one place that calls us to rest, to spend time alone, getting back to ourselves as much as to the earth. But it is just as much a sanctuary to share with a fellow garden lover, or simply a lover in a garden.
They are not merely an invitation to escape, but a show of their owners’ love for the environment and belief in the powers of being closer to the heart of nature. With all their different styles, influences, perfumes, sights and sounds, here are ten of our favourite gardens from around the world.
1. Rancho Valencia - California Dreamin’
Where: Rancho Valencia is located near the beaches of La Jolla and Del Mar, in Santa Fe, California in the United States.
For Garden Lovers: Set among 45 acres of gardens and olive groves, Brazilian and California pepper trees welcome you to the resort, while a large Rusty Fig tree stands tall in the front circle. Inside, lush beds of agapanthus, hibiscus and geraniums line green lawns. Wildflowers and honeysuckle abound, along with shrubs, like the purple lantana mixed with dark purple sage, Mexican marigolds, rockrose, lion’s tail and the monkey flower. Rest in the Fountain Courtyard, with its bougainvillea or amble past trumpet flower vines (the hummingbirds’ favourite) and to the spring-fed stream that flows over a large volcanic rock, while red tail hawks and mourning doves sing nearby.
2. Las Mañanitas - Away With the Birds
Where: Las Mañanitas Hotel Garden Restaurant & Spa is set in the centre of Cuernavaca, called the “city of eternal spring,” because of its warm and sunny climate, in Mexico.
For Garden Lovers: Among sculptures by Francisco Zúñiga and lush flowers in the gardens at this authentic Mexican hacienda, elegant peacocks strut about and blue parrots perch in the tree, along with other exotic birds like cranes and flamingos.
3. Casa Velha do Palheiro - Island Gardens
Where: Casa Velha do Palheiro sits in the hills above the city of Funchal, on the island of Madeira, Portugal.
For Garden Lovers: Casa Velha do Palheiro is surrounded by the beautiful Palheiro gardens and hundred-year-old trees. Unwind surrounded by all the scents and sounds of nature or walk the levadas (irrigation channels) in the foothills above the estate, with unobstructed views of the countryside.
4. Gravetye Manor - Au Naturel
Where: Lying near East Grinstead, West Sussex, England, the beautiful Elizabethan Gravetye Manor is both close to the pleasures of London but far away enough to provide a quiet country retreat.
For Garden Lovers: The former home of landscape gardener, William Robinson, and now a hotel and restaurant, Gravetye Manor, sits among winding pathways and abundant flower beds in the English natural and wild gardens that Robinson, the father of the English natural garden, created. With Tom Coward as Head Gardener presently, the focus is on conserving and re-creating Robinson's vision while still embracing his penchant for experimentation. There are many other significant gardens close by, for garden lovers to explore.
5. Le Mas Candille - France for Treelovers
Where: On the hillside above Cannes, France, Le Mas Candille, has spectacular views of the foothills of the Alps.
For Garden Lovers: A Former olive grove of the 18th century, Le Mas Candille has retained the richness of its original flora enriched with more than 200 varieties of Mediterranean plant. Stroll, meditate and unwind in the private, shady grounds, spending time with the olive trees, carob trees, hibiscus, palm trees, papyrus, orange trees, jasmine and tall cypress trees.
6. Le Chalet de la Forêt - The Edible Garden
Where: Le Chalet de la Forêt is on the edge of the beautiful Sonian forest in Brussels, Belgium.
For Garden Lovers: According to Chef Pascal Devalkeneer, the hotel’s architectural vegetable garden gives pride of place to the flavour and beauty of fresh products and invites guests to awaken their senses while exploring the harmony created here, between nature and man. Before tasting the produce for themselves, on the restaurant’s garden terrace, of course.
7. Park Weggis - Zen in the Alps
Where: Park Weggis lies in the middle of the beautiful Swiss Alps, on the banks of Lake Lucerne, in Switzerland.
For Garden Lovers: Park Weggis' vast paradisiac Japanese garden with its ancient Bonsai trees forms part of a greater wellness experience as it surrounds six exotic wood and natural stone cottages that serve as individual spas where guests can enjoy baths, saunas and treatments in peace and privacy.
8. Castello di Guarene - Evergreen in Italy
For Garden Lovers: The gardens here were designed in the style of 18th century Italy and laid out according to Count Carlo Giacinto Roero di Guarene’s design by the master gardener at Castello di Govone. Picture hornbeam espaliers, yew trees shaped into pinnacles, and cypresses. On the side of the palace, overlooking the Tanaro valley and Barbaresco, lies another formal garden, “Maneggio” (Intrigue), with its low hornbeam hedges that mark out flowerbeds of various geometric shapes.
9. Delaire Graff - Between the Vines
Where: Delaire Graff rests on the slopes of the magnificent Stellenbosch mountains in the Cape Winelands of South Africa.
For Garden Lovers: Delaire Graff is a botanical paradise with gardens in bloom 365 days a year and a haven of indigenous and naturalised exotic plants within an innovative design. Take leisurely walks along secluded pathways, past water features, Cape Dutch-inspired rills, reflective pools and exquisite sculptures, with views all the way to Cape Town.
10. Otahuna Lodge - Vegetables and Volcanoes
Where: A 19th century Victorian estate, Otahuna Lodge sits between the Pacific Ocean and an extinct volcano, on the South Island of New Zealand, near Christchurch.
For Garden Lovers: The 118-year old gardens of Otahuna (Maori for “little hill among the hills”) were laid out and cultivated under the direction of A. E. Lowe, who trained at Kew Gardens, London. During your visit, take in vistas over the Canterbury Plains and the Banks Peninsula, listen to the songs of native bellbirds, and discover lawns, hidden glades, ponds, a formal parterre and woodland trails, and more than 120 different kinds of organic fruits, vegetables, nuts and mushrooms and rare horticultural species in the gardens maintained organically with homemade compost. You can even join the chef in picking vegetables for dinner.