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Great Botanical Gardens of the World

<center>Great Botanical Gardens of the World</center>

SANBI/Adam Harrower

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
Western Cape, South Africa

Lay of the Land: An 89-acre spread in the eastern slopes of Cape Town's Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch is remarkable not only aesthetically but historically. Founded in 1913, this is the first national botanical garden established for the express purpose of local flora conservation, and even now, almost all the species therein are indigenous. Perhaps most famous is the garden's trademark Crane Flower, a yellow version of which is named Mandela's Gold.

Don't Miss: A picnic on the premises. Stay at the nearby Cape Grace, a legend in its own right, and avail yourself of the hotel's Build-a-Basket service: copious delicacies will be packed and dispatched (with you) in a chauffeur-driven BMW to Kirstenbosch's protea enclave (or the section of your choosing).

More Info: Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden.

Read the Great Botanical Gardens of the World article.

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Travelshots.com / Alamy

Byodoin
Kyoto, Japan

Lay of the Land: On what was once a country estate on the outskirts of Kyoto, this 4.9-acre garden is now (as of 1994) on UNESCO's World Heritage list. An 11th-century temple complex created for the worship of Buddha Amida, Byodoin blends Chinese- and Japanese-style pavilions, a pond, and a circuit of bridges. One of only five remaining major Pure Land gardens in Japan ("Pure Land" translating roughly to "Paradise"), the wisteria- and weeping-cherry-filled oasis bears a fitting resemblance to heaven on earth.

Don't Miss: Amida Hall, as reflected in Ajika Pond, where the former appears to be floating.

More Info: Japan Guide.

Read our full Great Botanical Gardens of the World article.

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Jardin botanique de MontrÃal

Jardin Botanique de Montreal
Quebec, Canada

Lay of the Land: Established in 1931, this 185-acre garden has adapted admirably to the Quebecois winter. As formidable as the outdoor offerings are—particularly the 7,000-species arboretum—the indoor displays are equally compelling. The Insectarium, with its 160,000 live and preserved specimens, is a favorite—even among those who are bug-averse at home. The standout resident, and the collection's mascot, is the monarch butterfly. Another crowd-pleaser: the First Nations Garden, in which Native guides lead guests through displays on—among other subjects—traditional cultivation of corn, squash, beans, sunflowers, and tobacco.

Don't Miss: The Dream Lake Garden. The largest of its kind outside Asia, this attraction took 48 visiting Chinese craftspeople six months to complete. The result recalls the private (and clearly, exquisite) Ming-era gardens of the southern Yangtze region, and houses a 280-specimen collection of penjing, the Chinese answer to bonsai.

More Info: Jardin Botanique de Montreal.

Read our full Great Botanical Gardens of the World article.

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Courtesy of Orient-Express Hotels

Reid's Palace
Madeira

Lay of the Land: Rare is the hotel where the gardens are as legendary as the lodgings. But this seaside spread, established in 1891 by wine baron William Reid and since acquired by Orient-Express, defies the norm—and reinforces Madeira's reputation as the Garden of the Atlantic. Set atop a cliff that overlooks the Bay of Funchal and the Atlantic, the Palace is surrounded by 10 acres of semitropical jardims, where Winston Churchill reportedly contemplated his memoirs and George Bernard Shaw learned to tango. The hilly grounds—veined with stone paths and generously endowed with wooden benches—pack flowering trees from Brazil, China, Australia, and Japan, as well as hibiscus, mimosa, wisteria, and particularly brazen bougainvillea.

Don't Miss: The open-air tango lessons—held every Saturday in the cocktail bar—a tradition in memory of the man who first took them on the lawn. Never mind that he was an Irish playwright learning an Argentine dance on a Portuguese island off the coast of Africa. Somehow, it feels right.

More Info: Reid's Palace.

Read our full Great Botanical Gardens of the World article.

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Courtesy of www.givernews.com

Claude Monet Foundation at Giverny
Normandy , France

Lay of the Land: If you've taken Art History 101 , set foot in any Impressionist exhibition, or—for that matter—browsed in a greeting card store, you know from Monet's water lilies. But no matter how many times you've seen them, there's no preparing for the living painting that is Giverny—particularly the Nymphéas-filled pond and wisteria-draped Japanese bridge. Created in the 1880's and 90's, and inspired largely by Monet's fascination with Japanese pastoral prints, this two-and-a-half-acre estate is where the artist lived, painted, and gardened until his death in 1926.

Don't Miss: The flower garden. The half of Giverny that's not the Water Garden, this is a different sort of spectacle: a gorgeous chaos of color, anchored by the surprisingly gorgeous resident nasturtiums.

More Info: The Claude Monet Foundation at Giverny.

Read our full Great Botanical Gardens of the World article.

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Courtesy of Seychelles Botanical Gardens

Seychelles National Botanical Gardens
Mahé, Seychelles

Lay of the Land: From the moment you pass through immigration in the Seychelles, you sense you're someplace that doesn't take botany lightly. The coco de mer—the national tree, emblematized by its seed—is stamped in your passport, on your currency, and more or less everywhere else. So when you spot this rare, towering palm in the 15-acre, 107-year-old National Botanical Gardens, you feel like you've run into a celebrity. The members of its entourage: cabbage palms, walking palms, and Latanier Hauban palms (bearer of eight-foot leaves), and an endless assortment of tropical flowers. But however impressive the plants, they're rivaled by their backdrop: a range of jungle-smothered mountains.

Don't Miss: The local fauna. The overhead variety—particularly the Seychelles sunbird, the Seychelles kestrel, and the flying fox (a bat, actually)—warrants the patient scanning of treetops.

More Info: Seychelles National Botanical Gardens.

Read our full Great Botanical Gardens of the World article.

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Courtesy of Biltmore Estates

Biltmore Estate
Asheville, North Carolina

Lay of the Land: When the American Horticultural Society announced its 2008 Asheville travel plans, the trip sold out within just a few weeks. The draw?The tour's highlight, the Biltmore Estate, built at the turn of the 20th century by George Washington Vanderbilt III, who—appropriately enough—hired the so-called founding father of U.S. landscape architecture, Frederick Law Olmsted, to design the grounds. Today, the estate's 8,000 acres encompass an Italian garden, a rose garden, an English walled garden, and an (especially southern) Azalea Garden with more than 1,000 plants.

Don't Miss: The estate's 250-room castle—the nation's largest private residence, designed by Richard Morris Hunt and opened in 1895—where you can tour a small fraction of the elaborately, gorgeously decorated rooms.

More Info: Biltmore Estate.

Read our full Great Botanical Gardens of the World article.

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Courtesy of Tohono Chul

Tohono Chul Park
Tucson, Arizona

Lay of the Land: Single-handedly correcting the widespread misconception of desert flora (most people picture some version of the Looney Tunes Road Runner backdrop), Tohono Chul is a 49-acre study in color and variety. From the Hummingbird Garden's indigenous salvia and honeysuckle (where the namesake denizens like to convene) to the flowering desert ironwood trees that stand outside the property's 1937 adobe house, life abounds—and in some instances, serves a higher-than-ornamental purpose: plants used medicinally and ceremonially by the Tohono O'odham people (from whom the park derives its name) make up the ethno-botanical garden.

Don't Miss: The Tea Room's fountained patio, a shady vantage point from which to contemplate all the above—ideally with a scrumptious tomato, basil, and fontina sandwich in hand.

More Info: Tohono Chul Park.

Read our full Great Botanical Gardens of the World article.

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Travelshots.com / Alamy

Andromeda Botanical Gardens
St. Joseph, Barbados

Lay of the Land: Set along a stream, embellished with ponds and waterfalls, and overlooking the Atlantic, this six-acre enclave has amassed one of the Caribbean's best collections of indigenous and imported tropical plants since horticulturist Iris Bannochie began her work here in 1954. Among the beloved, familiar faces (heliconia, ginger, hibiscus, bougainvillea) are also some nice surprises, many in the form of cacti. Also of note: the final pergola, where the jade vines and hanging turquoise blossoms create a truly grand exit.

Don't Miss: The massive, native bearded fig tree for which the Portuguese reputedly named the islands ("Los Barbados" translates to "the bearded ones").

More Info: Andromeda Botanical Gardens.

Read our full Great Botanical Gardens of the World article.

See the slideshow: Great Botanical Gardens of the World

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