Visiting the World's Best Gardens

I start. Suddenly I’m awake in my bed in the middle of the night feeling worried, trapped, I was dreaming of being stuck in a train below a city flowing over with people. I get up and shuffling my bare feet along the floor boards and make my way towards the window, I raise it and climb out. My bare feet touch the grass and soil and I wriggle my toes. Calm descends and I breathe out, realising I’ve been holding my breath.

Gardens are like sanctuaries to me, areas of quiet green refuge, of dappled lighting and the fresh growing smells of the earth. I’ve mentally strewn different gardens with positive attributes all my life so that when I need a pick up I can get something back from the soil and the green, juicy textures of the leaves and the grass.

However you don’t have to have any romantic notions of old magic to find yourself re-energised by a garden, yours or someone else's, they’re like banks almost. Gardens like Monet’s Giverny Garden or the Garden of the Master of the Nets in China have been created and tended with so much love that it doesn’t take a very open mind to imagine that the ground is filled with nutritious good will. Lots of people find happiness in their own garden, but don’t look farther a field to famous gardens and see them in the same light. If that is you I encourage you to remember all the joy and love you put in and see that though much grander, gardens like those of Versailles and Generalife have whole teams working to keep them looking beautiful they are still in essence the same – places where you can see the flourishing of your toil and care. For me that is why they’re so life affirming.

When I consider things from the perspective of my plants I think living in one of these grand old gardens would be like living in luxury, constantly kept and fed and treated with the upmost care, and all that’s expected in return is what plants give naturally, their blooms and fragrances. I stroll the carefully designed pathways, listening to the twinkling sounds created by water features and admire the beds carefully arranged to soothe my soul and make me smile and I’m grateful to the architects and gardeners, appreciative. And it’s nice to think also that people have been strolling the same grounds admiring the same views for many many years. I’m not really what you’d call and outdoor type, I appreciate the beautiful blend of human hand and nature working together.

From a purely practical perspective a garden is one of the easiest places in the world to visit and get something out of. Simplicity itself. You wander, you look, you touch, you smell, at worst you’re told to keep off the grass, at best you’re welcome to roll on it and take a nap sprawled on it. You don’t need to know the names of the plants to admire their colours or scents or texture and you don’t need a camera to remember how it feels. A lot of the worlds great cities were built around great gardens so you may be surprised to find how easily you can find one to while away whole afternoons in just re-charging your batteries amongst the oxygen producing greenery, life producing soil and life force producing magic.

Related categories: Gardens

Experts in Gardens:  Donna Dawson,  Marty Wingate,  Steven Desmond,  Tony Sissons,  Kent Ross,  Tom Turner,  James Alexander-Sinclair,  Veronica Sliva,  Ted Harper,  Emile Harridan

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