International TravelThings I Love

FAVORITE GARDENS

 

What advance planning do you do prior to actually arriving at your vacation destination?   Do you research museums, theater, restaurants, zoos??  Well, one of the great pleasures and surprises I’ve been fortunate to experience in a lot of different places are some truly great gardens … 

Yep, you certain readers … and I could probably guess who you are … don’t roll your eyes just yet.  Even the hubby, who has less-than-zero interest in my particular passion (I’m known as “gardener girl” at home) has willingly gone right along with me and, I dare say, enjoyed himself!  But I’m not talking about some miniscule square yardage … I’m talking about some dedicated and serious plots of land.

The biggest surprise in discovering some of these great treasures is the luck of being somewhere at just the right time of year.  Even the best laid plan to see fall color at the exact right moment is challenging, and, in all the trips I’ve made to D.C. (25+), I’ve yet to see a single cherry blossom!   But let me recount a few unbelievable experiences …

 

 

 

Not all photos are mine but these are!

1.  Without a doubt, Keukenhof — about an hour outside of Amsterdam — was not only a trip highlight but a life experience.  I’d like to tell you I was smart enough to plan the trip around this visit but the truth is my big vacation is always mid-April to early May, and Keukenhof is ONLY open from mid-March to mid-May.  Many people know this truth about tulips, that they originated NOT in Holland but in Turkey during the Ottoman Empire!  Yep, that is a fact.  At Keukenhof each fall, a huge team of gardeners plant 7 million tulip, daffodil and hyacinth bulbs spread out over 80 acres to be enjoyed during the spring months, and of course the planting must be staggered so that the flowers don’t all bloom at once.  This site is worth planning a trip around. 

 

2Butchart Gardens, located on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, was the home of a very successful cement manufacturer whose wife lovingly created the garden “rooms” that exist today.  A Japanese garden, Italian garden, and rose garden are part of what Jennie Butchart created from her world travels.  What is unique about this destination is the year-around appeal.  There is always plenty to see and it has remained a family business for over 100 years.

And these are too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3Powerscourt, located in County Wicklow, Ireland, could almost be a “suburb” of Dublin — within an hour’s drive at most.  This visit could only be described as “luck of the Irish” as the day had been consistently raining until we arrived … then blue skies and sun.  What is so striking about this once-historic castle and multiple garden rooms (and now an adjacent and gorgeous Ritz Carlton Resort with golf course) is the sheer vista from the top looking down.  Nothing short of magical.  A shout out to my bro-in-law who said Powerscourt was a must-see for us on this particular trip in 2011.

Well, not this one …

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 Giverny … going way back into the travel archives, I was fortunate enough to visit this gorgeous site way before I started getting my hands full of dirt at home — on my honeymoon in 1986.  Of course this is the longtime home (and final resting place) of the brilliant Impressionist painter Claude Monet.  Serene, scenic, and full of breathtaking views, this is certainly worth the trek from Paris — round-trip tours are offered and one could throw in Versailles as a two-fer with some brilliant gardens there as well …

I‘ll discuss locations on my wish list in a future blog entry and maybe a few others previously visited!