Exploring gardens around the world makes the winter pass so much faster
By Emma Murphy, Master Gardener
I have the February blahs. Although I am absorbing each minute of our ever increasing daylight (when it’s not cloudy!), I’m craving lush greenery and blooms anywhere I can find them. I spent part of yesterday looking through some trip photos to Florida from 3 years ago where I visited just about every botanical garden and specialty garden I could find – it was heaven!
So..the solution..virtual garden tours! So many wonderful botanical and famous gardens have adapted to not being able to have guests by launching virtual tours or live broadcasts from their locations since the pandemic. Here’s a few of my favourites.
Time to travel around the world from your living room. (additional links at the end).
Keukenhof, The Netherlands
Built in 1641, the Keukenhof Castle (west of Amsterdam in the Netherlands) and estate is more than 200 hectares. In 1949 a group of 20 leading flower bulb growers and exporters decided to use the estate to exhibit spring-flowering bulbs. 2021 will be the 72th edition of Keukenhof, with A World Of Colours as its theme. Check out their virtual tours and the initial invitation by Managing Director Bart Siemerink in March 2020.
Claude Monet’s Garden, Giverny, France
Over 500,000 people visit painter Claude Monet’s famous gardens each year (so glad to be one of them in 2018!). There are two parts to the garden – the Clos Normand flower garden in front of the house and a Japanese inspired water garden on the other side of the road (where he completed his Water Lilies painting series). Enjoy a commentary alongside a video tour of the famous garden, including the wonderful lily pond. More info here.
National Trust’s Hidcote Manor Gardens, England
The National Trust site allows you to take a 360-degree tour around the old garden, plant house and spectacular red borders of these Arts and Crafts-inspired gardens in the rolling Cotswold hills in Gloucestershire.
Scotland’s Garden Scheme
One of my favourites. Established in 1931, it helps garden owners across the country open their private gardens to the public to raise money for charity. The properties range from cottage gardens to stately homes; allotments to therapeutic and physic gardens; and formal gardens to wildlife sanctuaries. There are more than 100 tours to look at here.
Australia’s Blue Mountains, New South Wales
Further afield in Australia’s Blue Mountains just outside Sydney, artist Trisk Oktober’s steep, cool temperate gardens in Katoomba are transformed into a living artwork. I visited the nearby Mount Tomah Botanic Gardens in 2010 and it was magical. It’s also the only botanic garden within a United Nations World Heritage Area.
Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, Hawaii
Located on Hawaii’s Big Island, the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden includes not only a garden but a nature preserve. If you need to zen out and feel like you are on a tropical island, this is the tour for you. And this one.
Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania, USA
Closer to home across the border is Longwood Gardens, consisting of 1,077 acres of gardens, woodlands, and meadows. It is the living legacy of American entrepreneur and businessman Pierre du Pont, inspiring people through excellence in garden design, horticulture, education, and the arts. The Our Gardens, Your Home initiative is their way of keeping gardeners connected.
There are so many more virtual garden tours going on around the world.
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Richmond, Virginia, USA
Gardens Illustrated‘s Virtual Garden Tour series
Gardens Illustrated has assembled a collection of some of the most amazing tours – everything from Chatsworth House (a 105-acre garden with 500 years of careful cultivation) to a Virtual Chelsea Flower Show.
Kew Gardens, London, England
On my bucket list when we can travel again, this video gives you some of the highlights to see. The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew has 37 acres of woodland, 14,000 trees and 50,000 different plant species.
Wisley Gardens, Surrey, England
The Royal Horticultural Society’s garden at Wisley in Surrey (south of London), is one of five gardens run by the Society, and top of my list of gardens to see. Check out their website, and also they have a great collection of videos on YouTube.
If you’ve found a great virtual garden tour please share it with all of us in the comments! Spring will be here soon!