The Gardens of Europe
By: Mike Jerrard
While we may not necessarily think of wild and rugged wilderness within Europe’s finest cities, there is a way to escape the busy tourist hot spots and get a breath of fresh air. Europe is home to incredible Botanic Gardens most notably the largest in the world when it comes to collection size and diversity with London’s Kew Gardens. So next time you head to Europe be sure to take in the beautiful natural sights within the cities.
When one thinks of London, they may think of high end shopping, West End shows, and red phone booths. There is however a magical lush paradise as beautiful as the Duchess of Cambridge herself. Kew Gardens makes all other botanical gardens seem as though they were simple residential backyard gardens. It has by far the largest collection of plants, with totals surpassing the 30,000 level. Its herbarium used for scientific research and reference boasts over 7 million specimens. Add to this an extensive library of flora based books and prints and you truly have an arc showcasing some of the worlds most amazing plants.
It’s no wonder Kew has become recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site with its extensive array of beautiful plants, full size trees, and specimens such as the gigantic Victoria amazonica waterlily. Added to this is a magnificent 60 foot treetop walkway where you can get a bird’s eye view of all the beauty.
Even for those who may not be fond of plants, there are beautiful examples of architecture such as a Japanese pagoda and Kew Palace to name a few. Kew Palace is a British Royal Place that put up with the “madness of King George” and where Prince Charles hosted a dinner in celebration of the Queen’s 80th birthday. Nowadays it is open to the public and a visit is included with your gardens entrance fee.
There are also galleries, cafes, and wonderful events such as open air movies in the summer. Wildlife too is abundant with badgers, foxes, peacocks, deer, and even dolphins via the River Thames being spotted.
There are 4 public gates making entering the gardens an easy task and at around £15 for entry it is a steal. The gardens are open daily except for Christmas Eve and Day with hours of 10-4 during the winter and 10-6/7 in the summer months.
A camera is a must for this incredible place which will easily fill a day or more. Be sure to check out their website at www.kew.org for more detailed information.
Orto botanico di padova: Photo by: Shaun Merritt
Less than an hour from the legendary canals of Venice you’ll find the world’s first botanic garden founded in 1545. Botanic science was born here and its contributions to all areas of science over the centuries is unrivaled. It has stayed true to its original design making for an incredibly unique and authentic experience.
Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid: Photo by: Manuel
It definitely is no easy task when it comes to maintaining and managing a beautiful botanic garden. This is clearly evident with the Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid. Founded in 1755, it has survived abandonment during the Spanish War for Independence, cyclone damage, loss of acreage, and neglect. It was at one point closed to the public for nearly 7 years in order for it to be brought back to life and become a beautiful gem in Spain.
Other Notable Gardens in Europe
Belgium- Laeken Royal Greenhouses: Must visit in Spring as they are only open to visitors for three weeks each season.
France- Monet’s Gardens: Located in Giverny about a little over an hour’s drive from Paris one can visit the home and magical gardens that were painted by one our greatest painters of all time.
Germany- Berlin – Dahlem Botanical Garden: A massive and beautifully landscaped garden with many pavilions including the well known Great Pavilion
So head to Europe with these Europe Tour Packages and don’t forget to check out the wilder side it has to offer.