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Ten Fascinating European Gardens

January 6th, 2010

european-garden-destinations.jpgThe art of gardening was perfected in Europe over many centuries. From the seventeenth century onward, many gardens showcased the fabulous plants that explorers brought back from around the world. Landscape architects created outdoor worlds for aristocratic clients. Many have survived and are open for everyone to enjoy. Here is a selection of ten European gardens that are a delight to visit for gardeners and nature lovers.

Sissinghurst, England

Vita Sackville-West, close friend of Virginia Woolf, created these gardens in the grounds of the ruined Elizabethan castle of Sissinghurst in Kent. It was designed as a series of different ‘rooms’, the most famous being the ‘White Garden’, which launched a new approach to garden design.

Dessau Worlitz, Germany

The creation of a German prince in the late eighteenth century, Dessau Worlitz covers 300 acres and offers spectacular vistas. Inspired by English gardens, it is a world of lakes, forests, and flowers that once featured a miniature working volcano, now sadly extinct.

Giverny, France

Monet’s water garden at Giverny was the setting for his famous water-lily paintings. He took inspiration for the design of the garden from Japanese art. It includes a Japanese garden. As with impressionist painting, the garden is a riot of color that appears spontaneous but is subtly controlled.

The Lost Gardens of Heligan, England

The gardens in the old family home of the Tremayne family in Cornwall have been restored in Victorian style to become one of the region’s best-loved attractions after decades of neglect. The gardens date back to the eighteenth century but fell into decay in the twentieth century. Features include a crystal grotto, an Italian garden, and a fully functioning Victorian kitchen garden.

Alhambra Gardens, Spain

The Alhambra Palace, Granada, was a Moorish fortress built in the 9th century AD, now visited for its elaborate gardens, replete with water features and the singing of nightingales. It retains traces of its Moorish origins as well as later additions, including an elm forest planted by the Duke of Wellington.

Villa d’Este, Italy

Located at Tivoli, near Rome the Villa d’Este is a spectacular example of a late Renaissance garden and has been given World Heritage site status. The terraced garden makes extensive and playful use of scores of fountains and ponds.

Ninfa, Italy

Also near Rome, Ninfa is one of the most romantic gardens in Europe. Fragrant flowers and lush vegetation cover the walls of ruined medieval houses and churches. Cypresses mark the route of ancient streets. Visits are by special appointment – well worth it since the beauty and atmosphere of this garden are unforgettable.

Versailles, France

The gardens of the Palace of Versailles are perhaps the world’s most famous gardens, covering 800 hectares. The design is classical French, and the gardens were first laid out in the 1630s for King Louis XIII. They were much changed over the years by subsequent kings. Avenues, orangeries, terraces, fountains and elaborate sculpture, all applied on a huge scale, make this garden unique.

Palais Het Loo, the Netherlands

Along with the tulips of Keukenhof, Het Loo is one of Holland’s top attractions for gardeners. The formal, baroque gardens planted in the 17th century for William and Mary have been carefully restored and hailed as Holland’s equivalent of Versailles.

Annevoie, Belgium

Bordering the river Meuse, the gardens in the palace at Annevoie were designed in the mid-eighteenth century and fuse influences from Italian, French, and English gardens of the time. Twenty ornamental ponds fed by local spring water (channelled through steel-banded wooden pipes!) and a secret grotto are highlights of this tranquil garden.


This article on European gardens was supplied to us by “Solo” from Constant Content.


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