7 Most Beautiful Botanical Gardens in the World

Updated: Jun 2

Gardens designed for the study of plants date back to as early as 340 B.C. Today, botanical gardens have a strong connection with science, conservation, and sustainability. Botanical gardens are not just for city dwellers to connect with green spaces. They also provide inspiration, education, and wonder for those who have their own garden at home. They provide visitors with a place to unwind and relax, while conveying information relating to the important scientific and environmental issues we face in the 21st century.

1. Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens, Tokyo, Japan

The daimyo and son of shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu, Tokugawa Yorifusa started to build the garden in 1629, and his son Tokugawa Mitsukuni finished it in 1669 with the help of the Chinese scholar Shu Shunsui. Koishikawa Korakuen Garden is located in Korakuen, Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo, and right next to the large leisure complex, Tokyo Dome. In keeping with the traditions of all Japanese gardens, Koishikawa Korakuen seeks to recreate famous landscapes depicting the country’s wonderful scenery. Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens is arguably the most beautiful Japanese landscape garden in Tokyo. With a rich history and subtle influences from China, the garden maintains an exquisite aesthetic appeal throughout the seasons. Koishikawa Korakuen Garden is a two-minute walk from Iidabashi Station on the Toei Oedo Line. The JR Chuo Line, Tokyo Metro Namboku Line, Yurakucho Line, and Tozai Line also stop at Iidabashi.

2. Ballarat Botanical Gardens, Victoria, Australia

Located on the western shore of Lake Wendouree, approximately four kilometers from Ballarat’s CBD, the Gardens are a popular and invaluable heritage and recreational location for residents and visitors. Today the gardens' fame comes from the begonia display and its extraordinary collection of 19th-century statues. Opened in 1857, the Ballarat Botanical garden is home to one of the most significant cool climate gardens in the country, as well as colourful bedding displays, a Victorian pleasure garden and a truly impressive collection of mature trees. However, it is the Victorian Pavilion that is bound to steal the show with it’s impressive dome and stunning sculptures within.

3. Llyod's Botanical Garden, Darjeeling, India

Lloyd's Botanical Garden was established in 1878 when 40 acres of land was acquired at Darjeeling to form a botanic garden as a distant annexe of the Calcutta Botanical Garden. The land was provided by William Lloyd, in whose name the botanical garden has been named. Lloyd’s Botanical Garden has preserved the native floral species of Darjeeling Himalayan hill region, Sikkim and its neighbouring regions. The collection of flora includes alpine plants, arum lilies, geraniums, ash, birch and lilac from China and Japan, in addition to cryptomerias, plums, cherries, magnolias and maples, weeping willows and deodars from Africa and Bulbon plants and cypress from the United States. The Cacti and Succulents section here is strikingly noticeable, with about 150 species on display. Another highlight of Lloyd's Botanical Garden is the pair of living fossils, which have been preserved here with utmost care.

4. Keukenhof Gardens, The Netherlands

Keukenhof is the world’s largest bulb-flower garden and boasts more than 800 varieties of tulips. Located in Lisse, Netherlands, Keukenhof, its name translates to “Kitchen Garden” in English and is also known as the Garden of Europe. The Gardens show a fantastic collection of: tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, orchids, roses, carnations, irises, lilies and many other flowers.

Every year the flower park is dedicated to a specific theme. The inspiration gardens, events and artworks are adjusted accordingly. Each year, Keukenhof is open only two months in spring to show off the best of Dutch tulips, crocuses, narcissus (daffodils), and other bulb flowers. Keukenhof is only open from March until May, so visiting times are very limited - check in advance for the exact dates, as this changes each year. The theme for 2021 is World of Colors. Just outside the park, you can rent bikes and ride around the numerous nearby tulip farms, which was our favorite part of the visit.

5. Jardins du Château de Versailles, France

The Gardens of Versailles occupy part of what was once the Domaine royal de Versailles, the royal demesne of the château of Versailles. Situated to the west of the palace, the gardens cover some 800 hectares of land. One cannot imagine a visit to Versailles without discovering the immense complex of parks, gardens, groves, caves and fountains, laid out from 1661 to 1700 by the master gardener Le Nôtre. You could spend days exploring the gardens, which range from the ordered lines and fountains to shady groves and extensive parkland. Throughout the gardens are decorative pools and flower beds. There is also a vegetable garden and L'Orangerie where Louis XIV kept orange, lemon, oleander, and pomegranate trees during the winter.

6. Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Cape Town, South Africa

Few gardens can match the sheer grandeur of the setting of Kirstenbosch. The land on which it sits was bequeathed to the government by Cecil John Rhodes. At that time, it was nothing more than ramshackle farmland overrun with pigs. In 1913 a botanist, Harold Pearson set about transforming the land into a botanic garden. Harold was devoted to the country’s indigenous flora. I

The garden now contains over 7000 species of plants from southern Africa. It includes such beautiful flowering plants as the protea and heather, an enormous number of flowering bulbs, and immense cycads. Conservatories house plants from all climatic regions. Three herbaria, with a total of about 300,000 specimens, are retained at Kirstenbosch. The 528-hectare Kirstenbosch Estate falls under the Cape Floristic Region, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

7. San Francisco Botanical Garden, California, USA

San Francisco Botanical Garden first began during the 1890s through the vision of park supervisor, John McLaren. Since money wore thin at that time for the construction of such an attraction, the actual assembly of the dream did not begin until 1926. Through the generosity of Helene Strybing, the funds were made available for the garden to take shape and flourish. By 1937, planting of the grounds took place after a supply of local donations was acquired. Three years later, the arboretum was fit for visitation, and opened to the public in May of 1940.

San Francisco Botanical Garden is located in Golden Gate Park, near the corner of Ninth Avenue and Lincoln Way. Amongst the highlights of the speciality collection are a succulent garden, a garden showcasing ancient plants, a dwarf conifer garden, a fragrant garden, and a dry Mexican garden. Scattered throughout the garden’s 55 acres are stones from William Randolf Hearst’s great folly: A 12th century monastery he had exported at great expense from Spain in 1930, then was forced to abandon when his great wealth failed him. The stone courtyard near the 9th Avenue entrance is constructed entirely from these stones.

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