At the risk of sounding terribly middle-aged, we love a good garden. But where can you find the best (apart from at Monty Don's house, obviously)? Lucky for you, we've dug up (sorry) a list of some of our very favourites gardens from around the world...
Babylonstoren, South Africa
What happens when you combine one of the most beautiful colonial era farms in Africa (big claim) with a 17th century philosophical approach to perennials? Well, if you're the owners of Babylonstoren, in South Africa's Cape Winelands, you get 600+ acres of beautifully designed gardens, vineyards, orchards and groves. These are full of grapes, pears, plums, lemons, oranges, olives and mandarins, which go on to be cooked up in the estate's restaurant, Babel, or turned into their delicious wine.
Jardin Majorelle, Morocco
Sticking with gardens in Africa, Marrakech's Jardin Majorelle is one of the most visited spots in Morocco. It isn't hard to see why. The two-and-a-half acre garden is an oasis of calm away from the hurly-burly of Marrakech, and was designed by Jacques Majorelle (creator if the iconic Majorelle blue) to reflect the Islamic ideals of Paradise. This means soothing squares which flow between carefully placed plants and trickling fountains, with a background of birdsong, all in garishly glorious co-ordinated colours, naturally.
Strawberry Hill, Jamaica
This Caribbean hideaway is so-called because its 18th century owner, the Earl of Orford, discovered the land on his plantation was perfect for growing his favourite strawberries (confusingly the plantation also shares a name with said owner's London pad, Strawberry Hill in Twickenham). Over the intervening 200-odd years, Strawberry Hill and its 26-acre garden have cultivated an eclectic mix of guests, from Admiral Nelson to Bob Marley, and today guests can wander the stone paths lined with expertly cultivated plants, including avocados, mangoes and star apples.
Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens, Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka's Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens are home to one of the most spectacular collections of orchids in the world, including the largest known orchid species, the tiger orchid. Away from the orchid house, the 200-plus days of rain every year keep the gardens lush and blooming, and plant-lovers of all varieties are bound to find something to get excited about among the 4,000 species.
Gardens by the Bay, Singapore
City gardens are some of our favourite - they are the lungs of the city (think Hampstead Heath and Central Park) - and none more so the Singapore's Gardens by the Bay. Space is at a premium in a city as built up as Singapore so the team behind the gardens reclaimed land from its bay to build three blooming beautiful bay gardens. Thanks to the city state's international aspect, and the extraordinary team behind the gardens, plants from all over the world flourish right on the water's edge - perfect for an afternoon wandering between flights, or as part of a longer stay.
There's nothing quite so romantic as an English country garden, except for an English country garden in Italy that is. Designed around the ruins of an abandoned Italian town south of Rome, Ninfa is an atmospheric oasis with climbing roses draping the walls of crumbling churches and a manmade lake beside the citadel which has created a micro-climate for temperate plants to flourish.
Ryoan-ji Temple, Japan
Gardens are places of peace and contemplation and nowhere more so than in Japan where babbling brooks and perfectly pruned plants create a tranquil respite from the frenzied pace of modern life. One of our favourite (and one of the world's most famous) Japanese Zen Gardens is Ryoan-ji Temple, located close to the iconic Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion) in northwest Kyoto. Championing serene simplicity, the highlight here is a collection of 15 rocks juxtaposed against a sea of pure white sand which is utterly magical.
Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, South Africa
Set against the eastern slopes of Cape Town's Table Mountain, few gardens match the grandeur of Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. Beginning life as ramshackle farmlands, the transformation of the land into a gorgeous garden filled with the country's indigenous flora began in 1913 under the direction of the botanist Harold Pearson. Now, the site contains over 7,000 species of plants, a treetop canopy walkway and a cycad amphitheatre dotted with life-sized dinosaur sculptures - perfect for a family day out with Jurassic Park-loving youngsters in tow.
The High Line, USA
When it comes to sheer ingenuity, it doesn't get much better than The High Line in New York City, a public park come pathway built along a historic freight rail line. Suspended above some of the busiest streets on the planet in Manhattan's West Side, this is a true oasis of greenery in a concrete jungle. Wandering along the whimsical walkway, you'll find perennials, grasses, shrubs, and trees that were all hand picked for their hardiness, sustainability, and ever-changing textures and colours through the seasons.
The Lost Gardens of Heligan, England
The Sleeping Beauty of gardens, The Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall, is a remarkable estate which was lost to the brambles since the outbreak of WWI and re-awakened in 1990 to become one of Europe's largest garden restoration projects. Covering over 200 acres, the gardens encompass Victorian pleasure grounds, winding paths, higgledy-piggledy greenhouses and ancient woodlands that were reclaimed from nature and brought back to life; a true secret garden.