April showers bring May flowers, and all that poetry, but botanical gardens grow year round. So who needs those aforementioned April showers? Still, spring flowers create a multi-colored spectacle when they wake up from their winter slumber, stretching into the warm rays of the sun, which is why you can find botanical gardens listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, whether you’re in in rural areas, cities, or even in a posh casino in Las Vegas. So check out these unique, historic, and downright fun botanical gardens to visit.
The Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, was founded in 1759 and has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2003. It has an extensive collection of living and preserved plants and fungi, which it utilizes for scientific research. In spring it welcomes snowdrops, crocuses, daffodils, bluebells, and a cherry walk, and don’t miss the Kew Lates at the Prince of Wales Conservatory with activities, talks, and cocktails.
Built in the 11th century with Chinese and Japanese influences, The Byodoin in Kyoto, Japan, has been an the UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1994 and boasts a 4.9-acre garden that accents this historical treasure with wisteria and cherry trees. With lovely bridges, a serene pond, and breathtaking architecture, the site is truly one of the five remaining “Pure Land” or paradises in Japan.
Asheville, North Carolina might seem like an unlikely site for one of the world’s best botanical gardens, but the Biltmore Estate has more than 8,000 acres of manicured lawns that were designed by America’s foremost landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted. Amble on 2.5 miles of paths through the Italian garden, Rose Garden, Walled Garden, the Azalea Garden with more than 1,000 planets, Spring Garden, Conservatory, and the first managed forest. The estate itself is the nation’s largest private residence, a 250-room chateau.
The six-acre Andromeda Botanical Gardens in Barbados originated in 1954 at the parish of St. Joseph and were maintained by Iris Bannochie, a local horticulturist. The gardens cultivate several varieties of orchids, palms, ferns, heliconia, hibiscus, bougainvillea, begonias, and cacti, which nestle along gentle streams, beautiful pools, and breathtaking waterfalls. Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, this is quite a garden to behold.
Jardin Botanique de Montreal is a contender for one of the best botanical gardens, not just for its lovely outdoor displays, which survive even the harsh Canadian winters, or the indoor gardens, but also for its Insectarium with more than 160,000 live and preserved specimens. Canada also pays homage to its natives with the First Nations Garden with cultivation of corn, squash, beans, sunflowers, and tobacco. Also nearby is a biodome with breathtaking ecosystems, including a tropical rainforest and sub-polar region.
Though this isn’t the largest botanical garden by far, the Bellagio’s Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Las Vegas remain stunningly beautiful throughout the year with more than 140 expert horticulturists on staff who arrange flowers and plants around gazebos, bridges, bonds, and water features, reflecting the four seasons, holidays, and Chinese New Year. It also hosts live performances every night between 4:30 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. and Mr. and Mrs. Green Thumb answer questions about the garden and give gardening tips from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. every morning.
For garden lovers and garden eaters, visit one of these top botanical gardens on your getaway, and check out Expo Milano 2015, where the world takes on the future of food growth, here.