Six world-famous gardens you can visit virtually

Greenery is scientifically proven to boost mental and physical wellbeing – even if we can’t sample it firsthand. These gorgeous gardens will help you get your green fix from the safety of your sofa.

1. Keukenhof, Netherlands

Widely termed the Garden of Europe, Keukenhof claims to be the largest flower park in the world, and is certainly one of the most photogenic. With more than seven million bulbs bursting from its beds every year, the garden could single-handedly prop up Holland’s reputation for tulips, and they’re all arranged in carefully colour-coded patterns as if painted from the sky.

Lockdown arrived just as the garden was starting to sprout, so Keukenhof moved online to make the best of a bad situation. Their digital portal, Keukenhof Virtually Open, features a 360-degree tour, alongside species-by-species plant profiles hosted by resident gardeners.

Read: Five parks and gardens at home

2. Kew Gardens, UK

A sprawling, pedestrianised parkland in the suburbs of South London, Kew heads up the UK gardening scene with exotic flora, Victorian architecture, and classic English woodland. A global centre of botanical science, the gardens are doing their bit for home-schooling with a series of instructional videos, exploring everything from food sustainability to fungi.

For the rest of us, Virtual Kew has transposed as much as possible onto the web, and we particularly recommend the video tour of the Prince of Wales Conservatory. A labyrinthine hot house with 10 climatic zones, visitors can wander from desert to deepest rainforest, and everything in between.

3. United States Botanic Garden, USA

Established by Congress two centuries ago this year, the US Botanic Garden is nearly as interesting to historians as it is to horticulturalists, and describes itself as “a museum with a living collection”. A landmark of downtown DC, mere yards from the United States Capitol, the gardens contain roughly 10,000 specimens, many on display for tourists both present and remote.

A Street View-style service lets you wander the flower beds at your leisure, from the swaying fronds of the Tropics House to the landscaped shrubs of Bartholdi Park. For a more curated, informative experience, you can even phone in to a guided tour.

Read: Garden tours with Helen Young

4. The Gardens of Versailles, France

Though famed for the outrageously opulent Hall of Mirrors, and a period of royal excess so decadent it helped spark the French Revolution, there is still a strong argument that the Palace of Versailles is better out than in.

A personal project for Louis XIV, the 800-hectare gardens remain a sumptuous example of French classical style, complete with fountains, parterres, sculptures, and meticulously manicured lawns. A Google Arts & Culture tour guides virtual visitors around the lot, under the tagline: ‘Who said flowerbeds were less interesting than paintings?’

5. Killruddery House and Gardens, Ireland

Among the finest house-and-garden combos in Ireland, Killruddery is a stone’s throw from Dublin, and a click away from your front room. The estate, 800 acres of well-groomed grassland still owned by the Earl and Countess of Meath, has proven a popular filming location, featuring in The Tudors, Angela’s Ashes, and My Left Foot among others.

This virtual tour serves up a highlight reel of 360-degree panoramas detailing the main gardens, the orangery, and Beech Hedge Pond.

Read: Top five Austrian virtual tours

6. Botanical Garden of Sao Paulo, Brazil

Lake inside the Botanical Garden of Sao Paulo in a sunny summer day.

A postcard worthy slice of Brazil’s Atlantic forest, the Botanical Garden of Sao Paulo is famous for its twin greenhouses, collection of rare orchids, and gallons of aquatic, riverside flora. Paths criss-cross between ponds and palms, and this Google Arts & Culture tour will help digital callers wander without worry – or having to fly thousands of miles to Brazil.

How do you get your greenery fix during lockdown? Why not share any tips for staying occupied in the comments section below?

– With PA

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Written by Luke Rix-Standing



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