The World's Best Botanical Gardens

11th April 2013

Gardens and gardening seem part of the DNA of the British, so it's not surprising that when we are abroad we are often drawn to them. With this in mind we have scoured the world to find our top ten horticultural oases, where photographic opportunities are in abundance.

Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Cape Town, South Africa

Covering a huge 1,300 acres on the lower slopes of Table Mountain, the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens contain an impressive collection of indigenous flora, including the flowering proteas, South Africa's national flower. For photography enthusiasts visiting South Africa in their summer, there is the option of evening visits to Kirstenbosch on Sundays to see concerts in the open-air amphitheatre, the evening sun providing lovely lighting for your photographs.

Royal Botanical Gardens, Kandy, Sri Lanka

Formally established in 1843, the Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya are renowned for their variety of orchids. In addition to over 300 orchid varieties found here, there are around 4,000 other varieties of vegetation, including medicinal plants and palm trees. Kandy is one of the most beautiful cities on the island so make the most of your photogenic surroundings.

Pamplemousses Botanical Gardens, Mauritius

There is no escaping the fact that Mauritius boasts some of the world’s most picture-perfect beaches; it's the archetypal honeymoon destination. So you might be surprised to hear it also boasts the oldest botanical gardens in the southern hemisphere. Located north of the capital, Port Louis, Pamplemousses Botanical Gardens are one of the most visited attractions in Mauritius. Displays include giant water lilies and a palm called Talipot, which blooms once every sixty years – a photographic opportunity not to be missed.

Moscow Botanical Garden of Academy of Sciences, Russia

At 890 acres, the Moscow Botanical Garden of Academy of Sciences is the largest botanical garden in Europe. Founded in 1945 it has more than 8,000 varieties of plant, 20,000 rose bushes, an oak forest, a greenhouse of more than 5,000m2 as well as five artificial lakes. Of course there is already plenty to see and do in Moscow, but if you are a connoisseur of gardens then this is a must see attraction. Entrance to the park is also free.

Wellington Botanical Gardens, New Zealand

Like the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens on the slopes of Table Mountain in Cape Town, the Botanical Gardens in New Zealand's capital city also offer some truly sublime views which provide the opportunity to photograph Wellington and its harbour from a different angle. The gardens cover 61 acres, exhibiting a large range of species, most of it native to New Zealand. The best way to get there is by cable car, off Lambton Quay. You can then take the pleasant downhill stroll back into the city.

Maymyo (Pyin Oo Lwin) Botanical Gardens, Burma

The jewel in Maymyo’s crown is the magnificent mature botanical gardens, with rose beds and orchid houses, reminiscent of the royal gardens at Kew. A very pleasant afternoon can be spent here simply relaxing and strolling around the lake, camera at the ready. Indeed, the 400 acre park can be a particularly soothing tonic after the long drive from Mandalay. There is a viewing tower at one end of the park which provides some nice panoramas.

Butchart Gardens, near Victoria, Canada

Victoria (named after Queen Victoria) is the capital of British Columbia and is a fitting setting for the world-renowned Butchart Gardens. Although relatively small at 55 acres, these gardens more than make up for this with some wonderful floral displays – a colourful subject for the keen photographer. There is always something of interest in the various gardens regardless of season, all kept in tip-top shape by the 50 gardeners who work there.

Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney, Australia

The Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney were founded in 1818 and are located on the site of Australia's very first farm, which itself was established way back in 1788. Situated in a stunning location adjacent to the Sydney Opera House, one of Australia’s most photographed landmarks, it features many individual gardens, each with their own characteristics, containing some 7,500 species.

La Paz Waterfall Gardens, Costa Rica

Located about one hour from San Jose, La Paz Waterfall Gardens are home to lush rainforests, spectacular waterfalls and flowers. At its heart is a magnificent waterfall that can be accessed by trails and photographed from viewing platforms. There is a butterfly observatory - the largest in the world - where you are free to walk amongst these fluttering creatures. There is also a hummingbird garden which attracts 24 different species.


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