Azaleas blooming in spring, roses spreading their enchanting fragrance, colorful tulips, funny-looking cacti, pools filled with exotic fish, gently-flowing waterfalls, and winding pathways along huge flower beds are enough to make anyone forget about the world and find inner peace. Few places in the world are as relaxing and peaceful as gardens, and it's almost impossible not to feel at ease when surrounded by so much natural beauty; the very definition of utopia.
Imagine a world filled with color, spectacular scenery, built by talented designers, kings or princes, luxurious and perfect. Such a paradise does exist, and can be found in each and every one of the gardens on our list. These are not only the most glamorous and extravagant gardens, they are an oasis of fresh air, green grass, vibrant colors, and powerful fragrances that will simply melt you away, all of which you simply must visit in a lifetime. They put a whole new meaning to gardening with their riddling alleys, exotic flowers, evergreen pastures, and blue sky above. They are genuine pieces of heaven, fallen from the pages of a fairytale.
10 Yuyuan Garden, China
Built during the the Ming Dynasty who reigned in China between 1368 and 1644, the Yuyuan Garden was most likely developed around the year 1550. Yuyuan Garden literally means the Garden of Contentment, and it certainly lives up to its name. The traditional Chinese style garden is filled with Koi fish ponds, spectacular fountains, massive walls, bridges, doorways, pavilions, and numerous garden areas with trees and rocks, all guarded by the customary Chinese dragons.
9 Suan Nong Nooch Gardens, Thailand
Back in 1954, the 600 acres of land on which the Suan Nong Nooch Gardens spread today were purchased by Mrs. Nongnooch and Mr. Pisist with the intention of building a fruit plantation. However, Mrs. Nongnooch decided to turn it into a tropical garden of ornamental flowers and plants, which ultimately opened for the public in 1980. The Nong Nooch gardens are home to the largest variety of palm trees and Cyclades in the world, as well as the largest selection of orchids in Thailand. The breathtaking scenery of Pattaya adds even more beauty to the gardens, and the traditional Thai houses, banquet halls, villas, restaurants, and swimming pools complement the colorful blooming flowers. The garden also hosts various shows throughout the year, such as the famous elephant and Thai cultural shows.
8 Butchart Gardens, British Columbia
The land that the Butchart Gardens occupy today was once a quarry used by Portland Cement, which, after exhausting its resources and value, closed. This happened in 1904, and immediately after, Jenny Butchart, the wife of the owner of Portland Cement, had a vision of 55 acres of land abounding in more than 700 species of trees and plants. One of the most famous gardens in the world, also rated as one of the best, Butchart is located in British Columbia, on Vancouver Island near Victoria. Breathtaking views complement one of the oldest ornamental gardens in the world, all laid out around a spectacular waterfall, with more than 300,000 flowers blooming each spring.
7 Keukenhof Gardens, Netherlands
Also known as the Garden of Europe, Keukenhof is located near Amsterdam, it is the biggest flower garden in the world, and is considered the world's loveliest spring garden. There are more than 7 million tulips, hyacinths, and daffodils that make a fantastic flower bed. One of the most popular tourists attractions in the Netherlands, its most coveted piece is the spectacular Russian black tulip called Baba Yaga. There are 100 pieces of art work, 7 inspirational gardens, and 13 flower shows each year between March and May. There are restaurants and cafes throughout the gardens, and visitors are also welcome to take bike or boat tours.
6 Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, Washington
The rich and famous may have a completely different lifestyle, but they nevertheless enjoy the same simple things that make life worth living. Marjorie Merriwether Post, the founder of General Foods, was at one time the richest woman in the world. She built herself a lovely 40 room Georgian mansion which she surrounded with an even lovelier garden. The centerpiece is a Japanese garden blended with a touch of American style, with stone lanterns, pagodas, and a rock pool. Winding pathways take you along the more than 10 garden areas arranged throughout the 13 acres of land. What's more, she left the entire property for visitors to enjoy after her death, the perfect place to have an afternoon tea, and a quiet oasis away from the hustle and bustle of the big city.
5 Garden of Cosmic Speculation, Scotland
As the name implies, the Garden of Cosmic Speculation revolves around mathematics and science. It is the perfect example of how numbers, geometry, and symmetry blend together with ornamental lakes, flowers, and trees to achieve balance and unmatched beauty. The garden was developed by landscape architects Charles and Maggie Jencks around their home, the Portrack House in Dumfries, Scotland back in 1989. With numerous steel designs, chess board alleys, and strange geometrical figures, plants play a secondary role, and the garden itself seems borrowed from the pages of Alice in Wonderland. Open to the public only one day a year, there isn't anything quite like it anywhere else in the world.
4 Jardin Majorelle, Morocco
All covered in shades of blue, Jardin Majorelle is quite different from the other gardens on our list. Designed by French painter Jacques Majorelle in the 1920's, it took more than 40 years of dedication for the painter to finish his lovely garden in Marrakesh, Morocco. Nowadays, famous fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent is the proud owner of this majestic garden. One of the most popular tourist attractions in Morocco, the sumptuous garden boasts marble pools with water lilies and lotus flowers, elevated pathways, banana trees, streams, and numerous blooming flowers, as well as a large collection of cacti, and more than 15 bird species endemic to North Africa. A special shade of cobalt blue was used throughout the garden that was later named after the painter, the Majorelle Blue.
3 Shalimar Garden, Pakistan
A lovely traditional Persian garden built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in the 17th century in Lahore, modern day Pakistan, Shalimar Garden stands to show that South Asia does know a thing or two about opulence and luxury. Constructions at the garden began in the year 1641 and were completed within a year. The garden, shaped like an oblong parallelogram, is laid over three level terraces, elevated by 13-15 feet above one another. Surrounded by high brick walls, the 80 acres of gardens boast a total of 410 fountains and 5 water cascades, out of which the Great Marble Cascade stands out as the most impressive. There are summer pavilions, sleeping chambers, the emperor's wife chambers, a grand hall, a Hammam, or Royal Bath, minarets, and a resting place. The Shalimar Garden was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1981.
2 Kew Gardens, England
Only 10 miles from London, stretching on 326 acres of land, the history of the Kew Gardens goes way back. Also known as the Royal Botanical Gardens, the lovely flower arrangements were the vision of the mother of King George III, Princess Augusta, who began developing a garden in Richmond, west of London in 1759. Greenhouses are the centerpiece of these gardens. The Temperate House is the largest Victorian greenhouse in the world, while the Bonsai House is the proud owner of more than 150 years old trees. The Palm House shelters ten climatic zones that grow baobab trees and vanilla orchids. Other attractions are Queen Charlotte's Cottage, the Pagoda, and the Orangery. There are more than 50,000 species of plants throughout the Kew Gardens.
1 Versailles Gardens, France
Designed by none other than Andre Le Notre, the 17th century France's most famous architect, the Versailles Gardens are a lovely oasis southwest of Paris. Construction began in 1661 under the order of King Louis XIV, the Sun King, whose desire was to make his palace even more glamorous and opulent. More than 1,000 men were hired to carry thousands of tons of dirt and hundreds of trees from all over France in order to fill the marshes that once surrounded the Versailles Palace. Stretching over 250 acres of land, the Versailles Gardens are a labyrinth of paths, flower beds, statues, ornamental lakes, and even a canal that the Sun King used for gondola rides. The main attractions are the Orangery, the immense water fountains, and the Canal. Undoubtedly the most famous garden in the world, a 20-year restoration plan began in 1991, meant to restore the gardens to their original glory, with an estimated budget of $50 million. The cost of building the Versailles Gardens would be translated into well over $800 million today.