Europe in bloom
With summer on the horizon, our gardens never looked so beautiful. From an urban park paradise to the secret garden of your dreams, it’s time to step outside and enjoy the best of nature in all her guises.
Stylish shrubs: Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire
Home to rolling hills, sight-seeing bridges and vast lakes, Blenheim Palace is filled with countless beauty spots to enjoy this spring. Plus, with the exquisitely ornate manor house at its centre, you won’t tire of these stylish shrubs. Across more than 2,000 acres of parkland you’ll find Woodstock Gate – regarded as one of the most striking views in England – and the banks of Queen Pool lake. No matter which spot you choose for your afternoon picnic, you’ll be surrounded by natural beauty at this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Hillside retreat: Fürstengarten Marienberg, Würzburg, Germany
Rising 266 metres above the city of Würzburg, just 30 minutes from Wertheim Village, the Marienberg Fortress is home to the artistically arranged Princes’ Garden, which has been carefully restored to its early-eighteenth-century design. The trip up the hill is merited by the beautifully planned formal garden terrace with its fountain and two pavilions, but it is made truly unmissable by the exceptional view across the city, Marienberg’s vineyards and the valley of the River Main. It’s easy to drive the road up to the garden, but never again will a 20-minute hill hike earn you such a priceless reward!
Historical gem: Kruidtuin Hortus Botanicus Leuven, Belgium
Heading east out of Brussels, just half an hour from the hub of Europe and 50 minutes from Maasmechelen Village, is the university city of Leuven and the oldest botanical garden in Belgium. Created in 1738 for students of medicine, the garden is famous for its diverse plant collection and a 450-square-metre greenhouse that cultivates aquatic, tropical and subtropical species.
Fairy-tale forest: Castello di Grazzano Visconti, Emilia Romagna
For a garden that offers something for everyone, take a trip to discover the park surrounding the Castello di Grazzano Visconti in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. The castle’s grounds were designed around the turn of the twentieth century by Duke Giuseppe Visconti di Modrone and feature formal Italian gardens, shady wooded areas, fountains, a flowing stream and a picturesque children’s cottage, which was built for the Duke’s daughters. The 150,000 hectare park, situated just 40 minutes from Fidenza Village, is characterised by its architectural planting and beautiful forest areas, providing a perfect escape from the intense Italian sunshine.
Weekend wandering: Powerscourt Estate Gardens, County Wicklow, Ireland
Nestled in the lush Irish countryside, the grounds of Powerscourt Estate are staggeringly picturesque, with endlessly pretty vistas providing a backdrop for a collection of formal, Italian and rose gardens. With more than 47 acres of terraces, lakes, secret hollows and even a waterfall to discover, you might need more than a day to explore.
It’s time to step outside and enjoy the best of nature in all her guises.
Hidden maze: Parc del Laberint d'Horta, Barcelona
To truly escape the city, you can’t miss the chance to literally lose yourself in a maze. Barcelona’s oldest conserved garden, Parc del Laberint d'Horta, is home to a beautifully preserved, neo-classical labyrinth that has been a favourite with visitors to the city for centuries. Situated on the edge of the city, the twists and turns of the more than 600-metre maze will reward intrepid explorers with a statue of Eros, the Greek god of love.
Plant-lovers’ paradise: Botanischer Garten München-Nymphenburg, Munich, Germany
If the thought of journeying across an arid desert followed by a hike through a tropical evergreen forest sounds like your perfect holiday, then a trip to the Munich Botanical Garden, an hour from Ingolstadt Village, could satisfy your urge to travel – all in just one afternoon. The gardens cover more than 21 hectares, with extensive glasshouses, an arboretum and thousands of rare and ancient plant species to discover. A single visit offers a glimpse of the breathtaking scope of nature, making it an ideal destination for dedicated plant enthusiasts, as well as those who simply enjoy beautiful surroundings and a calendar of monthly exhibitions.
City-centre oasis: Luxembourg Gardens, Paris, France
Located on the border of Paris’ Latin Quarter and the literary and artistic centre of Saint-Germain-des-Prés are the Luxembourg Gardens. Created in 1612 for Queen Marie de Medici, the Italian Baroque gardens provide a grandiose setting for activities to suit all and have become a favourite escape from urban bustle for Parisians and tourists alike.
Across the 25 hectares, just a 35-minute drive from La Vallée Village, are glorious gardens, greenhouses and orchards, as well as a pond, rose garden and more than 100 sculptures. Staying true to its cultural locale, the gardens exhibit photography exhibitions along the enclosing railings – perfect for a leisurely stroll in the spring sunshine.
Spring scents: Rose garden in Parque del Oeste, Madrid
With two abundantly stocked rose gardens, Madrid’s residents and its visitors are certainly spoiled in May and June when the flowers are in full bloom. While either – or both – are worth a visit, the classically laid out rose garden in the city’s Parque del Oeste (Western Park) offers more than 20,000 rose bushes across 600 different varieties and has won awards for its outstanding displays. If you are planning a late-spring trip to the city, then a visit to the park – just 20 minutes from Las Rozas Village – is a must, as during May visitors can cast their vote to choose the ‘Rose of Madrid 2020’ and the chance to win ten rose plants!