You don't have to be an expert on trees or flowers to appreciate the vast benefits a garden can offer a property. A garden in any form will always bring a sense of beauty and abundance, especially if it is tastefully designed and lovingly tended. The pandemic has driven an even greater appreciation of a garden's value.
Over the centuries, gardens have made their mark on history. Borne of our intrinsic need to surround our homes with nature - as reflected in the etymological roots of the word, meaning "enclosure" - gardens have long been considered a place for relaxation, enjoyment and quiet contemplation.
One of the oldest references is to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, built in the sixth century on the banks of the Euphrates. Known only through written accounts, their enormity and splendour earned them a place among the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
There are countless examples of spectacular historical gardens we can still enjoy today. A wander through the glorious gardens of Versailles transports us back to the world of Marie Antoinette. Built at the behest of Louis XIV, the Sun King, in 1661 and designed by the famous landscape designer André Le Nôtre, the gardens were considered just as important as the palace and took over 40 years to complete.
A former quarry as a canvas
Canada's Butchart Gardens have been enchanting visitors for 100 years with their lush foliage and vibrant flowers. Upon the canvas of a limestone quarry formerly used by her husband to make cement, Jennie Butchart built a lush, luxurious treat for the senses, globally acclaimed both for its size and beauty.
The Brooklyn Botanical Garden (New York) is another magnificent example. It boasts a water garden, an English cottage–style garden featuring the plants mentioned in the works of William Shakespeare, a fragrance garden for people with visual impairments and the first ever Japanese garden, replete with cherry blossoms, to be created in an American botanical garden.
The world-famous Keukenhof in the Netherlands is home to vivid beds of tulips, daffodils and hyacinths, among other blooms, which attract thousands of visitors every year. It is known as the Garden of Europe for good reason.
Kenrokuen, Korakuen and Kairakuen are a trio of gardens dubbed by the Japanese themselves as the most beautiful in the land. Trees, plants, lakes and bridges designed in keeping with Japanese garden aesthetics captivate and charm the visitor.
Public and private
There are stunning gardens to be enjoyed far closer to home, however. The Retiro in Madrid, the Generalife gardens at La Alhambra in Granada, Parque Labordeta in Zaragoza, Parque Güell in Barcelona and Segovia's Royal Gardens of La Granja are just a few of the majestic gardens Spain has to offer.
These are in addition to the breathtakingly beautiful private gardens which enhance the appeal of the properties they grace. Such as the gardens at this luxurious and unique mansion located in La Rioja. Comprising more than 6,000 m2, its gardens are designed to the highest of standards and feature countless native trees.
Renowned Spanish philosopher Ortega y Gasset spent many happy summers at this unique period home in the province of Valladolid. The former owner, an architect himself, paired up with a landscape gardener to create a stunning ornamental garden, including a lawn, flowers and centuries-old trees.
Just a short drive from central Madrid stands an extraordinary country home, offering a tantalising taste of La Dolce Vita on 60 hectares of grounds. This spectacular retreat with a Tuscan flair features an idyllic country garden teeming with roses and peonies, and a thickly populated woodland with chestnut, holm oak, gall oak and elm.
This delightful property located right in the heart of the old town of Sigüenza (Guadalajara) comprises two homes, a sizeable internal courtyard and a beautiful garden offering a covered area, making it the perfect venue to host celebrations and entertain friends.
This fairytale estate is a rare find: a secluded oasis located on the edge of the Sierra del Guadarrama national park, yet just 30 km from Madrid and those tantalising city lights. The main building is set within a delightful split-level walled garden. The estate also includes a second home with its own separate garden.