Alhambra Gardens and fortress, Spain
In the Alhambra palace spaces such as the Court of the Lions (late-14th century) are not gardens in the familiar sense. They do not contain plants, but the sight and sounds of water, the play of light and shadow and the decorative effects of the rich yet delicate carving and stucco-work turn these outdoor living rooms into works of art.
Bodnant Gardens, Wales
The Dell, in an atmospheric ravine south of the house, contains Pochin’s plantings of conifers, complemented by Aberconway’s Asiatic flowering shrubs – wonderful magnolias and camellias among them – many of which were the result of his sponsorship of the plant-hunting expeditions to China by George Forrest and Frank Kingdon-Ward. The garden today is one of the National Trust’s finest horticultural treasures.
Courances Gardens, France
The Courances garden is filled with water in many moods, although it is serenity that sets the tone. In front of the château, to the south, is an elaborate box parterre that prefaces a perfect rectangular still pool, surrounded by lawns and trees.
The Garden of Cosmic Speculation, Scotland
The garden of cosmic speculation has numerous memorable moments, such as the Symmetry Break Terrace (symbolising a black hole) and the soliton-wave gates, which illustrate a principle of physical movement first discovered in the 19th century by a scientist who noticed that the tidal waves formed behind a canal boat continue even after the boat has stopped, as a physical “memory”
Isola Bella Garden, Italy
A garden that looks like a ship is worthy of celebration indeed, and this extraordinary place – situated in the middle of Lake Maggiore and accessible only by boat – does not fail to live up to expectations.
The Isola Bella is constructed over a period of 40 years. The island is oddly shaped and rises naturally at one end, which means that there is no apparent rhyme or reason to the “formal” design of terraces and parterres, which seem to multiply as one moves on.
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