There’s nothing like a world-wide pandemic trapping the global population indoors to make you want to take a walk in the park.
Records of botanical gardens date back 3,000-years to ancient Egypt with vegetation cultivated not just for medicine but to lift the human spirit.
With the planet’s 1,700 public botanical gardens closed because of COVID-19, you can explore these havens of tranquillity virtually and experience their peaceful calm in the safety of your living room.
The Gardens of Versailles, Paris, France
Escape the hordes of tourists who usually crowd the paths of the most iconic French garden in the world. In 1661 André Le Nôtre was commissioned by Louis XIV to tame the woods and marshes into a masterpiece of bio-engineering and a tribute to order and symmetry that took 40-years to complete. Tour the Gardens of Versailles here.
Foundation de Monet, Giverny, France
Explore the flower-strewn paths and water lily streams that inspired the 19th-century Impressionist Claude Monet to call his Giverny garden ‘my most beautiful work of art’. Afterwards, step through his green-shuttered front door and admire the artist’s home and collection of 200 Japanese prints.
The Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle, South Tyrol, Italy
Walk the sun-kissed slopes of one of Italy’s most important historical gardens in spring, summer or autumn in 360-degree tours of the medieval castle of Trauttmansdorff. First laid out in 1850 visitors can wander through 83 different gardens, including a 700-year-old olive grove, bamboo forest and vertical flower wall.
Kew Gardens, London, UK
Once the playground of kings and queens, The Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew is a UNESCO world heritage site that houses the world’s largest collection of plants. Since 2011 Google’s Streetview tricycle has captured 26km of tours inside the palace and its famous greenhouses – including the world’s biggest Victorian glasshouse Temperance House – featuring 27,000 types of plants.
The United States Botanic Garden, Washington
Known as a ‘living plant museum,’ the USA’s historic botanic garden sits serenely next to the roar of the Capitol Building in Washington DC. The urban oasis houses 5,000 orchids as well as a rose garden – the floral emblem of the USA since 1986 – and the only garden honouring the contributions of the nation’s first ladies.
Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, Hawaii, USA
A palm rainforest with brightly coloured hibiscus flowers and views of the Pacific-ocean takes you on a unique tour of the diverse topography of Hawaii, O’ahu, Kauai and Maui. Hit play and go from sandy beaches to lush vegetation and volcanic fields.
Buffalo Botanical Gardens, New York, USA
Frederick Law Olmstead, the renowned landscape architect behind New York’s Central Park, designed one of the US’s oldest botanical gardens in the city of Buffalo. Using 360-degree videos tread inside the 120-year-old garden’s soaring 67-ft-tall Victorian glass dome filled with tropical fruit trees and succulents.
Inhotim Institute and Botanical Gardens, Brumadinho, Brazil
This internationally renowned art collection and garden carved out of the Brazilian savanna was master-minded by the eccentric mining magnate Bernado Paz. Videos, installations, sculptures and paintings spring up in 23 pavilions on a 5,000 acre-estate that would take three days to explore on foot. Armchair art lovers can spin around the sculpture park in digital warp speed.
São Paulo Botanic Garden, São Paulo, Brazil
Hike the Trail of the Howler Monkeys, glimpse green-billed toucans in the forests and watch the famous giant water lily bloom in São Paulo’s famous garden. Founded in 1928 by the botanist Frederico Carlos Hoehne, the São Paulo Botanic Garden’s two large glasshouses conserve rapidly vanishing Amazonian flora and fauna. Explore the grounds.