Jardin Majorelle, Marrakech, Morocco
Cacti, water fountains, dainty benches, and exotic birds – in bustling Marrakech, Jardin Majorelle offers a wonderful hideout for a moment of rest and mindfulness. Designed and cultivated in the 1920s by the painter Jacques Majorelle, this delightful oasis soon became known for is characteristic, luminous splashes of cobalt color. Starting with Majorelle’s own painter’s studio, this intense blue shade soon spread to the garden’s fountains, flower pots, and railings. Fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, a frequent visitor to Morocco and the park in question, fell head over heels in love with the hue and even gave it pride of place among the nail polishes of his in-house cosmetics range. Nowadays, the garden features a café, a small shop, and a museum on the history of the Berber tribes.
Keukenhof, Lisse, Netherlands
Check your calendar to catch this hidden beauty: Keukenhof in Lisse – nestling somewhere between the Dutch metropolises of Amsterdam and The Hague – is only open to the public for eight weeks every year. From mid-March to May, when the local tulips and daffodils show off their glorious blooms, this tiny town turns into a veritable Eldorado for floral aficionados. Framed by more than seven million flowers, fifteen kilometers of walkways and promenades invite visitors to enjoy the elaborate flower arrangements and four pavilions with exotic species – making Lisse the world’s largest flower garden.
Phoenix Park, Dublin, Ireland
From flora to fauna: This particular park places animals center stage. Covering almost 1,700 acres of Dublin western city center, the urban park meets game reserve appeals to animal lovers, adventurers, and amblers alike. As a nod to the area’s previous incarnation as a zoo (until 1831), Phoenix Park now features hundreds of deer, squirrels, and numerous bird species. And while almost 30 percent of its surface is covered by woodlands, the park also pleases fans of horticulture with its stunning Victorian people’s flower gardens, opened in 1840 to encourage leisurely strolls in a healthy environment. Beyond ornamental lakes, artfully arranged flower beds, and a playground, the park’s Victorian tea kiosk provides sustenance and satiates any culinary cravings with delicious teas and prepared lunch baskets for some leisurely and laid-back picnics.
Villa Doria Pamphili, Rome, Italy
Rome’s largest park dates back to the mid-17th century. A mere mile south of the Vatican this 9-square-kilometer retreat also houses the eponymous villa, constructed between 1644 and 1652 to the specifications of nobleman Camillo Pamphili.
Today, the Villa Doria Pamphili park is one of Rome’s favorite recreational areas and a popular tourist destination. Between picturesque statues, fountains, small waterfalls, and plenty of marble it offers a stunning view of the Eternal City – and a much-needed retreat from the city’s heat under century-old stone pines and cypresses.
The Humble Administrator’s Garden, Suzhou, China
Suzhou‘s Humble Administrator’s Garden is the 6-million metropolis‘ largest green space – and counts among China’s most breathtaking parks: Together with several of the city’s gardens, it enjoys UNESCO World Heritage Site status.
The origins of this Humble Administrator’s Garden date back to the Ming dynasty (around 1500) and a former public servant. After his retirement, this unassuming man simply wanted to live the humble life of a gardener. Now, several temple complexes and lakes dot the local landscape, interspersed with several museums and a beautiful bonsai garden. Visitors might time their trips to coincide with one of the park’s frequent flower shows, celebrating the local lotus or azalea bloom, for example, when the air fills with the heady scent of exotic blossoms.
Text: Romy Uebel
Header image: The Fury Glen, Phoenix Park Dublin, photo: Courtesy of the Office of Public Works