In my previous post, I talked about the botanical gardens that we visited in 2018, but the reality is that we ended up visiting quite a few other gardens as well. From a local foliage perspective, the botanical gardens were typically the most impressive, but castles, palaces, museums, and city parks also tend to be more manicured and have incredibly beautiful flower gardens and shrubbery arrangements.
Leaving the expected behind, even when wandering the streets of various cities, it is common to come across something quite impressive. I still remember being hot, tired, and lost in Kiev. When we we randomly came across one of the most beautiful flower gardens that I have ever seen, the crankiness and tension melted away. On another trip, when Jeremy was biking from Amsterdam to Paris, he was quite surprised by the grandeur of the castles and gardens in the small corners of the countryside. Then there was the time in Taipei that we decided to follow our taxi driver’s advice, skipped our scheduled stop, and ended up at an amazing geopark.
I talk about the botanical gardens more in my previous post, but here are a few pictures from the Singapore Botanic Gardens, the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, the Taipei Botanical Garden, the Christchurch Botanic Gardens, and the Wellington Botanic Gardens:
While in Kiev, we decided to try walking between the Kyevo-Pecherska Lavra (Caves Monastery) and the National Museum of History of Ukraine in the Second World War. There was a cute path that we started on, but of course, about a third of the way there, Google maps led us into a locked gate, so we had to backtrack to the beginning.
On our second try, Jeremy told me that we needed to climb turn off the main road, climb a large hill, and the museum should be on the other side. Skeptical, I decided to go with it. This time we encountered a ticket booth and were told that we could either pay the entrance fee to see the flower exhibition at Spivoche Pole, or go back down the hill and try a different route. Given that I was hot, tired, and cranky, we went with it and pulled out our wallets. I don’t remember what we paid, but it probably wasn’t more than a few dollars. Everything in Ukraine was fairly inexpensive. Even if it was more, I was so miserable that I was happy to pay it.
Beautiful! Sometimes locked gates lead to amazing sights! This one was well worth the trouble and my annoyance and disgruntlement melted away. We thoroughly enjoyed our time here.
In general, the flower gardens in Ukraine were nice. While wandering through the Podil neighborhood, we came across the Florivisky Monastery and enjoyed the gardens:
Pirogovo Open-Air Museum
While not technically a garden, the Pirogovo Open-Air Museum is an outdoor display that shows you what life was like in Ukraine during different time periods and in different locations. The grounds were really quite pleasant, had some peasant gardens, and we thoroughly enjoyed our wander.
We made the mistake of getting lunch just before arrival. They have an amazing food market and picnic area, so make sure you come hungry.
Rotorua, New Zealand
New Zealand had tons of beautiful flowers, particularly given that in the southern hemisphere, April is fall, not spring. My favorite picture of flowers was in the Government Gardens in Rotorua.
Singapore has flowers and beautiful foliage everywhere, not just in the Botanic Gardens. James was thrilled with this display in the Changi Airport:
Just because a country doesn’t get much rain, it doesn’t mean that they don’t have gardens. In both Egypt and Israel, we found quite a few gardens, even if they weren’t as lush as in some of the other countries we have visited.
In Alexandria, we wandered the Montazah Royal Palaces Gardens. Very drought tolerant, but still nice.
In Cairo, we visited the Citadel of Saladin. Again, the gardens were quite drought tolerant:
Garden of Gethsemane
Israel was a bit of a surprise for me on how dry it was. When I think “promised land,” I think wet and green. But that really isn’t the case. Sure, it is more green than Egypt, but that isn’t saying much. One theory that I read is that in Biblical times, Israel was perfect for sheep, so if you are a sheepherder, it really could have been the ideal type of land.
In any case, while in Jerusalem, we decided to visit the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives. While much greener than the surrounding area, it was still quite dry. Still, you could picture Jesus coming here for a private place to pray and weep.
And sometimes plants are not the point of a garden. In many cases, it is the geological formations that take center stage.
New Taipei, Taiwan
In Taipei, we had decided to take a day trip to Yangmingshan National Park and hopped in a cab with an English speaking taxi driver. He told us that it was the wrong time of the year to really enjoy Yangmingshan, and that he knew a place that we would love. He explained that if we were worried about the cost to get home (a 45 minute taxi ride), we could take the bus back to Taipei, and that we wouldn’t regret the trip. Unsure of whether he was just trying to get a higher fare or not, we decided to go with it. Yehliu Geopark was amazing!
We had never seen anything like it and thoroughly enjoyed our time there. Can you find the “cute princess” in the rock formation? At first, all I saw was “the hunchback” with his arms behind his back.
Still don’t see it? Look for the profile of a face, not a full body.
While this is a bit of a trek from Taipei, there is a super inexpensive bus, and even if you take a cab, it isn’t as expensive as you might think, particularly if you are sharing the cost between several people. It is easy to spend several hours here.
Rotorua, New Zealand
Rotorua is known for is its geothermal activity. Kuirau Park is in the middle of town, has free entry, and has a beautiful combination of foliage and steaming mud pits. Keep a close eye on your small children so they don’t get hurt.
Death Valley, California, U.S.A.
Death Valley National Park
Death Valley is another place that you don’t typically associate with gardens, but if you go there in the late winter or early spring, you might catch the desert flowers. And if you are there during the rest of the year, the minerals add a lot of color to both the rock and sand formations.
And where else can you sample salt directly from the source?
Utah to Colorado, U.S.A.
Cross Country Road Trip
Similarly, when we continued on towards Colorado, we encountered many impressively colorful rock formations:
Park with Monkeys
In Delhi, we drove by a park with lots of monkeys:
And we also enjoyed wandering the Lodi Gardens. If you are even in Delhi for an extended time when there isn’t a ton of smog, consider spending some time here:
While visiting Jaipur, we stopped by the Jaigarh Fort and enjoyed the formal gardens, the monkeys that were climbing on the walls, and the beautiful views:
Queenstown, New Zealand
Queenstown is more than just adventure sports. Immediately next to the downtown area is a huge park, filled with gardens, beautiful paths, and great views of the water:
In Taipei, I loved the dragon fountain in the Longshan Temple gardens:
Japan is well known for their gardens. Our entire family managed to make it to Kyoto in the spring. In the fall, Jeremy traveled there with his parents. While the spring is pretty, the fall is amazing:
The boys love the candy apples in Maruyama Park:
And I love the gardens at the Imperial Palace:
Kyoto is filled with gardens. If gardens are your thing, you could spend days exploring them all.
While Tokyo doesn’t have near as many gardens as Kyoto, there are still plenty to be found.
The Hama-rikyu Gardens are a good choice when visiting Tokyo. They are near some of the other sights and you can get both the traditional Japanese garden feel, with amazing views of the city skyline:
While you can only visit the inside of the Imperial Palace once a year, the East Gardens are typically open year round.
If you like deer, Nara Park in Nara is the perfect place to visit. Vendors sell deer crackers that are supposedly safe for the deer, so you can feed them to your heart’s content.
Just avoid the really hungry ones. If you don’t feed them fast enough, they can get quite aggressive. It’s better to find an area with just a few deer that have already been fed.
When you are done feeding the deer, you can continue on to some of the ancient sights with more traditional Japanese gardens.
Park Near Sforza Castle
In Milan, we spent some time relaxing in a park near the Sforza Castle:
In Vienna, we enjoyed wandering through the Volksgarten, which also had a nice playground that the boys enjoyed.
In Lviv, we enjoyed Stryisky Park, which was quite close to the apartment in which we were staying.
And one day when I just wanted to rest, Jeremy took the boys to Castle Hill. Note that Castle Hill is missing a castle…
City Famous For Baths
Baden-Baden was mostly about the baths, but when we were done there, we enjoyed the various gardens and other foliage around the city.
Highest Waterfall in Germany
While driving through the Black Forest, we made a hiking stop at the Triberg Waterfall in Triberg. This is the tallest waterfall in Germany, but quite small by American standards.
Largest Waterfalls in Europe
Since we were just at the highest waterfall in Germany, we thought it would be fun to also see the biggest waterfalls in Europe on the the same day, so we made a detour to Rhine Falls. Still small when compared to Niagara Falls, but much more impressive than the Triberg Falls.
Konstanz has some wonderful parks. Here is some beautiful scenery we encountered while walking to the waterfront. If you continue along the waterfront towards Kreuzlingen, Switzerland, you will encounter a very large and fun park and playground.
Linderhof Palace, Germany
The Linderhof Palace had some nice formal gardens, although some of the nearby castles, like Neuschwanstein, would be a better place to visit if you are a first time visitor.
In Berlin, Jeremy decided to take the boys on a bike ride through the Tiergarten. It is really a bit too large to explore on foot, so if you really want to spend some time exploring this park, consider renting a bicycle.
When Jeremy took a 10 day bike tour from Amsterdam to Paris, he encountered many beautiful gardens and windmills both in the cities of Netherland and in the countryside. Kinderdijk is famous for its windmills. If you are there during tulip season, the gardens can only improve!
Cambrai to Saint Quentin, France
While biking through France, Jeremy discovered numerous WWI and WWII memorials, random castles, and tons of beautiful scenery. Here are a few of the memorials that were set in nice garden:
And here are more French gardens in Compiègne:
In Ermenonville, he found a nice castle:
On another solo trip to Thailand, Jeremy found more nice gardens in Bangkok.
While touring the city, Jeremy found Saranrom Park to be a nice stopping point.
Jim Thompson House
This is the home of an American who helped popularize Thai silk around the world. Inside is a nice showcase of older Thai art.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
When he continued on to Chiang Mai, Jeremy decided to take a cooking class. Part of the experience was touring the culinary gardens to learn about the plants used in Thai food.
San Francisco, California, U.S.A.
Golden Gate Bridge and Golden Gate Park
Closer to home, Jeremy took a bike ride through across San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge and Golden Gate Park.
As he continued down the coast to Half Moon Bay, then Santa Cruz, and finally Monterey, he encountered more beautiful foliage.
Savannah, Georgia, U.S.A.
And that brings us to Savannah, Georgia, where I concluded the year by visiting my 50th state! Jeremy hit his 50th state that evening when we made it to Florida! Savannah is known for its 22 squares, laid out in a grid pattern all around the city. You could spend a lot of time hopping from one to the next, checking out the gardens on the way.
And there you have it. Can you believe that we managed to make it to all of these gardens and parks in 2018? I’m sure I missed a few that I have pictures for, but this concludes my mammoth garden post!