Keukenhof, Lisse (Netherlands)
This is the world’s largest flower garden, also known as the Garden of Europe. Keukenhof is open from the last week of March to mid-May to visitors. The garden was the brainchild of the Mayor of Lisse in 1949. He wanted farmers from all over the Netherlands and Europe to show off their hybrids. The garden is especially famous for its tulips, and these are at their best in April.
The Karesansui (Zen) Garden at Ryan-ji Temple, Kyoto (Japan)
In keeping with the karesansui style, there is no water present in the garden; the sea is symbolized by sand, which is raked to resemble ripples of water. The garden is 30m long and 10m wide, filled with white gravel and sand that is raked every day. There are no trees, just 15 rocks of varying shapes and sizes, some surrounded by moss. The rocks are arranged in such a way that a visitor can see only 14 at a time, from any angle. It is said that it is only when a person attains spiritual enlightenment that he can see the last stone in his mind’s eye.
Sissinghurst Castle Garden, Weald of Kent (UK)
This is said to be one of the world’s most celebrated gardens. It is a series of about 10 different gardens, each with a different colour and theme. One of these is particularly distinctive, an all-white garden. High brick walls and neatly trimmed hedges separate different areas, creating a sense of seclusion that makes one feel completely at peace.
Villa di Castello, Italy
This is centuries old and one of the finest and oldest examples of an Italian garden, marked by a geometric layout. It is said to have 500 lemon trees. The allegorical theme of animals is still evident, though much of the original design has been altered with time. A beautiful artificial cave, Grotta degli Animali (Animal Grotto), displays a menagerie of sculpted animals by Giambologna and his assistants. Among the other attractions is an Ammannati sculpture—a figure of an old man representing January.
Bahá’í gardens, Haifa (Israel)
These are garden terraces, nine above and nine below the Shrine of the Báb on Mount Carmel. These are also referred to as the Hanging Gardens of Haifa and considered one of the wonders of the world. The 18 terraces represent the first 18 disciples of the Báb. Along with the one terrace of the Shrine of the Báb, the number of terraces totals 19—an important number in the Bahá’í and Bábí faiths.