From the National Geographic book Four Seasons of Travel
Butchart Gardens, Canada
This former limestone quarry was transformed into magnificent gardens in 1904. Located on Vancouver Island, its rolling landscape features more than a million bedding plants from 700 varieties for uninterrupted blooming from March through October. Wander through the Sunken Garden in the original quarry and the Japanese Garden facing Butchart Cove.
Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, New York
Founded in 1910, this sprawling garden in the heart of Brooklyn highlights more than 6,000 plant species. The Bonsai Museum showcases some 350 carefully sculpted trees, one of the largest collections on public display outside Japan. In late April, more than 45,000 bluebells burst into flower and picnickers gather beneath the Cherry Esplanade’s blooming trees.
Jardim Botânico de Curitiba, Brazil
Located in the capital of Brazil’s southern Paraná state, these French-style botanical gardens center around a towering greenhouse reminiscent of London’s 19th-century Crystal Palace. In the Garden of Sensations, visitors stroll blindfolded, experiencing the surrounding foliage and trickling waterfalls through sound, smell, and touch.
Keukenhof Gardens, The Netherlands
With more than seven millions tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths in bloom from March to May, this 79-acre (32-hectare) spread southwest of Amsterdam is considered the world’s largest flower garden. View the tulip fields from “whisper boats,” electric-powered boats that glide almost silently through the Dutch landscape.
Monet’s Garden, France
Many of Impressionist master Claude Monet’s most famous paintings were inspired by the flower and water gardens he cultivated around his home northwest of Paris. Open from April to November, the gardens burst with narcissus, jonquils, and wisteria. Stroll around the pond in May, when sunlight and shadow play over Monet’s beloved water lilies.
Villa d’Este, Italy
A Renaissance masterpiece of Italian gardening, this sprawling complex northeast of Rome features grottoes, waterfalls, and ancient statues. Explore the ruins of the Villa Adriana, built by the Roman emperor Hadrian, and the spouting animal heads and lilies along the Avenue of the Hundred Fountains.
Kirstenbosch, South Africa
Set against the eastern slopes of Cape Town’s Table Mountain, this 89-acre (36-hectare) garden was established in 1913 to conserve fynbos, southern Africa’s unique plant life. Visit in the South African spring, between August and November, to view the fynbos at its best and see the greatest number of plants in flower.
Seychelles National Botanical Gardens
Established more than a century ago in the island nation’s capital, the Botanical Gardens is one of the Seychelles’s oldest national monuments. Look for native orchids, rare spice trees, roosting fruit bat colonies, and giant tortoises from Aldabra, some of which are more than 150 years old.
Singapore Botanic Garden
Founded in 1859, the Botanic Garden displays lush bougainvillea, bamboo, palm trees, and other native tropical plants over 128 acres (52 hectares). Visit the Healing Garden for a peaceful walk among plants traditionally used in Southeast Asian medicine, then hike to the 7.5-acre (3-hectare) National Orchid Garden at the park’s highest point, where more than 60,000 orchids bloom.
Developed by feudal lords in the 17th century, Kenroku-en is considered one of the most beautiful gardens in Japan. The strolling-style landscape features artfully designed ponds, hills, and teahouses. In March, hundreds of plum trees show off dark pink and white blossoms while irises flower along the garden’s winding streams.