0 Top ten garden destinations around the world By The Bower Team / In Retirement Planning Are there many experiences as uplifting as a visit to a truly inspiring garden? Being outside in a beautiful place doesn’t just give us some great ideas for our own patches at home, but can really boost our spirits and help give a new lease of life. Perhaps that is why so many equity release customers choose to unlock cash from their homes to spend improving their homes and gardens – the most popular reason for equity release. The spring and summer months are an exciting time for those of us who love to get outside in our own gardens, but they also bring with them a fantastic opportunity for holidaymakers planning something a bit different. If you enjoy gardens and love to travel, then why not consider a garden holiday tour to visit some of the most famous, interesting and beautiful gardens across the world? Here are ten of the world’s best gardens that showcase horticulture in a way most of us have never seen before. Monet’s Gardens, Giverny, France Claude Monet’s famous garden in Normandy has been beautifully maintained. The main garden is set out on a grid with familiar herbaceous plants – roses, delphiniums, nasturtiums, foxgloves, with vegetables growing and a huge rose garden of its own. When you emerge from under a railway line you will find yourself into the stunning scenes of the water garden where the artist painted his beautiful pictures of waterlilies almost 300 times. The famous green Japanese bridge, covered with trailing wisteria, is a glory to behold. Botanical Gardens, Madeira The island of Madeira has earned its nickname ‘The Floating Garden of the Atlantic’ thanks to the abundant tropical and subtropical flora blooming all year round in the pleasant Madeira climate. The botanical garden offers five spectacular hectares of gardens where you can admire about 3000 species of plants and over 15,000 specimens from several places in the world. The Orchid Garden, located 200m below the Botanical Gardens, features more than 50,000 plants together with a breath-taking orchid exhibition built in a miniature forest. Hestercombe Gardens, Somerset With 50 acres of lakes, woodland walks and terraces built up over 300 years, Hestercombe is a fantastic place to witness contrasting styles of garden design. It is unique in having three complete period gardens. The Georgian landscape, Victorian terrace and the formal Edwardian gardens combine to create one of Britain´s premier garden sites widely recognised as being of international importance. Balata Botanical Gardens, Martinique Martinique is a chic, beautiful island that offers a taste of France deep in the heart of the Caribbean. Its charming Balata Botanical Gardens comprises of a multitude of harmoniously placed botanical plants and flowers, with over 3000 varieties of plant life. Capture the best views by taking a walk across the suspension footbridge, about 20 feet above the ground. Generalife Gardens, Grenada, Spain The Generalife, located on Cerro de Sol, is accessed from the main entrance of the world famous Alhambra Palace. It features the Summer Palace of Granada’s Rulers and a complex of multi-leveled patios, walkways, fountains and walled gardens. It is a wonderful, tranquil place to while away an hour or so strolling along the paths and catching glimpses of the main Alhambra buildings, the city and the mountains as you go. Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, Cape Town, South Africa Kirstenbosch lives up to its reputation as the most beautiful garden in Africa and one of the great botanic gardens of the world. Set against the slopes of Cape Town’s Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch was established in 1913 to conserve and display the rich and diverse flora of southern Africa. It was the first botanic garden in the world to be devoted to a country’s indigenous flora. The 36-hectare garden is part of a 528-hectare nature reserve that contains protected mountainside supporting natural forest and a variety of animals and birds. Gardens of Cheshire There are four notable gardens in Cheshire. The herbaceous borders at Arley Hall are one of the great garden sights in England. Bluebell Cottage Gardens have a huge range of plants in an attractive setting next to the Trent & Mersey canal. Ness Botanic Gardens has a host of features including herbaceous borders, climbing plants and beautiful water gardens; and then there is Stonyford Cottage, an informal natural garden and specialist plant nursery. The Gardens of the French Riviera The scent of flowers fills the air for much of the year in Grasse, centre of the French perfume industry and home to an International Rose Festival every May. Clos du Peyronnet, in Menton, offers a private garden displaying an array of exotic plants, whilst the exquisite gardens of the Fondation Ephrussi de Rothschild are surrounded by marvellous sea views, along with the famous botanic garden of Les Cèdres. Just over the border in Italy are the world-class Hanbury Gardens, said to be the greatest of all the Riviera gardens. Seasonal Gardens of Japan Many of the most notable gardens are the public and private gardens in and around Kyoto, the former capital of Japan, with a variety of different styles: landscape gardens, stroll gardens, palace gardens, pond-and-island, each with its own particular charm and beauty. One of the best-known, Kinkaku-ji, features the familiar three-tiered Golden Pavilion at its heart. Gardens of New Zealand Of the country’s 2000 or so flowering plants about 75% are found only in New Zealand, having evolved in isolation after the land split from the supercontinent of Gondwanaland some 60 million years ago. Many cities and towns in New Zealand have garden tours where you can visit botanic gardens and private gardens, including six world-standard Gardens of International Significance. Being a long north-south country means that everything from the sub-tropical to the sub-alpine grows here.