select - botanic gardens

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Everyone appreciates a garden, whether for shady green spaces, colourful blossoms, or the ever-changing seasonal spectacle provided by nature – with a helping hand from humans. Botanic gardens also reveal national tastes and cultural aspirations, making them delightful places to visit. Here is our pick of some of the best.

 

London

Kew Gardens Kew Gardens

Located in Kew in southwest London, this has been a leading centre for botany and scientific research since 1759, and boasts the planet’s largest collection of plants. But never has science looked so beautiful: the vast grounds have meandering walkways and notable historic buildings, including an iconic Chinese pagoda. The year opens with marvellous magnolias. Dancing daffodils and tulips follow, only to be eventually outshone by summer roses and waxen water lilies. During the winter, there are still plenty of flowers: huge hothouses from the Victorian era explode with exotic blooms and outstanding collections of ferns, cacti, and palm trees. The Princess of Wales Conservatory has marvellous miniature orchids and carnivorous plants; the garden also displays azaleas, bonsai, and bamboo. Don’t miss the new treetop walkway, which meanders 18m above a woodland.


WHY
On the Thames in western London; take the underground’s District Line to Kew Gardens station.


WHERE
Arguably the world’s greatest botanic gardens and flanking the River Thames, this is a fine day excursion from central London.


HOW TO GET THERE
Qatar Airways flies from Doha to London five times a day.

 


New York

Spring Conservatory

During winter, New York Botanical Garden features famous city landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty made from plant parts. It’s hard to know where to start in one of the USA’s premier botanic gardens, which is also a world-leading plant laboratory and herbarium. You could easily get lost in the sprawling grounds, so if you’re here on a weekend, you might make use of the guided tours in some 20 different languages. Explore the desert and rainforest plants of the huge 1890s-era glasshouse, the Children’s Adventure Garden, and collections of conifers and roses, set among a splendid natural environment of rock outcrops, wetlands, and waterfalls. Perhaps most outstanding is the remaining forest, bisected by the Bronx River and a shady retreat from summer heat. Some of the oak, beech, birch, and ash trees are two centuries old, providing a glimpse of the New York environment the way it looked before the arrival of European settlers.


WHY
Located at Kazimir off Boulevard and East 200th Street; take the Metro-North Harlem subway line and alight at Botanical Garden station.


WHERE
The vast green oasis boasts 250 acres and 48 different collections, with some 7 million plants in total.


HOW TO GET THERE
Qatar Airways has daily flights from Doha to New York.

 


Melbourne

Royal Botanic Gardens

Winding pathways lead past ancient trees, across ornamental lawns, and even through a pocket of rainforest in Australia’s premier botanic garden, where a fine collection of plants is complemented by superb landscaping centred on giant flowerbeds and a lake. Giant native eucalyptus trees include a 300-year-old red gum. During summer, the Moonlight Cinema can be enjoyed as you have a picnic dinner on the lawn.


WHY
Birdwood Avenue off St Kilda Road. Head south on tram route 8 and alight at stop 21.


WHERE
Superb gardens within a short distance of the city centre and adjoining a huge swathe of further parklands known as the Domain.


HOW TO GET THERE

Melbourne, Australia
Distance: 11,973 km
Flight Time: 13 hours, 30 minutes
Frequency: Daily

> Book Now

 


Kolkatta

The Great Banyan Tree

Starting life as the Royal Botanic Gardens of Calcutta in 1787, this garden is notable for introducing tea plants to India. Its grounds feature a variety of rare species, as well as orchids, mahogany trees, palms, bamboo, and screw pines. However, its most famous specimen is a huge banyan tree some 330m around and perhaps 200 years old, thought to be the world’s largest tree.


WHY
Eight kilometres from central Kolkata in Howrah on the banks of the Ganges, best reached by taxi.


WHERE
A green escape from the bustle of downtown, featuring beautiful ornamentals and edible plants central to Indian cuisine.


HOW TO GET THERE
Qatar Airways has daily flights from Doha to Kolkata from July 27.

 


Ho Chi Minh City

Botanical Gardens

Established under the French in 1864 at the same time as the adjoining zoo, the botanic garden is notable for its architecture, including a temple that imitates the design of the royal palace in Hue, and another that resembles Beijing’s Summer Palace in miniature. The garden has notable bonsai, cactus, and orchid collections, as well as showcasing rare and valuable species of both native and exotic plants such as Chinese incense cedars. The banks of its shady lotus pond are a favoured picnic spot for locals seeking to escape the urban concrete. There is also a small funfair for children and several eateries serving pho, a much-loved noodle-and-soup dish. Come early in the morning and you’ll see elderly residents practicing badminton and tai chi. The grounds are also home to the Saigon National Museum.


WHY
Adjacent to the zoo in District 1 of the city, with gates on Nguyen Binh Khiem Street and Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street.


WHERE
Vietnam’s largest botanic garden, and notable for its shady collection of 2,000 tropical trees.


HOW TO GET THERE
Qatar Airways has daily flights from Doha to Ho Chi Minh City.

 


Shiraz

Bagh-e Eram palace

One of Iran’s most famous historical gardens, Bagh-e Eram (or Garden of Paradise) was built during the 19th-century Qajar era and once belonged to the Persian royal family. Today it is owned by the University of Shiraz. Laid out in a blend of Iranian and Western styles around a long axis of cypress trees, it is noted for groves of orange trees and ornamental ponds and fountains. For those of a scientific bent, many of the trees in the gardens are labelled in English and Farsi, making a wander around both an educational and aesthetic experience. At the garden’s northern end stands a flamboyant royal palace encrusted with mirrored tiles, stucco work, and elaborate wooden carvings. The gardens are popular with elderly couples and university students, who sit chatting on benches under the cypress trees.


WHY
On Eram Street in the northwest of the city, and part of the grounds of the University of Shiraz.


WHERE


HOW TO GET THERE
Qatar Airways commences twice weekly flights from Doha to Shiraz from June 5.

 
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