The romantic story attached to this garden is wonderful: after nearly all of the gardeners who worked there were killed in the First World War, the garden was neglected, forgotten. It was only when it was rediscovered in the 1990s as an overgrown wilderness, that the painstaking process of restoration began. There’s a jungle garden, an Italian garden, a walled garden, and my favourite, the kitchen garden.
Notable for its subtropical plantings, this remote and serene garden was established in the nineteenth century and features an array of exotic plants that wouldn’t thrive on the British mainland. There’s also a great display of ship’s figureheads, both in original shipwrecked condition, and restored.
When I worked in the city, I used to jog through the gardens at lunchtimes, have picnic lunches, and go to movies, concerts and plays. Its location on the edge of the harbour is spectacular and it’s only a short walk to the Art Gallery of NSW. When I first moved to Sydney there was a wildflower garden that reminded me of the fields at home in England, and it’s where the inspiration for The Botanist’s Daughter struck – in the rose garden, at the sundial there.
A green oasis on the edge of the city, Kew Gardens offers days’ worth of interest. My favourite spots are the spiral stairs in the Palm House (a lovely way to warm up on a cold day) and the wonderful Marianne North Gallery. The Temperate Glasshouse, the largest existing Victorian glasshouse, has recently reopened, so there’s a new reason for me to return.
5. Singapore Botanic Gardens
I feel a special connection to Singapore, as it is where I was born. My mother used to talk about the wonderful flowers that grew in the city, particularly the frangipani. It’s a lush, tropical feast of plants and flowers, and if you like orchids, don’t miss the national orchid garden.
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