12 things to do this summer in the great outdoors
From picturesque parks, landscaped lawns and beautiful botanical gardens filled with rare plants, we’ve a wealth of green spaces for you to explore.
Chelsea Physic Garden
Built in 1673 as an apothecary’s garden, the Chelsea Physic Garden is a hidden space off the River Thames that’s home to around 5,000 medicinal, rare and historic plants and herbs. Sheltered by its walls, the garden creates a mild microclimate that’s ideal for growing such species, while glasshouses hold an intriguing variety of tropical plant life.
T: +44 207 352 5646
66 Royal Hospital Road, London, SW3 4HS
Image © Nick Bailey
Buckingham Palace Gardens
A 200-acre flowering oasis with a lake, The Buckingham Palace Garden is a private space that’s famously used for parties attended by the Royal Family and their guests. From late July to the end of September, the gardens open to the public for the Garden Highlights Tour, where visitors can walk in the footsteps of the Queen of England. Time your trip to witness the Changing of the Guard at 11am, a quintessential example of British pomp and ceremony.
T: +44 303 123 7300
Buckingham Palace, London, SW1A 1AA
Image © Royal Collection Trust Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017
Windsor Great Park
With 4,800 acres of land, Windsor Great Park is one of the largest parks in the southeast of England. Take a hike through rolling countryside and ancient woodland and discover rare wildlife and striking horticulture. Stop by the Virginia Water lake to discover its famous cascading waterfall, or seek out The Long Walk and Deer Park, where around 500 Red Deer roam, for impressive views of Windsor Castle.
T: +44 1753 860 222
Image © iStock The Long Walk
The Savill Garden
An ornamental garden on the cusp of Windsor Great Park, The Savill Garden is a 35-acre area that features a series of beautiful interconnecting gardens, each of which offers its own theme. From the Spring Wood and the Summer Gardens, to the New Zealand Garden and The Glades, there’s plenty to discover. Last entry is at 3.30pm in winter and 5pm over the summer months.
T: +44 1753 860 222
Wick Lane, Englefield Green, TW20 0UU
Image © The Royal Landscape photographer Warwick Sweeney
Jardin des Plantes
The city’s principal botanical garden, Jardin des Plantes features 28 hectares of gardens, greenhouses and even a zoo. Tucked away in the fifth arrondissement, it’s been cultivating an impressive collection of plant and natural life since it was founded in the 17th century. As well as botanicals, visitors will discover myriad species of birds and amphibians here.
T: +33 1 40 79 56 01
57 rue Cuvier, 75005 Paris
Image © Paris Tourist Office Photographer Daniel Thierry
Jardins des Serres d’Auteuil
Tucked away within the giant Bois de Boulogne park is Jardins des Serres d’Auteuil, a historic botanical garden with roots dating back to 1761 and the rule of Louis XV. It’s home to a vast central lawn, themed gardens and several grand 19th century greenhouses where rare and tropical plants, trees and botanicals are cultivated. There’s also a charming aviary for keen birdwatchers.
3 avenue de la Porte d’Auteuil, 75016 Paris
Image © Paris Tourist Office Amelie Dupont
Gardens of Vatican City
Behind St Peter’s Basilica lies the lesser-known Gardens of Vatican City. Used since the 13th century by Popes and cardinals as a peaceful refuge, the beautiful gardens now cover around a third of the state. They are largely private, but visitors can enjoy an exclusive sneak peek of the grounds by booking a guided tour.
T: +39 06 6988 4676
00120 Vatican City
Image © iStock lakov Kalinin
Bringing a hearty dose of greenery to Rome’s city centre is Orto Botanico. Maintained by the Sapienza University of Rome, the 12-hectare park showcases and cultivates thousands of species of rare and tropical plants. A highlight for nature lovers, the garden offers guided tours for those who wish to delve a little deeper.
T: +39 06 4991 7107
Largo Cristina di Svezia 24, 00165 Rome
Image © iStock Oooyoo
In an appropriate location opposite Santa Maria delle Grazie (the home of Leonardo da Vinci’s famous fresco, The Last Supper) is La Vigna di Leonardo. Atellani House opens onto an intriguing garden, at the foot of which is the vineyard given to the artist by the Duke of Milan. Today, oenologists grow a grape here that the multi-talented da Vinci cultivated himself. Visitors must book onto a tour to explore the complex.
T: +39 02 481 6150
Casa degli Atellani, Corso Magenta 65, 20123 Milan
Image © iStock RinoCdZ
Indro Montanelli Public Gardens
Indro Montanelli Public Gardens was the first purpose-built public park in the city, created in the late 1700s. As well as beautiful geometric flower beds, tree-lined avenues, water features and play areas, visitors can also discover two major Milan attractions: The Civic Museum of Natural History and the Ulrico Hoepli Planetarium
Bastioni di Porta Venezia, 20121 Milan
Image © Flickr Olivier Bruchez
The Huntington Library
Part-library, part-art gallery, part-botanical gardens, after browsing The Huntington’s vast collection of books and artworks, head outside to explore the gardens, within which grow some 15,000 plant varieties. Don’t miss the Frances and Sidney Brody California Garden, the Desert Garden, or the striking Japanese Garden.
T: +1 626-405-2100
1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, CA 91108
Image © The Huntington Library Art Collections and Botanical Gardens
Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden
Located in the heart of Rancho Santa Anita, the 127-acre Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden unites history and nature. It’s home to several historic structures from Native America and the late 19th century, and several beautiful conservation gardens filled with plants, herbs, roses, aquatic features and tropical greenhouses.
T: +1 626-821-3222
301 North Baldwin Avenue, Arcadia, CA 91007
Image © iStock Orchidpoet
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