Europes Finest Gardens
Some of the best gardens in Europe are found in Ireland, which with its mild, moist Atlantic climate enjoys some of the most favourable growing conditions. Top gardens to visit here include Powerscourt and Mount Usher in Co Wicklow and Garinish Island in Bantry Bay.
Holland and Belgium combine to make an attractive garden tour destination. Of course the Spring bulbs are a wonderful attraction and both countries have some of the finest nurseries in the Continent. Het Loo Palace in Apeldoorn and Keukenhof with its spectacular Spring display of tulips are perhaps the most famous examples.
France provides an interesting contrast in gardening styles. The more temperate North is home to some wonderfully varied gardens particularly in Normandy, Brittany and the Loire valley. Monet's inspirational garden in Giverny, the magnificent formal "potager" garden at Chateau Villandry and Kerdalo with its romantically set terraces, grottoes and wooded valley, provide some the best examples.
In contrast the South especially along the Riviera has many famous gardens where low rainfall and longs hours of sunshine mean a whole range of plants not familiar in the more northerly areas are grown. La Serre de La Madone in Menton, designed by Lawrence Johnston the creator of Hidcote is just one of the exceptional gardens of this region. Another great garden is the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, built on the narrowest part of the Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat promontory, this sumptuous palazzo is set among seven magnificent themed gardens.
Italy has some of the best gardens in Europe and a typical tour here would combine the great gardens of the northern Italian lakes such as Isola Bella and Isola Madre on Lake Maggiore and the Villas Melzi and Carlotta on Lake Como with the Renaissance cities of Verona, Venice, Florence and Rome.