Plants are great. They’re all colourful and pungent, and sometimes they eat flies. It’s a shame that they’re so spread out all over the place, making flower fans tired as they walk hundreds of miles for a peek at each variety. Luckily, some innovative bright spark realised it would be a sensible idea to recreate ideal conditions for rare flowers and then put them all in one big space so that people could enjoy them. These spaces were originally called “plant zoos”, then “leaf meet and greets”, and even the ungainly “these flowers are on holiday, just like what people do” for a while, until finally the title of “botanic garden” was settled on. Here are just some of the top botanic gardens in the world.
Nong Nooch – Chonburi Province, Thailand
This huge immaculately-arranged garden takes up around 500 acres, and still has another 100 to fill. The collection concentrates mainly on cycads and contains an important genebank of the many varieties, but the enchanting colourful scenes here will make any visitor forget about the science stuff, as will the shows featuring martial arts and elephants.
Kew Gardens – London, England
The 300-acre Kew Gardens is home to the biggest collection of living plants in the world (over 30,000 varieties). The famous Palm House is the largest surviving example of Victorian glass architecture in existence, while the gardens also feature one of the largest compost heaps in Europe. Not to be sniffed at. On top of all that, Kew hosts concerts and art from time to time, such as 28 beguiling Henry Moore sculptures back in 2008.
Singapore Botanic Gardens – Singapore
Among the many parks of Singapore, the botanic gardens stand out by being free and open to the public from 5am until midnight – that is except for one section: the National Orchid Garden. The largest collection of orchids in the world contains over 60,000 orchids over three stunning hectares and is well worth the extra fee.
Main image: Nong Nooch, Thailand. Photo by Mika Stetsovski