Gardens have long been a source of inspiration for creative minds, and it’s not hard to see why. And gardens themselves are born from creativiting. These are gardens devoted to gathering botanical specimens from across the planet and plots zealous in their mission to showcase a single species at its peak. If you’re excited for the arrival of spring and can appreciate the magic that can happen when humankind works with the natural world, these gardens are worth travelling to all corners of the world to visit. For book lover’s in particular, these gardens are a perfect place to enjoy your first springtime read of 2023.
1. Monet’s Gardens, Giverny, France
If you could only ever visit one garden in your entire life, it has to be this one. Claude Monet’s garden, at his home in Giverny, France, looks as though it has been taken straight out of a fairytale. The garden is split into two parts: a flower garden called Clos Normand and a Japanese-inspired water garden. Visitors typically make a beeline for the water gardens, as it inspired his Water Lilies series, but the flower garden – a riot of tulips, irises and poppies – is no less impressive. The carnival of color has the power to entrance anyone that passes through and can certainly inspire readers to pick up their first springtime novel.
2. Volksgarten, Vienna, Austria
This garden, laid out by Ludwig Remy in 1821, is situated on the grounds of Hofburg Palace in Vienna. It’s famous for its rose garden with over 3,000 rose bushes and 200 different cultivars of roses. Huge beds of tiered roses fill the sides while taller bushes line the pathways, surrounding you with their beauty. The flowers form a kaleidoscope of color in the late spring and summer, with each rosebush carring a personal dedication to a lover, family member or similar. From the vibrant colors to the aromatic air, this garden is the epitome of springtime.
3. Shinjuku Gyoen, Tokyo, Japan
Blending three distinct styles – French garden, English landscape and Japanese traditional – Shinjuku Gyoen is one of Tokyo’s best-known hanamis, or cherry-blossom viewing spots. Much to the delight of onlookers, the park’s 1,500 cherry trees wake from their winter slumber at the end of March, unleashing a sea of light pink blossoms in the process. If springtime had an alarm clock, the blooming of cherry-blossoms would be it.
Even if you can’t be there in the spring, the towering Himalayan cedars and chrysanthemums come into bloom in November, taking away from the harshness of winter. When you’ve finished reading your favorite book under the cherry-blossoms, you can take a boat out on the water and sail through the garden, enjoying all the views and wonders of nature.
4. Gardens by the Bay, Singapore
If flowers truly inspire you to read, a visit to Singapore’s sustainable and fantastical Gardens by the Bay is what you need. The area is dominated by the towering canopies of the Supertree Grove. But these aren’t your average trees. In fact, they aren’t trees at all but a series of vertical gardens that also happen to generate solar energy and – this being Singapore – put on a nightly light show. The gardens also lay claim to the largest glass greenhouse in the world, the Flower Dome, which is cooled to support Mediterranean flora. There’s plenty of space to explore and relax while you enjoy the beautiful views and flowers around you.
5. Humble Administrator’s Garden, Suzhou, China
This area closely resembles a traditional Chinese water village; the garden contains numerous pavilions and bridges set among a maze of connected pools and islands. It consists of three major parts set about a large lake: the central part, Zhuozheng Yuan; the eastern part once called Guitianyuanju, Dwelling Upon Return to the Countryside; and a western part, the Supplementary Garden. The famous dwelling visited by hundreds every year lies in the south of the garden, surrounded by myrtle trees and ponds. The secluded nature of the garden makes for a perfect springtime reading spot.
6. Butchart Gardens, BC, Canada
Located in Canada’s British Columbia district, these gardens receive over a million visitors each year – and for good reason. A designated National Historic Site of Canada, they contain over 900 varieties of plants that bloom March through October. The garden itself looks like something out of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Wandering through the pathways and exploring the multitude of colors and aromas, visitors become enchanted and inspired to embrace springtime. For a bookish visitor, I highly recommend bringing your favorite childhood read to enjoy amongst all the fantastical views.
7. Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Cape Town, South Africa
For the sheer beauty of its setting it’s hard to beat Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, which sits in the foothills of Table Mountain. Founded as a means of preserving South African flora, the gardens have become a major draw for tourists, who can explore indigenous plants outside and foreign flora inside a giant conservatory.
The views of Table Mountain from the canopy walkway are a notable highlight, as their sheer magnitude reminds one of a fairytale. There are always flowers and interesting plants to be seen at Kirstenbosch and every season has its charm, however, to see the site at its best and the maximum number of plants in flower, the best time to visit is towards the end of winter, in spring or in early summer.
8. Kew Gardens, London, UK
Kew Gardens has long been a Saturday afternoon staple for Londoners but with the Temperate House – the largest Victorian glasshouse in the world – open once again, there’s been no better time to visit. The walkways under flowering arches are exemplary of walking through an enchanted forest. Another marvel of garden design here is The Hive, an immersive installation inspired by a beehive. The mixture of art, flora, and grandiose architecture makes Kew Gardens the perfect hideaway for booklovers to escape into their beloved novels and fairytales.
9. Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens, Tokyo, Japan
The second garden in Tokyo on this list deserves to be known as one of the most majestic and beautiful Japanese landscape gardens in Tokyo. With a rich history and subtle influences from China, the garden maintains an exquisite aesthetic appeal throughout the seasons, but none are like the views in spring.
With reproductions of both famous Japanese and Chinese scenery throughout the garden, visitors experience sights from miniature hills to ponds, stones and trees. As you walk along the circular path around the pond, you’ll see a different view every few steps. The variety provided by the garden makes it a fantastic bookish location to enjoy an array of views and narratives.
10. Keukenhof Gardens, Lisse, Netherlands
Keukenhof claims to be the ‘most beautiful spring garden in the world’ and it’s hard to argue otherwise once you’ve witnessed its seven million blooming bulbs, which unleash a riot of color every March. This being Holland, it’s all about the tulips: vast carpets of them are broken up by towering trees, limpid water gardens, and beautiful sculptures. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any more Dutch, the windmills come into view. This garden should be on every book lover’s reading location bucket list. The colors and smell of tulips will not disappoint.
If you’re looking for some book recommendations to take with you when you visit these enchanting gardens, click here.
If you’re interested in exploring some book covers inspired by spring, click here.