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More than a garden, more than just a “green lung” in Florence, the Boboli Gardens are one of the greatest open-air museums in Florence embracing yet another site of culture there, the Pitti Palace. The park hosts centuries-old oak trees, sculptures, fountains while offering a peaceful shelter from the warm Florentine sun in summer. Along with the beautiful changing colors of its foliage in the fall, it is also redolent with the smells of blooming flowers in spring. The Boboli gardens are a spectacular example of "green architecture" decorated with sculptures, and the prototype that inspired many European Royal gardens, in particular, Versailles.
A city like Florence, well known for its amazing art collections, monumental architecture and rich historic past can sometimes make you overlook its natural beauty abounding in the form of well maintained gardens and parks. And then, when you do think about them, it is places like Boboli Gardens, the colorful Iris and Rose gardens, and even the Botanical Garden in the city center that come to mind first. Virtually unknown, and many times almost deserted, the 4-hectare Bardini Gardens recently restored to part of its original glory is now slowly being rediscovered by the locals and guests to Florence. First time visitors to the Renaissance city just might not have time to fit it into their already full itinerary, however, those who are coming back to Florence again (and again and again) should really find time to walk the grounds. In an hour you can stroll the entire garden easily and calmly, and that is what this garden deserves: time for a short stroll that will sooth your soul.
The first museum in Europe devoted to fruits and vegetables, Epicurium’s permanent exhibition, including potager kitchen gardens, invites you to immerse your senses in the world of fruit and vegetables – their colours, smells, and sounds. The amusing, instructive trail presents fruit and vegetables in all their diversity: origins, growing and processing methods, nutritional benefits, and more. Featuring interactive exhibits and videos, the tour is a unique experience to (re) discover fruit and vegetables – from seed to plate. You can tour the exhibitions and gardens all year round, on your own or with a guide – and, if you like, attend a workshop afterwards. A picnic area and shaded rest spaces let you extend your visit of the site, which counts more than a hundred fruit trees of old and new varieties, grapevines and theme parcels with local and foreign vegetables. The circuit finishes with a tour of the Epicurium Greenhouse, which is devoted to the presentation of tropical species and hosts temporary exhibitions.
JARDI D’ACLIMATICIO DE MONTJUIC
The Acclimatisation Garden is one of Barcelona's most interesting botanical spaces. It contains nearly 230 species of plants, some of which are unique to or very rare in the city. All in all it makes for a place of exceptional beauty. The first attempts at plant acclimatisation began in the eastern Mediterranean, in places such as Egypt and Mesopotamia, since this garden has helped us to enrich not just our knowledge of new species but the diversity of Barcelona’s local flora too. The Acclimatisation Garden is arranged as flowerbeds, among which there are some especially notable large trees. They are sufficiently spaced apart to enable visitors to contemplate them individually. This makes sense when we bear in mind that the purpose behind these gardens was to discover the possibilities of cultivating plant species from around the world in Barcelona’s climate, hence the need for space.
JARDI BOTANIC DE BARCELONA
Situated on gently sloping terrain in Montjuïc Park, Jardí Botànic de Barcelona (Botanical Garden of Barcelona) offers visitors a different walk in each season of the year as they observe vegetation from the five regions in the world with a Mediterranean-type climate. The purpose of the Jardí Botànic is to conserve and disseminate these collections of Mediterranean plants. Among its main objectives are: the conservation and documentation of the natural heritage of Catalonia; to promote botanical and naturalist culture; and to promote knowledge of and respect for nature. The Jardí Botànic has a close relationship with the Institut Botànic de Barcelona (IBB), a prestigious centre jointly managed by the Barcelona City Council and the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). The facilities at the IBB, which specializes in botanical research, include a large, comprehensive library and one of the largest herbaria in Catalonia. The IBB is located in Montjuic Park, in the upper part of the Jardí Botànic.
MIES VAN DER ROHE PAVILION BARCELONA
Mies van der Rohe's seminal Barcelona Pavilion is one of the most well loved structures in the history of architecture, a de facto pilgrimage site for architects and architecture lovers around the world. The German Pavilion, also known as Barcelona Pavilion, is a small building at the bottom of the Montjuic hill, designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe for the 1929 Barcelona Expo. The whole complex stands on a 1.3-meter-high podium, clad in Roman Travertine, which “raises” the building above the ground and creates an elevated terrace, an element, which we can see in other projects by the German architect, such as the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin. Another fundamental element of the pavilion design was water, as Mies designed two pools. A larger one was placed near the building entrance to “mirror” the pavilion and further emphasize its visual lightness; a second pool, more “private”, is located at the east end of the complex together with “The Dancer” bronze sculpture by Georg Kolbe. Now, even those unable to make the trip have the opportunity to get a tour of the beautiful structure, thanks to a new virtual walkthrough produced by The Mies van der Rohe Foundation.
CHAUMONT-SUR-LOIRE DOMAINE INTERNATIONAL GARDEN FESTIVAL
The Chaumont-sur-Loire Domaine International Garden Festival has been providing a unique panorama of landscape design from all over the world since 1992. At the same time a source of ideas and a nursery for talent, the Festival gives an extra boost to the art of gardens while gaining the interest of both the public and those in the trade through displaying new flower arrangements, new materials, new ideas and new approaches. The diversity and the high quality of its projects have contributed to the Festival’s international reputation, which has become an indisputable meeting place for displaying the work of a new generation of landscape architects. The 10-hectare "Prés du Goualoup" park, created in 2012, plays host to sustainable gardens linked to the major garden civilisations. Acquired by the Centre-Val de Loire Region in 2007, the Domaine of Chaumont-sur-Loire has become an unmissable site within the spheres of art and gardens. The triple identity of the Domaine: Heritage, Art and Gardens make for a unique visit within the circuit of the Loire Valley castles.
Many times, forgotten or unfamiliar vegetables take pride of place in the Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire’s experimental garden. This is a space that changes shape to accommodate these sometimes indigenous, often travelling plants where old local varieties will rub shoulders with other, more recently acclimatised ones. It is this living heritage, the fruit of generations of gardeners’ labour who have successfully cultivated, preserved and passed down this extraordinary diversity over time, which is often showcased at Chaumont-sur-Loire. An opportunity to realize that more than a dreary alignment of food-producing plants, a garden is somewhere for exchange, discovery and creation. The combinations of vegetables, flowers and plants have been chosen with the utmost care. In step with the natural cycle of plants and tended using environmentally-friendly methods, this special place will reintroduce you to fragrances and colours – a delectable feast for the eyes and taste buds alike.
PARC DES BUTTES CHAUMONT
Jean-Charles Alphand was responsible for the design and construction of Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, which took place from 1864 until the park opening in 1867. He was already very experienced, having built the massive parks of Bois de Boulogne and Bois de Vincennes in 1852 and 1855. Alphand brought in the best to assist him, including horticulturist Jean-Pierre Barillet-Deschamps, the chief gardener of Paris, and Gabriel Davioud. They went to work, planting thousands of trees, shrubs and flowers, along with creating sloping lawns. The park opened on 1 April 1867, coinciding with the opening of the Paris Universal Exposition, and becoming an instant popular success with the Parisians. It takes its name from the bare hill (chauve-mont) that once occupied this site - a place where gypsum was mined, and limestone quarried to be used in buildings in Paris and the US. Worse, though, was that the site also became a dumping ground for sewage, even horse carcasses. Luckily, during the 19th-century renovation of Paris under Napoleon III chauve-mont was chosen as a place for a large park, as part of the emperor's fascination with endowing Paris with green spaces. The artificial lake created at that time wraps around a hilly central island. The lake attracts waterfowl and other birds and is stocked with fish, and it’s common to see nets and other paraphernalia used by students and researchers studying the lake. The 19th-century planners cleaned up the site and dumped in tons of soil to fill the pits left by the limestone mining operation. Then dynamite was used to "sculpt" the site into the craggy shapes you see today, including the 50-metre-high central hill with cliffs, an interior grotto, pinnacles, and arches. Up on top, overlooking the rest of the park is a small, round belvedere, based on the Roman Temple of Vesta in Italy. From the temple you can see a lovely view of Montmartre and the white cupolas of the Sacre-Coeur.
JARDINS DES CHARTREUSE DE NEUVILLE
Open from April to October, for a free or guided visit (by reservation for groups), the gardens of the Chartreuse de Neuville have five objectives:
The gardens’ design is inspired by the Carthusian lifestyle and their original monastic functions: food, medicinal, and flowers for the church altars of 24 chapels. During your walk, you will discover:
MUSEE DU QUAI BRANLY
The Musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac in Paris is a museum designed by the architect Jean Nouvel presenting the history and cultures of non-western civilizations from Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas. French President Jacques Chirac inaugurated the museum, situated on the Seine riverfront in Paris’ seventh arrondissement, in 2006. The “bâtiment Musée“, the building that contains most of the exhibition spaces, spans five levels as a sort of bridge floating over the garden. The main gallery is a fluid space enclosed by curved walls that support multimedia exhibits and description panels. From the main gallery, the visitors enter a sequence of side galleries contained in colored boxes protruding to the outside. The same building also accommodates an auditorium, workshops, a reading room, a special exhibition space, and a restaurant. The “bâtiment Branly” is the building that borders Quay Branly street in the north-western part of the museum’s site; marked by the famous living facade (Mur Vegétal in French) designed by and planted by eccentric French botanist Dr. Patrick Blanc, which is completely covered by a stunning 200m by 12m living wall, containing over 15,000 plants. This 800m² wall of wallflowers, ferns, fuchsias, irises, heuchera and willows was completed in 2005 and amazingly, it only needs to be pruned once a year. In addition, a lush expanse of two hectares – designed by landscape architect Gilles Clément – is the exact opposite of a traditional French formal garden. There are no fences, lawns, gates or monumental stairways. Instead, Clément created a patchwork of small gardens, with streams, hills, pools, and groves, using native French plants and exotic plants that could handle the Parisian climate. Originally, 169 trees and 72,000 plants were planted – it is a glorious place in which to just, be. And this part of the museum is completely free!
ALBERT-KAHN MUSEUM JAPANESE GARDEN
Visiting the gardens of the Albert Kahn museum is like taking a trip around the world! Albert Kahn, banker and philanthropist gathered during his life, a collection of photographs on glass plates, entitled Archives of the Planet. The gardens of this museum reflect their creator and his passion for the world’s different cultures. One wanders between an English and French garden, forests and two Japanese gardens. The Japanese village is traditional and respects Japanese planning principles. Each plant and each rock has its place, integrated into a harmonious and meticulous composition. A "sea of foam", "islands of rocks" and a "waterfall of azaleas" reproduce in miniature, landscapes of perfect nature. The second garden is contemporary, designed by landscape designer Fumiaki Takano in 1989. Water is at the heart of this garden and symbolizes the life of Albert Kahn. Life (Yang) is symbolized by the river and by the conical constructions in relief. Death (Yin) is represented by the inverted cone constructions and the female-male axis, determined by beech and cedar.
FRANKFURT MUSEUM OF APPLIED ARTS
Richard Meier designed the museum complex in 1985, and its design features a generous ensemble, which unites extensive green areas, the old trees, the Villa Metzler and the new main building to an urban landscape on the banks of the River Main. Characteristic of the architecture is a sensitive approach to the museum’s history. Richard Meier's building is a modern answer, integrating the Villa Metzler with a plan that shows residential character. The museum park connects the Museum Angewandte Kunst with the Museum der Weltkulturen, while also serving as a “passageway” to the Main for the residents of the Sachsenhausen district. It ends in the east at a gate through the boundary wall opening onto Schifferstrasse; from there one can look along the entire length of the axis. The park, which was likewise taken into consideration in the Richard Meier design, had already long enjoyed a special reputation on account of its rare trees and plants. Its origins can be traced back to the activities of the apothecary Peter Salzwedel, who purchased the property in 1800. He planted ginkgoes, northern red oaks, a tulip tree, a giant redwood, common beech trees and chestnut trees in the approximately 10,000-square-metre area. Johann Wolfgang Goethe is said to have been familiar with the garden, even though he already lived in Weimar, and to have praised it highly. In 1815 he dedicated his poem Ginkgo Biloba to his inamorata Marianne von Willemer of Frankfurt – with a leaf from the Salzwedel ginkgo. Georg Friedrich Metzler, a member of the famous bankers’ family and the brother of Wilhelm Peter, purchased the grounds and the villa in 1851. In 1855 he had a garden house built in the park, the so-called Schweizer Haus, where concerts and plays were performed. The garden itself was re-landscaped as a rose garden. The character of the surrounding environment had a decisive impact on the form of this building, not only in terms of the topography but also in respect of the local doppel villa topology. Designed as a part of a new cultural district on the banks of the river Main – the so-called Museumsüfer – this arts museum was a transitional work in that it was part of the conversion of a residential quarter to public-institutional use. The accommodation of the program within the available site enabled the remainder of the area to be treated as a park, open to the surrounding community, to Sachsenhausen in the south and to the city across the river in the north. Articulated pathways and vistas enabled the site to be reorganized in such a way as to overcome the barrier formed by the villas lining the Main River.
The story of Kylemore – both Castle and Abbey – and its Victorian Walled Garden is a truly remarkable one. The twists of fate that have marked its history at crucial moments from its beginning to the present day combine to create a colourful and moving history. Originally built as a Castle in 1867 as a romantic gift, the Abbey and its surrounding mountains and lakes are steeped in history with tales of tragedy, romance, engineering initiatives and royal visits. It became home to a community of Benedictine Nuns in 1920 and has been renowned as a place of spirituality and education ever since. Kylemore is located in Connemara, in the west of Ireland and its greatest attraction is its location. Nestled at the base of Druchruach Mountain (1,736ft) on the northern shore of Lough Pollacappul, the heart of the Connemara Mountains, it is regarded as one of Ireland’s most romantic buildings. Mitchell Henry built the Walled Garden at the same time as the construction of Kylemore Castle between 1867 and 1871. One of the last walled gardens to be built during the Victorian period in Ireland it is the only garden in Ireland that is located in the middle of a bog. The garden was so advanced for the time that it was even compared with Kew Gardens in London.
Huge engineering feats were successfully employed to heat the 21 glasshouses originally built to house exotic fruits and plants. These glasshouses were heated by three boilers, one of which doubled as a limekiln, and a complex system of underground hot-water pipes measuring 1,538 meters (5,000 feet) in length. In later years, under the ownerships of The Duke and Duchess of Manchester and then Ernest Fawke, the garden went into decline. In time the Flower Garden became a wilderness and the glasshouses collapsed, leaving only their brick bases. In 1996, the Benedictine Community, who has always used the garden, began restoration works with the help of grant aid, large bank loans and the generosity of donors. To date, two of the glasshouses have been rebuilt along with the Head Gardener’s House and Workman’s Bothy. The Garden was re-opened in 1999 and won the prestigious Europa Nostra Award in 2002. Uniquely, only plants and vegetables, which grew in Victorian times, are grown in the garden today. Currently, it has a vinery, banana trees, vegetables and herbs that are used in the restaurant for lunch as well as a beautiful array of plants and flowers.
JARDINS DE LA FONTAINE
A remarkable garden and the first public garden in Europe, the Jardins de la Fontaine stretch out over 15 hectares and are divided into two parts: a classical garden created in the 1800s and a landscaped Mediterranean garden created in the 1900s. Situated near the ancient fortifications of Nîmes, to the west of the Maison Carrée, the gardens are the product of a city beautification project in the mid-18th century. The work carried out at that time to dig the vast pond and construct the monumental stairway uncovered much older vestiges of a place of worship set up near a spring, hence its name. Already in the time of the Celts, a religion was centered on Nemausus (the god of the local Volcae Arecomici tribe) and a dedication to Nîmes goddesses has been found. But it was the Romans who built a temple devoted to Augustus, with a whole architectural ensemble centered around the nymphaeum and including the very romantic vaulted edifice of the Temple of Diana, the function of which remains a mystery. It may have housed a library. Today, the gardens are richly ornamented with baroque sculptures and huge urns. New spaces have been created, such as the rock garden, the Montgolfier pond and the Mazet. It offers an oasis of peace and greenery to the people of Nîmes with all generations coming here for walks or to relax. A lane of cypresses leads to the Magne Tower that dominates the Rocher de la Fontaine rock. The Féérie des Eaux water and light show illuminates the splendid gardens every month of August, attracting more than 30,000 visitors.
NIMES JARDIN SOLIDAIRE
This urban collective garden has plots cultivated for many years. Conviviality and mutual aid are the basis of the links that unite the diverse communities who have realized this garden "in the making" that cultivates organic vegetables. Colors and flavors make up this wonderful place where everyone brings a touch of good humor. As well as organic cultivation, they sell jams and flavored olive oils. There are table d'hôtes under the arbor every Tuesday in fine weather, by reservation.
Shisen-do (the Hall of the Immortal Poets) may be one of the loveliest gardens in Kyoto. It is so exquisitely understated in every fine detail as to be considered precious. Its designer, Ishikawa Jozan (1583-1672), may well deserve the title of Japan’s best-known unknown poet. His garden may also merit the title of Kyoto’s best-known unknown garden. Although Shisen-do is always glowingly described in the guidebooks, it appears to be little visited. The Shisen-do garden displays the same refined elegance of Go-Mizuno’s pleasure garden at Shugaku-in, albeit on a much smaller scale. The guiding philosophy of the garden is one of simplicity, verging on the rustic, and balance. You approach it through a modest bamboo gateway, up a hewn rock staircase and then along a path lined by bamboo fences. The path itself is a thing of beauty: a two-foot wide and made of stone, its flanked on either side by a further two feet of swept sand. The path passes through a grove of bamboo, creating a sense of enclosure, and the feeling you are entering a secret garden. Through another bamboo gate with a cypress bark thatched roof, you get your first glimpse of the garden: more gently swept sand, inset with stepping stones alternating with stone paths. This approach from outer gate to main buildings has all the elements of classic tea garden aesthetics: the enclosed path, the transition from easy walkway to more treacherous stepping stones, the waiting areas – all designed to cause you to slow down and leave the world behind as you enter into a special place of peace and elegance.
Years ago, I retired to rest,
Did some modest building in this crinkle of the mountain.
Here in the woods, no noise, no trash;
In front of my eaves, a stream of pure water.
In the past I hoped to profit by opening books;
Now I’m used to playing games in the dirt.
What is there that is not a child’s pastime?
Confucius, Lao Tzu – a handful of sand
Amber Fort in Rajasthan, India is no stranger to tourists in search of the exotic. And, often happens in such places, varying side businesses have sprung up to “enhance” the tourist experience. At Amber, it is the fleet of caparisoned elephants that ferry tourists up from the car park to the main gates of the fort. Such blatant tourism may offend the culturally squeamish, but in the end you will be grateful. The approach to the main gates (the Surqi Pol or Sun Gate, so named because the gates face the rising sun in the east) is steep, very, very steep. Amber Fort was, after all, a real fort, built at a time where the efficacy of defenses depended on inaccessibility and excellent sight lines. It thus sits high up in the Aravalli Mountains, commanding a magnificent view of Maota Lake and the arid mountainous terrain around. The complex has four principal courtyards. Through the main entry lies a first courtyard, the Caleb Chow, which is Arabic for the place where soldiers assemble. It is difficult to repress your imagination from peopling the courtyard with splendidly attired emissaries or returning victorious armies, while the ladies of the court watch from the latticed windows above. Let us be detained for a moment by the Sila Devi (a manifestation of Kali or Durga) temple, which lies to the right of the stairway that leads to the main palace. Legend has it that Maharaja Man Singh sought blessings from Kali for victory against the Raja of Jessore in Bengal. The goddess visited the Raja in a dream, exhorting him to retrieve her image from a seabed so that it could be properly worshipped in a proper temple. Happily for history, the Raja won the battle of Bengal (1604); he duly retrieved the image and installed it in this temple. The sacrifice of a buffalo and goats during Navrathi (a nine-day festival celebrated semi-annually) also featured in worship at this temple, was legally banned in 1975.
HUMBLE ADMINISTRATORS GARDEN
The beautiful waterside City of Suzhou in Jiangsu Province in South China is most famous for its elegant classical gardens. Among these, the Humble Administrator's Garden, covering about 52,000 sq. meters (12.85 acres), is the largest and most renowned. Due to its unique designs and ethereal beauty, the garden has garnered many special honors. It is listed as a World Cultural Heritage site and has also been designated as one of the Cultural Relics of National Importance under the Protection of the State as well as a Special Tourist Attraction of China. Along with the Summer Palace in Beijing, the Mountain Resort of Chengde in Hebei Province and the Lingering Garden in Suzhou, it is considered as one of China's four most famous gardens. No other classic garden in the country has been honored more than this one. 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 house lies in the south of the garden. In total, the garden contains 48 different buildings with 101 tablets, 40 steles, 21 precious old trees, and over 700 Suzhou-style penjing/penzai. According to Lou Qingxi [zh], compared with the layout from the Zhenghe Period in the Ming Dynasty, the garden "now has more buildings and islets", and although lacks a "lofty" feeling, it is "still a masterpiece of meticulous work".Liu Dunzhen judged that the arrangement of rocks and water in the ponds of the central third could have its origins in the early Qing. The western third retains the late nineteenth-century layout, while the eastern third has seen several renovations since. Xue Zhijian, the curator of the garden and of the Suzhou Garden Museum, explained the exquisite design and aesthetic value of the Humble Administrator's Garden, the largest of Suzhou's gardens. "This style of Suzhou old style garden has numerous layers," Xue says. "There are four particular components: the stone, the plant, the architecture and the water."
Keukenhof (English: Kitchen garden also known as the Garden of Europe is one of the world's largest flower gardens, situated in the town of Lisse, in the Netherlands. According to the official website, Keukenhof Park covers an area of 32 hectares (79 acres) and approximately seven million flower bulbs are planted in the gardens annually. Keukenhof is widely known for its tulips, it also features numerous other flowers, including hyacinths, daffodils, lilies, roses, carnations and irises. It is located in the province of South Holland, south of Haarlem and southwest of Amsterdam in the area called the "Dune and Bulb Region" (Duin- en Bollenstreek). It is accessible by bus from Haarlem and Leiden train stations as well as Schiphol. Though its grounds are open year-round for private affairs and festivals, Keukenhof is only open to the general public for a world-renown eight-week tulip display from mid-March to mid-May, with peak viewing arriving near mid-April, depending on growing season weather, which varies annually. In 2019, 1.5 million people visited Keukenhof, equivalent to 26,000 visitors per day, by comparison, the Rijksmuseum receives an average of 8000 visitors per day, the Efteling receives 14,000 visitors.
LAS POZAS MEXICO
London-based director Toby Amies guides us through the gargantuan outdoor sculptures of Mexican haven Las Pozas (“The Pools”) in this film on NOWNESS. Las Pozas is the subtropical garden established by twentieth-century British poet Edward James. Here, Amies talks about filming in the surreal spot: "Ever since I saw a photo of one of Edward James’s enormous esoteric concrete sculptures, soaring out of the Mexican jungle, I had wanted to explore Las Pozas. I have always loved what I call 'automonuments,' enormous works of art made without reference to anything other than what was going on inside of the heads and hearts of the artists who felt that they absolutely needed to create, no matter what anyone else thought.”
“Las Pozas is a fascinating folly, a surrealist tourist destination and now the centre of a ripple of wonderful esoteric architecture that has spread into the neighboring town of Xilitla. Filming in it was a challenge, as it remains unfinished. It is still in a state of flux, as its structures and nature struggle to coexist. Hopefully in this film we have communicated some of the wonder of being in the space without losing the mystery and magic that oozes from every leaf and pillar. Edward James was a poet and Las Pozas is his finest poem."
NOT STRICTLY GARDENS
THE SOUTH PENNINES
The South Pennines is a region of moorland and hill country in northern England lying towards the southern end of the Pennines. In the west it includes the Rossendale Valley and the West Pennine Moors. It is bounded by the Greater Manchester conurbation in the west and the Bowland Fells and Yorkshire Dales to the north. To the east it is fringed by the towns of West Yorkshire whilst to the south it is bounded by the Peak District. The rural South Pennine Moors constitutes both a Site of Special Scientific Interest and Special Area of Conservation. The South Pennine Moors are areas of moorland in the South Pennines in northern England. The designation is applied to two different but overlapping areas, a Site of Special Scientific Interest covering a number of areas in West Yorkshire, North Yorkshire, Lancashire and Greater Manchester, and a much larger Special Area of Conservation covering parts of Derbyshire, South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire, and small areas of Cheshire, Staffordshire, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and North Yorkshire. It consists of three separate areas; Ilkley Moor, between Ilkley and Keighley, West Yorkshire; a large area north of the Calder Valley and east of Burnley, straddling the borders of West Yorkshire, North Yorkshire and Lancashire; an area south of the Calder Valley, between Rochdale and Huddersfield, straddling the border of West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester.
It has a total area of 20,938 hectares (81 sq. mi) and is the largest area of unenclosed moorland in West Yorkshire. There are extensive areas of blanket bog, interspersed by species-rich flushes and mires. Other habitats include wet and dry heaths and acid grasslands. The blanket bogs are dominated by cotton grass and heather, with varying amounts of crowberry and bilberry. Areas of wet heath have cross-leaved heath and cranberry. The acid grasslands are dominated by mat-grass and wavy hair-grass with purple moor grass dominating on the wet slopes, along with the heath rush in the wettest places. Chickweed wintergreen and bog pondweed occur here, plants rare in the region. The most species-rich and biodiverse communities are found at wet flushes. It also provides habitat for red grouse, curlew, skylark, meadow pipit, dunlin, golden plover, merlin and twite. There are lapwing, snipe and redshank, northern wheatear, whinchat, ring ouzel and in some years stonechat, as well as peregrine falcons and buzzards.
Every year, whenever downtime allows, archaeologists and their students at Europe’s top universities start packing their bags and make a beeline for Burgundy. Their destination is Bibracte and they are seekers of long lost secrets. Bibracte, a Gaulish oppidum or fortified city, was the capital of the Aedui and one of the most important hillforts in Gaul. It was situated near modern Autun in Burgundy, France. Spread over 200 hectares in the heart of the spectacular Morvan Regional Natural Park, it has plenty to share. The ancient capital of the powerful Aedui tribe, home to up to 10,000 people in the 1st century BC and an economic and political powerhouse in its day. It was here that Vercingetorix was proclaimed leader of the Gauls in 52BC shortly before a final, fateful showdown with Julius Caesar and his legions at Alesia. It was to be a pivotal moment for Gaul and signalled the beginning of the end for Bibracte. The settlement went into serious decline as Gallo-Roman influences took hold and slowly disappeared into the Morvan hills, surrendering to forests and Mother Nature.
Today, not surprisingly, it is an archaeologists dream, as they unearth buildings, sophisticated fortifications and a rich harvest of artefacts. As yet though, these efforts only start to scratch the surface. What makes the Bibracte project so exciting is that only five percent of this ancient site has so far been unearthed. At its highest levels Bibracte offers panoramic views east from Mont Beuvray to the Alps, and on a clear day, you can see Mont Blanc in all its glory. At the foot of Mont Beuvray, the Bibracte story comes alive in a new way, at its modern museum dedicated to Celtic civilisation at the end of the Iron Age. Like its sister at Alesia, Bibracte Museum is wonderfully laid out and an invitation to immerse yourself in history.
Not strictly a garden, Le Crestet is a wonderful medieval example of the integration of buildings, gardens and streets. Perched on a crest at the northern edge of the Dentelles de Montmirail mountain range, before arriving at Le Crestet, you will be able to see the old village from afar, proudly positioned along the crest facing Mont Ventoux. A small medieval fortified village built on a rocky hill Le Crestet is dominated by the breathtaking ruins of one of the Comtat's oldest castles, built in the ninth century. The best way to explore it is on foot, wandering through its narrow cobbled streets, arcades, vaulted walkways and its medieval castle, formerly the residence of bishops of Vaison-la-Romaine. The village offers superb views of the Dentelles de Montmirail and Mont Ventoux. Every year, Le Crestet's Art Centre welcomes artists-in-residence who hope to develop the theme of art and nature in their work.
The Camargue Natural Park area, which includes a large UNESCO designated biosphere reserve, can be visited at any time of the year, but the best times are in the spring and autumn, when the park's wetlands are a major staging point for hundreds of thousands of migrating birds. In it lie green rice paddies, rose-colored salt flats, grass-filled marshes, and wide, windswept beaches. It is notably in autumn that the Camargue attracts bird-watchers from all over Europe. But visitors come to the area throughout the year to admire its wildlife, and in particular the thousands of pink flamingos. These can be admired on many of the park's shallow expanses of water, but most easily in the Camargue ornithological park, a bird park just north of Saintes Marie de la Mer. The centre, with its kilometres of trails, is home to many varieties of waterfowl, including flamingos, white egrets and herons; it also has a bird hospital.
GARDENS WHERE YOU LEAST EXPECT THEM
BANGOK’S BANGKOK NOI
Residents live next to train tracks in this sprawling slum city along a railway line, which the country's ruling military junta is now desperate to clear its 80 hectares of land - which it owns - and sell the rights to property developers to build malls, offices and apartments. Residents are resisting the calls to leave and offers of free apartments, land or cash sums - sparking fears of an impending forced eviction in the coming months. Other workers connected to the slum say that the inhabitants would have ''no choice'' but to leave as they don't own the land. The slum grew in the 1950s when the establishment shipped in thousands of rural workers to provide much-needed labour for the nearby docks, then the biggest in the country. They were allowed to live informally on the land, owned by the Thai government's Port Authority, without any deeds or rent. Wooden homes with tin roofs were built and families remained there and grew over the decades. Officials now estimate there are at least 13,000 families and as many as 100,000 people living here. The Thai government has offered to relocate the inhabitants into a new purpose-built 26-storey condominium block around 1.5 miles away. They have also been offered free plots of land on the outskirts of the capital or lump sums of cash. Resistance to the move from locals, many of whom survive by selling street food and have pets and extended families, which would be impractical for modern apartment blocks, has thrown the government's plans into doubt. Locals now face further struggles with the government in coming months as it increases the pressure to clear the slum to capitalise on the surging price of land in the capital.
The Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, New York, is one of the most heavily polluted waterways in the United States. The 1.8 mile long, 100-foot wide canal, which is a SuperFund site, has historically been home to many industries that contaminated it with heavy metals, pesticides, and sewage from combined sewer overflows. While efforts are underway to clean up the industrial sites surrounding the canal, a new experimental project, GrowOnUs, by the New York-based landscape and urban design firm, Balmori Associates, uses a floating landscape to decontaminate the canal’s water. It was launched last week behind the Gowanus Whole Foods, adjacent to the Third Street Bridge, and will eventually move to a final location near the 7th Street Basin. GrowOnUs transforms metal culvert pipes, once used to bring polluted runoff and sewage waste to the canal, into 54 floating “test tube” planters that will clean the water through phytoremediation, a process that features cleansing plants; desalination; and rainwater collection. Each of the planters will be irrigated from one of three different types of water, according to Jessica Roberts, a designer at Balmori Associates. “Some of the planters collect rainwater in reservoirs made from recycled plastic bottles and some use canal water distilled from solar stills that allow condensation to collect,” she said. Buoyant construction material, such as bamboo, coconut fiber, and recycled plastic, allows the planters to float.