Here are some of the finest gardens you can visit in and near our Lakes & Mountains holiday resorts.
There is an enormously varied range of beautiful gardens open to the public. The flora will, of course, vary throughout the season, as will opening times, so please do investigate further.
No visit to Salzburg is complete without seeing the famous Mirabell Gardens (as featured in THAT film). Opened by Emperor Franz Joseph in 1854, they are a horticultural masterpiece and popular with photographers. Unusual features include the Hedge Theatre and the Dwarf Garden.
Further east, in Vienna, Schönbrunn Palace Park complex includes:
• Palmenhaus Schönbrunn - one of the largest botanical exhibits of its kind with over 4,500 plant species, including an olive tree approximately 350 years old and a coco de mer from the Seychelles which is not expected to blossom for 50 or even 100 years.
• Wüstenhaus Schönbrunn where you can see one male and one female Welwitschias, a rare, endangered species which can survive for two millennia.
• The Great Parterre - the sculpted garden space between the palace and the Sun Fountain which contains a maze.
• And much, much more.
Still in the Austrian capital, the Botanical Garden of the University of Vienna dates back over 250 years and has over 9,000 species of plants on display, including woody tropical plants. Also in Vienna, Neugebaüde Palace is a former Imperial residence where the Italian-inspired palace takes second place to its Renaissance garden complex.
To the south, clients on our Grand Austrian Rail Adventure will appreciate the extensive scenic gardens surrounding Eggenberg Castle in Graz - these have recently been restored or reconstructed as a tribute to Romanticism. The northern quarter of the grounds features a separate Planetary garden.
At 2,000m, the Alpengarten Patscherkofel near Igls is the highest botancial garden in Europe. It features more than 400 different mountain plants including Edelweiss, gentian and primula auricular. The site also includes a research centre for eco-physiological studies at the Alpine tree-line. Nearby is the Zirbenweg trail, a panoramic hiking path which runs above Innsbruck for 7km through the oldest pine forest in the Alps.
As well as a parade of floral floats, the annual Seefeld Flower Parade on Sunday 7th August 2011 also features a procession of vintage cars, tractors and and fire engines! It's followed by a Rio Carnival Show in the village square.
Ambras Castle, above Innsbruck, has gardens of note, whilst in the Tyrolean capital itself you'll find the Innsbruck University Botanical Garden. This features over 5,000 species and includes cactus, fern and orchid houses, an alpine rock garden and an arboretum - plus a fragrance & touch garden where all plants are labelled in Braille. Also in Innsbruck the Hofgarten is a 25 acre protected park on the edge of the Old Town. Originally a river meadow, over the centuries it has been a Renaissance garden, a French formal garden and now an English landscape garden.
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There is not enough space to go into detail here, so here is a quick rundown that could keep you going for a full week:
• Villa Taranto - at 50 acres, these are some of the most extensive gardens in Europe and are world famous for tulips (25 minutes by ferry from Baveno).
• Isola Bella - a baroque villa and gardens particularly noted for springtime azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons (five minutes by ferry from Stresa).
• Islola Madre - an elaborate villa and gardens with rare vegetables and flowers (ten minutes by ferry from Stresa).
• Villa Palavicino gardens (1km from Stresa).
• Botanic Garden Alpinia (reached by cable car from Stresa).
• And don't forget the Botanical Gardens of Brissago just over the border in Switzerland.
Not be outdone by Lake Maggiore, the rest of Italy has plenty of garden delights too. Take the Franciacorta Wine area near Lake Iseo where you'll find Quistini Castle, famous for its 1,500 varieties of roses.
• Isola del Garda, the biggest island on Lake Garda, features a Venetian neo-Gothic style villa with Italian and English gardens sloping down to the lake. Guided tours are organised by the owners, the Cavazza family.
• Botanical Gardens at the Varone Waterfalls in Riva del Garda
• The Parco Giardino Sigurta near Peschiera comes with a slice of history - this was Napoleon III's headquarters in 1859. There are various events here throughout the summer, including performances by British schools bands.
• Near our hotel in Gardone Riviera you'll find the Andre Heller Botanical Gardens which are noted for bamboo and azalea.
• Also in Gardone, I Giardine del Vittoriale is a citadel featuring the Prioria Gardens with its trophies, works of art, citrus orchards and a magnolia thicket.
Further south, in the Appenines, Reinhardt Park and Gardens are close to Passignano on Lake Trasimeno, whilst the gardens nearest to Lake Bolsena are the Italian gardens of Villa Lante which date back to the 16th century.
Lake Como has also some great gardens in the following villas:
This heavenly white villa sits just on the outskirts of Bellagio. The park is filled with rare and exotic plants and is available to the public.
The villa has got a botanical garden which is one of the main attractions of the villa on Lake Como. The beautiful trees include cedars of Lebanon, evergreen hedges, African palms, American palms, agaves, yuccas, dragon-trees, citrus trees and oleanders. For all the visitors of Lake Como who have got the opportunity to visit Varenna, the botanical garden of Villa Monastero is not to be missed!
The Gardens of the Villa Carlotta in Tremezzo, is well worth the visit and features 70,000 sq metre botanical gardens, surrounding the building. There is so much choice of colours and 500 varieties of flowers and plants, including 150 types of rhodedendrons and azaleas. The villa can be visited between March and November between 9am and 4.30pm (with a 2hr break for lunch at 12.) The villa is situated in Tremezzo, and is just a short walk from the ferry platform.
The Villa del Balbianello is a villa famous for its elaborate terraced gardens where they prune the trees with scissors. The spectacular terraced gardens feature magnolias, azaleas, cypresses and much more. You can experience excellent panoramic views of the lake and mountains from the villa gardens. The Villa has a fabulous history and owners, some of who were Butler Ames, who purchased and renovated the villa and its garden. It was then bought in 1874 by the explorer Guido Monzino (leader of the first Italian expedition to climb Mount Everest), who filled it with rich collections, including artifacts acquired on his expeditions. Now it is owned by the National Trust of Italy.
The grounds have been featured in a number of high profile films including Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones (2002), and Casino Royale (2006).
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For our Swiss holidaymakers, three particular gardens come to mind.
In the Italian-speaking deep south of the country you will find over 1,700 exotic and sub-tropical species cultivated outdoors in the Botanical Gardens of Brissago on Lake Maggiore. Once the home of a convent, the Brissago islands were then privately owned for decades, one prominent owner and resident being Baroness Antonietta Saint Leger who published details of the plants cultivated there in 1913 in The Vegetation of the Island of St Leger in Lago Maggiore. The gardens were first opened to the public in 1950 and are a short boat ride from our hotels in Locarno.
Another island garden can be found at the opposite end of the country (in fact, it's just across the border in Germany): Mainau Island on Lake Constance is known as the Flower Island because of its beautiful botanical gardens. Features here include tropical and sub-tropical plants, a substantial arboretum, an Italian Rose garden and (hic!) an educational wine trail. With Inghams, you can even stay at a former Dominican monastery, still preserving the magnificent original cloisters - the Steigenberger Inselhotel on the shores of Lake Constance.
Finally, in the much-loved Bernese Oberland area of Switzerland, a scenic mountain railway ride will take you to the Schynige Platte Botanical Alpine Garden. Here, at a height of nearly 2,000 metres and overlooked by the Eiger, Jungfrau & Mönch, you'll find 600 native species of Swiss Alpine wild flowers. Inghams features several resorts near here, including Wilderswil and Interlaken and Grindelwald.
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If you're travelling to Vancouver or Victoria on the west coast of Canada with Inghams, a visit to the Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island is a 'must'. (Victoria and Butchart Gardens full day tours available from your Resort Representative in Vancouver or Victoria.)
Established more than a century ago by the Butchart family, the original estate was called Benvenuto - Italian for 'welcome'. Family-owned and managed ever since, these beautiful 55-acre gardens have wonderful floral displays and are now classified as a National Historic Site of Canada. They are conveniently located just 14 miles north of Victoria and 13 miles south of the Vancouver-Victoria ferry terminal at Swartz Bay. (You can even visit Victoria by Float Plane from Vancouver! Book with your Representative in resort.)
Whilst you’re here, don't miss the rural peace of the smaller Glendale Gardens where you'll find a wide range of individual gardens dedicated to (amongst others) hardy fuchsias, lilies, mixed borders, native wildflowers, herbs, heather and ornamental grasses. There is also a 'drought tolerant ' garden - worth a visit in these times of climate change - and even a Zen garden for those of you who fancy some meditation and self-contemplation.
Last, but not least on Vancouver Island, at Victoria Butterfly Gardens you'll find beautiful orchid displays and thousands of colourful, free-flying butterflies and moths.
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| Blumen Corso (Flower Parade)
Innsbruck University Botanical Garden
|Igls||Alpengarten Patscherkofel, Botanical Garden|
|Vienna|| Schönbrunn Palace Park:
The Great Parterre
Botanical Garden, University of Vienna
Castle in Graz (Burg) - Grand Austrian Rail Adventure
|Italy|| Gardone Riviera, Lake Garda
Riva del Garda
Stresa, Lake Maggiore
Baveno, Lake Maggiore
| I Giardine del Vittoriale
Andre Heller Botanical Gardens
Gardens of Villa Lante
Lake Front Gardens
Arco (garden area)
Botanical Gardens at the Varone Waterfalls
Reinhardt Park & Garden
Isola Bella Gardens
Islola Madre Gardens
Villa Palavicino Gardens
Villa Taranto Gardens
Parchi Giardino Sigurta
Parco Sigurta Giardino (Sigurta Park Gardens)
Isola del Garda
The Parco Natura Viva
The Gardens of Trauttmansdorff
Villa del Balbianello
Locarno (Lake Maggiore)
| Botanic Garden Alpinia
Botanical Alpine Garden
Botanical Gardens of Ascona
Botanical Gardens of Brissago
|Canada||Victoria and Vancouver||
Victoria and Butchart Gardens
||Lake Constance||Mainau Island|