"Since private gardens may pose a few limitations (space, neighbors, budget) it’s often in the public spaces that landscape designers can really go wild." So for real inspiration, don’t look next door – look at these beautiful gardens for inspiration!
Beijing Olympic Forest Park, Beijing
Built for the 2008 summer Olympic Games, the design of this lush and vast park was governed by the main principles of the ancient Chinese practice of Feng Shui in order to merge natural and artificial elements as seamlessly as possible. The result is perhaps most apparent here, where a man-made lake beautifully surrounds the existing flora. The trees already growing were kept in their original locations, and the lake was dug out around them, isolating the tree clusters as islands, which were later linked by bridges. The effect is surreal, mystical, and enchanting.—Leah Konen
Photographer: Beijing Tsinghua Urban Planning & Design Institute,
courtesy of ASLA.org
The Museum of Modern Art Roof Garden, New York City
The new roof garden atop the Museum of Modern Art won’t welcome you with lush wildlife and a bench to leisurely enjoy your favorite book. In fact, the garden isn’t even accessible. Created solely as art for working Manhattanites looking down from above, this inventive roof garden plays off traditional camouflage patterns to create a space truly unique. The design started out as a translation of a Xerox copy of a pair of skateboarder’s camouflage pants. Using crushed stone, recycled glass, recycled rubber mulch, fiberglass gratings, PVC fittings, and finally, artificial boxwood plants, the synthetic garden creates urban camo on an impressive scale.—LK
Photographer: Peter Mauss/ESTO,
Francisco Alvarado Park, Zarcero, Costa Rica
Landscape designer Evangelisto Blanco shaped this dream-like wonderland out of conifer cypress trees in the 1960s. The enchanting park beckons to the young at heart with figures like waltzing elephants, a monkey on a motorcycle, and a crowded bullfight ring. But our favorite is definitely the 16 topiaries that curve to create these eerie and mysterious archways where visitors can wander.—Tory Marlin
Photographer: Jamie Royer,
The Eden Project, Cornwall, UK
Set up in two climate-controlled biomes, the Eden Project leads visitors from the canopy treetops and lush foliage of West African and South American rainforests, to the wine- and olive-producing dry terrain of Mediterranean and Californian landscapes. The unusual grounds also hold a sustainable education center where rainwater helps flush the toilets and more than 32 acres of outdoor gardens. Just beware of serpents and tempting apple trees.—TM
Lost Gardens of Heligan, Mevagissey, U.K.
These spectacular gardens were once part of a family estate that fell to a state of neglect after World War I. In the 1990s, Tim Smit and a group of enthusiasts restored the space, incorporating a spectacular display of rhododendrons and camellias, a series of lakes, and the Mud Maid, the blossoming land sculpture by Susan Hill seen here. Now one of the more popular botanical spaces in England, the once lost garden has not only been restored to its formal glory—the tourism it's garnered has helped revive the local economy.—LK
Credit: Â© Heligan Gardens Ltd
Topiary Gardens at Washington Old Hall, Tyne & Wear, U.K.
The greenery in Washington Old Hall, an English manor house that was an ancestral home of George Washington, is formed in a charming lattice pattern the appears to curve up and under perfectly—a nice change from the typical teddy bear and elephant topiaries.—LK
Photographer: George Cole
The Overhanging Gardens of Marqueyssac, Vézac, France
Set up on a cliff that hangs over a river, the grounds of this French Revolution-era chateau hold 150,000 boxwood trees, artfully organized to create winding pathways and labyrinths for visitors to enjoy. Viewed from above, the beautiful, rounded boxwoods have a cobblestone effect–an enchanting departure from the tailored, geometric lines of many French gardens.—TM
Credit: Â© Laugery
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