Archives for posts with tag: Gardens

This week’s travel theme from Ailsa’s blog ‘Where’s my backpack?’ is Gardens. When having a look at my past travels I found a whole load of photos from Gardens in the different places that I visited. Some were grand, others were small. I guess I find solace in a little bit of nature – controlled. What I really enjoy discovering is where there is a mix of urban environment with botanic endeavours. The other funny thing about this theme is that my family name is probably derived from the French word for garden – jardin.

Sydney, Australia (my home town), is where I am going to start. The Botanical Gardens marry the harbour with the city and with the skyline immediately adjacent. It provides for an interesting background.

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Brisbane, Australia, has a similar location for the City Botanic Gardens. But its gardens are more tropical in nature.

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Asian destinations have gardens aplenty, which I think is deeply rooted in many Asian cultures. In Kanazawa, Japan, you will find one of the three best gardens in the whole of the country – the Kenrokuen Gardens. They are stunning and right in the heart of the city, adjacent to the remains of Kanazawa Castle. It was too bad that it was such an overcast day, but I was fortunate that I was on the Western side of the country as the rest of the country was in the grips of a typhoon.

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Singapore is called the Garden City, and for good reason. It’s tropical climate is perfect for botanical ventures. My new favourite gardens in Singapore are the Gardens by the Bay (which I have posted about before). The “super” trees are something else.

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Going to Europe and France maintains a rich legacy of its past with the many formal (and geometric) gardens. One of the most famous in Paris is the Jardin de Tuileries. They used to make tiles for the buildings in the city at this location. Just don’t walk on the grass!… and yes that is the Tour Eiffel in the background.

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The Château de Versailles, just outside of Paris, has the most amazing gardens I have ever seen with its fountains and the hedgerow mazes. I recommend this far better than spending your time queuing to see some overly ornate interiors that are only for royalty (or other hob-knobs). Here you must definitely keep off the grass!

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When I was in Athens for the 2004 Summer Olympic Games, I did appreciate the effort that the Greeks put in to build the Olympic venues (though it possibly bankrupted the country). The main Olympic Park, OAKA, had a garden of a different kind with its tree lined boulevards, ponds, and steel structured agora designed by Calatrava. Night time was surreal in the park. Unfortunately the park is in a state of ruin as the bleak economic situation takes its toll on the country.

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What continues to surprise me when visiting big American cities is how the locals have gone to great efforts to build gardens in the heart of their home towns. In Washington DC, the most beautiful of all the presidential memorials is the Roosevelt monument. It is very understated and is quite the opposite to the overly grand structures located around the rest of the National Mall.

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San Francisco is quite a site, and not too dissimilar to Sydney in many respects. There are plenty of Gardens here too, but the ones I like the most were those surrounding that infamously steep bit of bitumen – Lombard Street. Even the surrounding houses got in on the botanic act.

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But in all my travels, by far my favourite garden to visit has been the New York City High Line. It is a garden that has been built by a collective of locals who regenerated an elevated railway line. It is a fantastic example of urban regeneration, but it is special for me as it was one of the first overseas destinations that I took my boy soon after he had started to walk.

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Great theme this week Ailsa! I had quite a few more, but that is enough for this post.

 

I have posted a couple of times now of our many trips to Singapore, including the Gardens by the Bay and Marina Bay Sands art and decoration. These posts were predominantly about man made structures. Singapore is known worldwide as the Garden City, but for some reason it was not until my sixth trip to the country that I managed to visit the Singapore Botanic Gardens. The gardens also contain the National Orchid Garden and it is a surreal escape from the hustle and bustle of the city state’s downtown area. Given Singapore’s tropic location, it is always raining there. But the rain didn’t deter us from visiting the gardens, and it added a different dynamic to the surroundings. I really enjoyed the few hours we spent there, it was relaxing, even though we walked a lot! I was surprised at being allowed to get so close to some of the flowers and plants to shoot macro. There are also some garden sculptures throughout the gardens, but it is not over the top and compliments the gardens well.

Even on a cloudy, rainy day the gardens are alive with colour. Below are my favourite photos from our trip, and as usual the images link through to my larger photos on Flickr.

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I spent a good portion of my visit carrying the Pok in his “rucksack” while he was asleep. It is quite strange trying to operate a Digital SLR camera with a big weight hanging from your belly.

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It is quite easy to get to the gardens with a bus stop right next to the Southern end of the park and a metro station at the Northern end. There are also quite a few exhibitions on as well during the year. Timing your visit, if that is possible, to be around the time of the orchid blooms makes for a much better visit. If you want to know where the Botanic Gardens are, I have attached a link to the location on Google Maps below.

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For many of us celebrating the Easter weekend, it is a religious occasion. One theme of Easter is that of new life (hence the tradition of the Easter egg). For me the rejuvenation of gardens and public spaces is akin to this. I have been to Singapore nine times now and enjoy immensely travelling to the city state. It has a buzz and energy about it, while presenting beautiful gardens that are boosted by the tropical climate and rains. Singaporeans enjoy presenting their gardens in new and innovative ways. The Gardens by the Bay at Marina Bay are no different, and they are truly magnificent. We saw them under construction a couple of years ago when we took the opportunity for a stopover in Singapore on the way to Europe, staying at the Marina Bay Sands (you can get amazingly cheap rates on the rooms if there is not a big event on at the same time as your visit). I didn’t know what I was looking at from the hotel balcony view until I got back home and found this article on inhabitat.com . So I said to my wife that next time we go to Singapore we have to see these gardens and their super vertical garden “trees”. Below are a couple of shots of the gardens under construction. BTW – as per usual, all these images link through to my larger photos on Flickr.

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Late last year we finally got the chance to go back and visit the gardens, open to the public and in full bloom. To get there you have to walk past the imposing Marina Bay Sands hotel complex, and over the bridge that separates the gardens from the uber-size hotel-casino. When you finally arrive it is like being sucked into another world full of flora and colour. The Supertree vertical gardens greeted us, and I must admit I was awestruck by the genius of their design and construction.

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The elevated deck that allows you to walk through the “trees” looks awesome. I think we will take the walk on the deck next time we go, now that the Pok (our son) has properly found his feet.

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There are several themed gardens located throughout the site, in many ways reflecting the diverse cultural backgrounds of the people of Singapore. We stopped for a rest in the Chinese Gardens, where the backdrop was the three huge towers of the uber-size hotel-casino. We could see the storm clouds approaching in the distance and it rained briefly on us several times while we were walking around.

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You can’t get away from the Supertrees and there are some 18 in total at the gardens. You can go right up to the base of these structures and there is excellent information about the trees and how they work – truly impressive!

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There are a few other themed gardens with different plants that are being nurtured. Turning a corner sucks you into what at first appearance would be a completely different garden from the one you just left.

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The Pok had an excellent time running around the gardens and spent a lot of time doing laps around the base of the Supertree above. At the time, with him being so young, he found it quite a novelty that he would walk the base of the structure and see Mummy and Daddy again, and again, and again.

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Finally, the proper tropical storm approached and brought an end to our visit. We had a fantastic time, and will definitely visit again to see a lot of the parts that were still being finished and maybe seeing the greenhouse too. I think a visit at night would also add a different dimension to our next visit, with the whole site lit up under the different coloured lights. I would definitely recommend a visit to these Gardens if you are spending 48 hours in Singapore. One tip, bring water! The humid Singapore climate coupled with all the walking you will do when visiting the gardens will leave you parched. If you want to know where the gardens are in Singapore, I have inserted the Google Maps link below.

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For all of you that are celebrating Easter, have a happy one with family and friends.

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