Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

October 25, 2021

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Avant gardens

The world’s most glorious gardens are for anyone interested in peeking into another culture


Blooms with a view

Keukenhof, in the town of Lisse in the Netherlands, means “kitchen garden” in Dutch; it’s also known as the Garden of Europe, although it happens to be the world’s largest flower garden. Just to get an idea of how much the Dutch love flowers, picture a mind-boggling seven million bulbs planted annually in the park. The garden opened 50 years ago as a way for growers to show off their hybrids and, not surprisingly, the rest is history. To this day, the Netherlands remains the world’s number-one exporter of flowers. Keukenhof is usually open from March to mid May (this year’s closing is May 21). The best time to view the tulips is mid-April.

Impressions of monet

If you’ve ever seen a book of Impressionist paintings, you know Monet’s famous water lilies. But no matter how many times you’ve seen them on posters and cards, there’s nothing like the living, breathing inspiration: his garden in Giverny, France. Monet lived, painted and gardened on this one hectare estate from 1883 until his death in 1926. His nympheas-filled pond and bridge drapped in wisteria came out of his fascination with Japanese art and prints, which he collected at Giverny. On the other side of his water garden, he created a flower garden that, though less known, is nothing short of spectacular. .

Geisha gardens

In Japan, gardening is an art form, on par with calligraphy or painting. From austerely beautiful Zen rock gardens used for meditation in Buddhist temples to miniature bonsai-like landscape gardens of the former ruling classes, they are a distilled expression of Japanese culture. In a large garden, every step leads to a precisely constructed view that is itself a work of art. Typical elements include water, rocks, moss, a stone or metal lantern, flowering tress and pruned shrubs of subtle green tones and an enclosure such as a hedge, fence or a traditional wall. Many larger gardens have at their centre a tea house or pavilion. Don’t skip these: they were created to show off the most sublime views.

What a wonderful Wold

The Cotswolds are rural England at its most mellow: trickling streams, dry-stone walls, grazing sheep and some of the kingdom’s most beautiful countryside. Dotting this serene landscape are stunning examples of English perennial gardens — meticulously planned, yet seemingly free to seed every which way. From large estates to the arboretums at Westonbirt and Batsford to more modest cottages — many of which can be toured at particular times of the year — it’s all about clusters of vibrant colours: apple, plum and pear blossoms in April and May, rampant hollyhock in June and July and climbing roses in the fall. The English make it look so easy.

African green

Kirstenbosch Garden is a stunning 36-hectare spread on the eastern slopes of Cape Town’s Table Mountain. It is very much the city’s backyard — the spot to get some exercise or have an idyllic picnic — but it’s also historically important. Founded in 1913 to preserve local flora; it was, in fact, the world’s first botanical garden with the goal that all the species grown here be indigenous. The garden includes a large, indoor greenhouse that features species from South Africa’s other regions and a series of trails for walkers and hikers to appreciate the outdoors at the end of a long day in the city.

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