Our Favourite Gardens

At Vialii we just love visiting gardens, parks and open spaces, whether they are local to where we live or in far flung places when we get a minute to go on holiday. Many people would think it was a busman’s holiday but gardens are different. There is nothing better than wandering aimlessly through a well designed and cared for garden. We love the excitement at finding the unexpected or seeing something for the first time. And of course there are always lovely new ideas which spark thoughts of how they could be included in our own or clients’ gardens. There are so many to choose from and the list will continue to expand over the years, but here are some of our favourite gardens so far…

Garden of Cosmic Speculation

Garden of Cosmic Speculation, nr Dumfries, Scotland

The Garden of Cosmic Speculation, the garden belonging to its designer Charles Jencks is a firm favourite of ours. Nestled just outside Dumfries and only open one day a year, you need to make a bit of an effort to see this one. But, boy, is it worth it! From the infamous Jencks landforms to woodland walkways and sculptures at every turn, there is never a dull moment in this garden. The garden is inspired by mathematics and science and beholds features such as the Blackhole and the DNA garden. Entry money goes to the Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centres which were set up in memory of Charles’ late wife, Maggie Keswick Jencks.

Nitobe Memorial Garden

 Nitobe Memorial Garden, Vancouver, Canada

The Nitobe Memorial Garden is tucked away in a corner of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. It is considered one of the best Japanese gardens in North America and in the Top 5 best Japanese gardens outwith Japan. The serenity you feel as soon as you step out of the busy campus into the garden is stunning. There is a rare authentic Tea Garden set in the gardens and a ceremonial tea house. The garden is designed to take you on a journey through childhood with the associated decisions to make as you go about which way to turn or not being able to see what is round the corner. A must see if you are in Vancouver.

Levens Hall Gardens

Levens Hall Gardens, Lake District

If you are a fan of topiary then this garden is the one for you. The topiary is in a league of its own and it certainly lives up to its claim as being the finest, oldest and most extensive topiary collection in the world. But there is far more to Levens Hall than just its topiary. From breathtaking herbaceous borders to burgeoning kitchen gardens, water features to bug houses, there is something for everyone. And a great quiz for all the family to take part in too!

Giardini di Boboli

Giardini di Boboli, Florence, Italy

The gardens of Boboli are situated behind the Pitti Palace in Florence and are large parklands filled with sculptures from 16th to the 18th centuries. The gardens are perfect to wander through on a sunny Tuscan afternoon and you will find antiquities at every corner from Roman statues and water features to grottoes and temples. We particularly loved the juxta position with the modern head sculpture pictured here. If you are a fan of perfect flower beds this isn’t the garden for you. But if you love wandering through gardens away from the hustle and bustle and discovering something new at each turn, set aside an afternoon and enjoy.

The Eden Project, Cornwall, England

Set aside a full day and prepare to have your mind blown away by this feat of engineering and display of forward thinking. At every turn you learn something new and the team at the Eden Project or constantly working on new projects, pushing boundaries and educating the public in a fun and genuine way.  Many people think Eden is just a couple of domed greenhouses, and whilst the Biomes are fantastically out of this world, there is so much more to the attraction. There are different themed gardens outside, fantastic sculptures, an impressive interpre ation centre and so much to learn at every turn.Read more about Eden & other gardens in Cornwall in our Blog.

Logan Botanic Gardens, nr Stranraer, Scotland

Tucked away beside the Solway Firth in the South West of Scotland, Logan Botanic Gardens enjoys  being situated in the Gulf Stream, thus allowing for exotic plants to flourish. From its mighty tree ferns to a gunnera bog, Logan can showcase plants you wouldn’t normally expect to see in Scotland. We particularly loved the serenity of the Water Garden. Kids will love to explore through the gunnera jungle or if you are a fan of plants, enjoy meandering around the Walled Garden which is a blaze of colour from Spring through Autumn and is a real celebration of the world of plants.  Or if grasses are your thing, the Rock Gulley showcases grasses from around the world.

Central Park

Central Park, New York, USA

Any time we are in New York, we always set aside some time to hang out in Central Park. No matter what time of year you visit New York, Central Park is always worth a visit. In the summer, it’s a great place to relax and people watch. There are always lots of locals jogging, in-line skating or walking their dogs and often a film crew filming the latest blockbuster. But its the sense of peace you feel as soon as you walk into the park, despite being surrounded by skyscrapers and the busiest shopping streets in the world. From the wide boulevards to the winding woodlands walkways, the large lakes to the striking water features there is loads to see. And of course, you can’t miss the ice-skating in Winter!

Drummond Castle Gardens

Drummond Castle Gardens, nr Crieff, Scotland

These gardens are just a stones throw away from our home yet we only discovered them in recent years. The public can’t access the Castle, but who would want to with such amazing gardens to explore? The gardens are a perfect example of formal gardens in the style of the 17th Century Scottish Renaissance. They were recreated in Victorian times and then renewed again in the 20th century. The symmetry is stunning, the topiary first class and there are some fine examples of statues throughout the garden. If you like your gardens well kept, you are unlikely to find a finer specimen. The reveal as you arrive at the top of the steps at the entrance to the garden will simply take your breath away.

Butchart Gardens, nr Victoria, Canada

Another favourite from our honeymoon in Canada, Butchart, like Eden is a feat of engineering and vision. Part of the garden is an old limestone quarry, which Jenny Butchart set about transforming the area in the early 20th century into the famous sunken garden (see right). The plants are perfection and the use of different heights, colours, textures and form is stunning. Throughout you will find sculpture and water features to keep you enthralled, Italian and Japanese gardens are lovely and if you are lucky enough to visit in the summer be sure to stay on after dark to see the garden take on a different dimension!

Glenwhan Gardens

Glenwhan Gardens, nr Stranraer, Scotland

We had been meaning to visit Glenwhan for some time but never quite managed there, It was certainly worth the wait. Even on the last day in September, on a fairly drizzly day, these gardens are just stunning. Water is a key feature with beautiful ponds to behold – the brave owners even go swimming there! Wildlife is abound from red squirrels to guinea fowl. We loved the myriad of paths which means you can explore the garden for hours and there are gorgeous sculptures at every twist and turn. We will definitely be back in May to visit and see Glenwhan in its glory with all its Rhododenrons in bloom.

An Cala

An Cala, Isle of Seil, nr Oban, Scotland

An Cala can be visited under the “Open Gardens” scheme in Scotland and we are so glad the owners allow people to share in the beauty of their garden. The garden doesn’t look too big when you enter but it has been cleverly designed with a myriad of paths taking you in all directions. Beautiful ponds, waterfalls and rills make water an important feature of the garden. There is a quirky gazebo decorated entirely in pine cones. Wire sheep sculpures add a bit of humour to the garden (and bring a new meaning to baa-rbed wire!) And from fragrant roses to delightful deutzias the planting is a dream too.

Alnwick Gardens, Northumberland, England

Alnwick Gardens sit in the grounds of Alnwick Castle and are a wonderful array of different styles of garden. The central Cascade creates a stunning entrance but there is plenty more to explore beyond. In the Poison Garden you can hear all about plants which you thought were innocuous! Take a leisurely stroll around the Ornamental Garden and the Rose Garden. Or have fun watching the water cascading in the Serpent Garden. They also run the wonderful “Garden of Fairy Tales” trail through the summer, a fun hunt through the gardens with puzzles to solve.