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Sweatpants & Sanity | Fantasy Break: Famous Gardens

By Emily Parker

We live in stressful times. One of my favorite ways to alleviate stress is to putter around in my garden! Mine is a work in progress, but I have high hopes for it. For this week’s fantasy break, we’re visiting some of the world’s most breathtaking gardens. Enjoy, and vote for your favorite in our poll!

1. The Garden of Cosmic Speculation – Dumfries, Scotland


The Universe Cascade

Designed by architect Charles Jencks at his home, the Garden of Cosmic Speculation covers thirty acres in the Borders area of Scotland. From the website: “Forty major areas, gardens, bridges, landforms, sculptures, terraces, fences and architectural works.  […], the garden uses nature to celebrate nature, both intellectually and through the senses, including the sense of humor.  A water cascade of steps recounts the story of the universe, a terrace shows the distortion of space and time caused by a black hole, a “Quark Walk” takes the visitor on a journey to the smallest building blocks of matter, and a series of landforms and lakes recall fractal geometry.” It is open to the public for only one day a year. View more here.


The DNA Garden.

2. Butchart Gardens, Victoria, British Columbia


Begun over a century ago by Jennie Butchart, Butchart Gardens is now one of the premier floral gardens in the world! From the website: “Between 1906 and 1929, the Butcharts created a Japanese Garden on the seaside, an Italian Garden on their former tennis court and a beautiful Rose Garden. Mr. Butchart took great pride in his wife’s remarkable work. An enthusiastic hobbyist, he collected ornamental birds from all over the world. He kept ducks in the Star Pond, noisy peacocks on the front lawn and many elaborate birdhouses throughout the gardens.” The garden is open year-round and is even dog-friendly! View more here.


The Japanese Garden.

3. Longwood Gardens, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


The Lily Pond.

Located thirty miles west of Philadelphia, Longwood Gardens features an open-air theater with fountain shows, a stunning conservatory, education about resources and sustainability, and more. Originally land belonging to the native Lenni Lenape tribe, the land was purchased in 1700 by George Pierce, a Quaker. By 1850, the arboretum boasted one of the most fascinating collection of trees in the nation. The modern history of Longwood Gardens is no less fascinating. Open year-round. Learn more here.


A portion of Longwood’s Christmas display.

4. Keukenhof Gardens, The Netherlands


Billed as “The Most Beautiful Spring Garden in the World”, Keukenhof boasts more than 7 million tulips alone. From the website: “The history of Keukenhof, the name of meaning “kitchen garden”, goes back to the 15th century. Countess Jacqueline of Bavaria, Jacoba van Beieren (1401-1436) gathered fruit and vegetables from the woods and dunes for the kitchen of Teylingen Castle. Keukenhof Castle was built in 1641, and the estate grew to an area of over 200 hectares.” Open March 23 – May 17, during the spring.


5. Versailles, France


Arguably the most famous garden in the world, Versailles was built for Louis XIV and designed by Andre Le Notre. Boasting over 800 hectares of land, most of the gardens are done in classical French garden style. Versailles features manicured lawns, fountains, sculptures, a labyrinth, and originally even contained an orangerie and a menagerie. Versailles hosts more than 6 million visitors per year. Learn more here.


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Emily Parker is a musician, writer, and avid reader who started Bucket List Book Reviews, the ‘1,001 Books to Read Before You Die’ project. For Sweatpants & Coffee, Emily hopes to inspire the reading of the classics by a whole new audience by only reviewing the really good stuff.

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