Sara Thopson - Jul 8, 2019
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Botanical gardens are not on every tourist’s wish-list. But a visit to some of the most beautiful gardens in Europe offers wonderful views, real exotics, and some picturesque impressions. They are usually more than just a plant show but places of surprises, calmness, and aesthetics. Tourism-review presents the top 7 extraordinary gardens on the old continent worth visiting.

Kew Gardens (London)

A must, not just for plant lovers. Kew Garden in London's Richmond, with its sprawling 80 hectares, is one of the world's most significant botanical gardens – with numerous plant species from around the world. In research, the royal botanical gardens have gained world fame with their giant plant seed bank. "Many of our plants are already threatened with extinction," says Scott Taylor, who is the director of horticulture here. "That's why we try to secure the seeds of as many species as possible."

Madeira Botanical Garden (Funchal, Portugal)

A funicular runs from the old town of Funchal to the Madeira Botanical Garden in Portugal, 300 meters above sea level. At the sight of the ground floor, most visitors whip out the camera. Here, plants in contrasting colors and geometrical patterns are formed – with the Atlantic Ocean as a backdrop. Many exotic plants thrive here, for example, a striking dragon tree and tropical cycads. These prehistoric plans look like palm trees with fern leaves. But there are also native plants to see in the garden, such as the special Madeira laurel. Originally the whole island was covered with laurel forest.

Parco Botanico Eisenhut (Ticino)

The botanical garden Eisenhut on Monte Gambarogno with a view of the Lago Maggiore is especially known for magnolia. With 600 species, its magnolia collection is the largest in the world. In the sun-drenched canton of Ticino on the south side of the Swiss Alps, it is warm enough for these ornamental shrubs with their impressive petals. Some of the magnolias measure more than ten meters in height.

Jardin des Plantes (Paris)

In a seemingly endless discounts, a wave of colorful poppies surge in the Jardin des Plantes in the heart of Paris. The delicate petals are reminiscent of polka dots on impressionist paintings. Tourists take pictures under the pink flowering Japanese cherry trees. And the banks of the Seine are close by in this botanical garden, which belongs to the Museum of Natural History.

Chelsea Physic Garden (London)

Next to Kew, Chelsea Physic Garden, London's oldest botanical garden, seems tiny, but still is one of the most interesting gardens in Europe. Hidden between houses lies in the fine district of Chelsea. Because of its proximity to the Thames and the protective walls, a mild microclimate prevails here. There are good conditions for citrus and other southern fruit such as grapefruit, lemon or bergamot. An idyllic garden with a Mediterranean touch in the middle of London.

Real Jardin Botanico (Madrid)

A wrought-iron fence encloses the Real Jardin Botanico, the Royal Botanical Garden in Madrid. It is right there next to the famous Prado Museum and there is also an art to be seen between the foliage, where man-sized statues of Spanish botanists stand out. The flowers of the pomegranate from Asia and the soft cylindrical tassels of the pipe cleaner shrub shine red as fire. The Cardo de Huerta, a kind of Spanish artichoke, is one of the standout plants in the botanic garden.

Jardins de Coursiana (La Romieu, France)

In La Romieu in southwestern France, there are the Jardis de Coursiana. "We do not emphasize that we are a botanical garden," says the owner of the park Veronique Delannoy. "Otherwise people might think that it's boring here." There are 700 rare trees and shrubs from five continents, including 60 different species of lime trees.

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