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Saturday, March 31, 2012

16 MOST BREATHTAKING GARDENS IN THE WORLD


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Every garden is amazing. From the smallest container to the most dramatic botanic garden (such as those listed below), gardens help us appreciate the natural beauty around us, amaze us with the diversity that exists in the plant world, and stand testament to the creativity of those whose art consists not of brushes and paints, but of flowers and plants.

Whether they stand as symbols of a leader's greatness, as a wealthy man's monument to his love of plants, or as a beautifully catalogued collection of a particular type of plant, the world would be a sad place without its botanic gardens. Here's a selection of the most dramatic, amazing gardens from around the world.

[Note: This list is derived from different sources and is in no particular order.]

1. The Garden of Cosmic Speculation - Scotland

The Garden of Cosmic Speculation – Scotland

Open to the public only one day a year, the Garden of Cosmic Speculation takes science and maths as its inspiration. Quite simply, there isn't another garden like it in the world. The garden was set up by Charles Jencks, together with his late wife Maggie Keswick and is located at Portrack House near Dumfries. That's in Scotland, by the way! It was set up in 1989 without the usual ideas people have when they create a garden. Horticultural displays very much take second place in this garden. Instead, it is designed with ideas in mind - and to provoke thought (or at least speculation) about the very nature of things. [More information]

2. Keukenhof Gardens - The Netherlands

Keukenhof Gardens – The Netherlands

An unprecedented wealth of spectacular floral displays planted in endless varieties, alternated with beautiful works of art. Keukenhof is unique, world famous and has been one of the most popular destinations in the Netherlands. The garden is home to 7 million tulips, which includes special hybrids that have been or are being developed. In fact, Keukenhof's pride and joy is the truly awe-inspiring Russian black tulip Baba Yaga. [More information]

3. Suan Nong Nooch - Thailand

Suan Nong Nooch – Thailand

This incredible park is situated in Pattaya, Thailand. It is popular among tourists because of stunningly beautiful landscapes and marvellous views. Everything there seems to be from a fairy-tale. It is full of Thai style houses, villas, banquet halls, restaurants and swimming pools. A vast 600 acres area was bought by Mr. Pisit and Mrs. Nongnooch in 1954, this land was predicted to be a fruit plantation, but, Mrs. Nongnooch made a trip abroad and came back with a firm decision to create there a tropical garden of ornamental plants and flowers.

In 1980 it was opened to the public and got an official name "Suan Nong Nooch." Suan means "garden," since it is a place where everybody concerned can get acquainted with Thai Culture and Cultural Shows. More than 2,000 visitors go there everyday. This garden always looks as it does today. Also, it is a conservation place for many plants and palms. [More information]

4. Versailles - France

Versailles – France

Probably the world's most famous garden, it was built for Louis XIV and designed by Andre Le Notre. The laying out of the gardens required enormous work. Vast amounts of earth had to be shifted to lay out the flower beds, the Orangerie, the fountains and the Canal, where previously only woods, grasslands and marshes were. The earth was transported in wheelbarrows, the trees were conveyed by cart from all the provinces of France and thousands of men, sometimes whole regiments, took part in this vast enterprise. [More information]

5. Jardim Botânico de Curitiba - Brazil

Jardim Botânico de Curitiba – Brazil

Also known as the "Jardim Botânico Fanchette Rischbieter," the Botanical Garden of Curitiba is a garden located in the city of Curitiba, the capital of the state of Paraná, and the biggest city in southern Brazil. It is the major tourist attraction of the city, and it houses part of the campus of the Federal University of Paraná. Opened in 1991, Curitiba's trademark botanical garden was created in the style of French gardens. Once at the portal of entry, extensive gardens in the French style in the midst of fountains may be seen, as well as waterfalls and lakes, and the main greenhouse of 458 square meters, which shelters in its interior, copies of characteristic plants from tropical regions. It rolls out its carpet of flowers to the visitor's right at the entrance. This garden occupies 240.000 m² in area. The principal greenhouse, in an art nouveau style with a modern metallic structure, resembles the mid-19th century Crystal Palace in London. The Botanic Museum, which provides a national reference collection of native flora, attracts researchers from all over the world. It includes many botanic species from the moist Atlantic Forests of eastern Brazil. [More information]

6. Butchart Gardens - Canada

Butchart Gardens – Canada

Butchart Gardens is one of the most famous gardens in the world which is counted among the best of the best. It's no less than a heaven out there at Butchart Gardens located in British Columbia. The breathtaking views will keep you stunned for some time when you first visit the Butchart Gardens. Spread over an area of 50 acres, the Butchart Gardens is placed near Victoria on Vancouver Island. There's never a dull season at Butchart Gardens, which keeps itself vibrating all throughout the year from the summers to the chilly winters. [More information]

7. Yuyuan Garden - China

Yuyuan Garden – China

Yuyuan Garden is believed to be built in the Ming Dynasty more than 400 years ago. Built in traditional Chinese style with numerous rock and tree garden areas, ponds, dragon-lined walls and numerous doorways and zigzagging bridges separating the various garden areas and pavilions. In the past over 400 years, Yuyuan was restored and reopened several times. Because of the downfall of the Pan's family after Pan Yunduan's death, Yuyuan was slowly out of use and was once in a mess. Although later the garden was renovated by the local rich people, several civil wars in the mid-19th century caused huge damage. In 1956, after Shanghai's liberation, the city government rebuilt the garden and recovered its elegance and beauty. Yuyuan Garden was at last reopened to the public in 1961. [More information]

8. Shalimar Garden - Pakistan

Shalimar Garden – Pakistan

The Shalimar Garden is a Persian garden and it was built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in Lahore, modern day Pakistan. Construction began in 1641 A.D. (1051 A.H.) and was completed the following year. The project management was carried out under the superintendence of Khalilullah Khan, a noble of Shah Jahan's court, in cooperation with Ali Mardan Khan and Mulla Alaul Maulk Tuni. The Shalimar Garden is laid out in the form of an oblong parallelogram, surrounded by a high brick wall, which is famous for its intricate fretwork. The gardens measure 658 meters north to south and 258 meters east to west. In 1981, Shalimar Gardens was included as a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with the Lahore Fort, under the UNESCO Convention concerning the protection of the world's cultural and natural heritage sites in 1972. [More information]

9. Minneapolis Sculpture Garden - USA

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden – EUA

The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is one of Minnesota's crown jewels and its centrepiece, the Spoonbridge and Cherry, has become a Minnesota icon. Claes Oldenburg best known for his ingenious, oversized renditions of ordinary objects, and Coosje van Bruggen, his wife and collaborator, had already created a number of large-scale public sculptures, including the Batcolumn in Chicago, when they were asked to design a fountain-sculpture for the planned Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. The spoon had appeared as a motif in a number of Oldenburg's drawings and plans over the years, inspired by a novelty item (a spoon resting on a glob of fake chocolate) he had acquired in 1962. Eventually the utensil emerged - in humorously gigantic scale - as the theme of the Minneapolis project. Van Bruggen contributed the cherry as a playful reference to the Garden's formal geometry, which reminded her of Versailles and the exaggerated dining etiquette Louis XIV imposed there. [More information]

10. Ryōan-Ji - Japan

Ryōan-ji – Japan

Ryoan-ji Temple in Kyoto is famous for its Zen garden. Ryoan-ji Temple is considered to be one of the most notable examples of the "dry-landscape" style. Some say Ryoan-ji Temple garden is the quintessence of Zen art, and perhaps the single greatest masterpiece of Japanese culture. This Japanese temple is surrounded by low walls, an austere arrangement of fifteen rocks sits on a bed of white gravel. No one knows who laid out this simple garden, or precisely when, but it is today as it was yesterday, and tomorrow it will be as it is today. Behind the simple temple that overlooks the rock garden is a stone washbasin called Tsukubai said to have been contributed by Tokugawa Mitsukuni in the 17th century. It bears a simple but profound four-character inscription: "I learn only to be contented." [More information]

11. Gardens of Marqueyssac - France


Gardens of Marqueyssac, France. Believe it or not, the mesmerizing shapes of the hedges were first created some 300 years ago, but they still impress visitors today. [More information]

12. The Magical Gardens of Disney - Orlando, Florida, USA

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All fans of Disney world and characters will really love the following plant statues. The favourite Disney characters spring to life along with 30 million colourful blooms and other fabulous sights during the annual Epcot® International Flower & Garden Festival in Florida. [More information]

13. The Geometric Gardens of Denmark - Denmark


The Geometric Gardens, officially called the ‘Musical Gardens by Sorensen’, were established in 1983 in their original size – being a series of nine enclosures, hedged in hornbeam, with various geometric shapes that consisted of six polygons, an oval and a circle and were disposed on a green surface in an oval clearing, creating a striking landmark. [More information]

14. The Beijing Garden - Beijing, China


The Olympics in Beijing were an inspiration to many, including an army of landscape artists. There are more than 50 Olympic gardens in 43 cities throughout China, and every year couples of garden festivals regarding topiary are also organized. [More information]

15. The Lost Gardens of Heligan - Cornwall, United Kingdom

heligan.jpgPhoto courtesy of Fimb, Flickr Creative Commons Attribution License.

The magnificent Heligan Gardens are designed in what is known as the "gardenesque" style, which means that different parts of the garden have entirely different moods and focuses. The gardens include several very old rhododendrons and camellias, an Italian-style garden, a large vegetable garden, Europe's only productive pineapple pit, and "The Jungle,"which is filled with sub-tropical tree ferns. The gardens are now open to the public, and the "Mud Maiden" (pictured above) has become one of the garden's most beloved features. [More information]

16. Arctic-Alpine Botanic Garden - Tromso, Norway

arcticalpine.jpgPhoto courtesy of Harald Graven, Flickr Creative Commons Attribution License.

The world's northernmost botanical garden boasts a wide ranging collection of Arctic and alpine plants from across the entire Northern hemisphere. The garden is arranged geographically, grouping Arctic and alpine plants together by continent, as well as by botanical association (so related plants within a specific region are grouped together). All together, the garden showcases thousands of botanical taxa within its 20 collections. The garden also strives to educate visitors about the relationship between the plants and the terrain of Alpine regions. A "Geology Walk" explores rocks of Norway, and signs throughout the garden help visitors appreciate the uniqueness of alpine plants. [More information]

[Edited. Top image added.]


Friday, March 30, 2012

15 MOST COLOURFUL CITIES FROM AROUND THE WORLD


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Many cities use colour to great effect in their architecture, but not many go to such an extent as these! Using all the colours of the rainbow, these cities from around the world are a bright and welcoming sight for travellers and residents alike.

[Note: The list is compiled from different sources and is not meant to be ranked in the order given]

1. Marrakesh, Morocco

marrakesh morocco1 7 Colourful Cities From Around the World

Known as the Ochre, Red or Rose City, Marrakesh is home to many beautiful pieces of architecture, with its walls, alleys and palaces all painted in stunning rustic colours. Based at the bottom of the spectacular Atlas Mountains, Marrakesh’s exotic sights, sounds, and smells have enchanted tourists for decades, with millions flocking to visit every year.

2. Amer, India

amer india 21 7 Colourful Cities From Around the World
(Images: Saad.Achtar, cc-nc-nd-3.0 & cc-sa-3.0)

Also known as “amber” for its bright, golden buildings, Amer was a city of its own right in ancient Rajasthan before becoming part of the Jaipur Municipal Corporation. The structure which now stands as the Amber Fort was originally a palace built by the great conqueror Raja Man Singh I. Inside, the beautifully painted buildings glow with light: a spectacular sight from every angle.

3. Izamal, Mexico

izamal mexico 7 Colourful Cities From Around the World
(Image: Brian Snelson, cc-3.0)

Nicknamed “The Yellow City”, visitors won’t be able to help noticing the expanse of colour on almost every building! Izamal is located right in the middle of the Yucatan peninsula and is home to an array of beautiful buildings. Almost all of the structures were painted an egg-yolk yellow after Pope Jean Paul II visited the city in 1993, and the impact of this amazing city is undeniable as a result.

4. Seattle, USA

seattle emerald city 7 Colourful Cities From Around the World
(Images: leezbtv, cc-3.0; Wonderlane, cc-3.0)

Surrounded by lush, green forests, it’s no surprise how Seattle came to be known as The Emerald City. As well as its acres of parkland and green spaces, Seattle is currently among the leading cities when it comes to action against climate change in the US. By conserving their urban forestry, providing education to schools and workplaces, and committing to sustainable redevelopment, they’ve established themselves as a truly green city in more ways than one.

5. Jodhpur, India

jodphur india blue city 7 Colourful Cities From Around the World
(Images: The Dilly Lama, cc-3.0; C+H, cc-sa-3.0)

The second largest city in Rajasthan, Jodhpur is known as the “Blue City” for its array of spectacular blue painted houses which sit around the Mehrangarh Fort. According to ancient regulations, blue was the colour which signified the Bhraman or Priest Class, however non-Brahmins soon followed suit with their own properties. Now, the landscape of Jodhpur is resplendent in indigo: a spectacular sight from the top of the nearby hills.

6. Jaipur, India

jaipur india 7 Colourful Cities From Around the World
(Images: xiquinhosilva, cc-sa-3.0; Russ Bowling, cc-3.0)

Known as “The Pink City”, the beautiful ancient city of Jaipur is a very famous site for tourists with a whole host of forts and monuments to visit. Rose pink houses with lattice windows line the streets, providing an almost enchanting view, which is especially magical at sunset. Surrounded on all sides by rugged hills and ancient embattled walls, Jaipur’s stunning architecture fully reflects its glorious history.

7. Guanajuato City, Mexico

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Nestled in the mountains of the Sierra de Guanajuato lies the beautiful colonial city of Guanajuato. The city was founded in 1554 next to one of the richest silver mining areas of Mexico. The 16th-century mining boom led to the construction of beautiful haciendas and fine colonial buildings.


Guanajuato streets and many colourful alleyways spread out in every direction while most of its traffic is served by a network of underground tunnels making it an excellent city for pedestrians.

8. Willemstad, Netherlands Antilles


Willemstad is the chief town of Curaçao located on the southern coast of the island. The Dutch colonial architecture of Willemstad is decidedly picturesque when set against the Caribbean waters.

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The historic centre of the city consists of two quarters: Punda and Otrobanda. The Punda district is the main shopping area and the seat of government of the Netherlands Antilles. It is the oldest district of Willemstad, established in 1634. The bright and diverse colours of the buildings in Willemstad are justification enough to make the trip.

9. Valparaiso, Chile


Valparaíso is a city and commune of Chile, centre of its third largest conurbation and one of the country's most important seaports and an increasing cultural centre in the Southwest Pacific hemisphere.

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The houses here are painted all different shades of bright colours. This was because when the ships were docked for repairs and repainting, they’d leave the extra paint on the docks. People would grab whatever paint they could find and paint their houses. The colourful houses have become a Valparaiso trademark.

10. St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada


St. John's is the capital and largest city of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada and is the primary municipality of the St. John's Metropolitan Area. It is located on the eastern tip of the Avalon Peninsula on the island of Newfoundland.


St. John's is a colourful place. The older houses with wooden sidings are brightly coloured especially in the downtown area (viewed here).

11. Manarola, Italy


Manarola is one of the oldest towns in Cinque Terre and is nestled in the Italian Riviera. This picturesque village sprouts out of the mountainside to provide a breathtaking view of the Mediterranean sea.


Just climb the winding streets and enjoy an espresso at any of the outdoor cafes and absorb the stunning scenery.

12. Wroclaw, Poland


Wroclaw, located in the south-west, is Poland's most charming city. The town square dates back to the 12th century, and its 14th century brick Gothic architecture is particularly inspiring.


Like most of the country, it has a strong Roman Catholic affiliation. Thus, cathedrals of celebratory hues line the streets.

13. Lima, Peru


Unlike many of the tourist-driven towns on this list, Lima is very much a working city. Unique in its mixture of poverty, native and imported cultures and varied development, Lima is especially noted for its different architectural styles.


Spanish baroque, French neoclassicism and art nouveau buildings make the city an arena of colours and art.

14. Utrecht, Netherlands


Utrecht city and municipality is the capital and most populous city of the Dutch province of Utrecht.


It is located in the eastern end of the Randstad, and is the fourth largest city of the Netherlands, with a population of 307,000.

15. Stockholm, Sweden


Stockholm, one of the most beautiful capitals in the world, is built on 14 islands connected by 57 bridges.


The beautiful buildings, the greenery, the fresh air and the proximity to the water are distinctive traits of this city.

Sources:
[Edited. Top image added.]