Houseplants are having their moment in the sun, embraced by passionate gardeners, trendy designers and those of us who just like to have a little bit of nature around us at home.
These little pots of botanical happiness feel like pieces of a larger world beyond our four walls, living inspiration for seeing the world’s most beautiful and unique green spaces firsthand. If your travels have been put on hold, gaze upon your favorite green roommates and plan future visits to our favorite curated gardens, wild forests and polychromatic flower fields.
Cactus – Desert Botanical Garden, USA
Even the most plant-challenged may have a cactus or succulent at home, and these spiky little plants make for good desert dreaming. The Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona, exhibits the diverse, ruggedly beautiful flora that grow in the hottest places on earth. Walking trails take you through cactus, aloe and agave gardens (two-thirds of the planet’s cactus species are represented here, including the giant saguaro), as well as desert wildflowers, grasslands and edible plants.
Orchid – National Orchid Garden, Singapore
At one point or another we’ve all owned a grocery store orchid and delighted in its ephemeral blooms. The National Orchid Garden in Singapore harbors 1000 species and 2000 types of hybrids – over 60,000 individual plants – making it a veritable wonderland of extraterrestrial-esque orchids. The garden’s orchid breeding program started back in 1928, and today the collection features 200 species that don’t exist anywhere else on the planet. The Orchid Garden is part of the Singapore Botanic Garden, which was named a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2015 and is the only tropical botanical garden on the list.
Monstera –Hunte’s Garden, Barbados
In Barbados’ St Joseph Parish, horticulturist Anthony Hunte has curated and cultivated one of the Caribbean’s most interesting collections of ornamental plants in a sinkhole in his backyard – a visit here feels like a journey into a mythical realm. Giant monsteras mingle beneath a canopy of palms, while leafy ferns and flowering bromeliads line the stone paths, and if you’re lucky, Mr. Hunte himself will be on property to tell you all the secrets of his verdant sinkhole oasis and offer you a glass of rum punch.
Fern – Lost Gardens of Heligan, UK
Sprawling ferns evoke visions of so many lush green landscapes around the world, but the ferns of the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall, have a unique story to go with them. The Gardens belonged to a large English estate which fell to ruin after WWI – unlike other estates that faced a similar fate, the land wasn’t sold or otherwise managed until the mid-1990s, when a large scale restoration effort brought the gardens back to life. It’s one of the largest restored gardens in the world, so take your time to wander the estate grounds, walk over the tops of ancient tree ferns via rope bridge, or walk in the national garden of rhododendrons.
Bonsai tree – Omiya Bonsai Village, Japan
The art of bonsai is thousands of years old, and many modern-day devotees continue to prune and train tiny potted plants to resemble full grown trees. There’s no better place to learn about the practice than Omiya Bonsai Village, a neighborhood in Saitama City, Japan. The village is home to several bonsai nurseries, five bonsai gardens and the Omiya Bonsai Art Museum, which houses a collection of over 120 painstakingly sculpted bonsai; peruse the garden and find your favorite.
Potted irises – Montreal Botanical Garden, Canada
Montreal Botanical Gardens are known to house some of the biggest and most beautiful plant collections in the world, featuring everything from alpine plants and never-before-seen cultivars to poisonous flora and massive rose blossoms. However, one of the most magical sections is called Flowery Brook, which incorporates innumerable lilies and lilacs into a colorful explosion straight out of an impressionist painting. Find a chair or a bench and settle in for a rest among the blooms, keeping an eye out for butterfly and bird life.
Pothos ivy – Las Pozas, Mexico
Located in Xilitla, Mexico, this garden is a literal Surrealist dreamscape. Designed by poet Edward James and his friend and collaborator Plutarco Gastelum, Las Pozas features over thirty large-scale sculptures that defy logic: twisting stairs to nowhere, half-finished colonnades, rows of concrete gothic arches and tunnels, all plonked in the middle of the unrestrained trees, ferns and vines of the Mexican forest. An enthusiastic patron of the Surrealist movement, James worked on this project for decades, and today it draws visitors with its unique natural and manmade features.
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