Whether you’re a history buff or not, you will have heard of the 7 Wonders of the World; an exclusive, recognised list of the world’s most spectacular natural and manmade structures.
With the original 7 Wonders of the Ancient World including the Colossus of Rhodes, Statue of Zeus at Olympia, and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the list has now been updated with 7 new Wonders of the Modern World. The 7 Wonders of the World now include the Great Wall of China, The Colosseum, and the Taj Mahal, amongst other impressive monuments that can be found around the world.
Although the Hanging Gardens of Babylon are an official Wonder of the Ancient World, there has been much debate around the definite existence of these gardens, which were said to have been built near the present-day city of Hillah in Iraq.
Nonetheless, with its impressive multi-level stone terraces, and vast array of trees, shrubs, and vines, the gardens are still renowned for their beauty, though amazing gardens are still located throughout the world today; and this isn’t just in hot and exotic locations. In fact, good ol’ blighty has its fair share of amazing horticulture!
From New Zealand, to the Isles of Scilly, here’s our round-up of the 7 wonders of the gardening world…
The Amazon Rainforest
Although this moist broadleaf forest is officially known as being the largest and most diverse rainforest in the world, it could be argued that The Amazon Rainforest could also be described as being just one gigantic exotic garden. This is because the world-famous tropical rainforest, which spans the countries of Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana, contains an estimated 16,000 tree species, and 40,000 plant species.
Plant species include Giant Water Lilies (which grow up to 3 metres in diameter), colourful Bromeliads and Orchids, and even carnivorous Venus Flytraps! (source)
Despite its great size and beauty, a big concern is the year on year reduction of The Amazon Rainforest. As the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) explains, because rainforests contain 90-140 billion metric tons of carbon which helps to stabilise the world’s climate, deforestation would have a devastating effect. To conserve The Amazon Rainforest, WWF is working with both the Soy Roundtable and the beef industry to minimise their impact on the rainforest and its wildlife.
Juma Lodge is a collection of 21 bungalows located in The Amazon Rainforest. Company director, Caio Fonseca, says: “In the last few years, there’s been more tourists visiting the Amazon Rainforest, and part of them are already concerned about its sustainability. Currently, there are several efforts underway, including the use of solar panels to eliminate the need for power generators, and having an efficient sewage treatment system.
“We carry out these activities in accordance with the Principles of Sustainability, and through actions aimed at achieving ecological, sociocultural, and economic sustainability. We even make tours of our sustainable facilities to allow tourists to be more involved in our conservation efforts. This is often well received.”
Huaorani can also be visited in the Amazon Rainforest, and this is an eco-friendly lodge that openly displays the damage that oil exploration has been done to the rainforest. General Manager, Jascivan Carvalho, tells Andean Trails: “This is a story whose narrative is preserving a people in nature by keeping oil in the ground. Roads, settlers, deforestation, the introduction of cattle and non-native plant species, pipelines, leaks and spills are just the beginning.
“Indigenous groups with their own conservation efforts should be a source of national pride. The short-term winners are oil interests and their affiliates; long term the world loses. [However], the canopy is re-appearing over sections that were slashed and burned and along the rivers. The region is showing signs of regeneration with more sightings of giant river otter, jaguars, giant armadillos and the very rare short-eared dog.”
Christa Dillabaugh, Director at Amazon Rainforest Workshops, adds: “Sadly, young people today seem to be less and less able to connect and relate to the environment; whether it is their own backyard, or an ‘exotic’ place like the Amazon. Providing opportunities for young people to explore and discover the natural world is more important than ever in the face of climate change and world-wide biodiversity loss. We need to cultivate awareness, appreciation, and knowledge about the planet we share in order to take action to save it.
“Educational ecotourism, like the Amazon Rainforest Workshops programs I coordinate for students and teachers, are designed to do just this.”
Image source: Gazette Review
Singapore Botanic Gardens
Originally established by an agri-horticultural society in the year 1859, The Singapore Botanic Gardens is famous for being the oldest garden in Singapore, as well as the only tropical garden to be honoured as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
One of three gardens that are situated in the heart of Singapore, this tropical Colonial garden is located just a few minutes away from Singapore’s main shopping district, Orchard Road, and is now a popular recreational garden and tourist attraction. However, the original garden (which was located at the site of the modern-day Singapore Botanic Gardens) played an important role in agricultural development. Today’s garden also played a key role in pioneering Malaya’s rubber industry.
The Singapore Botanic Gardens is also known for its orchid breeding programme, which began in 1928. Due to this, the National Orchid Garden (which can be found in the mid-western part of the garden) is the site’s main attraction. Containing the world’s largest orchid display, it boasts over 1,000 species, and 2,000 hybrids of orchids.
Image source: Shore Excursions Asia
Pukeiti Gardens (Taranaki, New Zealand)
Founded in 1951 by plantsman William Douglas Cook (who is also known for establishing Eastwoodhill, the national arboretum of New Zealand) and Russell Matthews, Pukeiti Garden is one of the region of Taranaki’s top visitor attractions.
Now owned and maintained by the Taranaki Regional Council, the garden is nestled in the centre of a temperate rainforest, making it the perfect home for a selection of exotic and native plants, alongside pigeons, cuckoos, tuis, and other native birds. Being situated in a temperate forest at the lower slopes of Mount Egmont, it also sees 3 to 4 metres of rain each year compared to the Amazon Rainforest’s 2 to 3 metres!
Not only does it have one of the largest and most diverse collections of rhododendrons in the southern hemisphere, but visitors will also stumble across alpines and primulas, as well as giant Himalayan lilies that flower in December. (source)
Image source: TAFT
Royal Botanic Gardens (Syndey, Australia)
Initially opened in 1816 and located in the heart of the city, Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens is not only one of the most important historic botanic institutions in the world, but it’s also famous for being the oldest scientific institution in Australia due to its collection of plants from both Australia and overseas.
Covering 30 hectares of land east of the Sydney Opera House, the gardens (which overlook Farm Cove on the edge of Sydney Harbour) welcomes 1.5 million visitors each year to observe their 8,900 plant species, 67,100 plant specimens, and 3,964 trees. Rich in history, it’s home to Australia’s oldest street trees, swamp mahogany, which were planted when the gardens originally opened. (source)
The gardens have rich agricultural heritage, and this plays an important role in their existence and on-going up-keep; today, the owners of the gardens and local Agricultural communities work together to create educational programmes and themed planting displays. The Royal Botanical Garden also offers guided tours with an Aboriginal guide.
Image source: Garden Visit
Mount Stewart (Northern Ireland)
Voted as one of the top ten gardens in the world, Mount Steward is situated on the grounds of a 19th century house on the east shore of Strangford Land in County Down, Northern Ireland. It was originally owned by Stewart family (who played an important role in British and Irish politics), after they bought the estate in 1744.
Although the gardens were already standing when the Stewart family purchased the estate, it was the Marchioness’ lavish redesign that saw the garden become the must-see attraction that it is today. This largely involved adding the Spanish Garden, the Italian Garden, the Shamrock Garden, and the Sunken Garden; the latter of which is inspired by Gertrude Jekyll.
The gardens are now owned by the National Trust, and they’ve been nominated to become a potential UNESCO World Heritage site. Alongside the beautiful Lily Wood (which features wildflowers, lilies, and poppies), the restoration of the walled rose garden is a standout feature.
Image source: The Royal Oak Foundation
Kirstenbosch National Botanic Garden (South Africa)
The Kirstenbosch National Botanic Garden, which is situated at the bottom of Table Mountain in Cape Town, is the best-known of South Africa’s nine national botanic gardens, as well as being regarded as one of the greatest botanic gardens to exist in the world today. In fact, it was declared the ‘Garden of the Year’ by the International Garden Tourism Awards Body in 2015.
Founded in 1913 to preserve the country’s flora, this botanic garden is now home to over 1,7000 plant species, many of which are rare and threatened. The garden is famous for celebrating the phenomenal diversity of South Africa’s species, and its indigenous plants include bulbs, alpines, and ferns.
A standout feature of the Kirstenbosch National Botanic Garden is the Botanical Society Conservatory, a large conservatory that exhibits plants from a number of different regions in South Africa, including the savannah.
Image source: African Safaris
Tresco Abbey Garden (Isles of Scilly)
Located on the island of Tresco in the British Isles of Scilly, this world famous, sub-tropical garden is a prime example of the amazing and diverse horticulture that can be found around the world. Described as a ‘perennial Kew without the glass’, it’s home to more than 20,000 plant species from 80 countries, including those from the Mediterranean, South America, Australia and New Zealand.
Established by politician Augustus Smith (who moved to the Isles of Scilly from Hertfordshire in 1834), Tresco Abbey Garden was originally a private garden located on the grounds of the home he designed and built on the island. Today the 17-acre gardens are a tourist attraction that’s open to the public.
As they’ve been sourced from all over the world, many of the plants in the gardens would not survive if they were located on British mainland. However, Smith built tall wind-breaks and walled enclosures, and introduced deciduous trees to protect them. Plants found in the gardens include orange Bomareas from Brazil, and tubular Correas (genus) from Australia.
Image source: Cornwall Guide
To find out more about other beautiful gardens from around the world, check out our blog on the 7 Historic Wonders of the Gardening World.