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Best gardens to visit on holiday

By KentOnline reporter

If you’re planning a holiday to take in some stunning gardens, check out these three locations for flora and fauna, plus when to go and what you’ll see.

Guernsey, Channel Islands

Candie Gardens, Guernsey
Candie Gardens, Guernsey

Guernsey and the neighbouring Channel Islands off the Normandy coast are in the sunniest spot in the British Isles, claiming more then 2,000 hours of sunshine per year.

With such a temperate climate, there are blooms all over the island’s 24 square miles, including more than 1,000 window boxes, hanging baskets and other planters in the capital St Peter Port alone, providing a colourful accessory to this pretty town’s cobbled streets and picture postcard marina.

And that’s before you find an array of flora and fauna on the island’s historic Candie Gardens.

Walkers can wind their way on a clifftop path along the south coast. Along the way you’ll see delicate white sea campion, clusters of pale yellow Alexanders (horse parsley) and inhale the scent of wild garlic, also known as three-cornered leek.

In summer the banks of the paths are splashed with pink and purple wild orchids, pink foxgloves and an array of other wildflowers.

When to go: Late spring, when a profusion of tulips and wildflowers come into bloom, and throughout summer when there’s a programme of ‘open garden’ events, talks and guided walks. For details go to visitguernsey.com and floralguernsey.co.uk.

Cape Town, South Africa

Kirstenbosch
Kirstenbosch

Aside from the mouth-watering food and elegant wine, the stunning rocky scenery of Table Mountain and the 12 Apostles, Cape Town - and the wider region of South Africa’s Western Cape - is also home to some amazing flora and fauna, including its native flower, the protea.

On the verdant slopes of Table Mountain, just 13km from the city centre, Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden, one of the world’s top horticultural hotspots, contains more than 7,000 species of plants from South Africa.

This 36-hectare garden, part of a nature reserve established in 1913 to promote, conserve and display the extraordinarily rich and diverse flora of southern Africa, was the first botanic garden in the world to be devoted to a country’s indigenous flora.

Highlights include a fragrance garden, a medicinal garden, a garden that features 2,500 species of plants found on the Cape Peninsula, a protea garden, a braille trail, and a cycad amphitheatre. There is also a glasshouse - the Botanical Society Conservatory - which houses plants from the continent’s more arid regions.

The 528-hectare Kirstenbosch Estate (which includes the Garden) falls under the Cape Floristic Region, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors will see native fynbos (a plant group featuring proteas, ericas and restios), an amazing collection of cycads as well as swathes of native rich blue agapanthus and spiky striking orange birds of paradise (Strelitzia reginae), named after their resemblance to brightly coloured birds in flight.

When to go: It depends what you want to see. In the Cape Town winter (June-August) you’ll see fynbos and strelitzia but the weather will be cooler and rainier. Come spring (September-October) pincushion proteas will come into flower, while in summer (November-March) you’ll see mountain dahlias, pelargoniums, agapanthus and amaryllis. But to see the fynbos at their best and the most plants in flower, visit towards the end of winter and in spring (August-October).

For more information visit sanbi.org/gardens/kirstenbosch and country.southafrica.net

Marrakech, Morocco

There’s already plenty of colour in the city, with its low-rise pink and red buildings and bustling souks set against the striking background of the snow-capped Atlas Mountains.

But it’s another world when you step into Jardin Majorelle, the former home and garden of the French painter Jacques Majorelle, who arrived in Marrakech in the 1920s and created his horticultural vision featuring marble pools, banana trees, groves of bamboo, coconut palms and bougainvillea.

The deep electric blue hue of the villa is tempered by shady walkways created by soft palms and exotic plants, bubbling streams and pools filled with water lilies and lotus flowers The garden was renovated by the late Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Berge in the 1980s and the psychedelic desert mirage of 300 plant species from five continents continues to be preserved.

There are many gardens to visit close to the city including the Bahia Palace featuring a remarkable riad garden and the Palmery Museum. For more information go to gardenvisit.com

When to go: Spring (mid-March to May), when the roses are blooming, or in September, when the heat of the summer has faded.

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