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Gardens to go wild for

Secret gardens

Our pick of the best places to stay for the horticulturally minded

Our pick of the best places to stay for the horticulturally minded

Benjamin Parker | October/November 2016

SOUTH AFRICA

Set against sun-scorched hills in the heart of the Cape wine district, Babylonstoren has been a farm since 1692. Now a giant kitchen garden, its whitewashed, gabled buildings have been converted into a restaurant, Babel, a farm shop, butcher, chicken houses – and cottages. The last are furnished in glass and steel, set against a palette of taupes and creams. The eight-acre garden, created by Patrice Taravella, a French garden designer, is dripping with produce – squash hanging from arches, rows of espaliered pears – all of it edible or medicinal, including the chamomile lawns, where large tortoises amble. babylonstoren.com; from 4,400 rand ($325) for a double room

ITALY

The grand Cetinale gardens, eight miles from Siena, exemplify formal Italian design. Geometrical and symmetrical, they represent order vanquishing nature; there are tamed rose terraces, pergolas dressed in vines, statues flanked by radial paths and manicured Italian cypresses standing sentry beside the steps to an abandoned monastery. Tucked away from the main villa, between the gardens and the “Thebaid” (holy wood), is La Cerbaia, a farmhouse sleeping 13 with a pool and a fantastic outdoor kitchen villacetinale.com; from €4,500 ($5,030) a week in La Cerbaia

MOROCCO

At the foot of the Atlas Mountains, just 45 minutes from Marrakech’s international airport, Bab Ourika is surrounded by an extravagant two-acre garden. The 26-room hotel, built of rammed earth in the traditional Berber way, with tadelakt walls (a local style of plasterwork that gives buildings a soft natural sheen), open-air courtyards and Beni Ourain rugs, is both low key and stylish. The place has a sense of remoteness – not just because the Wi-Fi is dodgy and there are no televisions, but also because the avenues of olive trees, the red-and-white rose gardens and the billowing lavender feel a long way from the hubbub of the souk. kasbahbabourika.com; from €150 a night

IRELAND

Glanleam House on Valentia Island, County Kerry, was a working linen mill until it was bought in the 1830s by the 19th Knight of Kerry, who took advantage of the mild microclimate to build a subtropical garden dotted with rare species: from bamboo forests to deep pink cordylines. In the 1970s, the house and garden were rescued by a mother and daughter, who rent out the boathouse, a two-bedroom cottage perched beside a shingle-and-sand private beach. Residents are safe from the worst of the Atlantic weather: the main window in the A-frame gable is made of bulletproof glass. glanleam.com; from €350 a week

Readers' comment

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Mark McLaughlan - October 11th 2016

Im sure there are lots more but recent visits to l'Alhambra in Granada and Parc de Saleccia in Corsica suggest you have missed some of the best