Earlier this month we introduced you to a little piece of aromatic heaven, the Sensory Garden at Whicher Ridge Wines in Geographe, Western Australia.

From what we’ve heard, it’s a real draw card for visitors and this garden isn’t the only one bringing in business. ‘Garden tourism’ (yes really) is becoming a major trend in the travel world.

Apparently, nature-based attractions are the most common activities for holiday-makers in Australia – with more than 40 per cent of international visitors and 12 per cent of Aussies flocking to our parks and gardens.

Now, before we get into the boom in garden tourism, let’s be frank, shall we?

While we are all about the excitement, the discovery, the majesty of travelling new trails and sipping new syrahs, gardens seem … How shall we put this? … Boring.

Neatly trimmed grass, pretty flowers, green leaves and some trees. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz! That’s all very English countryside and ‘Oh Jonathan, this foliage is simply divoon!’, but it’s not very rock ‘n’ roll, is it?

Or is it.

It seems travellers are getting sick of cramming into museums and are fed up with the syndrome often referred to in Europe as AFC (Another *Flippin* Cathedral).

Here are some facts:

  • According to international garden tourism researcher, Richard Benfield –
    • More people are involved in garden tourism in the US each year than visit Las Vegas and Disney World, combined. While there, on average garden tourists spend $185 a day to help the local economy.
    • A third of tourists around the world visit at least one garden on holiday. The average person spends two and a half hours visit a garden.
    • Garden tourism is the second fastest growing tourism sector after food tourism.
  • The UK National Gardens Scheme, where private gardens around Wales and England open for a day or two for charity, receive approximately 750,000 tourists a year.
  • Every year in Canberra, the grand floral display that is Floriade runs from mid-September to mid-October and attracts more than 480,000 attendees annually.
  • Visit Scotland research has shown that every year nearly 700,000 British holidaymakers visit a Scottish garden with 35,000 of these indicating that a garden visit was the main reason for their holiday.

Garden Destination Aspirations

If you are feeling a somewhat garden inspired, may we suggest these truly magnificent displays of nature(that also happen to be very handy to some of the best wine regions):

Hunter Valley Gardens – Nestled at the foothills of the Brokenback Ranges, in the heart of the Hunter vineyards, you will find the magnificent Hunter Valley Gardens – over 60 acres of spectacular international display gardens that will amaze you with sensational sights, colours, fragrances and adventures.

Paronella Park– José Paronella’s dream was to build a castle. He chose a special part of Australia and created Paronella Park. On 5 Hectares, beside Mena Creek Falls he built his castle, picnic area by the falls, tennis courts, bridges, a tunnel, and wrapped it up in an amazing rain forest of 7,500 tropical plants and trees. (Tip: while you’re in the neighbourhood, check out some of the amazing North Queensland vineyards).

The Eden Project – Nestled in a huge crater in Cornwall, UK. Here, massive Biomes housing the largest rainforest in captivity, stunning plants, exhibitions and stories serve as a backdrop to our striking contemporary gardens, summer concerts and exciting year-round family events. (Cornwall is also home to many vineyards that benefit from a cool climate and long sunlight hours).

Chaumont-sur-Loire – Every year since 1992, the gardens of chateau Chaumont-sur-Loire in France play host to the annual ‘Festival des Jardins’, a garden festival with up to 30 themed gardens. Beautifully located on the Route des Chateaux of the Loire and the Wine Road.

Kirstenbosch,South Africa – Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden lives up to its reputation as the most beautiful garden in Africa and one of the great botanic gardens of the world. Few gardens can match the sheer grandeur of the setting of Kirstenbosch, against the eastern slopes of Cape Town’s Table Mountain. (From there, take your pick of South Africa’s abundant wine regions!)