Secret gardens in the world’s busiest cities

Little-known public gardens are scattered throughout the world’s busiest cities. Toby Musgrave’s book of secret urban gardens “Green Escapes” describes 260 gardens in cities across Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Africa, North and South America, and Oceania.

The section on Australia includes the Himeji Garden, a Japanese-style garden within the ring of parkland that surrounds Adelaide’s city centre. Other mentions are the English-styled rose gardens next to Old Parliament House in Canberra and the Harold Boas Gardens in Perth.

Musgrave’s favorite garden in Australia is the secret garden created by Wendy Whiteley on a disused railway line at Lavender Bay on Sydney Harbour. “Not only is it a beautiful garden but the reason for its creation is inspiring yet melancholic,” he says, referring to the garden’s creation as a way for Wendy to cope with her husband’s death, followed by the death of her daughter. “To create such beauty from grief and to give such a special place to the residents of Sydney says something very special indeed about the garden’s creator.”

Other standouts include the Wildlife Garden on the edge of London’s Natural History Museum; the Vasconcelos Library in Mexico City which features a garden inside an abandoned factory building; the Oranjezicht City Farm in Cape Town, South Africa which is a volunteer project on a site perched above the city where a farm was established in 1709; a garden behind the Our Lady of St Peter’s Church that pays homage to a Benedictine monastery in Ghent, Belgium; the Mehtab Bagh, “moonlit garden”, which was buried under mud from the Yamuna River and forgotten until the 1990s when it was restored; the Denpo-in Teien behind Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple which is the private garden of the abbott and is only open for seven weeks a year, when the weeping cherry trees are in full blossom; and the Parco Savello on the Aventine Hill in Rome.

Image source: Green Escapes, Phaidon

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