Like nature, the wholesale plant and commercial landscaping industry works in cycles and seasons. There is a time for work, and a time for play, a time for planting and a time for waiting, a time for planning and a time for building. And there comes a time — not quite often enough — where we all just need to get away for some relaxation, rejuvenation and maybe even some inspiration. And if we can't get away, there comes a time when we can at least dream of getting away.
No matter where around the world you want to go for your next vacation or who you're going with, there are destinations nearby to revitalize the plant lover's soul, re-energize the designer's creative spirit and reinvigorate our passions so that we can continue growing, learning and innovating.
But where to go and what to do? Here are just a few possibilities:
The Eden Project, Cornwall, United Kingdom
For plant lovers with children, the Eden Project offers fun and education for the whole family. Eden is a collection of biomes that house the world's largest indoor rainforest and a model of sustainable operations, water conservation, waste reduction, unique nature-inspired architecture and outdoor learning environments. Visitors can take in Eden's 5,000 plant varieties while exploring the outdoor gardens, Rainforest Biome, Mediterranean Biome and outer estate. For fun, Eden offers zipline rides, gardening courses, summer music concerts, storytelling, interactive exhibits, a variety of oversized sculptures, play gardens and a rainforest canopy walkway.
The Tree Museum of Zurich, Switzerland
For tree lovers and designers visiting Switzerland, the Tree Museum of Zurich is a must-see. Designed by famed landscape architect and tree collector Enzo Anea, the 2.5-acre outdoor museum showcases a special selection of 50 trees, each posed in front of its own stonework backdrop, making its landscape reminiscent of a modern-day Stonehenge. The museum also features many sculptures expertly and purposefully integrated into the open spaces.
For those heading Down Under, the Royal Botanic Garden in Sydney is the country's oldest scientific institution, celebrating its 200-year anniversary this year. About 3.5 million people visit the 158-acre site each year to see its 8,900 plant species. Walking around the garden, visitors can see Australia's oldest bridge, take a historic tour of the different plants brought to the area by Australia's first settlers, go bird watching at the garden's ponds and visit the garden's interactive exhibit space.
As the name implies, the Park of Monsters — also known as Sacro Bosco or the Garden of Bomarzo — isn't your ordinary garden. The original gardens, designed by architect Pirro Ligorio in a free-flowing and random manner contradicting other nearby Renaissance gardens of the time, were commissioned in the 1500s by Pier Francesco Orsini to encapsulate the grief he felt after losing his wife. Today, the park's main attractions are the gigantic and fantastical creatures carved from bedrock by Simone Moschino that encourage visitors to set their thoughts, hearts and imaginations free.
Those looking for a more modern or urban design experience might want to visit the Zorlu Center, a multi-use urban park and high-end shopping plaza utilizing greenspace and the landscape in surprising ways. The center, designed by Emre Arolat Architects, Tabanlioglu Architects, DS Landscape, Carve Landscape Architecture and other partners, includes an incredible playspace for children that encourages exploration and discovery, an art exhibition space, festival space, a performance area, multiple water features, an outdoor square and other elements — including a green "shell" that surrounds the center's towers.
For an experience not available anywhere else in the world, those passionate about sustainability, conservation and our environment should head south to visit the 420 square meter Museo Subacuatico de Arte, where visitors can view more than 500 permanent sculptures depicting a lost world existing under the sea. The sculptures, created by artists Jason DeCaires Taylor, Karen Salinas Martinez, Roberto Diaz Abraham, Rodrigo Quiñones Reyes, Salvador Quiroz Ennis and Elier Amado Gil, were all designed with materials to help rehabilitate destroyed coral reefs. The sculptures can be viewed via a glass-bottom boat, scuba diving or snorkeling.