Spring is a time for renewal and nothing demonstrates this more than a wonderfully manicured garden. But unless you are fortunate enough to work outdoors or frequently travel to green area hubs, most of us have to be content with the occasional visit to our local park. Or do we? Here is a small collection of enchanting gardens found in the most unexpected (and often urban) spaces.

Chicago City Hall Rooftop, Chicago, U.S.

This impressive garden was created in 2000 as an initiative to discover if green roofs could actually improve air quality. It must have worked since 15 years on, the immaculate (and highly adaptable) green space features over 150 different species of trees, bushes, flowers and vegetation native to this part of the country. Now, that is one creative way to promote serenity in an otherwise busy (stressful) governmental environment.

La Petite Ceinture Railway, Paris, France

Once upon a time (circa 1850’s), La Petite Ceinture (The Little Belt) was used to transport local steam engines. And when the metro was constructed in the 20th century, the abandoned railway became a popular spot— overwrought with flowers and vines—for interlopers to enjoy pleasant, albeit illegal, promenades. Today, there is an ongoing debate on what to do with this unique strip of land, but for the time being at least, visitors can enjoy a landscaped woodland forest and walkway in a select part of the former rails.

Huashan Hospital, Shanghai, China

One would never expect an oasis of peace and tranquility to exist behind a place full of chaotic activity, but such is the case with this precious garden built in the 1930’s by wealthy land developer Zhou Chunqing. The garden features maple trees from Japan arching dramatically over stone bridges and a pond. Though it is located in a very popular and busy part of the city (the French Concession), few people know it is even there – fortunately for us frequent travelers.

The Out, NYC, U.S.

The Out is where the cool kids play. With 2,000 sq.ft of lush manmade lawns complimented by bamboo gardens, a wooden-floored spa atrium and bean bags (of all things!), this spot is more urban sanctuary than trendy hotel area in a mighty metropolis. Not bad for a neighborhood once known for its hectic pace and often seedy activities.

Whiteley’s Garden, Sydney, Australia

Unassuming and small, this charming garden boasts beautiful views of Harbour Bridge. Dedicated to her late husband, Wendy Whiteley’s garden is clearly a meticulous labor of love with its unexpectedly intertwined green, wood, floral and metal spaces. What a wonderful tribute; a “secret” public place to reflect and soak up nature at its best.


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