Having grown up in Europe I have a fondness for beautiful gardens and I got used to seeing them everywhere I went. Differing styles to be sure, but each stately home, public park, pub, or country village would have colorful growing things no matter the scale or style. From acres of gardens to a single hanging basket next to the front door, splashes of greens and bright colors would enliven wherever I went. I didn’t know how much I missed that until I visited Korea. (I live in Texas now.)
Although not necessarily considered high on the list for those who wish to visit the most beautiful gardens of the world, Korea is a hidden gem. I have visited Korea in three different seasons, Spring, Summer, and Fall, and each had its stand out gardens and natural areas. My latest visit was in the early Fall of 2017, and these photos are just random shots to show some of the beauty that is Korea.
Korea is a mountainous country and green is its default color, but against that backdrop of green each season brings its own colors. In Spring the Cherry blossoms, along with Forsythia and Azaleas produce pockets, and add ribbons, of color to the landscape. Summer brings the hot bright colors of chili peppers, summer annuals, and perennials galore. Roses are popular and there are multiple rose gardens. Fall sees the muted reds, oranges and yellows of trees and flowers alike, while even the grasses get in on the act. Winter is the hard blacks and browns of bark and limb silhouetted against the blinding white of snow.
Arriving at the airport, even before we collected our luggage, walls of green greeted us. Incheon airport has many green spaces, gardens, and colorful plant displays and if you have extra time to kill it is worth a stroll around. (Its Stargarden has over 9,000 plants.)
Seoul has multiple city parks and green spaces and Korea, in general, has a large number of botanic gardens, arboretums, public and national parks. Many Koreans walk, hike, and bike regularly, and more parks and facilities are being added all the time.
From large to small, greenery and colorful plants were everywhere we went.
Obviously the trees turning to all the shades from yellow, through the oranges, to red were a highlight of the trip, but the small spots of color, and the unexpected mass plantings of bedding plants were a joy to behold.
Even the vegetable gardens, tucked away in every possible space were beautiful.
Mother nature, not to be outdone, showcased the beauty of wildflowers and fields of grass. Many public parks in Seoul, and elsewhere in Korea, set aside specific areas to be maintained for wildflowers and grasses.
Temples and Palaces changed their characters as the colors of Fall surrounded and softened their appearance. No longer were their bright colors backed by shades of green, making them the vibrant centerpoint, instead a riot of color commanded one’s gaze.
Ponds and pools of water, muddied by fallen leaves, still reflected the colors of their surroundings.
The indoors was not not forgotten and plant walls could be seen in municipal and business office buildings. Even small businesses often had plants in their windows.
There were lots of sidewalk businesses selling cactus and succulents to liven up the office and home for the winter. (Korea grows an amazing number of wonderful succulents.)
Traditional Hanok courtyards and walls often harbored little islands of color.
Surprisingly on this trip we didn’t get to see a different botanic garden to those we’ve visited before, although we did finally go inside The Secret Garden at Changdeokgung Palace. We revisited a couple of gardens we’ve been to before and mainly enjoyed the parks of Seoul, many which were new to us, and the gardens of Temples, Palaces and Towns we visited on day trips out of Seoul.
If you are interested in gardens and gardening you should definitely consider visiting Korea. To learn a little more see some of my previous posts such as Spirit Garden, about a wonderful garden of Bunjae (Bonsai in Japanese) where you can learn how the art travelled from China through Korea and then on to Japan. Or perhaps the post on Yeomiji Botanic Garden which houses one of the largest greenhouses in the world. (Did you know Korea invented the first heated greenhouse? See Korean Innovations.) There are quite a few more but I’ll leave you to explore on your own.
Have a great day everyone.
Please do not copy or use without permission and accreditation. All photo credits to Elizabeth and Debora Marzec.