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Six glorious Tuscan gardens

  • 1 Iris Garden, Florence

    The symbol of Florence for 1,000 years, the iris graces the city’s coat of arms (although some insist it’s a lily). The place to see this flower, which blooms from late April to May, is at this garden managed by the Italian Iris Society, a multi-coloured spectacle of many old, rare and protected varieties set against one of Florence’s most beautiful views. Some 10,000 varieties are displayed here during the International Iris Competition, in May, which is followed by a ceremony in Palazzo Vecchio. Viale Michelangelo 82,

    Rose Garden, Florence
    Photo: REDA/Alamy

    2 Rose Garden, Florence

    Designed by architect Giuseppe Poggi in 1865 to celebrate Florence becoming Italy’s capital, the garden has 400 species of rose, 350 of which are old types and 1,220 botanical varieties. It’s bucolic in style, terraced, with lemon trees, 10 sculptures in bronze, two gesso sculptures and a Shorai Japanese oasis. Yet it’s the roses that are its true glory. Come in May for romantic flowering blooms framing tableaux of the city. Viale Giuseppe Poggi 2.

    Garden of Villa Bardini, Florence
    Photo: Hemis/Alamy

    3 Garden of Villa Bardini, Florence

    This hillside Italian Renaissance garden has woods and orchards of historic fruit trees, including apple, pear and plum, as well as an architectural highlight – a beautiful Baroque staircase. Visit in April to see the irises and witness the blossoming of 60 varieties of hydrangeas in June. The garden’s famous pergola, covered in flowering wisteria, is one of its loveliest sights in April and May. Costa San Giorgio 2,

    Villa Poggio Torselli, San Casciano Val di Pesa

    4 Villa Poggio Torselli, San Casciano Val di Pesa

    Set amid vineyards, olive and cypress trees, this Italian Renaissance garden was recently restored and awarded a prize for accuracy by Grandi Giardini Italiani. Step back in time to explore laurel-hedged walkways and breathe in the fragrance of centuries-old citrus trees, roses and herbs. Visit in April to admire the flowering hyacinths, daffodils and tulips. Via Scopeti 10,

    Garden of Villa Garzoni, Collodi
    Photo: Art Kowalsky/Alamy

    5 Garden of Villa Garzoni, Collodi

    This splendid post-Renaissance Italian beauty inspired gardens such as at the Royal Palace of Caserta and the Wilhelmshöhe Palace. It’s one of the best examples of an 18th-century Tuscan garden with its characteristic geometric structures, staircases, water features and bursts of spring colour. The annual Spring Flower Show takes place in May and draws upon historically recorded traditions of varying the design of gardens seasonally with the addition of different blooms and colour. Via della Vittoria 1,

    Garden of Villa La Foce, Siena

    6 Garden of Villa La Foce, Siena

    British architect Cecil Pinsent was commissioned by Marquess Antonio Origo and his Anglo-American wife Iris to create a garden for their home in the hills near Siena between 1924 and 1939. The garden is an important testimony to 20th-century architecture and garden design. It follows Renaissance ideals with its geometric forms, yet has a more natural style around the woods. The wisteria when in flower is just stunning. Strada della Vittoria 61,

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