Vacation season is here, and many people have booked tickets to resorts and cities that offer fantastic experiences. Don't forget that some of the most unforgettable memories are made in places barely altered by human hands. More often than not, when left (mostly) to her own devices, Mother Nature can do a pretty stellar job of decorating all on her own. Need proof? Just take a look at these magnificent tree canopies and natural tunnels -- formed by wise trees, hardy bushes, and vibrant flowers--all over the world.
1. Wisteria Tunnel – Japan
In late April and early May, Kawachi Fuji Gardens in Kitakyushu, Japan, becomes a magical fairy land. Wisteria is an ornamental vine not-so-distantly related to the pea. During this special time of year the “Fuji Matsuri,” or “Wisteria Festival,” is in full bloom, creating this gorgeous walkway.
2. Dark Hedges – Ireland
The Dark Hedges is one of the most photographed natural phenomena in Northern Ireland. Comprised of a row of beech trees planted by the Stuart family in the eighteenth century, the tunnel was intended to impress visitors to Gracehill House. Two centuries later we’re still pretty impressed!
3. Parque Francisco Alvarado – Costa Rica
Ok, this isn’t exactly a “natural” tunnel as humans have clearly been at work here, but we still want to visit! “The Cyprus shrubs in this garden have been trimmed into the shapes of animals and fantasy creatures, some quite bizarre. There is a dinosaur, an elephant and make-believe creatures, faces and fun arches, all trimmed into the hedges,” reports Waymarking.
4. Bamboo Path – Kyoto
This beautiful natural tunnel is formed by thousands of bamboo trees that line a long and winding path through the zen garden of the Heavenly Dragon Temple, or Tenryu-ji. Interestingly, the rest of the temple was rebuilt after burning down long ago, but the zen garden has survived, uninterrupted, since its planting.
5. Laburnum Arch – Britain
Bodnant Garden (which is owned by the National Trust) is one of the most spectacular and admired gardens in Britain. One the most beloved attractions is Laburnum Arch, a curved walk about 180 feet long covered with a magnificent cascade of long yellow flowers in late May/early June.
6. Gyeonghwa Station – South Korea
Every year, in the first weeks of April, the Jinhae Gunhangje Cherry Blossom Festival is celebrated in South Korea. Hundreds of thousands of cherry trees can be viewed during this special event, but we found the tunnel created at Gyeonghwa Station particularly bewitching.
7. Jacaranda Trees – South Africa
Pretoria is known as the Jacaranda City because so many of its streets are lined with the purple-blossomed trees. “In flowering time the city appears blue/purple in color when seen from the nearby hills because of all the Jacaranda trees. The time of year the Jacarandas bloom in Pretoria coincides with the year-end exams at the University of Pretoria and legend has it that if a flower from the Jacaranda tree drops on your head, you will pass all your exams,” explains Wikipedia.
8. Yew Tree Tunnel – UK
There are several well-known yew tree tunnels in the United Kingdom. This one exists in Watlington, Oxfordshire. According to the National Trust, it is unusual to find yew trees growing on chalkland. These particular trees have been arched by winds blowing from the open fields to the southwest.
9. Tunnel of Love – Ukraine
“This gorgeous long, leafy tunnel looks like a green dream or a scene from a film – but it can actually be found deep in the forests of Ukraine,” writes Ana Lisa Alperovich for Inhabitat. “Located near the town of Kleven, this luscious green tunnel provides passage for a private train that provides wood to a local factory. Measuring 1.8 miles long, the unusual rail route in Eastern Europe is also a popular spot for lovers’ promises.”
10. Maple Tunnel – Oregon
Taken in St. Louis, Oregon, this image of maple trees in the peak of their autumn color is unbelievably striking. Reminds me of the colorful foliage we enjoyed every year when I was a kid growing up in New England!
Wisteria, Dark Hedges, Parque Francisco, Bamboo Path, Laburnum Arch, and Jacarandas in South Africa images via Shutterstock. Gyeonghwa Station © Fashion to Any, used with permission. Tunnel of Love image © Oleg Gordienko/Amos Chapple/ Rex Features. Others via David Ellis and Ian Sane.