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In Bloom: The Gardens of Europe

Ashley Greenwood 2018-04-04 16:47

The garden is anexpression of beauty through nature, a display of taste and culture, a displayof status. The Roman’s,Egyptian’s, and Persian’s wereall making gardens just for aesthetic pleasure, seeking to control and arrangenature in to formal designs. Meanwhile, a separate horticultural tradition wasforming in China, with aristocratic gardens featuring miniaturized andsimulated natural landscapes, a style that soon captivated the Europeanimagination.

The Renaissance Garden

The ItalianRenaissance Garden emerged in the 15th Century, inspired by the classicalideals of imposing order on nature and creating a space for pleasure. Amongstthe geometric and symmetrical planting, the gardens were full of waterfeatures, statues and grottoes, all designed to delight.

Boboli Gardens, Florence, Italy


The Boboli Gardensare some ofthe first formal 16th-century Italian gardens, and having being enlarged sincetheir creation, they now cover 111 acres.

Created behind thePitti Palace, the main seat of the Medici grand dukes, the gardens are full ofstatues and fountains and architectural elements. At the time of their creationthe gardens were for the use of the Medici family only, but they now form an outdoormuseum of garden sculpture that includes Roman antiquities as well assculptural works from the Renaissance period.

Along the primaryaxis of the garden is an amphitheater, at the centre of which is the AncientEgyptian Boboli obelisk, and as you go up the hillside you reach the Fountainof Neptune. Along the second axis, the Cyprus Road, you’re led up through aseries of terraces and water features.

Villa d'Este, Tivoli, Italy


A fine example ofan Italian Renaissance garden, Villa d'Este was built in the 16th Century bythe powerful Cardinal Ippolito Il d'Este.Now a UNESCO World Heritage site and state museum, the gardens becamefamous for their incredible system of 51 fountains and 64 waterfalls, allworking entirely by the force of gravity. The garden and water features wereadmired and imitated over the next two centuries in gardens across Europe.

The French Formal Garden

The details on design suggest that the French formal garden was heavily influenced by the Italian gardens. However, the French design got its own feature as time went by.

Gardens of Versailles, France


Created during the 17th Century, the Gardens of Versailles was widely copied by other European courts. The gardens and palace were added to the UNESCO world heritage list in 1979.

Commissioned by Louis XIV in 1661, they took forty years to complete. The garden was laid out from east to west to follow the course of the sun, the central symbol of the garden and the emblem of Louis XIV. The gardens were the biggest in Europe, with 300 hectares of forest, hundreds of acres of flowerbeds, 35 kilometers of canals, 600 fountains, and 372 statues.

Take a boat ride along the 1.5kilometre long Grand Canal in the lower level of the garden from where you get great views of the gardens and can enjoy the oak and wild cherry trees along the bank.



If you’re in France for Versailles, then you should certainly add this garden to you itinerary. The former home and garden of French painter Claude Monet are situated in Giverny, just over an hour by car from Paris. You will have seen the garden in many of Monet’s famous paintings of the bridge and water lilies.

The gardens at Giverny are divided into two, with a colourful Flower Garden by the house, which runs either side of the central Grande Allee, planted with a mixture of perennials, annuals, climbers and roses in a manner fitting the father of Impressionism.

On the other side of the road in the other part of the garden you will find the famous Japanese-inspired water garden, with those famous water lilies and the bridge.

The English-style Garden

The rigid French style began to lose popularity in the mid 18th Century as the new English garden, which rejected symmetry in favour of more natural, rustic scenes, started to take off. The English had taken their inspiration from the Far East, with European travellers introducing the asymmetrical compositions from China, describing how Chinese gardens avoided formal rows of trees and flowerbeds, and instead created beautiful compositions.

In 1738 the first ‘Chinese house’ was constructed in an English garden, in the garden of Stowe House. This ‘Anglo-Chinese garden’ style became even more popular when William Chambers, who lived in China from 1745 to 1747, built a Chinese pagoda in Kew Gardens in 1761.

England, United Kingdom,Sissinghurst Castle Garden


Perhaps one of the most famous in all of England, the garden at Sissinghurt is relatively modern, created in the 1930s by Vita Sackville-West, a poet and gardening writer and her diplomat husband before being donated to the National Trust in the 1960s. The castle, however, has a long history, with an Elizabethan tower looking over the gardens.

Sissinghurst’s importance and influence comes from Sackville-West’s planting, which employed many ideas of Gertrude Jekyll, using a painterly approach to the colour and texture of flowers. One of the most famous parts of Sissinghurt is the White Garden, planted with various white blossoming flowers.

Kew,Royal Botanic Gardens


The Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, London, are an internationally important botanical research and education institution, with 750 staff and an average of 1 million paying visitors per year. The 326-acre site has 40 historically important buildings and collections of over 40,000 species of plants, one of the largest in the world.

Kew Gardens, which became a United Nations World Heritage Site in 2003, contains a number of significant pieces of architecture, including the aforementioned Great Pagoda (currently closed for renovation), and the Victorian glass and steal structures of the Palm House and the Temperate House.

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