French Garden Designs

by Melissa Burgendy

The simplest definition the word horticulture is the cultivation of a garden, Hortus, in Latin, means garden and cultura means cultivation. Garden cultivation is considered a of art and, like all art forms, it has different styles.

The traditional garden is designed in the traditional 17th and 18th century French style, also known as the Baroque and Rococo periods. The gardens of the period were grand gardens, displays of wealth and authority, built by kings and members of the aristocracy to impress visitors. Inspired in part by ancient classical gardens, traditional French garden style is formal. Spanning level ground, these geometrically shaped gardens are very well planned out in regards to their design. The terraces that are often a feature of such gardens are artificially created, and elaborately designed stairs are included to link one terrace to another. Because of the largely flat topography, traditional French gardens use large sheets of water their reflective qualities or as impressive, artificial fountain displays. Here you will find a list of the main components of traditional, formal, French garden design.

* Often you will find boxed hedges and rectangular frames that help to contain lawns.

* Flowerbeds are also geometrical in shape rectangular, oval or circular.

An important characteristic of formal gardens in France are Parterres. On the ground intricate geometric patterns are using a variety of materials such as colored dirt, stones, gravel or flowers. Parterres are often lined with boxwood, lavender, or rosemary. Some parterres are particularly elaborate. These are known as parterres de broderies, or embroidery parterres. From the garden terraces the visitors can see the parterres.

* Water features are mostly canals and large, flat pools. Water fountains are also important, but are usually engine-operated.

* Allees, meaning axes or rides, is the term used the garden walks or pathways, bordered by trees or neatly clipped hedges that provided the framework of the French garden style. A fountain or accenting garden ornament of some kind is the usual destination of such straight pathways.

* French gardens feature many ornamental objects from statues and columns to birdbaths and sundials. These should be arranged symmetrically. instance, at the end of an alley.

* Plants: The planting design is often based on color. Pastel colors are used predominantly in French gardens with touches of yellow and red, and a little lilac and blue. Ideally, gardeners should choose plants that bloom all year round.

* Primarily French in origin, and available as an optional feature, Orangerie is a large glass-enclosed room in the garden where you’ll find lemon, lime, and orange trees blooming during the cold winter months.

* Herb gardens are often included in traditional French gardens. The neat French garden style usually includes separate areas a fruit garden, a rose garden and sometimes a herb garden too. Herb gardens can actually be integral components of a well-planned garden. Paving is used in a specific pattern a chessboard pattern or a circular pattern, laid out like the spokes of a wheel. Places to rest are in places where you can see the beauty of a garden. Rosemary, sage, lavender, marjoram, sweet bay and thyme are herbs that are very common in France.

A famous example of the traditional French formal garden style described above is the Versailles Gardens located just outside Paris. The famous landscape architect Andr Le Ntre was employed by King Louis the fourth to make the Versailles Gardens in the year 1661. Gardens are huge, very huge, on the far left of the Chateau de Versailles. Not only do these gardens feature many expensive ornaments, they also boast carefully cared lawns and numerous blooming flowers. The garden boasts 1,400 fountains which are probably the most interesting feature. To bring water from the Seine River into the garden, a large system of pumps, reservoirs, and fourteen water wheels was constructed. But still, there could never be enough water for all the fountains to be run at once. During Louis IV’s reign, the fountains would be turned on, one by one, as the king approached. Today, they are only operated on Sundays.

If you aren’t planning a visit to France, you can still get an idea of the traditional formal French garden style by visiting the Conservatory Garden in the northern sector of New York City’s Central Park.

Gardens in France have inspired designers from all around earth. France does also have gardens that aren’t as formal such as the Giverney garden, which is the subject of many of Claude Monet’s Impressionist paintings.

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