Monday, December 31, 2007

Characteristics of the formal French Garden

The garden depicted in the wallpaper of the previous post is classically it to the above illustration from Plans et dessins nouveaux du jardinage by Michel le Bouteaux, c. 1700.

Elements of the formal French (as opposed to what many people think of as 'country French') style are:

-a strong axis of symmetry for the garden that is centered on the house

-symmetrical arrangement of features on either side of that axis

-the pate d'oie, or goose-foot pattern, of paths radiating from a circular feature

-fanciful parterres (flower beds, basically) that look like scroll work or embroidery
-elaborate trelliswork, often defining one or several walls of a room in the garden

Note that there is plenty of 'path', but no 'lawn'...these gardens were for strolling. In enormous hooped skirts and towering wigs. In groups with people similarly attired. Wide paths were a must, and one didn't stray into the grass in high heeled silk shoes.

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