Think of French Gardens and you immediately think of beautiful, intricate Knot Gardens or long avenues of trees interspaced with large ponds and fountains. A French Garden, also called Jardin à la Française, is a very formal, very ordered gardening style with lots of straight lines and symmetry.
Below is a slide show of French Formal Gardens we created. Such gardens can be designed on a smaller scale for the homeowner who wants to bring a taste of France to their residence.
•The focus of the garden tends to be the house, and paths radiate out of this creating long axial views.
•A geometric plan is used, and symmetry is very important. A central axis leads away perpendicular to the house.
•Paths tend to be gravel and edged with clipped hedges and topiary laid out in symmetrical patterns.
•Water is often a key feature of French Gardens, and lots of round pools and long rectangles of water are incorporated, with the reflection of the water adding to the symmetry and tranquillity of the scene. Fountains and cascades are also very common feature.
•Close to the house, planting is kept low (no trees) and tends to consist of flower beds.
•Farther from the house, paths are often edged with trees, which are always planted in straight lines adding perspective and reinforcing the symmetry of the garden.
•Statuaries are often used in French Gardens.
KEY FEATURES OF A FRENCH GARDEN
The Contemporary Garden:
Contemporary Gardens have an emphasis on hardscapes of stone, wood, and concrete, with bold architectural plants incorporated. Water features, sculptures, and containers are important in the Contemporary Garden, and plants, while fewer in number, are actually highlighted and add drama. River rounds are a perfect complement to the rigid and geometric lines. Trees in a Contemporary Garden become a structural element, and have a more upright habit or pyramidal shape. Their canopies are not too large, and there may be several in a row to create a hedge effect. Containers are a standard in the Contemporary Garden, often with just a single plant that is either neat and tidy—like a topiary or a trimmed boxwood or an upright plant chosen for its drama. Various grasses such a fountain grasses are a perfect complement to this setting.
The Oriental Garden:
Oriental Gardens derive their beauty from a mixing and blending of different elements in a symbolic and natural manner to create an ambient atmosphere. Rocks, sand, water, bamboo, trees, and flowers are placed with precision to create an exceptional sense of organic asymmetry. Koi ponds, stone lanterns, garden bridges, and wash basins all paint the perfect scene. Water is one of the basic components, from still ponds to flowing streams and even small cascading waterfalls. Water and stone are yin-yang and hence they balance each other, and their placement must be done accordingly. For those not keen on fresh water usage, sand is a suitable substitute as it represents both water and clouds in the context of Oriental Gardens.
The Zen Garden:
Zen Gardens are a Japanese Rock Garden, or "dry landscape," that originated in medieval Japan and is renowned for simplicity and serenity. The Zen Garden creates a miniature stylized landscape through carefully composed arrangements of rocks, water features, moss, pruned trees, and bushes and uses gravel or sand that is raked to represent ripples in water. Zen Gardens are usually relatively small, surrounded by a wall, and is usually meant to be seen while seated from a single viewpoint outside the garden, such as the porch, or from inside the home where the garden would be most viewed. Classical Zen Gardens are intended to imitate the intimate essence of nature and for meditation.
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