A formal garden, or parterre, consists of symmetrical planted beds connected by gravel paths.
A French invention, the formal garden has gone in and out of style for more than 400 years. Certainly they are not very modern because an exquisite geometric arrangement like this one near Estoril , Portugal, requires historical skills to establish and maintain. Consider the effort of clipping concentric hedges at two different levels with such elaborate and precise voids with nary a bobble or a dent. To my mind the parterre is perhaps the ultimate forms of decorative landscape design since they are meant to be viewed from above. I can only imagine how beautiful it would be to look down from my window every day and see the changes in a garden like this one throughout each season of the year. I am constantly amazed by the beauty and intricacy of these as well as how many are in existence. I confess they are a bit of an obsession though I just wouldn’t want to pay the landscapers’ bill.