Formal gardens defined by architectural hedges are becoming one of my outdoor obsessions.
Even confirmed non-gardeners like myself can have dream gardens. Here they are – though it’s highly unlikely I shall ever have one. Imagine the skill it takes to sculpt hedges into walls this perfectly and then to maintain them without even a naughty branch escaping. Surely it requires a staff of seasoned gardeners, which is likely why private gardens of this type inevitably seem to be found in England, Belgian and France. At the height of summer, though, these become outdoor rooms straight from movie costume dramas. Among my recent favorites is English designer Anouska Hempel’s stupendous outdoor dining space [top] that centers on a Belgian stone table of her own design, sheltered by rows of catalpa trees manicured into umbrella-like shapes and surrounded by walls of colossal hornbeam hedges. Imagine a summer dinner by candlelight here!
The French offer an aesthetic approach to a potager, French vegetable garden, by finishing it with a high hexagonal hedge. Arched doorways, carved into the living wall allow access and provide keyhole views from the inside that must be nothing short of amazing, particularly when the garden is as famous as the one at Berchigranges, in the mountains of Alsace. My post on Winter Garden offers views of the estate in a different season.
Fanciful cone- and pillar-shapes are used to define the end of this huge hedge designed by the premier Belgian landscape architects Wirtz International. What fascinates me is the way the same plant can be shaved and clipped into forms that do the same work as stone but so much more naturally.
A simple pergola, constructed between a pair of hedges, is an ideal structure for climbing roses. The shady lane appeal of this arrangement could not be prettier or more romantic. Downtown Abbey couldn’t do better.
(Source: architecturaldigest, Wikimedia, internet)