A French invention, the formal garden has gone in and out of style for more than 400 years. Certainly this type of garden is not very modern even though it may be as exquisitely geometric as a minimalist design. A formal garden requires historical skills to create, establish and maintain since it is as architecturally based as a house plan. This one, this one near Estoril , Portugal is especially intricate and beautifully manicured.
I can only imagine the effort and skill it would take to keep concentric hedges at two different levels so perfectly clipped. The voids are both elaborate and precise yet there’s nary a bobble or a dent. The yews at the center of each celtic cross add height and definition. I confess, this garden style has become something of an obsession for me for it is the ultimate form of decorative landscape design.
It should be obvious that this type of garden is meant to be viewed from above — that is from the house. I can only imagine how beautiful it would be to look down from my window every day and see the changes in such a garden throughout each season of the year. During the winter, all the colors would change completely as it was dusted with snow. I am constantly amazed by the beauty and intricacy of formal gardens and delighted there are so many to explore. And though I long to plant one someday, I don’t have the skill to maintain it myself and wouldn’t want to pay the landscapers’ bill. So I will just keep looking for beautiful parterre gardens to admire.
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