|Allée||Alleyway||A straight path, often lined with trees|
|Bosquet||Grove||A small group of trees, usually some distance from the house, designed as an ornamental backdrop|
|Broderie||Embroidery||A very curling decorative pattern within a parterre, created with trimmed yew or box or made by cutting the pattern out of a lawn and filling it with colored gravel|
|Jeux d'eau||Water games||An umbrella term for water features|
|Patte d'oie||Goose foot||Three or five paths or allées which spread outward from a single point|
|Parterre||On the ground||A planting bed, usually square or rectangular, containing an ornamental design made with low closely clipped hedges, colored gravel, and sometimes flowers. Parterres were usually laid out in geometric patterns, divided by gravel paths. They were intended seen from above from a house or terrace. A parterre de gazon was made of turf with a pattern cut out and filled with gravel.|
|Saut de loup||Wall||A recessed landscape design element that creates a vertical barrier|
|Topiary||Ornamental gardening||Trees or bushes trimmed into ornamental shapes. In French gardens, they were usually trimmed into geometric shapes|
Modern French Garden
|A French Garden Design
For Today's Gardener -
The French Garden style is generally thought of as stark and austere and very orderly. What is "formal"? For me it would mean everything in rows, and all flowers the same sizes and at attention at all times. I would design a french garden with the concepts of geometry and outlining, but the flowers and stonework would be quite informal, yet still giving the garden a classical feel. I would imagine that French Countryside would be more my idea of a french garden.
Because these gardens were designed to be viewed from above, there’s also usually a terrace that sits above the gardens. Not practical for me to have an overhead terrace, it still works for me. If you have an upper-story deck or patio/terrace, you've got your overhead garden-gazing spot. Planting areas usually had a raised bed design, called a parterre. You can create one using stone for the edging. around planted areas and by adding container trees as raised plantings.
Start with cool colors, geometric planting beds, and stone work, and you’ll have the groundwork.
French style is a study in geometry. Decide on the shapes you want for the planting beds, then make sure they're clearly defined. Edging these traditional parterres with low boxwood borders is a classic approach.
The overall style translates well into small courtyards and even the practical vegetable garden, where a mix of small raised beds is not only popular but practical. If designing your garden in a courtyard or side yard near the windows of your house, a window box adds a nice touch and adds a middle space for your garden.
French country gardens are more informal, with a mix of softer plantings and bolder colors, but generally follow the same basic design principles. Planting beds may be more loosely planted and less structured, but they'll still be contained by an edging or a border of some sort. Rather than an overwhelming riot of color and plantings, there's always a sense of order, even in the most natural of settings.
Paths located near
living areas often feature a short edging hedge. Typical hedging plants
include lavender, rosemary or boxwood.
Include a place to relax and eat. Sitting areas and dining spots add a touch of romance and evoke the feeling of the French countryside. Keep the elements simple. Benches also should be part of a French formal garden. And the best element, in my opinion, would be to think "bistro". A bistro table and 2 chairs. Pots of trees on the sides..That's the ticket.
Use a pergola over the dining patio or terrace covered in grapevines, for a classic French touch. I would probably opt for honeysuckle or wisteria. trellises, pergolas and gazebos frequently decorate French gardens. An obelisk or tuteur (a teepee-like shape) are common trellis designs used in formal French gardens. Because these gardens are designed to be viewed from above, there’s also usually a terrace that sits above the gardens.
Feel free to mix and match when it comes to shapes. Using the same plant material to form the shapes ties the two sides together. Fill the spaces within the borders with plants, especially annuals and perennials. For a classic feel, stick to a single plant within each space,
Create a focal point, like a fountain or sundial that would add interest in a large space where the masses of similar beds could be overwhelming.French formal gardens typically include water features, such as rectangular reflecting pools or circular beds that play a geometrical counterpoint to the french garden’s angled parterres. Fountains also belong in French garden designs. Select the ones with traditional motifs. Statues, urns and planters, are all elements of French garden design. The key is restraint. My favorite thing to place as a focal point is a tall obelisk. I've always wanted one in the garden. It is actually a trellis. French formal gardens include statuary and topiaries. Tuck topiaries into containers strategically placed along paths, or add them to the center of the design. Trellises, pergolas and gazebos frequently decorate French gardens.
Potagers and herb gardens were popular. A classical influence would be gravel paths and stone-outlined beds. So go ahead and add the french design to your vegetable and herb gardens, too. I like the idea of mixing food with flowers. I will be writing about Foodscape Gardens soon!
download a .pdf format garden design for a French Style Kitchen Garden
|Sources for this article
Home and Garden
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